Wade Sikorski's Web Page

From this site you can download some books I have written and a complaint that I filed against the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for not investigating cancer in my community.


Sikorski v. DPHHS

Infected With Difference: Healing Dis/ease in the Body Politic

Modernity and Technology: Harnessing the Earth to the Slavery of Man

Sacrificial Rituals

Sikorski v. DPHHS

This is a complaint that I filed against the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for not investigating a childhood leukmia cluster, a high rate of breast cancer, a high rate of colorectal cancer, and a high rate of birth abnormalities in Fallon County, Montana. It seeks the following things from the state:

  1. Tell the truth about the links between cancer, birth abnormalities, and chronic diseases and environmental pollution, instead of downplaying them or dismissing them as statistical anomalies, thereby allowing large and politically powerful corporations like W.R. Grace, Exxon, Shell Oil, Montana Dakota Utilities, Stone Container, and Ross Management to escape being held accountable for the harm to public health and the environment they have done.

  2. Do not presume that cancer or chronic diseases are randomly distributed, or, drawing on that presumption, use tests of statistical significance to decide if a disease cluster is real. Since a fundamental right is at issue, cases of cancer, birth abnormalities, or chronic diseases must be counted the same way that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that people must be counted for the purposes of voting apportionment, using an actual enumeration instead of statistical sampling, real people instead of abstract people, to decide state action. When the incidence of a disease such as cancer is higher than it should be, it is higher than it should be, and should be presumed to have placed the right to a clean and healthful environment in jeopardy until proven otherwise, no matter how small the community.

  3. Do not use risk assessments to dismiss the existence of a disease cluster. The decision about whether there is an environmental problem in a community must be driven by the actual suffering of people, not by a theory about what the suffering would be if people were like laboratory animals exposed to one toxin at a time. Using risk assessments to decide acceptable environmental exposures to toxins, and then using these standards to dismiss complaints about high rates of disease is upside down and backwards, and must not be practiced by DPHHS. Instead of using standards of exposure from risk assessment to decide whether a cancer cluster is real, the actual suffering of people, as compared with what would be happening in a truly clean and healthful environment, should be the practice. Cancer clusters should be used to decide whether risk assessments should be taken seriously, not the other way around..

  4. Adopt the Precautionary Principle. Because of our right to a clean and healthful environment and because of the duty of the state and each person to maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment, DPHHS policy must be guided by the precautionary principle, which holds that when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not established with absolute scientific certainty. When in doubt, protect public health, not corporate profit.

  5. Use a truly clean and healthful environment for referent comparison. When deciding whether a community has too much disease linked to environmental exposures, DPHHS must use as a standard of comparison what the disease incidence would be in a truly clean and healthful environment, not what it is in contrast to national averages or state averages, since these averages include many people whose health has been harmed by toxic exposures. The comparison must be to a clean and healthful environment, not just to a somewhat less polluted environment.


Sacrificial Rituals

Gene Huntley, a prominent attorney, dies in a small plane wreck outside Billings, Montana. The government calls it an accident, but many questions remain. Where did the fatal dose of drugs the FAA found in his body come from? Who was threatening him with death? And what were they so afraid he might find out?

The story of Gene's death begins in Baker, a small rural community in southeastern Montana, struggling for survival.  Because of the decline in the rural economy, its Main Street businesses were closing down, neighboring farms and ranches  were being sold in auctions, and most of the young people were leaving for jobs elsewhere.

With all this going on, a radical right wing organizer, with ties to large mining and timber companies, came to town and began filling people's heads with stories about how that economic development depended upon taking businesses that no one else wanted--things like megalandfills and hazardous waste incinerators.

And so, when community leaders in Baker heard that Ross Electric, an incineration company was being thrown out of Washington state, then out of Missoula, Montana, and then out of several other communities in Montana because everyone was afraid to live beside a company that was a responsible party several Superfund sites, they promptly invited it in.

Things quickly turned ugly.

The county librarian started getting death threats because she distributed information on the incineration company and on dioxin and PCBs.  She was later forced from her job because community leaders felt that she was taking too political a stand.   She was going to file a massive civil rights suit against the county, but then, literally in the dark of night, she dropped everything and moved out of the state, without telling anyone where she was going.

Just before Gene Huntley died in the plane wreck, he had been investigating Ross Electric's dismal record, as well as potential law breaking by local government officials.  Gene believed that local officials had broken the law when they accepted significant gifts from the incineration company.  He was going to get them prosecuted when  he came back from his trip.  But before he could do that, he died with a fatal drug dose in his body.

This book is a study of desperation, of people on the edge, and what they will sacrifice to keep from falling over.  It examines the effects of gossip, the dangers of dioxin, and the disinformation the Wise Use movement uses to promote "economic development."  In the end, it asks us to stop sacrificing the future to desperation.


Infected With Difference:

Healing Dis/ease in the Body Politic

The basic premise of Infected With Difference is that cancer is a political disease. And so are heart disease and AIDS and other diseases. But in a way more subtle than is commonly understood . . .

According to the old paradigm of medicine, disease is an accident, an effect of bacteria, viruses, toxins, and genes. It has no meaning outside a science of the body's machinery. Infected with Difference: Healing Dis/ease in the Body Politic argues in contrast that disease is often dis/ease, a meaningful expression of the self's entanglement in systems of power, exclusion, and hierarchy. And so, healing disease depends not just upon changing the body's biochemistry, but upon politicizing at least some aspects of the world the self is implicated in, for instance, the negative identities that women, lower class people, and homosexuals have in our culture. According to this book, disease is not an accident, it is a calling, an irruption of truth.

Infected with Difference begins with a discussion of the new science of psychoneuroimmunology, which deals with the intimate relationship between the mind's thoughts, feelings, and images and the body's biochemistry. According to recent discoveries in psychoneuroimmunology, not just the brain, but the immune system and all the rest of the body "thinks," processes the world. Immune cells, in particular, are surprising sophisticated at sensing the world, interpreting it, and communicating their response to the rest of the body. Given the way immune cells process information, disease cannot be just an invasion from the outer world; it has to be an interpretation the body makes of the world.

If disease is an interpretation of the world, and is situated in systems of language, identity, and power, that which is diseasing the self cannot be limited to the psychology of the individual but must be extended to the individual's family, community, and polity. If the individual's body is diseased, there is something dis/easing about the world it is in, and so it must be called into question, politicized, before the individual can be healed. Healing the body means healing the world.

This, of course, raises a whole series of questions about responsibility for disease. And so I end my book by cautioning against a politics of blame, guilt, and resentment. To nurture healing and health, we must not build the world of evil others to blame for disease, those who must be excluded from the polity, punished for their sins, and silenced because of danger they pose. That would only introduce more dis/ease into the world.

In short, healing, true and full healing, cannot be separated from social and environmental justice

Modernity and Technology:

Harnessing the Earth to the Slavery of Man

I am also including on this site a book of mine that the University of Alabama Press originally published, Modernity and Technology: Harnessing the Earth to the Slavery of Man. It is now out of print, so I am making it available here.

Here is how the University of Alabama Press described it:

Modernity and Technology is a unique critique of modern society and the ways in which modern science and technology conceal, imprison, and destroy the earth. Sikorski focuses attention on agriculture and the family farm as the basic unit of production. He argues that modern science and technology imprison us in ways we are incapable of acknowledging, and he brings postmodernist thinking to his interpretation of pressing ecological, technical, social, and political problems that we face increasingly as the present century draws to its close.

Here is what Nancy Love said about it:

Through a powerful critique of agricultural technology, Sikorski illustrates hour human potential for dwelling amid the cares of life, for letting the world be. By embracing life, he takes us beyond metaphysical oppositions--God or abyss--and the fear of mortality on which they are founded. Better than any other author, he brought Heidegger home to me.

Here is what Daniel Pound said about it:

This is a thought-provoking and disturbing book dealing with the influences that science, technology, and new knowledge have upon contemporary affairs. The author questions the value and belief predispositions that have formed the basis of our opinions on questions of economics, ecology, and politics leading to inappropriate and destructive policies.


Updated on March 10, 2002

Contact me at: wds@midrivers.com