As Green As Any Falsehood – Letter To The IHT and NYT

(click here for more details on the below)

From: Maurizio Morabito
Date: Mon, Feb 7, 2011 at 8:32 PM
Subject: factual error in book review “Polar Distress” by Holly Morris (last weekend’s)
To: Letters IHT , Letters NYT

Dear Sirs or Madams

Please note that there is a factual error in Holly Morris’ “Polar Distress“, published last weekend in the NYT and the IHT and concerned with “The Magnetic North” by Sara Wheeler.

Ms Morris quotes from Ms Wheeler’s book about

one boggling case: Endocrine-­disrupting chemicals handed up the food chain have triggered changes in the sex of unborn children in the first three weeks of gestations, resulting in the birth of twice as many girls as boys in some villages in Greenland and among the Inuit nations of eastern ­Russia

That is an unwarranted claim that originally appeared in The Guardian in 2007 and was attributed to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), AMAP itself has distanced itself from that very same claim, for example writing in its 2009 SOAER report that

Systematic epidemiological studies, including all possible confounders and other relevant contaminants, must be performed before any conclusive statements can be made about contaminants and sex ratios in Arctic populations

And if you check, AMAP has been consistently reminding its reports’ readers about the preliminary nature of any suggestion of a link between pollution and sex ratios in humans, at least since 2006.

Neither Ms Wheeler, and worse, nor Ms Morris appear to have been curious enough to verify what they were writing about, and especially concerning such a “boggling” example. Please publish a correction as soon and as prominently as possible, otherwise your readers will find themselves severely mislead by a demonstrated falsehood.

Thanks in anticipation