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Being judged by the company we keep…

anti-GMO memeA little over ten years ago, my interest in constitutional law intersected with the evolution vs. intelligent design case in Dover, PA, a predictable yet catastrophic defeat for intelligent design proponents. I recall my knowledge of the legal aspects of the “controversy” were quite good and my general understanding of evolutionary theory at the reasonable “layperson” level. My opponents knew little of the legal issues and knew how to make themselves sound informed by focusing on the kinds of finer points known only by those that dug into the details of the so-called controversy. My opponents would use that tactic to try to create enough doubt in evolutionary theory in order for us to consider another possibility.

Reading Robert Greer’s latest post reminds me of those days long past. My layperson’s understanding of the GMO debate, at least from the perspective of the opposition, is that 1) it’s not essential – other technologies are available; 2) it modern GE has failed to live up to its promises, 3) increased use in chemicals due to weed and insect resistance suggest a long-term increase in the use of such chemicals, 4) despite a general consensus among scientists that GMO foods pose no safety risk to people, the long-term effects on human health are still unknown, 5) the involvement of Big Ag, Big Food and and other business interests seeking profits at the expense of people, 6) distrust – the role food scientists, government and health experts have had in promoting food marketed by big business.

Points (5) and (6) are real, but they have little to do with the genetic engineering as a process so I’ll set those aside. What we’re left with are four points used by GMO skeptics to FUD us (fear, uncertainty and doubt). Despite few, if any, concrete reasons, like emerging and verifiable reports of health-related issues due to GM foods, the skeptics insist that something may be wrong so we should question. For whatever reason, this position has generated some following.

Even from this layperson’s perspective and not having remotely enough knowledge do dive into the details of Robert’s claims, it’s clear that it’s all FUD no substance.  However, Robert’s decision to use the Will Saletan’s article as the basis of his post piques my attention the most, if only because I’ve seen this tactic before.

The teaser for Robert’s post is “What Will Saletan gets wrong about GMOs” despite the fact that Saletan’s article is CLEARLY  about the ugly side of the anti-GMO movement: those that go beyond opposition based on fear, uncertainty and doubt and into an ideologically-driven win-at-all-costs mindset. Saletan explains:

But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust

When one side of the debate has to resort to fraud, lying, hypocrisy, double standards and worse in order to win converts over to their cause, it’s going to give me cause for concern. In Robert’s case particularly, this is a challenge, as it is not clear to me whether or not he is truly the good-faith skeptic he tries to pass himself off to be or an ideologue. Compare this passage from the Saletan article:

For 16 years they’ve ignored every fact or finding that doesn’t fit their story. Their enmity is unappeasable; their alarmism is unfalsifiable. Take the question of allergies. In 2006, scientists found no allergens among the proteins in Golden Rice. The critics refused to accept this finding. They demanded additional tests. They said climate change could undermine the rice’s “genetic stability.” They claimed that unforeseen environmental interactions could cause unintended changes in the rice after several generations, and therefore, regulators should indefinitely delay its approval…

..There’s no end to the arguments and demands of anti-GMO watchdogs. They want more studies—“systematic trials with different cooking processes”—to see how much vitamin A the rice delivers. They want studies to assess how much beta carotene the rice loses when stored at various temperatures. If the rice delivers enough vitamin A, they say that’s a problem, too, because people won’t feel the need to eat other plants and will consequently develop other kinds of malnutrition. They claim that criminals will counterfeit the rice, using yellow spices or naturally yellow grains, so people will think they’re getting vitamin A when they aren’t.

To one of Robert’s comments:

If studies end up showing that Golden Rice actually alleviates the ultimate problems it was intended to fix, it might still be that it’s problematic for other reasons we didn’t even think to explore.

As I was writing this post, I watched a debate about genetically modified foods, and the GMO skeptics were asked what it take for them to have their concerns alleviated support GM foods, and both individuals made good faith attempts to answer the question. Robert’s answer smacks of anti-science, anti-intellectualism and dogmatic ideology. If studies end up showing that Golden Rice is the boon scientists believe it to be, the jury is no longer out and Robert’s concerns have been alleviated. However, Robert can’t bring himself to leave it at that.  While he himself is not moving the goal posts, he gives himself an opportunity to do so, something that the anti-GMO activists have a strong track record of doing not only with Golden Rice.  Such a position is not worthy of our respect or support. He talks like a good faith skeptic but implies that he would have no qualms using troglodyte tactics if need be. To hell with science.

If this isn’t enough, Robert claims that a “key component of his argument is that Golden Rice has not been welcomed by anti-GMO crowd with open arms.” In the real estate business, we call this putting lipstick on a pig, and it’s going to take a lot of lipstick to dress up that pig of a statement. The correct interpretation of the Saletan article is the way in which the anti-GMO movement chose not to welcome Golden Rice “with open arms” perfectly represents everything that’s wrong with the anti-GMO movement. I don’t know if I agree with Saletan’s sentiment if only because his meticulous documentation of the abhorrent manner in which anti-GMO activists attempted (and failed) to thwart the use of genetic engineering to save the Hawaiian papaya, which it successfully did.  Both of those case studies expose the anti-GMO movement for the ugly spectacle that it is. At this point, all I can do is re-direct readers back to the article or to the previous Saletan quote above.

Ok, so Saletan “fails to mention is that the science is still out on whether golden rice is actually the boon it’s claimed to be”. This is a distraction. So what?  Does that change the fact that the anti-GMO movement has for years engaged in everything between morally questionable tactics to outright criminal activity to pseudo science and anti-science support its ideological cause? No. Does that fact that there is an alleged “debate” over the merits of Golden Rice mean that we should accept that the anti-GMO movement has had good reason to do what it’s done? No, especially in light of the other case studies mentioned in the Saletan article, an article that makes the true nature of the anti-GMO perfectly clear. Like the creationists with neither science nor facts on its side yet still choose to pursue an ideological agenda to the detriment of us all, the anti-GMO movement, as it is currently constituted, is comprised of morally reprehensible individuals that deserve neither support nor trust nor respect.

As we are judged by the company we keep, I have no respect for GMO skeptics that either support or refuse to condemn the worst elements of the anti-GMO movement. They are no friends of ours, and they should be treated accordingly.

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188 thoughts on “Being judged by the company we keep…

  1. This is a bit of a digression, but I think the biggest issue with GM crops has nothing to do with whether they are safe to eat. It has a lot more to do with the intellectual property rights surrounding genetically modified organisms. Monsanto in particular is quite vicious in protecting their IP rights, although you have to wonder how “innocent” the farmers who get caught up in those law suits really are. In either case, I think there’s some room for tweaking of IP rights with regard to GM crops, but that’s not nearly as exciting to read about as scary Frakenfoods destroying the ecosystem.

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    • I agree with you entirely. I support use of genetic modification where it’s useful, and I support research using it, but I do not support Monsanto’s practices, and I do not think that a company should have the right to copyright any living organism.

      I’ve also heard of cases where Monsanto has taken crops such as corn varieties developed over centuries by First Nations people, tweaked them slightly, and copyrighted them. That’s truly disgusting, and it’s part of a very, very long history of powerful white people stealing from First Nations and getting away with because of, well, wealth and power.

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  2. This kind of attitude was a huge reason I started pushing back against climate deniers. It’s one thing to take climate studies & the results of models with a grain of salt (or a salt lick), but the attitude of “OMG the climate failed to meet model predictions means there is no change/warming & it’s all a scam/conspiracy!”

    You don’t toss out the body of work because it had mistakes in it, you find the mistakes & adjust. It’s only an issue if researchers are fudging data to some degree to get desired results.

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    • Oscar Gordon: It’s only an issue if researchers are fudging data to some degree to get desired results.

      …which of course many deniers claim has occurred.

      All in all, the comparison to climate change and vaccines would be much more on point than the comparison to intelligent design (which comes in different flavors, some more intellectually engaging than others). The harm in teaching children about ID theories, or ID-supported criticisms of evolutionary theory, in science classes even, may be real – I’m not convinced, but who can say? – but the harm in denying food to the hungry, or inexpensive food to the poor, would be much more direct, like the harm in failing to prevent destructive or catastrophic climate change (if possible), or failing to prevent the spread of highly communicable diseases.

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        • I personally have little difficulty lumping in anti-GMO activists, anti-vaxxers, anti-climate changers, and ID advocates into the same general category of people willing to use irrational tactics to pursue irrational agendas.

          Seems to me that what’s going on here is picking the flavor of the fearmongering: ID advocates seem the most willing of all of these anti-science folks to lie in support of their agenda, where anti-vaxxers seem to prefer anecdata and anti-climate changers seem to prefer puffing up insubstantial scientific disagreements into a “lack of consensus.”

          There is overlap among all of these, of course, but the intellectual ploy that anti-GMO types seem most guilty of, in my opinion, is continuously moving the goalposts.

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              • I’d be interested to see how many people who are concerned about voter fraud would be open to a national ID card. My impression is that the former group does not have a lot of overlap with the latter.

                A brief google search shows that the issue seems to cleave along libertarian lines (Ron Paul and the ACLU oppose it, while David Frum and Kevin Drum support it) rather than Republican / Democrat lines. It also seems that people favor it more for other people (support is much higher for a requirement that only non-citizen residents have a national ID card than for all U.S. residents), which I find interesting.

                You may not be aware that in the US, the welfare programs you mention, as well as driving requirements, are administered at the state level, not the federal.

                Which leads to a question of what function it would serve. Our current most common ID is actually a Driver’s License, which is technically only necessary if you want to (legally) drive a car. Officially, no one is required to have an ID for the purpose of identification (as opposed to a license to do something like drive), although practically it is very difficult to get by without a gov’t-issued ID of some sort (passport, military ID, state-issued ID card, etc.). Would a national ID also serve as a Driver’s license for those who require one? Or would it be in addition to a state-issued DL? If the former, who would establish the requirements for the DL? The states, or the federal gov’t? In either case, who would administer it, the states (acting for the feds) or the feds themselves?

                Which is a long way to say: in the US, a national ID card might not be so seamless or efficient.

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                • Clearly, the national ID would fairly quickly — say in a decade or two, even for the stragglers — subsume all of the functions of state IDs. States would no longer issue a physical drivers license; they’d simply note in the database that the person identified by this national ID has driving privileges.

                  The scary thing is that everything about an individual would be indexed by that single ID. We really have no idea how to adequately secure the system so that, for example, the cop who stops you because your brake light is out and scans your ID card through their Square Reader (or its equivalent) finds out that there’s an outstanding arrest warrant for you, but doesn’t find out that you have delinquent child support payments in three places.

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        • What works as a good analogy is the approach both advocates of the anti-GMO position and the advocates of ID take. Robert’s post is at its core an attempt to “teach the controversy” about Golden Rice. How is that different from proponents of ID using gaps in the theory of evolution to put forth its own theories? There’s no difference at all.

          If we’re talking about harmful consequences to certain positions, especially physical consequences like poor health, illness or death, then yes, harm from learning ID isn’t all that great.

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      • In general, I don’t think we teach definitively countered criticisms of science in science classes until post-secondary courses, except perhaps as historical examples.

        That said, I think some of the major contemporary ID, or ID-supported criticisms of evolutionary theory might serve as excellent examples of bad science, or errors in scientific reasoning, in advanced high school science courses.

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        • Have you read Berlinski’s work? Just curious – I don’t have strong commitments on this matter, and have never taken a personal interest in science pedagogy at any level. I do wonder if introduction of an element of uncertainty or doubt, though not necessarily fear, at an earlier point might reduce a tendency toward dogmatism – or scientism rather than science – among some students.

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          • Personally, I stopped following the ID/evolution debate after Kitzmiller v Dover. All I can say about the findings in that case is this – as badly as SSM opponents did in the Prop 8 Case in California (which is to say they never showed up), the proponents of ID fared worse. Michael Behe was the star witness and got destroyed in cross-examination.

            The judge that authored the decision called ID religion, and that was pretty much it. Apparently, they’re still kicking for whatever reason.

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            • One problem would be when hostility toward “advocates of the anti-GMO position” begins to attach to anyone who insists on an open mind, in both directions, regarding genetic modification of organisms. Now, we’ve had something like, I’d estimate, 11,532 movies, television shows, genre novels, and radio plays encouraging FUD on this and related questions, so I can understand why those convinced of the benefits of GM food (or GM whatever else) would be feeling a bit defensive on the subject. People are ready to be frightened by science and technology.

              I think media treatment of evolutionary theory versus its alternatives has been somewhat more positive, although people (even a few scientists) still prefer their intuitions over aggressive evolutionist overreaching of the sort associated with the New Atheists. So-called Young Earth Creationism is not the same Intelligent Design as the something like Intelligent Design (or teleological self-design) in the work of a philosopher (and scientist) like Charles Sanders Peirce, or the criticism of a certain type of theorizing that pretends to possess answers that it cannot, and to possess evidence that it does not really, and that responds with exaggerated aggression to any speculation on its limitations.

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              • CK MacLeod: begins to attach to anyone who insists on an open mind, in both directions

                I’ve been labeled a climate denier for questioning the assumptions used in climate models. Usually by people who place an overabundance of value into the narrative of climate change (and who are also pretty much ignorant of any of the science beyond what they get from the media).

                Of course, I’ve also been called a dupe for Obama because I push back on deniers, so I guess I’m damned if I do…

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              • “people (even a few scientists) still prefer their intuitions over aggressive evolutionist overreaching of the sort associated with the New Atheists.”

                Even for you, CK, this is word salad. “evolutionist overreaching”, really?

                One basic principle of science is that a person advancing a proposition bears the burden of proof. ID proponents have advanced various versions of the proposition that unguided evolution is insufficient to explain the biological diversity currently seen. In support of this proposition they have neither any evidence nor any testable theory. Criticism of various weaknesses in current theories does not constitute evidence in support of one’s own.

                No longer preferring intuitions over evidence was one of the big ideas of the Enlightenment. (The germ theory of disease? The existence of electrons? Laughable. Also correct.)

                Yes, a remarkable number of Americans don’t believe in unguided evolution. An even larger number believe in some form of Deity. Based on the evidence to date, they are most likely wrong on both counts.

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          • Not the book you linked, though I did read his book on New Atheism, and I’ve known his arguments for some time (he’s been active in the ID community for a long time). I don’t consider him, or Discovery, to be worth taking seriously in 2015, as I think they’ve sufficiently demonstrated that they are not intellectually serious.

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            • Well, you probably know, then, that Berlinski does not consider himself a proponent of ID – a fact which is I think worth noting, even if he, obviously, allows his ID-proponent employers to make use of his work. A good chunk of the Deniable Darwin consists of presentation of responses to his work from those he criticizes, and his rebuttals, and throughout he maintains the position of pro-science skeptic regarding particular unjustified claims rather than religiously motivated true believer attempting to overturn the entire edifice.

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              • He is, to be kind, a defender of Intelligent Design, in its general and its contemporary form, and a trader of lies, falsehoods, ignorance, and unreason. And like I said, that’s putting it kindly.

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                  • Pretty much everything he says about the science. For one example, look at what he says about the fossil record. In saying it doesn’t support evolution, and that scientists know this, he’s either lying, repeating someone else’s lie, ignorant of the fact that both claims are not true and easily checked, or some combination of those things. Given how often people have shown those claims to be wrong in his presence, lying is the most likely explanation.

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                    • Those aren’t particularly testable claims against him, Chris. Put differently, they are trivially disprovable – as in: He says there is a science, and that’s something he says about it, and he’s not lying about that, so you’re wrong. Case closed.

                      As I recall, he makes specific criticisms, for instance concerning the math (his area of principal expertise) underlying one widely cited computer analysis, or the state of knowledge of molecular biology, a field in which he worked I believe as a research assistant. The statements you make, by contrast, are generalized. Now, if you don’t have something more specific at hand, including his actual statements or more specific renderings of them, I could go to the library – I have to go down to the center of my little town sometime soon anyway – and see if the copy of his book that I read five or so years ago is still there. Presuming it is, I could then see if I can find a claim that can be economically stated and that you can conveniently address, and perhaps then you would be kind enough to show me why his approach deserves to be characterized as dishonest. If you don’t have time, that’s understandable, but I would find it interesting, and I do think that if you’re going to accuse a public intellectual of mendacity, you should be willing to back up your accusations.

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                          • Yes, those were meant to be instances. Refutations are easy to find: the fossil record shows intermediate species at virtually every stage, as every paleontologist knows, and Kimura’s work not only does not disprove natural selection, it advances our understanding of it, as every molecular biologist would know. The internet is filled with faqs and such debunking these well-worn canards that Berlinski repeats, as he does others.

                            I admit I have no interest in playing the “take ID seriously enough to discuss it” game. I swore off ever dealing with ID again several years ago, and unless someone can give me a Damn good reason to break that vote to myself, I’m not going to do so. Buy a quick search for “Kimura natural selection” or “evolution fossil record” should get you on your way, though you’ll still have to navigate the creationists, especially AiG and Discovery.

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                              • A more interesting discussion, to me, is the way the ID wars of the late 90s through the mid-Aughts, which took place largely online, shaped not only what became New Atheism, but the progressive blogosphere and to not insignificant extent, progressivism. Many of the big names in progressive blogging today were involved to some degree, and some even became well-known as a result of their involvement. They’re the old guard now, of course, but they were the online voices for much of the Bush administration.

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                                • An untold story, as far as I know. I can see how that pre-history might have influenced aspects of later on-line progressivism negatively – from my perspective – but I also think that that shape is probably an overdetermined shape.

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                          • MacLeod plays the classic game of demanding that someone provide him with the refutations, when the internet has more than a sufficient number of sites that would explain this if he was serious enough about wanting to understand to do his own honework. He’s as dishonest as any other creationist who pretends there’s actually a controversy.

                            He and this Greer fellow should get together and exchange notes on how to lie while sounding thoughtful and sincere.

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                              • My apologies. Apparently you’re not a crestionist, just someone who has only bothered to read creationists, and not any of the widely available and lay-person accessible rebuttals by scientists

                                That’s totally different, and infinitely more admirable.

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                                  • Chris:
                                    The best thing about ID creationism is that it gets the opponents it deserves.

                                    That’s approximately how Berlinski and associates put it, though to a different effect than the one I think you intend. They are as little perturbed by the foolishness of their opponents as I am by yet another guy on the internet.

                                    When I said “Another Guye”‘s contribution was typical, I meant it – not just of how things are done and undone on the internet, but of how things are done and undone in this very characteristic pseudo-discussion of evolution and intelligent design. However wrong the Discovery Institute may be on interpretations of the fossil record or of Kimura (or on what is and isn’t known about the evolution of the eye or on computer simulations of natural selection over aeons, and so on), the part in the post you linked about giving thanks and offering sacrifices for the conduct of their critics rings true, and, in my view, goes to the heart of a controversy that is more about what participants are unable to articulate – what their religious devotion to their precepts, on both sides, prohibits them from questioning or even acknowledging – than about the positions they hold.

                                    To oppose intelligent design as a concept, philosophically, which is not the same as to oppose it “scientifically” – again I refer you to Peirce’s early critique of Darwinism – is always on some level to stand up for demented chaos. Science is not equipped for this argument. The argument is not relevant to science. The scientists who take it up are moonlighting, taking on a second job for which they have not been trained. They want to stand up for science, but must do so unscientifically, so betray it. The secondary attack on philosophy, in terms rarely seen since the peak of totalitarianism, if not the Inquisition, is indicative.

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                                    • Yeah, I just mean that the ID people are so bad that they get Another Guye, and they get him over and over again. And as I said, Berlinski is as bad as any of ’em.

                                      There was an interesting discussion early in the days of the contemporary “scientific” ID movement, mostly among opponents of ID, about the distinction between methodological materialism and “philosophical” materialism (basically, practical materialism vs materialist metaphysics). ID-ists always confuse the two, and the pro-science folks frequently do, but modern science does not imply the latter any more than “Intelligent Design” in the broad philosophical sense implies a rejection of the former. But for the most part (for the entire part, when we’re talking Berlinski and his ilk), those aren’t the IDists we get. So those aren’t the opponents they get either.

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                                    • The secondary attack on philosophy, in terms rarely seen since the peak of totalitarianism, if not the Inquisition, is indicative.

                                      The last time I recall discussing the Inquisition here, it was with TvD, who told me that, honestly, it wasn’t that bad.

                                      Why do you hate Catholics, CK?

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                                      • Catholics are all bout hyperbole, so maybe he’s being pro-Catholic.

                                        (By the way, I think it’s fairly obvious that the “attack on philosophy” is, in fact, philosophical, and given the participation of so many philosophers, it is clearly self-consciously so.)

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                                        • I’m referring to terms, not actions (yet (or recently)): First the language of Dawkins and his “ilk” in their inability and refusal to engage on questions of the philosophy of science, their peremptory dismissal of the philosophical enterprise outside of empiricism, and their project to have other schools of thought – theology especially, of course – declared unfit for human consumption and removed from the universities altogether.

                                          That in other epochs self-identified Darwinists and others all aglow with their scientific self-superiority moved directly from such terms to more… dramatic… actions is a history that promoters of Demented Chaos (or evolution by “fortuitous variation” alone – tychasticism in Peirce’s typology of evolutionisms), who dementedly and chaotically view themselves as rationalists, never fully account for, because they cannot, will not, and must not. They would prefer for us to believe, perhaps, that the apparent pattern is merely random un-fortuitous variation rather than the underlying tendency of a certain type of intelligence.

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                                          • They would prefer for us to believe, perhaps, that the apparent pattern is merely random un-fortuitous variation rather than the underlying tendency of a certain type of intelligence.

                                            I don’t think one needs to be a Dawkinsite (Dawkinsian? Dawkinsist?), or even an evolutionist for that matter, to reject this. I mean, it’s right there in the antimonies, and Darwin wasn’t even born for those. Hell, we’re talking about Parmenides and Heraclitus. This in a way is the fundamental question of philosophy, as Ortega defines it. You’ve chosen to define philosophy as your preferred answer. That doesn’t make you any better than the ones you’re criticizing.

                                            The anti-philosophical bent in New Atheism and its descendants (e.g., NGT) is well documented, even among many, er, Old Atheists. And again, it is a product of the tactics of the ID movement, which is to say deception, dishonesty, and recrimination. The ID movement is as anti-philosophy as New Atheism is, in its own way.

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                                            • It is not a coincidence that, from very early in their ascension, the New Atheists reminded many Old Atheists, agnostics, and “pro-science” theists of Christian fundamentalists and (religiously) conservative Evangelicals.

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                                              • It’s a nice story, that creationism created its adversaries or that intelligent design designed its critics (and, if so, rather intelligently), but the obvious problem is that the New Atheist type has existed since long before this internet era manifestation of the traditional argument, and since long before Darwin wrote. The much-abused Berlinski has, for example, produced texts from the early 20th century whose language the New Atheists unerringly re-produce – if not quite word for word, since the tracts and popular books were often written and published on the Continent. As you say, the discussion goes back much further, the furthest: to ancient times and the origins of Western philosophy, and not just of Western philosophy, and has often been pursued as or more viciously – and on both sides. That’s one reason that a common mark of older philosophical pursuit of the underlying questions – especially as to reason v revelation – is the warning against misuse joined to a firm statement of disinterest in un-serious discussion, which will be most discussion.

                                                And I don’t see philosophy as a “preferred answer.” If philosophy is still practicable, then it would be as the continuation of questioning.

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                                                • ID birthed this incarnation of them (and I think you play right into their narrative when you link them to, say, the “free thought” movement of the late 19th century, which I assume is what you mean). The major players in the New Atheist movement of the mid-Aughts were all veterans of the usenet and then blog battles over ID creationism, and they had become more and more, let’s say radicalized over the course of that discussion.

                                                  You can always tell whether someone came out of the ID debates by whether they a.) equate biology with all science, and b.) see an attack on a particular part of biology as an attack on all science. Just look at what folks like Myers say, for example.

                                                  The court battles didn’t help (talk about mendacity!).

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                                                  • Chris: and I think you play right into their narrative when you link them to, say, the “free thought” movement of the late 19th century, which I assume is what you mean

                                                    Not a good assumption. Berlinski’s examples were mainly drawn from the popular German language press of the early 20th C, though very likely would have been influenced by “free thought” or by the same (often Germanic) free thought traditions that influenced the 19th Century American expression. Anyway, as I was trying to stress, the type pre-existed Darwin, and is not unique to Western philosophical and quasi-philosophical discussion.

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                                    • @chris – I’ve mentioned before that I was raised in a very religious environment (like, “the KJV Bible is literally word-for-word true” religious). As such, I was raised a creationist.

                                      Of course, even very religious people accept some of the basic precepts of evolutionary theory; many are rural, and breeding farm animals or growing crops quickly teaches one about beneficial and harmful mutations, and morphological changes across generations.

                                      Still, they do not accept the “jumps” from one big branch of biological taxonomy to another. The basic idea is that yes, the “cow” of today may look little like the “cow” of antiquity; but there has always been some sort of a “cow”-like-animal, and it never shared common ancestry with a “fish”.

                                      As I grew from childhood, and began attempting to resolve the supposed “literalness” of the Bible with my own personality (and growing fascination with Mr. Spock and science and reason and logic in general), and began to experience the Bible as metaphor (which to some degree I still do), I passed through a phase of intelligent design-ism (and yes, things like the complex “design” of the eye, and other “watchmaker”-type arguments were part of all that.)

                                      It could be self-serving ego, but I don’t think of myself as particularly stupid, even then; I was simply a person growing and learning and attempting to make sense of some things that only seem simple in hindsight. Darwin only came along 200 years ago; for all of human history before that, the “correct” answer eluded all of humanity as far as we know, and Darwin wasn’t the first smart person to ever be born.

                                      Which suggests that what seems simple and obvious to many of us now isn’t; not really.

                                      And then I passed through that ID phase as well; though I am no longer religious, as an agnostic I still do not think there need necessarily be any alarming intellectual inconsistency or deficit for someone who believes that yes, evolution is true, BUT God directs that process; any more than someone who understands probability and statistics might nevertheless say “wow, I just had a ‘lucky’ roll of those dice” (even though the concept of “luck”, doesn’t exactly mean anything from a scientific point of view).

                                      I don’t think all religious or superstitious belief absolutely must be (or even can be) excised, for a person to be considered a rational thinker (though of course I do not want religious beliefs inculcated by public schools).

                                      I kind of lost the thread of what I was getting at here; but what I think I wanted to say was: there’s often no need to go after a lot of ID-believing people directly (again, outside of opposing the teaching of it in public schools as fact or testable theory); many topics can be discussed just fine without even addressing ID.

                                      And many of those who believe in ID may be in the midst of a journey from where they were, to where you think they should be anyway. So antagonizing them unnecessarily is often pointless, and possibly even counterproductive.

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                                      • Design arguments are so powerful that they’ve been around for at least a couple millennia. There have been plenty of people much, much smarter than me who’ve bought them.

                                        What bugs me so much about the contemporary ID movement is not the folks who are drawn to it because they recognize the problems with YEC and are scientifically curious, but still want to retain an important place for God in their world-view and worry that an unchecked evolutionism, as promoted by many New Atheist types (who, again, were birthed by the ID movement, but I digress), does not do that. What bugs me is that it’s promoters, particularly the Discover Institute types, know full well that their “science” is bullshit, as it has been shown to be repeatedly, and they know that they’re often repeating falsehoods, as has been shown repeatedly, but they spout it anyway, and as authorities, and in particular as authorities opposed to the aforementioned evolutionists, they’re believed by the well-meaning religious skeptic who just wants to keep God in his or her science.

                                        If that makes sense.

                                        I’ve mentioned this before, but after I swore off dealing with the IDists, I started dealing with the New Atheists, the unintended (or perhaps fully intended) offspring of the IDists, their mirror twins, and one of the things I stressed over and over again with them was that the problem isn’t your rank-and-file creationist of any sort; the problem is the creationist “authority” who knows damn well he or she is lying, or at least has been given every chance to know that everything he or she is saying is wrong, but continues to do so anyway because it brings him or her fame and, in more than a few cases, some measure of fortune. They are the snake oil salesmen, and they should be the exclusive targets of outrage.

                                        This is why I can barely even stand to read the name Berlinski, any more than I can stand to read the name Dawkins.

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                                        • If you’re going to continually and repeatedly accuse Berlinski and others of dishonorable tactics, then you should produce the specific evidence, provide your analysis, and be prepared to participate in a careful examination of it, or you’re just dealing in character assassination. Maybe such character does deserve to be assassinated, but, speaking for myself, I don’t care. I have you here, or mostly here, not them and not Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne and Christopher Hitchens.

                                          For us, referring to a controversy and suggesting a search through FAQs and blog posts, while avoiding the ones for the defense, doesn’t justify crying “liar” and “snake oil salesman” over and over. If you really have sworn off the argument, then it would be more consistent of you to refrain from such condemnation, which inherently enters right back into it. It is in short quite reminiscent of the New Atheist style, which you have also condemned as counterproductive and unworthy of respect.

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                                    • Chris, I’m impressed that you know me so thoroughly from only two brief comments. I am, of course, wholly confident that a perusal of all your comments will reveal your perfect adherence to the high standard you set, and I thank you for the cordial welcome to this blog.

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                            • That’s not really a very fair criticism. People post here to engage each other and exchange thoughts. Asking, “What’s the single best argument for your position?” is pretty common and pretty reasonable. Saying, “Look it up,” is basically saying that none of us should be here and we should all just read what’s out there already and, if we’re blessed by our Creator with Reason, agree with your conclusions.

                              If we go that direction, this place becomes like that joke about the bar where everybody has already heard all of the jokes, so they just reference them by number and people laugh. It seems a bit stale.

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                              • So in other words, the essay to which we’re all rrsponding is illegitimate because it’s essential argument is to go beyond reading only those authors who agree with us, and to stop misrepresenting what our opponents say.

                                It’s a pity, as I rather thought it was a good essay.

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  3. I don’t feel like I know enough about this topic to have an informed opinion, but my father (who I have always known to be very smart and intellectually careful) is somewhat concerned about GM crops. The point I have heard from him that I found most persuasive isn’t on your list, so I thought I would mention it: a failure to regulate GM crops at this juncture is at least moderately likely to be irreversible. Cross-pollination of different fields and other natural processes will, in the absence of regulation, likely result in non-GM strains being intermingled with GM strains in ways that are difficult or impossible to predict or prevent. Thus, if we don’t implement some kind of regulation now, it may well be too late to do so later in the event that the current scientific consensus is challenged by new data.

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    • I would say that my understanding is at a reasonable layperson level, but I’ll comment on this:

      The point I have heard from him that I found most persuasive isn’t on your list, so I thought I would mention it: a failure to regulate GM crops at this juncture is at least moderately likely to be irreversible.

      The reason I didn’t mention it on my list is that based on the video and transcript linked in the post, my understanding is that GM crops are regulated and are required to clear a number of regulatory hurdles before being introduced to the market. Whether or not those regulations are adequate to successfully address your concerns is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

      I’ll also mention that the lack of regulation was not mentioned as a concern by the GMO skeptics in that debate. That doesn’t mean that regulations shouldn’t be, but I hope that explains to you why I excluded it.

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      • FWIW, I would rate my father’s knowledge in this field at something close to “expert” level, albeit on the legal/regulatory end rather than the scientific end. ETA: I trust his concerns and intellect enough that I changed my default view on this from essentially the one you’ve expressed in this post (i.e., opponents are anti-science crazies), to “I don’t know enough to know what the right answer is.”

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        • Ok so just so I understand, it sounds like his belief is that the regulatory regime is insufficient to address the risks he mentioned (i.e. cross-pollination).

          Fair enough. It’s not my area of expertise. That said, I’m interested to know how a regulatory regime can address cross-pollination when it can be a function of nature (i.e. wind, insects, birds, etc.). I wouldn’t begin to know how to answer that question.

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          • Generally, one needs proof of malfeasance for a number of crimes.
            (for instance, it’s perfectly legal to change your name, so long as you don’t do it with intent to deceive).

            Here, you simply say “I’m not planting seeds I bought from them, I’m not harvesting seeds from plants I bought from them. What the wind brings, I don’t want, but it’s still there, and I’ll be kind and not sue you for the Act of God”

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          • Yeah… he also thinks the regulatory regime is inadequate in various other ways, but honestly I was already at the outer edge of my understanding of this issue in my initial comment. He has only recently focused on this issue, and I just haven’t taken the time yet to try and learn about it. Judging from my limited discussions with him, I suspect he also would say you’ve given short shrift to your point #3 (regarding increased use of stronger herbicides). But I also know he’s frustrated with the way that labeling sucks up all of the energy and attention in this area.

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    • This is a valid concern, but also quite clearly a political one, and it aligns well with the concerns over GMO IP, in that the science is advancing much faster than the law is (a common problem as of late, despite the scientific community voicing its concerns)

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      • in that the science is advancing much faster than the law

        One of the points made by the GMO skeptics is that it’s also advancing much faster than our ability to evaluate the long-term effects. By the time a long-term evaluation of one kind of product is complete, the technology moves to something else.

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        • IMO, this is a valid reason for caution and prudent testing when introducing genetic innovations into the food supply. It is not, however, a valid reason to effectively ban those innovations, and an insistence upon absolute safety before entry into the marketplace strikes me as both wholly unreasonable and functionally unprecedented — no other food products have been held to such standards, and no food no matter how it is created or prepared is completely free from hazard, particularly when consumed in excessive quantities. Yet this seems to be the standard to which anti-GMO activists would hold a GM product.

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  4. FWIW, I pegged the anti-GMO crowd as dishonest fanatics about ten years ago. I also figure that this is one of those rare, happy cases where moneyed interests are on the side of truth. Monsanto can take care of itself without my moral support, so I pretty much don’t worry about it. There are far more areas of dispute where the moneyed interests are screwing us outright. I direct my ineffectual moral support to those pointless arguments in favor of this pointless argument.

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  5. A quick note from the editors: we removed one sentence from the last paragraph of the OP; the substantive intellectual argument of the author’s post is undisturbed.

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  6. As we are judged by the company we keep, I have no respect for GMO skeptics that either support or refuse to condemn the worst elements of the anti-GMO movement. They are no friends of ours, and they should be treated accordingly.

    I’m a GMO skeptic.
    I call it outright acceleration of species depletion.
    But I really don’t care to support or condemn anyone, for anything much, really.

    I don’t keep much company with other GMO skeptics, to my knowledge.
    Really, I’m not sure of many people’s positions on GMOs. Haven’t asked. Haven’t asked because I don’t care.

    Now, if I thought maybe they had some dark beer to spare laying around, sure I might keep them company a bit.
    I would prefer a couple of GMO skeptics who are really hot chicks to keep company though, dark beer notwithstanding.
    I suppose I could get into keeping company with some GMO skeptics given the proper stimulus and motivation. I just don’t feel all that motivated right now.

    Some cherry tomatoes with LSD in them would be nice.
    I don’t understand why they’re not working on that one.
    WTF Monsanto!!!!
    (hate… hate… hate… )

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    • I would prefer a couple of GMO skeptics who are really hot chicks to keep company though, dark beer notwithstanding.

      In another time and place, that could have piqued my interest in GMO skepticism. I could have pulled it off too.

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  7. Well, I have said this before: anti-GMO is a shorthand, a signal, for industrial food that does a few things that are valid and of concern:

    1) IP rights so that small, local farmers cannot produce next-year’s seed from this year’s crop. This is a vital thing to remember for areas where there is continued food insecurity and political instability. Plus, I’m not convinced that genetics should be subject to IP laws, and if they are, that patent law is the correct IP law to apply.
    2) Most GMO seed is to promote the use of a pesticide and broad-leaf herbicide, round-up. And survey after survey has shown resistance does happen, and that farmers tend to increase use of round-up far beyond the levels Monsanto calls extreme, let alone levels that are considered safe.
    3) There’s a lot of research that suggests round-up may contribute to all sorts of human health problems, most particularly of the endocrine system. The pesticides use as a desiccant is of particular concern here.
    4) Soils saturated with pesticides lose a lot of their natural flora and fauna; and I know you might find this hard to believe, but we understand very little about soil life. I discuss this with a good friend a lot, a man who started one of the first colleges of soil science at the University of ME; we barely understand the role of fungi in mineral transfer, for instance; so killing the stuff before we know what’s needed seems a concern for our prime farmland; akin to removing the grass cover on the great plains that created the dust bowl in the 1900’s.

    So if you’ll notice, my concerns are not with generic GMO application, it’s with the purpose for most GMO applications — tolerance of pesticides.

    You’re welcome to include me with the basket of nuts, but I’ll think less of you if you do.

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    • So if you’ll notice, my concerns are not with generic GMO application, it’s with the purpose for most GMO applications — tolerance of pesticides.

      This is a point I briefly mentioned as one of the known concerns of GMO crops – not just the tolerance of pesticides but that tolerance leading to increased future use. That doesn’t get someone tossed in with the nuts, at least not by me.

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      • Well, that and the concerns of future seed being available to future generations, are good reason for me not to get too flummoxed about the anti-GMO crowd; at least for now.

        I also find Monsanto is not a good corporate neighbor; they’ve harassed a lot of small farmers here in Maine, milk producers and blueberry growers in particular. This place is excellent for producing both, and remember that I grew up on a dairy farm, my dad’s aunt and uncle owned a blueberry farm. But given our rocky soil, many mountains and rivers, this is not a good place for big farms; it’s a good place for small, family farms. That same ethos is also a problem in a lot of third world countries. Monsanto’s small-farm politics suck big time. They are a bad neighbor.

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    • Well sure Zic but what about BT? BT crops are surely about as common as roundup resistant crops and GMO opponents go absolutely bonkers about it… … … while spraying BT onto their organic crops by the truck load.

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        • Right. Their problem seems to be that large quantities of BT protein on the plant and in the vicinity of the plant are fine because BT protein is not dangerous, but small quantities of BT in the plant are bad because GMO.

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          • It has to do with creating Bt wind pollinated crops (corn is wind pollinated,) and fears of Bt resistant insects, thus making one of the most effective organic controls ineffective.

            also, butterflies.

            http://organicgrowersschool.org/685/ask-ruth-explaining-bt-organic-or-gmo/

            The organic farmers I know haven’t said much about it; I hear more about Bt from the butterfly lovers.

            Concerns of Bt resistance are probably legitimate; but they were only legitimate so long as organic methods remained niche and weren’t widespread; insect resistance would develop in any product that’s widely used.

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            • The question posed in that link is classic:

              Since Bt corn is GMO corn, doesn’t that mean that Bt is a bad thing?

              The conclusion follows so logically from the premise.

              Fears about Bt resistance are totally reasonable, but pinning it on GMO Bt plants is ridiculous. Any widely adopted pesticide operates this way. The way they’re trying to say, “We should spray it everywhere and it’s totally fine, but if you use it it will cause pesticide resistance,” is so transparent it’s depressing.

              The cross pollination issue is at least “real” in the sense that it does happen an a small percentage of corn plants may end up pollinated by neighboring fields. Whether that constitutes a major practical problem or a minor infringement on religious freedom is a somewhat different question. If I sold to customers who demanded the Bt gene in their corn, could I legitimately complain that the neighboring organic growers were polluting a very tiny percentage of my fields and turning the whole crop to waste? Cross pollination is just a fact of life, and I think we’re going to have to deal with it to the limited extent to which it happens.

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      • This is a really interesting fact that I think a lot of people miss. Agreements not to replant IP protected seeds go waaay back, and the scary idea of ‘terminator’ seeds that can’t be harvested for replanting doesn’t really change much for a huge number of crops which are unstable in the next generation anyway. For example, replanting the seeds from that crop of well characterized hybrid tomatoes would result in an unpredictable mess, so farmers go back to companies that produce the hybrid that gives them a known product every year. Not to mention stuff like seedless watermelons, which you’d need to repurchase every year for obvious reasons.

        These things long predate transgenic crops and they weren’t the subject of protests until now.

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  8. There are only so many socially acceptable ways to call for the slowing of growth of third world populations.

    If “more capitalism!” is not socially acceptable in your particular circle, what’s left?

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        • Without some significant leaps and bounds with discretionary funds, the birth control would probably have to be pretty steeply subsidized (or downright free).

          That’d be a foot in the door for free birth control in the US.

          “We’re giving free BC to the third world but not to our own poor and destitute!”

          That could work.

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          • I think birth control should be free, particularly if paying for it would put your family in economic distress.

            But there are also cultural barriers; though I do have hope that this pope might see the light. He’s already said it’s immoral to breed like rabbits.

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              • I am not convinced that the pill should be available OTC; though once one has a prescription for it, I’m also not convinced that annual check-up is required, either.

                Hormones aren’t something to use without knowledge and guidance.

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                • I can see that, but making them by prescription does inflate the cost, as does the checkups, etc.

                  I don’t think it possible under current law, but we should have it so a woman gets an ordered list of what she should use from her doctor, and she just shows that list to a pharmacist & gets her the preferred one on the list. Kinda like what we do with sudafed, except without the implication that you are going to make meth with it.

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                  • Birth control pills come with some serious side effects, and counterindications.

                    The Morning After Pill is far safer, long term, and that’s why it’s over the counter.

                    Given that the Morning After Pill comes over the counter, why do we need birth control pills (crudely, making your body pregnant perpetually) to be OTC?

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                • There is quite a large subset of women who probably shouldn’t take hormonal estrogen; as one of those women, I know that it’s not so obvious that you shouldn’t take the pill. As I said, I don’t think annual exams are necessary; but a pre-pill screening and at least one follow up at six months or one year is probably is a very good thing.

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                  • What would you recommend when it comes to the developing world? In many developing countries, many women don’t even have a doctor to go to when they’re very ill, never mind going for prescriptions on a regular basis. So what’s better – making it generally available despite knowing that it will be unsafe for some people, or leaving it unavailable for many of those who could benefit from it?

                    This isn’t intended as a trick question; I don’t know the answer myself.

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          • the birth control would probably have to be pretty steeply subsidized (or downright free).

            You say that as if it’s a problem. I might think “Only people of some means can control how many children they’ll need to support” is a perverse outcome, if I didn’t know that the judgments of the market are true and righteous altogether.

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          • Jay,
            You’re not aware that both first world and third world countries have active smuggling operations for birth control? They’re making top dollar, as they should, for having a price on their head.

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    • Really not sure what you’re trying to say here, Jay.

      The one thing that has been statistically shown to result in lower population growth is – higher standards of living. Those aren’t produced by eliminating governments, regulations, and subsidies, and by slashing health and education budgets, as Third World courntires have been pushed to do by capitalist and neoliberal organizations for the last 30 years.

      The solution is 1) countries being able to control their own trading relationships to benefit themselves (as East Asia did – and as every single Western country that now preaches ‘free trade’ did when they were first industrializing) rather than blindly opening themselves to unrestricted free trade; 2) countries investing in health and in social safety nets (particularly retirement support, so people aren’t dependent on their children for having anything to live off once they grow old), and finding ways to achieve growth that improve the lives of all their people, rather than creating spirally inequality and a small number of very rich people; and 3) empowering women with birth control and education so that they can choose how many children they want.

      When people have a better standard of living, they choose to have fewer children. This has proven to be virtually universally true. End poverty, end severe inequality, and population growth will not be an issue.

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      • I thought I was just being silly and making a throwaway joke about how GMO foods are going to prevent people from the worst effects of malnutrition (including dying from it) and how opposition to such things as Golden Rice is something that will, effectively, cause deaths (in the same way that opposition to vaccines will do so).

        But next thing you know…

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  9. North:
    Bipartisanship; the left is uneasy about birth control being so easily available (someone could hurt themselves with it); the right is uncomfortable about birth control in of itself.

    Also, with our current health care financing arrangements, birth control is free via insurance, but must be paid for by the user if OTC.

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  10. I write a post detailing certain facts that strongly support the idea that GMO crops are not the necessity they are often claimed to be. Dave (who, mind you, espouses ideas about protein intake that are well outside the medical consensus and supports his posts with citations to literal curative-oil salesmen) writes a reply that declines to address the substance of my arguments, and instead explicitly resorts to guilt-by-association fallacious reasoning.

    The crowd applauds. I say: Whatever.

    —–

    Dave, the argument is this: GMOs are not necessary or even particularly beneficial, and there’s reason to think some of downside risks are extremely serious or even existential. Therefore the expected value of GMOs very well may be negative. Given these circumstances, the concerns of GMO skeptics should not be automatically shouted down, especially by people with no scientific training, or who have close ties to the companies that stand to profit from GMOs. It is neither warranted nor desirable to dismiss anti-GMO concerns as beyond the pale of rational thought, and they should instead be met with reasoned rebuttals, if possible.

    You’re free to question any of those premises.

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    • It is certainly true that concerns about GMOs should not be shouted down. It is equally true that evidence that supports the benefits of GMOs should not be shouted down. As with ID-creationists, you anti-GMO folks get the opponents you deserve.

      When y’all start playing a clean game, you’ll find that there are people who’ll play a clean game with you.

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    • Basing your argument on the precautionary principle is weak tea. It’s the strategy when nothing more substantial is at hand.

      In all of this, the most substantive argument made, IMHO, against GMO crops is the problem of containment, in that GMO crops can cross breed with others and cause trouble (both biological/genetic & legal).

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      • The argument against GMOs is not limited to the precautionary principle. However, when the supposed benefits of GMOs are shown to be less important than is commonly considered, then even minor precautionary considerations may begin to militate in favor of GMO skepticism. This is especially the case when the studies purporting to show GMO safety are pretty paltry: According to Monsanto’s own researchers, the longest GMO safety feeding trial lasted for only 90 days. (Others have claimed that there have been longer GMO studies, but it isn’t clear whether these studies measured the health of the subjects or instead were used to assess the marketability of their carcasses, and other studies of similar length have found disturbing trends.)

        You acknowledge that contamination issue pose significant concerns. What is this if not an instantiation of some kind of precautionary principle?

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        • I know a lot of the talk has been about Golden Rice. But talk about the Papaya story from the Saletan article. That seems a case where the GMO’s have been successful but that hasn’t led to any changes in the anti-GMO rhetoric in that case.

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          • I don’t think it’s necessary to show that improvements with GMO are impossible to support my central point, which is that people who want to know whether there are GMOs in their food should not be treated like children.

            That said, there a few possible rejoinders to the apparent GMO papaya success story. First, conventional breeding has also developed papaya that is resistant to ringspot virus. Although these papayas are not as completely resistant to the disease as the GMO papaya, they at least demonstrate that GMOs were not necessary to “save the species”, as Dave breathlessly and inaccurately reported. It is also important to consider that genetic modification can have unintended effects along other dimensions: for example, one squash that was genetically modified to resist a viral disease subsequently became more susceptible to a beetle-transmitted bacterial infection. Given the complexity of ecological concerns, it’s arguably more sensible to favor disease-controlling methods closer to those found in nature, because evolution will have likely dealt with those issues before, and the solutions are likely to be more robust.

            Second, even if GMOs saved the papaya industry in certain regions, that would have no bearing on whether GMO papaya is safe to eat over the long-term.

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            • Who is treating who like a child seems like a separate issue then GMO’s in general. It seems like people who are passionate about a subject risk self-righteousness and acting like they know everything. That applies to anti-gmo people as well as anybody else. People will get treated like a child based more on their behavior then their point of view. There are reasonable issues to raise about GMO’s. The most passionate anti-gmo people tend to be ones who go far beyond some of the reasonable concerns that have already been noted above.

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              • I’m not talking just about the policing of tone in GMO debates. I’m talking about the worrying tendency of pro-GMOers to claim that there are no problems with GMOs, and to in turn conclude that even localized efforts to enable people to know whether they’re eating GMOs need to be shut down by powerful centralized entities.

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                • I’m talking about the worrying tendency of pro-GMOers to claim that there are no problems with GMOs,

                  And those people here are? Including text citations to make your case. Good faith requires it.

                  and to in turn conclude that even localized efforts to enable people to know whether they’re eating GMOs need to be shut down by powerful centralized entities.

                  Leftist bullshit completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Again, citations please with text.

                  I’m getting very tired of this.

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                • This is sort of vague to me. If there is to be GMO labeling it will be made law by powerful centralized entities. Even if it is only one state, like CA, that wants GMO labeling everybody will end up with it just due to the size of the CA market. But that is still a centralized gov thing.

                  This is verging on generalized conspiracy theory.

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                  • The federal law that barred states from setting labeling standards also prohibited all local governments from doing so. I don’t see a way to paint that as consistent with allowing local control over how people deal with GMOs.

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                    • I’m not sure what you are looking for local control. Anybody can sell what they want at a farmers market. What local govs are looking at for labeling standards? Do you think a few towns wanting more labeling is going to add up to anything? What local control are you looking for that you can’t have now. People can advertise whatever they want now.

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                      • This isn’t how it works, — anybody cannot sell what they want at a farmer’s market.

                        This is first, state regulation, and that regulation is often captured. Dairy, for instance. Selling raw milk products. Not to mention cannabis and tobacco. Or home-brewed beer.

                        There are all sorts of regulations about what you can and cannot sell at a farmer’s market, and they are set at all levels of government, from federal to state to local, and even by the market. A while back, during the Bush years, they were using the mad-cow scare and bird flu scare to force animal tagging, registration, and a data base, which would essentially have put small, local producers out of business.

                        And a lot of people go to farmer’s markets with not only their own produce, but stuff they go and buy from commercial fruit and vegetable and flower wholesale markets; those wares often fill out the shelves in small farm stands around here.

                        Chellie Pingree, ME’s Dist. 1 Rep. (not my district,) works really hard to keep the more noxious kinds of stuff out of law at the Federal level, to protect small producers from being driven out of business by regulatory capture. I’m really glad she’s taken on that responsibility, it’s very much part of why my state leads in farm creation and new jobs in farming, and why it’s got one of the best food scenes in the country right now.

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            • So the rebuttal to the papaya as a success story is that other techniques have produced results that are good but not quite as good, and that like all crop modification techniques, not all modifications produce unambiguously successful results? As usual, once we start digging into the specifics of particular cases rather than broad hand-wavy proclamations, the anti-GMO claims seem to be pretty unimpressive.

              Given the complexity of ecological concerns, it’s arguably more sensible to favor disease-controlling methods closer to those found in nature, because evolution will have likely dealt with those issues before, and the solutions are likely to be more robust.

              This is a completely unsupported claim. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that conventional breeding is likely to be more robust because it’s really not “closer” to anything found in nature. Mishmashing genes together has produced all manner of crazy things and there’s no reason I’m aware of to claim that they’re any more more predictable than transgenics.

              Along the same lines, any hybrid tomato and apple we produce by traditional breeding could potentially have unintended biochemical consequences. Those are the chances you take when you take entire genomes and mix them together to produce a new plant. Will we need 20-year feeding studies for all of them (and then 50-year studies when the 20-year studies show nothing and people complain about the lack of “really REALLY long term data”)?

              We caught the Lenape potato early enough because the problems with it were first-order, but who is to say that pluots don’t cause us to produce some sort of autism causing metabolic byproduct that accumulates over decades? We hardly have any data.

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              • Genetic engineering is quite plausibly safer, because more controllable, than traditional cross-breeding, because only the desired genes are introduced, whereas with cross-breeding a large variety of genes from the other species is being introduced.

                The safety concerns expressed by GMO opponents are not wholly backwards, but largely so.

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            • Breathlessly and inaccurately? So you do have a sense of humor.

              First, conventional breeding has also developed papaya that is resistant to ringspot virus.

              That’s great. The paper was published in 2011. The threat to papayas was first identified in the mid-1990’s. You provide no evidence that these breeding techniques were available to papaya farmers back then. If genetic engineering was the best option, my guess is that conventional breeding couldn’t help, or else you would have provided evidence. That’s a no-rep.

              http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/06/is-genetic-engineering-always-a-bad-thing-jennifer-mo/

              It is also important to consider that genetic modification can have unintended effects along other dimensions: for example,

              Right, like when they considered that eating a genetically modified papaya that contains part of the ringspot virus will not harm people because they’re already eating papayas infected with the ringspot virus. That’s another no-rep.

              Second, even if GMOs saved the papaya industry in certain regions, that would have no bearing on whether GMO papaya is safe to eat over the long-term…

              So I didn’t breathless and inaccurately report it? Also, is that goal-post moving I see? I thought you weren’t like those bad Greenpeace types!!! Anyway,it’s a no-rep.

              That makes you 0-3. I would appreciate it if you actually address ‘s initial argument. He asked a reasonable question has approached you with the highest level of civility and good faith. He deserves better than what you gave him.

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        • According to Monsanto, 90 days is a standard study length.

          And the contamination issue is not a matter of precautionary principle, but one of dealing with a real & substantive problem. Still, contamination concerns are not a reason to stop GMOs, just an argument for developing a regulatory framework to address it.

          Finally, source authority matters. John Fagan, one of the key authors of your last link, has a significant financial interest in opposing GMOs, and is not exactly what I would call an authoritative source. Ideologue is a much more appropriate term.

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                • You have argued that GMOs should face decades-long testing before being used. That is a controversial position, others criticized you, and you have found no allies for it.

                  Now you claim that you are “simply” arguing for labeling. Not only is it evidently untrue that that is all there is to your argument, but it is a much more easily defended argument, less controversial and more likely to gain allies.

                  As I understand the motte and bailey doctrine, it describes precisely that strategy.

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                  • No, that’s not my position. I’ve noted the lack of long-term studies, yes, but not to argue that GMOs should be banned. My position this whole time has been that there’s insufficient evidence of GMOs’ safety to warrant imposition of them on people who oppose them.

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                    • Still a motte argument. Nobody here is arguing for imposing it against people’s will.

                      I read your post that the above post responded to. You made some strong claims about safety and some pseudoscientific argunents

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            • Such standards already exist and are commonly known as “Organic”.

              This is the thing. There is no need for GMO labeling, because if it was such an important issue, something that really bothered most people, that BigAg/BigFood actively resists despite clearly expressed consumer preferences, there would be companies that would have come up with a GMO-free label and applied to a large range of products.

              Oh, wait, they already have.

              The push for labeling of GMO is the peddling of fear through ignorance by a small group of ideologues who wish to broadcast that fear far & wide. Scare enough people with unfounded claims, and the market for GMOs dries up, as does the research money for other GMO projects, like stopping Malaria with GMO bacteria.

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              • Hell, why not just promote a “GMO Free” labeling standard, the same way we have an “organic” standard? That would certainly be more effective than “may contain GMO”. (As I’ve pointed out in the past, that would quickly become the equivalent of California’s Proposition 65 warning.)

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                • As I point out, such already exists.

                  The issue, I suspect, is really one of “This group is concerned/outraged by X, the rest of humanity is not sufficiently concerned/outraged by X, therefore we must stoke the fires of irrational fear such that X is a big deal for everyone.”

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      • I have none, unless you count in economics (and for the love of god, please don’t). But I’m also not trying to say that anyone who disagrees with me is anti-science and needs to toe the line, or else. Saletan and his compatriots feel comfortable making the decision of whether GMOs are acceptable for the entire nation. My point is that this is ironic given the considerable pushback on GMOs from certain scientific quarters on the one hand, and Saletan’s total lack of scientific background on the other.

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        • How long will it take to prove they are safe? Can it be done? What i find so funny is that most foods we eat have been modified. Just look at corn, which has been heavily modifed from its original wild form.

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          • It depends on how we define “safe”. If we define it narrowly as “it doesn’t kill you within a few weeks”, then studies that are a few weeks long should suffice. If we define “safe” to instead mean “it doesn’t cause harm even in systems that tend to accumulate problems chronically, such as hepatic and cardiovascular systems”, then ideally we’d want studies that are decades-long. We haven’t gotten anywhere near there with GMOs.

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            • “If we define “safe” to instead mean “it doesn’t cause harm even in systems that tend to accumulate problems chronically, such as hepatic and cardiovascular systems”, then ideally we’d want studies that are decades-long.”

              Is there any evidence that any thing like this is even possible with GMOs? Or more likely is this a BS argument being raised to confuse the issue? This isn’t DDT or PCBs.

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                • What’s interesting in these short term studies is that they tend not to get any follow up. We’re coming up on a decade for the newer study and there has been no update to the work. Nothing with larger sample sizes. Nothing with the isogenic soybean as a control (rather than a wild soybean). A more solid and conclusive result indicating that Roundup Ready soybeans have genuine developmental effects would be a career maker. And yet these potentially interesting results never get more interesting follow ups.

                  I can only think of a few explanations. Everybody everywhere has something better to do with their research time and money (seems unlikely). The vast GMO conspiracy silences them (also pretty unlikely). Alternately, the results don’t reproduce well in more focused, rigorous tests and due to uninteresting results, nobody publishes any follow ups.

                  Meanwhile, we’ve had transgenic crops in our food system for years without any apparent problems. This seems to be a little bit like the small studies that porn consumption causes sexual violence being kicked around against a background of an orders-of-magnitude increase in porn consumption and no matching increase in sexual violence.

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                  • It’s also true that there are no long-term studies demonstrating safety, right? And those findings would be just as sexy, if not more so to closely-interested parties, right?

                    My point is that there are a number of reasons short-term studies wouldn’t be followed up on that don’t comport with your supposition.

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                    • It’s also true that there are no long-term studies demonstrating safety, right?

                      What does “demonstrating safety” mean, exactly? And what type of study would you accept? We seem to be moving into totally uncharted territory here. I’m not aware of any product ever that has such studies.

                      And those findings would be just as sexy, if not more so to closely-interested parties, right?

                      Not really. The weight of the scientific evidence is that that these things are safe. Aside from the fact that “safe” isn’t really a testable hypothesis, you’re probably not going to get published in Nature by confirming that transgenic soy is free of, say, magnetic monopoles. It’s nowhere near as interesting as a solid finding that 80+% of our corn and 90% percent of our soybeans are dangerous.

                      My point is that there are a number of reasons short-term studies wouldn’t be followed up on that don’t comport with your supposition.

                      I must have missed the connection. What are they, specifically? I’m really interested in what would make a scientist who researches food safety and whose career is based on publishing in journals look at a compelling chance to prove that corn is poison and say, “Meh. I have other things to do.”

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                    • has it right. You can’t demonstrate safety. If the requirement was to demonstrate safety, the modern pharmaceutical industry would not exist, and the whole naturopath/herbal remedy market* would never be.

                      What you can do is look for expected harm, identify it, and figure out the dosing that is generally safe (if it exists).

                      So for instance, RoundUp Ready crops – The questions to be asked are:

                      How does the plant resist the effects of RoundUp?
                      Does the resistance result in compounds that are known to be harmful to be retained in the plant?
                      Are they retained in the edible parts?
                      How much is retained and is it within acceptable levels?
                      Are there any potential bio-chemical interactions that could enhance or degrade the toxicity of the compound in question?

                      That’s all I can come up with off the top of my head, anybody with a stronger background in Bio-Chem have anything to add?

                      Anyway, the point is that with safety studies you don’t just keep feeding it to animals & waiting to see if there is a bad interaction. You have to have a target to look for. So in one of the links you provided, the abstract mentions mice developing problems from GMO soybeans. The abstract doesn’t go into detail with regard to how much soybean the mice were eating, or what compound was being investigated, or a half dozen other important details that I would need to see before I could say if the research is something troubling.

                      Of course, there are other studies that can be done that look for the unknown causes of harm. E.G. studies that try to find environmental factors that contribute to the development of cancer. Such studies are considerably more complicated, much more expensive, and usually not very successful because there are just too many variables at play when you don’t have a specific target in mind that you can control for. This is why proving safety is an impossible goal.

                      *I don’t think you’ve ever expressed an opinion with regard to the Naturopath/Herbal Remedy Market, but there is an area with very little clinical research (especially when compared to pharmaceuticals & GMOs) that a lot of GMO critics give a pass to, despite there being known harms if herbs are not dosed properly, or combined improperly, or if the herbs are of poor/inconsistent quality.

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                      • *I don’t think you’ve ever expressed an opinion with regard to the Naturopath/Herbal Remedy Market, but there is an area with very little clinical research (especially when compared to pharmaceuticals & GMOs) that a lot of GMO critics give a pass to, despite there being known harms if herbs are not dosed properly, or combined improperly, or if the herbs are of poor/inconsistent quality.

                        Keep your damn hands off my Hydroxycut!

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                      • In all seriousness, I’ve seen more than my fair share of hypocrisy coming from the “natural” crowd, especially as it pertains to weight loss supplements and “male” supplements.

                        On one hand, I wouldn’t mind seeing weight loss supplements regulated. On the other, seeing as the primary ingredient in most of them is caffeine and something with a little knowledge can effectively (and legally) put together a fat burning supplement by purchasing legal ingredients that will never be banned, it doesn’t really matter.

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                      • How does the plant resist the effects of RoundUp?
                        Does the resistance result in compounds that are known to be harmful to be retained in the plant?
                        Are they retained in the edible parts?
                        How much is retained and is it within acceptable levels?
                        Are there any potential bio-chemical interactions that could enhance or degrade the toxicity of the compound in question?

                        So long as that look isn’t just at human impacts; the flora and fauna that live in the field matter, as well. Their good health is your good health in ever so many ways.

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                        • One would hope a holistic approach would be taken, but I was addressing the specific question of safety with regard to consumption. I believe I’ve expressed elsewhere that I regard the larger environmental question of GMOs to be quite valid and probably insufficiently addressed as a regulatory matter (this whole conversation has gotten crazy long).

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      • Mr. Greer, that is an unsatisfactory response. You established lack of scientific training as a credentialing standard for this debate. You cannot escape the application of your own standard, so if people without scientific training ought not be be shouting things down, your own shouting down of GMOs is thereby implicated.

        And if there was also an implication that we ought not listen to those without scientific training, then we ought not listen to you.

        No?

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        • I’m not shouting down GMOs. I’m providing reasons why people who might not want GMOs in their food deserve to be treated more seriously than Saletan and the like have argued. That’s been my position the entire time.

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          • You are shouting down the science, using a double-standard to shield yourself against the criticisms you levy against others.

            Your approach to debating the issue of GMOs appears to be disingenuous. The term “honest broker is often employed in discussions of science and policy, and several other people here appear to fit that term suitably, but I cannot conclude that you do.

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  11. I write a post detailing certain facts that strongly support the idea that GMO crops are not the necessity…

    Yes, and I went after the narrative framing, a framing that was misleading at best and blatantly dishonest at worst. The way you presented Saletan’s post to readers was not the way Saletan presented his arguments to readers. You focused on his alleged mistakes and exclusions about GMOs when the thrust of the article had to do with the way people in your camp have resorted to all sorts of unethical means to support an ideological cause, something you seem to have no problem with seeing as not once have you denounced them.

    You chastise Saletan for failing to disclose the “controversy” about the science behind Golden Rice? Are you kidding? It’s people like you, people with jack shit for scientific backgrounds and jack shit for interest in accepting scientific findings, that are creating a controversy more than the GMO skeptics that are focusing more on the bigger picture issues with genetic engineering than with a single potential crop. Are you telling me a University of Chicago-trained lawyer couldn’t pick this up from Saletan’s piece?

    Even if I want to be remotely charitable to your position, does the existence of a “scientific debate” validate the anti-GMO tactics that have been used to stall the availability of Golden Rice? A simple yes or no will suffice.

    If you don’t think what I just said describes you, I’ll take a couple of excerpts in your post:

    Saletan makes a lot of hay out of the fact that anti-GMO activists often can’t point to specific known harms, but instead must rely on fears of unknown future problems. But unknown side effects are not necessarily inchoate, ad hoc rationales to oppose genetic modification, and are in fact especially salient in the realm of nutrition because of the field’s complexity.

    Anyone with basic reading comprehension and five minutes to fact check you knows that you’ve told only half the story. The other half, and the more important half, is that appeals to the unknown problems are highly correlated to the tried-and-true anti-GMO tactic of moving the goal posts whenever scientific studies find against their beliefs. Since you only focused on Golden Rice, I’ll assume that you simply forgot to read the Golden Papaya case study – the one where the kind of genetic engineering you say we don’t need actually saved the papaya as a species, much to the chagrin of your allies. The anti-GMO types took goal post moving to a higher art form, and I see you embracing that same mindset:

    If studies end up showing that Golden Rice actually alleviates the ultimate problems it was intended to fix, it might still be that it’s problematic for other reasons we didn’t even think to explore…

    Those reasons are because someone without a background in nutrition is telling me that nutrition is complicated. No shit. However, I don’t need a background in nutrition to figure out that all you’ve done is leave sufficient wiggle room to find something else to oppose when science inevitably proves you wrong.

    Since this is way too easy, I’ll limit this to one more:

    Although studies have indeed shown that some biomarkers improve upon ingestion of Golden Rice, no studies to date show that eating Golden Rice actually prevents night blindness.

    Yes, these are the same studies that disproved anti-GMO claims, and yet, after making multiple claims that scientists demonstrated to have no foundation in science, reason or, well, anything, anti-GMO advocates found their scientific hurdle, just like you (and Saletan) said they would. Reading the Saletan article, I wasn’t under the impression that night blindness played a significant role in anti-GMO opposition until recently. Given the history, it’s quite suspect.

    At this point, I have to ask you bluntly – do you take us to be idiots? Given what I learned in the Saletan article, the concern about not proving that Golden Rice cures night blindness is not an exercise in “studied skepticism”, it’s an ideological stalling tactic born out of the need to have the goal posts moved to once again impose a demand that may or may not be met. Worse, you are here at OT trying to give this anti-scientific practice an aura of respectability. Studied skepticism my ass.

    writes a reply that declines to address the substance of my arguments,

    I questioned the framing of the narrative. You have not rebutted my points on that. I questioned your intentions and, indirectly, your character. I’m not impressed with your response.

    As a concession to you, I addressed two of your statements, and all it did was prove that I was right to spend too much time on them.

    and instead explicitly resorts to guilt-by-association fallacious reasoning.

    What do you know about fallacious reasoning? Oh wait…

    The crowd applauds.

    It must be my carnivorously crafted biceps.

    I say: Whatever.

    I say you’ve conveniently avoided addressing the substance of my post, doing exactly what you accused me of doing. I actually did address your first paragraph. As you like to politely (or passive aggressively) say to people when they rebut you “please read my posts more carefully”.

    Dave, the argument is this: GMOs are not necessary or even particularly beneficial, and there’s reason to think some of downside risks are extremely serious or even existential. Therefore the expected value of GMOs very well may be negative.

    And people like , and can fully articulate those points without resorting to the sorts of tactics and arguments you are known to bring to these discussions. The difference between you and them in my eyes is that they have the kind of credibility that allows me to take comfort in the fact that I’m not being bullshitted.

    However, not only do I question your approach to this issue and your intent on playing a clean game in good faith, I also have no faith that you will ever believe that the expected value of GMOs is positive no matter how much evidence goes against you. That doesn’t make you a reasoned skeptic. That makes you an ideologue. I don’t trust your ilk much less like them.

    Given these circumstances, the concerns of GMO skeptics should not be automatically shouted down

    Two quick points. First, I’m not “automatically” shouting down the concerns of GMO skeptics. Had you actually read and understood my post before complaining about it, you would have seen that I acknowledged a number of concerns. Second, I’m only shouting down those like you that refuse to play a clean game because, frankly, they deserve to have their asses handed to them.

    especially by people with no scientific training

    Got it. I’ll make sure that every reader that pushes back on your ideas has a pre-agreed level of scientific competency before addressing your comments. After all, we want to make sure our commenters are at the same level as you when it comes to having formal scientific training so we can make sure that we don’t have anyone here that would dare peddle pseudo-science like those fruitarians and vegans do.

    or who have close ties to the companies that stand to profit from GMOs.

    …meaning everyone that disagrees with you. I mean, they all must be on the Monsanto payroll right?

    It is neither warranted nor desirable to dismiss anti-GMO concerns as beyond the pale of rational thought

    I didn’t. I just dismissed you. This is no different than dismissing the Culinary Luddites. There are plenty of people that share the same concerns as Culinary Luddites. Since they don’t come across as the kind of people I don’t want to be around and/or ideological zealots, I prefer their company.

    and they should instead be met with reasoned rebuttals, if possible.

    And they will…

    Just like you’re free to re-read my post and make an attempt to address my substantive points. Good luck. You’re probably going to need it.

    Dave (who, mind you, espouses ideas about protein intake that are well outside the medical consensus and supports his posts with citations to literal curative-oil salesmen)

    Are you sure you want to go here?.

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    • Hi , I hope we can steer this conversation toward a more civil tone.

      I don’t feel an iota of guilt over my presentation of Saletan’s piece. I actually conceived of my piece as something to be read as a follow-up to Saletan’s, and his article was so popular at the time that I assumed that a target audience would have largely been familiar with it by the time they read mine. Regardless, I linked to his article directly, which should have cleared up any confusion for halfway-careful readers.

      I don’t doubt that some people in the anti-GMO crowd have resorted to underhanded tactics to further their cause, and I find some of their actions as elucidated in Saletan’s article to be pretty repugnant. But that’s orthogonal to the issue I was trying to raise, which is that there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical of GMOs. Your insistence in raising the malfeasance of certain anti-GMO activists is naked guilt-by-association.

      Even if I want to be remotely charitable to your position, does the existence of a “scientific debate” validate the anti-GMO tactics that have been used to stall the availability of Golden Rice? A simple yes or no will suffice.

      You’re going to have to be more specific. Which anti-GMO tactics are we talking about here?

      I don’t think that having a alternative objections to GMOs means that anti-GMO campaigners are necessarily “moving the goalposts”. People have multiple objections to things, and at various times, they may judge certain of those objections to be more likely to sway an interlocutor than others. This is all consistent with debating in good faith.

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      • If you want civility, don’t resort to sleazy tactics to make your arguments and people will respond in kind. The tone of this conversation is a function of your approach to this subject as well as your follow-up response to me. I think I’m being more than fair to you. Hell, thank the editors here for steering me towards the amount of civility I’ve shown you. They deserve a ton of credit.

        I don’t feel an iota of guilt over my presentation of Saletan’s piece.

        Let me see if I can understand this. I just kicked your ass in a full-length post, called you out for your sleazy ass tactics, responding to a weak as hell complaint from you by tearing into your arguments and you even more and you expect me to care about your lack of guilt? You’re probably too sore to feel anything right about now.

        I actually conceived of my piece as something to be read as a follow-up to Saletan’s, and his article was so popular at the time that I assumed that a target audience would have largely been familiar with it by the time they read mine.

        So when you conceived your piece, you didn’t consider the possibility that someone would read your piece and see if the way you positioned Saletan had anything to do with the substance of Saletan’s article? Most people didn’t bother with that with your Laudan article but you straw manned the shit out of her too. Hell, I read all your past posts and I remember j-r calling you out on your narrative in one of your Food Symposium posts.

        Not only was I familiar with the article, I’m familiar with your pattern, had enough of it and decided to express my disgust with it.

        Regardless, I linked to his article directly, which should have cleared up any confusion for halfway-careful readers.

        Thank you for that. It did. At first, I was wondering how Saletan could have gotten anything wrong about GMOs because a halfway-careful reader would have seen that he is saying that the case against GMOs is full of fraud, lies and errors. When I re-read the article, I figured out the problem and I wrote a post in response.

        I don’t doubt that some people in the anti-GMO crowd have resorted to underhanded tactics to further their cause…

        “I don’t doubt”? How about “I admit”. It’s hard to not doubt given Saletan’s scorching article.

        But that’s orthogonal to the issue I was trying to raise, which is that there are legitimate reasons to be skeptical of GMOs.

        This statement is completely unnecessary and not helpful to your defense. The halfway-careful reader of my post would know that I acknowledged the legitimate concerns. The halfway-careful reader of the comments section knows that raised concerns that I was not giving people with legitimate concerns a fair shake, and I think I addressed that.

        Your insistence in raising the malfeasance of certain anti-GMO activists is naked guilt-by-association.

        Nice try. My insistence in raising the malfeasance of certain anti-GMO activists is a huge problem for you in at least two ways. First, it makes it that much harder for the genuine GMO skeptics to get a fair hearing in the marketplace of ideas when the marketplace is dominated by accounts like Saletan’s. I think this is a major credibility issue, at least in the public realm. The second is that I didn’t attempt a naked guilt by association. I think my position is quite covered. Since you didn’t actually read my post:

        To one of Robert’s comments:

        If studies end up showing that Golden Rice actually alleviates the ultimate problems it was intended to fix, it might still be that it’s problematic for other reasons we didn’t even think to explore.

        As I was writing this post, I watched a debate about genetically modified foods, and the GMO skeptics were asked what it take for them to have their concerns alleviated support GM foods, and both individuals made good faith attempts to answer the question. Robert’s answer smacks of anti-science, anti-intellectualism and dogmatic ideology. If studies end up showing that Golden Rice is the boon scientists believe it to be, the jury is no longer out and Robert’s concerns have been alleviated. However, Robert can’t bring himself to leave it at that. While he himself is not moving the goal posts, he gives himself an opportunity to do so, something that the anti-GMO activists have a strong track record of doing not only with Golden Rice. Such a position is not worthy of our respect or support. He talks like a good faith skeptic but implies that he would have no qualms using troglodyte tactics if need be. To hell with science.

        You can say whatever you want to give readers whatever impression you want to give them; however, in cases like this, especially given your history, I tend to look closer at people, especially those I trust as far as I can throw.

        Which anti-GMO tactics are we talking about here?

        I wrote above “the anti-GMO tactics that have been used to stall the availability of Golden Rice?” Of course, the Great Robert Greer that always chastises other people for not reading clearly read that and simply forgot, right?

        I don’t think that having a alternative objections to GMOs means that anti-GMO campaigners are necessarily “moving the goalposts”.

        I’m not explaining myself again and you obviously didn’t read the Saletan article. I think everyone can see how the anti-GMO activists ARE moving the goalposts and your denial of this even being a possibility tells me that you either don’t get it or refuse to get it. Given that I think you’re a pseudo-scientific ideologue, my guess is the latter. You have some serious issues with cognitive dissonance.

        People have multiple objections to things, and at various times, they may judge certain of those objections to be more likely to sway an interlocutor than others

        Stay on topic. Oh wait, that’s not really your thing.

        This is all consistent with debating in good faith.

        You don’t know the first fishing thing about good faith. You want good faith? Respond to what I actually wrote to you without going off on boring and irrelevant tangents.

        I had you wrong. I figured that you’d read my post, get a little more aggressive and attempt to throw a fastball at my head. Instead, I get this weak-ass response that the equivalent of me getting an underhanded pitch from my five-year old son. Maybe it’s a strength issue. I hear protein works for that.

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        • The reason I asked for more specificity about your question was because it was framed as a yes-or-no. But because it had multiple components, this yes-or-no framing rendered it a compound question. If you want a yes-or-no answer, you have to ask a question congruent with such a response.

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