Perhaps I spent too much time living in Berkeley, California, but I am always interested in the origins of popular hysteria and crackpot ideas. This latest outburst — that the Iranian earthquake was triggered by the United States military (aka “Bush”) (via InstaPundit) — seemed certain not to disappoint.
If you follow the links to the source, you’ll be unable not to notice that the military-as-villain thesis emanates almost entirely from one person: activist Dr. Rosalie Bertell.
After listing a long litany of “abuses” (including use of depleted uranium, years of nuclear testing, and a crash of an SNAP-9A rocket in 1964), Dr. Bertell moves to lasers, chemicals, electromagnetic weapons, and Extremely Low Frequency waves. Our military plans to deploy all of these forces — and more — against The Environment, for reasons best known to Dr. Bertell:

These pulsed, extremely low frequency (ELF) waves, for instance, can be used to convey mechanical effects and vibrations at great distances through the Earth. They can manipulate the weather, creating storms and torrential rains over an area.
These waves have the potential to generate earth movements. ?It has the capability to cause disturbance of volcanoes and tectonic plates, which in turn, have an effect on the weather,? she states.
For example, earthquakes are known to interact with the ionosphere (the atmosphere 50-373 miles above the earth?s surface). In fact, many of the earthquakes that occurred in recent years were preceded by certain unexplained phenomena, says Dr. Bertell.

Even the 1989 San Francisco earthquake was preceded by these waves (of supposed military origin).
Hey, I was in that quake! Does that mean I’m a victim of the U.S. military? Let’s see….
(If I just discovered my “injury” from reading that article, then the Statute of Limitations starts running today! Still have time to find a lawyer!)
But of course that is not all we’re in store for! The U.S. military plans to visit unprecedented devastation upon mankind. Events like this:

…..severe flooding that occurred in the Indian subcontinent affecting Nepal, India and Bangladesh in which millions were left homeless. In China, floods killed hundreds while tens of thousands had their homes and property destroyed.
At the same time, Canada was hit by torrential rains, flooding, tornadoes, hail and thunderstorms – all very abnormal climatic conditions destroying property, livestock and lives.
Heavy snowfall, not seen in decades, appeared in South Africa, cutting off food supplies and taking lives due to the extreme cold.
During the week ending 19th July, earthquakes rocked the French Alps, Austria, Southern Italy, Northeast India, Japan, Indonesia, the Kamchatka peninsular, and Southern Mexico. In New Zealand, a volcano erupted.
Tremors were reported in Kenya, Germany, the Greek Islands, Turkey, northern Sumatra, Bali, the central Philippines, New Zealand?s North Island, eastern Japan, central Chile, El Salvador and the Alentian Islands, all within the week ending 26 July, she reported.

Hey, all I can say is that the U.S. military sure gets around!
But let’s try to be serious? Who is this Dr. Bertell? And why is she taken seriously?
Dr. Rosalie Bertell (president of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health — which I am sure you’ve all heard of) is well known as “the anti-nuclear Nun.” A few facts:

  • Her doctorate is in Biometrics (statistics! I knew it!)
  • She has served three times as a judge on tribunals organised by the Permanent People’s Tribunal
  • She “works by preference on behalf of indigenous peoples and citizen groups most severely affected by militarism and pollution.”
  • A few more interesting facts about this very interesting woman:

    She identified clorines as the worst offenders on the planet. Developed during World War I, chlorine did not exist in the atmosphere until then. Now there is evidence that one class of chlorines has “demasculinized and defeminized” birds and fish, and Bertell warns that studies on the implications for human sexuality and reproduction have just begun.
    Bertell is routinely called a Cassandra and denounced by the nuclear industry. But she firmly maintains they and military policy makers are the world’s main polluters.
    Becoming a thorn-in-the-side of power mongers wasn’t an easy path for Bertell. She was born in Buffalo, the daughter of a Canadian mother and American father. Paul Bertell was president of the Standard Mirror Co. and the inventor of the day-night auto mirror.

    Wow. There was chlorine in many pools I swam in. It was in my own drinking water.
    My very own (gulp) Precious. Bodily. Fluids.
    (And if you look in your rear view mirror, you can see all those demasculinized and defeminized birds flying around! Tweet tweet! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!)
    Bertell blames El Nino and many other things on the US military, but a driving interest — a subject about which she has written extensively — is the supremely dangerous nature of depleted uranium.
    Nonsense! For the real lowdown on depleted uranium, read Michael McNeil’s scholarly refutation of these bogus claims. (via InstaPundit.) See also these posts — by Steven Den Beste, and Robert Prather.
    But who the hell reads these things? The activists certainly don’t.
    What bothers the hell out of me is that this elderly female nun (er, that’s not really a redundancy, but I don’t want to get off-topic) gets away with monstrous allegations and outright lies, and no one calls her on it.
    And why? The only reason I can see is because she is an elderly female nun , that’s why!
    This is logic? I consider it a grotesque abuse of logic.
    After spending about a half an hour googling, I could find only one criticism of Dr. Bertell — by a judge who had the misfortune of listening to her testimony:

    “In deriving these separate values, Bertell was selective in her choice of data. She repeatedly used the largest reported incidence of cancer. In some cases she increaased this value by factors up to 10 to allow for differences in sensitivity between the group studied and the people for whom the risk estimates were required.
    “Bertell acknowledged that her evidence was marred by basic errors including:

  • incorrect quotation of data;
  • confusing the incidence of fatal and non-fatal cancer;
  • multiplying by the same correcting factor twice to give a figure for cancer deaths that were 35 times too large.
  • “Bertell recommended, on the basis of her evidence on risk factors, that the CEGB’s radiation dose targets for the public in normal operation should be reduced by a factor of ten. She initially believed that the CEGB’s targets were for average dose, whereas in fact they were for maximum dose. She did not change her recommendation after discovering the true position.”

    Dr. Bertell’s response was to launch an ad hominem attack against the judge. (And when cornered, I’ll just bet she does an excellent imitation of a victimized old lady! Too bad we can’t sic this guy on her!) The general public doesn’t seem to care, and I am sure the media routinely trot her out as an “expert.”
    From what I can see, almost everything she says drips with emotion, with her most common logical error being that of post hoc ergo propter hoc.
    Typical Bertell example:

    According to Dr. Bertell, the hundreds of burning oil fires during the Gulf War was the ?worst man-made pollution event in history?. It led to environmental and climatic disasters worldwide.
    Scientists worldwide predicted fiercer monsoons due to greater warming, acid rain, forceful storms and severe flooding all over the globe.
    ?In time…a huge typhoon struck Bangladesh on 1 May, killing more than 100,000 people…Soviet scientists reported very high levels of acid rain in Southern Russia. Satellite images showed smoke and darkened snow in Pakistan and northern India,? she said.

    No tie-in. Nothing.
    Serious people would call this woman a kook — and consider it a waste of time to even read her or take her seriously. Perhaps that is why she is considered a world renowned “scientist” — and why she has been awarded five honorary doctorates.
    Because people like me remain silent?
    It’s much easier to remain silent. It feels like a colossal waste of time for me to spend all this time discussing Dr. Bertell, who but for big media would be a pitiable and foolish person involving herself in matters beyond her competence. To criticize her is like shooting fish in a barrel.
    And moreover, it’s considered mean-spirited — even malevolent — to dare criticize an elderly nun!
    So why am I doing this? It annoys the hell out of me to see her taken seriously by untold thousands of activists and so many in the media. I don’t like the way she uses her little old lady status — and her finely honed ethos as a selfless nun — to take advantage of gullible people.
    If I didn’t know she was a saint I’d almost swear she was a con artist.
    Forgive me!