May 8th, 2019
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Jesus and Mo, meet Dunning and Kruger.
Umm… how many proponents of GM food know what they’re talking about?
Bingo. For completeness, you might have figured out a way to include the anti-vaxers.
Anonymous: I’m raising my hand.
Hi – a cautionary thought about this cartoon (witty though it is, as always). Firstly, I don’t think that concern about GM food is in the same category of anti-scientism as lots of other current silliness (eg over vaccinations). And secondly, surveys I’ve seen re GM foods tend to buck the trend identified in this cartoon: ie, when focus groups are given more actual information about GM things, their increased education _increases_ their opposition. (Though I accept that it might _also_ be the case that there is a correlation between lack of scientific education and “certainty” over the issue.
Steve – my hand is up too.
I don’t know about GM food specifically, but I can think of some cases of unwarranted faith in better living through the wonders of science, on the part of bona fide scientists – albeit employed in quite unrelated disciplines. Like a microbiologist studying the lifecycle of some human disease, who’s bought the “conventional” agriculture story hook, line and sinker, that without the Monsanto Miracle humanity would be plunged into starvation. There’s no connection whatever there to her scientific expertise, but she, being a scientist, can scoff at the air headed hippies who think you can grow abundant quantities of food with dung and stuff like a medieval peasant. Fortunately that isn’t universal.
Sorry, Steve, and others, I did not intend to post anonymously. Getting old. I still believe in vaccination (never mind its possible cost) but my faith in science has taken a knock by the co-authors of the Wakefield report (and its publishers) getting out of jail free by simply turning state’s evidence. Why were they not all admonished?
Sorry, Steve, and others, I did not intend to post anonymously. Getting old. I still believe in vaccination (never mind its possible cost) but my faith in science has taken a knock by the co-authors of the Wakefield report (and its publishers) getting out of jail free by simply turning state’s evidence. Why were they not censured? It is on they we rely to keep science honest, and credible.
Good point, Albert Beale, re the distinction between opposition and certainty. Opposition to can as reasonably come from uncertainty, when there’s no really compelling reason why we’ll be doomed without the doubted thing (say, GM corn, which may not be grown in Mexico – though in that case not in any way because of uncertainty.)
Great punchline in the last panel, Author.
I think it’s quite possible that Jesus and Mo are very familiar with the psychological shortcomings of humans. They’ve been exploiting them for centuries. Confirmation bias, appeals to authority, pareidolia, xenophobia, and general credulity have all helped religion maintain its status in the past. I’m sure there are more I can’t think of off the top of my head.
Of course this doesn’t mean that they, themselves, don’t share those shortcomings. Hence the last panel.
The more people know about GM, the more opposed they are? Sure. A well-documented phenomenon is confirmation bias. The more a person with strong beliefs is presented with evidence, the harder they cling to their beliefs. Anti-anything (GM, vaccinations, global earth, creationism, climate change, etc.) is likely to be very resistant to facts. What to do? I don’t know that anyone has a good answer.
I know its contraversial, but are the genes for intelligence slowly being diluted as the morons breed like rabbits?
To Albert Beale & cjsm:
Anti-science people (such as GM-opponents and anti-vaxxers) are literally afraid of science. They dare not listen to it in case they understand something and it disturbs their firmly seated opinions. As a rule they are so stupid that there is no risk of them understanding anything anyway, but you sometimes see genuine fear on a face that resolutely will not listen.
Darwin Harmless, While I concur with what I believe your intent, it seems unlikely to me that either Jesus or Mo are interested in the psychological shortcomings of humans. However, the self appointed theocratic rulers of the various cults purporting to follow their teachings are deeply involved in knowing of and exploiting those shortcomings as they create their various Gods for worship.
Given the unreliability of a lot of published studies*, a healthy scepticism is certainly warranted no matter what the issue. That said, while I understand that there’s little inherently wrong with most GMO food crops, there are some that I avoid whenever possible. GMO wheat & corn for example. They are engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s weed killer RoundUp which enables farmers to overspray safely. The key ingredient is Glyphosate, a known carcinogen.
Right – whether it’s directly harmful to us, what’s the point? Typically, to use steadily increasing amounts of Monsanto’s toxins on the fields, until the weeds develop the same or similar resistance. “Afraid of science”, no, but afraid of science that serves giant corporations’ narrow interests, you bet.
I have no concerns about GM effects on me directly – those are easy to test – but I have substantial concerns about its effect on our ecosystem and future food production. Letting scientists do whatever they please is like letting priests do whatever they please.
It’s plenty cold and brisk outside where I am right now.
So much for global warming, indeed!
Although I am in the southern hemisphere and it is autumn…
Aye, its six degrees below average here in old blighty. Looks like I won’t be sunbathing on my birthday tomorrow like I have done in the past…
One of the strangest things about the Brexit debates in the UK is that there are a few good things that would come with leaving the EU but they are almost never talked about. Don’t get me wrong: I’m strongly in favour of staying in the EU, but concede that leaving the EU would have some minor benefits. Two of them are: leaving the Common Agricultural Policy with its massive payments to the rich owners of agricultural land irrespective of merit, and the other is that the rules against GM foods could be relaxed. But the oddity is that I have never seen either of these cited as reasons to leave the EU by Brexit supporters. I think the reason is that Brexit supporters are against GM foods for the same reason they are against the EU: they see all of it as part of a massive conspiracy by the educated elite (scientists, politicians, etc.) against the common man. I don’t know but I would expect a positive correlation between supporting Brexit and climate change denying for similar reasons.
Lots of well researched articles on Vaccination, GMOs, how best to fight climate change…
The Simple Proof of Man-Made Global Warming
clive_p, do you suppose that the EU position on GM foods comes out of the same attitude you impute to Brexit supporters, EU members’ distrust of the educated elite? Could it possibly be instead that this isn’t touted as Brexit advantage, just because not many people would find it very compelling?
cjsm, for what it’s worth, here are some sources with info. on how to persuade people when they’re resistant to facts:
Clive p. Apparently you aren’t the first to notice a correlation between climate change denial and Brexit support
Of course, as annoyingly squirty faux-humble Ben “Bad Science” Goldacre never tires of pointing, out “correlation is not causation”.
Often there is a hidden variable causing both outcomes. In this case the hidden variable linking Brexit and climate change denial is probably “being a bit of a twat”
I think that the referendum was a ridiculously stupid idea. Who was qualified to make such fundamental political and economic decisions? I wasn’t, so I voted to stay in, which seemed the logical leg of the dichotomy….unfortunately too many people couldn’t even be bothered to vote, so the moron vote won….sigh
You say you voted one way as you have insufficient knowledge to make a proper personal judgement, yet you accuse those those who voted the other way of being morons. Can you see the problem with your logic?
I can sort of see the logic. We have maybe a similar problem with referendum politics in my state, where some faction with a lot to gain will essentially buy state law, by putting up a referendum and then heavily promoting it to citizenry who arguably are not competent to sort this stuff out. Sometimes, having lost one round, they can afford to just keep coming back until they win. In situations like that, an electorate that was sort of conditioned to automatically vote against any referendum would be a healthy development.
Or to look at it another way, the burden of proof is on the proposing party. If they don’t meet that, you don’t just not vote, you vote no.
Cliffb. I see no problem. The remain vote was the logical vote for anybody who had insufficient knowledge of possible economic conditions after a brexit. And that is nearly everybody…The case for brexit was mostly preposterous xenophobic rhetoric, but unfortunately that appeals to most homo sapiens wirh a built in out group distrust…
I am a definite pro science human but also a voter for leaving the EU, because I’m also an anarchist.
I believe in the power of chaos and unexpected change to drive innovation and human progress.
Unfortunately the most common driver of chaos is war, which I am not in favour of. However leaving the EU
is a powerful driver which shouldn’t involve any battles other than verbal. Watching the EU focused documentary last week on the Brexit negotiations I am satisfied with my vote. Britain is in anarchy (i.e. it has no leader) and we have both chaos and a satisfying repeated humiliation of our political class.
But that’s just my viewpoint.
I don’t want to be part of any organisation that won’t let anyone leave it. It is rather too much like the mafia, Islam and Readers Digest.
I’m late as usual but just want to agree with Albert Beale. Disquiet about the addition of GM to the industrial agriculture armoury is a respectable position. For example:
“The scarcity and contradictory nature of the scientific evidence published to date prevents conclusive claims of safety, or lack of safety, of GMOs. Claims of consensus on the safety of GMOs are not supported by an objective analysis of the refereed literature.”
‘No scientific consensus on GMO safety.’ Hilbecki A and [over 300] others. Environmental Sciences Europe (2015) 27:4
This is more recent than the two sources claiming consensus on safety cited by the article abstract https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0520-3#ref-CR1
This is worth a watch: a talk by the Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine in the School of Medicine at Tufts University, probably not someone who ‘knows the least’ about the subject, on the manufacture of scientific consensus on GMOs:
This is without even getting into questions of increased pesticide use (‘Roundup-ready’), the doubtful claims of increased productivity, the disastrous effects of patenting seeds on small-scale farmers (who contrary to popular belief produce over half the world’s food), or the attempts to circumvent regulation in India.
CliffB. You can leave any time you like. I would suggest that, like other self-confessed anarchists you go and live someowhere truly without a government. Democratic Republic of Congo is nice at this time of year. Also Somalia.
You will send us a postcard from your libertarian paradise, won’t you? Tell us how you get on, free from taxes and oppression and all that awful neo-liberalism.
I mean, you wouldn’t want us to think that your anarchism was a sophomoric pose from someone who thinks Ayn Rand is a philosopher, and whose whole intellectual position could only exist because you live a life of utterly pampered ease, fully supported by other, hard-working folk, and a long-lasting infrastructure paid for and maintained by others–all of whom you affect to despise now, would you?
M27Holts — When I don’t feel I have sufficient understanding of an issue I just don’t vote. How would I know whether Yes or No (Leave or Remain) was the better choice? The thing is, when you characterize the case for Brexit as “mostly preposterous xenophobic rhetoric” you are implicitly asserting that you understand the issue well enough to make a choice, even though at the same time you are claiming ignorance.
It is certainly not the case that inaction is under all circumstances the “logical” choice when you don’t fully understand the ramifications of action. As far as Brexit goes, I can see justifying it this way: “I really don’t like many of the very visible consequences of membership in the EU, and even though there may be an economic downside to it, I have enough confidence in my nation that I believe we will eventually be able to sort things out after leaving.” This line of thinking might turn out to be correct or incorrect, but I don’t see anything illogical about it.
My own suspicion is that if a hard Brexit had somehow been rammed through two years ago or so, Britain would be well on it’s way to sorting things out by now.
Wow, HelenaHandbasket, did I missed a comment that was expunged, or was the addressing in error? I’m not sure what Deimos was really thinking, it seems to me a good deal of that comment was ironic, but in my experience when people sincerely espouse anarchism, they’re talking about something that’s very different from either the libertarian fantasy or the failed states in Africa, practically the opposite. I’d be an anarchist myself, if only I had the social skills.
To make a sort of strained parallel to religion, the religious will tell you that without god you’d apparently have no morals, and the statists will tell you that without a state to govern over you, you’ll descend into lawless violence. Others however might propose that power actually increases amorality and lawless violence, whether in the hands of religion or the state.
The problem with anarchists is that, in reality, they are merely conforming by their non conformity….simples
Thanks for the pointer to this great research! My own satirical take is here: https://norighttobelieve.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/an-illusion-of-knowledge/
I’m wondering what there was about my posts that could possibly give rise to the impression that I am anarchist, or even a libertarian, or that I confessed myself to be one?
Maybe anyone that doesn’t agree with you is an anarchist, though. or maybe anyone who is comfortable with Brexit?
Oozoid: I am not sure what you mean by “The Wakefield report”. The 1998 article by Andrew Walkefield and others described twelve children with symptoms that might need explanation. It was published in the Lancet as an “early report”, so intended to trigger further, better-quality research. The other authors are mainly guilty of trusting too much in someone who in the end turned out to be a shameless liar.
For better or worse, most medical research relies on people being trustworthy; and most of the time they are. Requiring everything published to be proved to a level acceptable in a court of law would slow down the research process massively.
Eventually cheats get found out. Plausible cheats, like Andrew Westlake, can nonetheless do a lot of damage.
There is a good account of everything that was wrong with it here: https://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452
PS Good to see Albert Beale comenting. Old comrades shold stick together.
Aye. No doubt that it was a case of deliberate falsification! Should be a Tariff of Life imprisionment for such an offence…That coupled with being made to watch “loose women” on a loop all day until the brain becomes mush…
More rancorous spite, more furious raging broils,
Than yet can be imagined or supposed,
Writes not so tedious a style as this.
I prithee give me leave to curse awhile.
I’ll over then to England with this news
And make this brexit to be solemnized.
Thou mayst not wander in that labyrinth:
There Minotaurs and ugly treasons lurk.
Post doggerel. Give me navier stokes equations, they are less opaque than your prose…prithee…or whatever. .
at the cock and bull, on fleeting occasions,
you’ll hear talk of navier-stokes equations.
blokes ponder viscosity
with strokes of precocity,
and abrasions oft preempt dissuasions.
the barmaid says “knock it off, blokes,
we’ve banned speaking of navier-stokes,
and politics and religion,
not even a smidgen,
and nothing that goads or provokes”.
the blokes abandoned their precocity,
forgot temperature, pressure, velocity,
and began to regale
over beer nuts and ale
but of math there was a great paucity.
confutational fluid dynamics
will get engineers out of their hammocks
to peer over the stern
where the white waters churn,
and get back to their heuristic antics.
[…] Go see the rest of the Jesus and Mo cartoon to find out how they got to that point. […]