The TED radio hour re-aired Believers And Doubters recently. It is a mark of how much I really objected the the subject matter in the selected talks for this show that I didn’t even realize I’d listened to it before until my Mother of Memory, Facebook’s On This Day app, reminded me of it a few days ago,
The first TED program I’ve ever skipped through. No interest whatsoever in Billy Graham, his views, or who he influenced. As a corn-fed Kansan who lives in Texas currently, I can get my fill of the product of his influence right outside my door. The rest of the program was interesting if misguided. Like Julia Sweeney I try not to use the far too ubiquitous word ‘belief’. I know facts. I accept concepts. Belief is the subject of momentary whim; as in “I believe I will share this podcast” click send, belief dealt with.
Funny, but I had a similar feeling when they re-aired this program again. Similar feeling, different response. Let’s go through this together, shall we?
What I find most interesting about Billy Graham’s TED talk (and I’ve heard the whole thing, not just the snippets here) is the near-complete lack of informational content. The next most interesting thing is his daughter’s description of how her father came to his faith. Listening to her description, I could not help but realize that what she was describing was the adoption of wilful ignorance, not faith.
This is borne out through his years of preaching, so I don’t come to this conclusion based solely on her description. His entire career was based on a false belief in the power of god to save mankind from itself; when quite clearly the saving of mankind has to be upon mankind itself. If it isn’t then the Calvinist’s and determinists are right and what happens was always going to happen, because we don’t have any volitional control over what we do or what we can change.
Wilful ignorance completely describes everything Billy Graham; and it is frightening to realize that he has guided the destiny of several presidents with his mistaken faith. How much death and destruction, how much pain and suffering has been caused by this one evil man’s hold on the spiritual leash of our nations leaders? That is a question worth contemplating.
I find it amusing that the anecdote about Edison calling a priest to his deathbed is mentioned by Graham in his talk. I have spent hours digging through tomes on Edison, and I’ve never found a credible source that relates the story that he imparts in his TED talk. It never happened as far as I can tell.
“Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me — the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love — He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us — nature did it all — not the gods of the religions.
He then goes on to laud Blaise Pascal for the reasoning that lead him to make the famous wager. Really? Pascal’s wager is a demonstrable false dichotomy. There is no either/or question that can be answered by Pascal’s wager because there is no one god to worship or even one version of one god that can be credited as being the god to worship to keep you out of hell (As I said in the addendum to Atheism is Not a Belief System, the only sane solution to the problem presented by Pascal’s wager is to decide that there is no hell. -ed.) so worshipping any god is probably a bad idea if staying out of any one belief systems bad place is your ultimate goal. Just don’t go there in the first place and then you can’t be sentenced by the people who follow that faith. Well, they will blame you, curse you, attempt to compel you. In the end they can’t make you worship because the can’t make you think they way they want you to think.
Andrew Solomon writes about politics, culture, and psychology. His newest book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, tells stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children, but also find profound meaning in doing so. He writes about families coping with deafness, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, severe disabilities, and many other challenges.
I myself have been accused of being on the payroll of Monsanto. I wish was on the payroll of Monsanto. If any Monsanto executives are reading this and want to pay me, please let me know. I am not a journalist, I do not care if anyone considers my opinion unbiased or not. I will gladly take your payola.
However, targeting people who rightly suggest that the phobic froth around the mouth of the anti-GMO crowd is just this side of crazy is completely uncalled for and really should be investigated;
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, besieged by complaints from targets and the science and journalism communities, immediately launched an investigation of Adams and the site, with Adams facing possible felony charges of inciting violence (if he lived in a Europe or a Commonwealth country like the U.K., he would probably already have been served).
I’ve never had any use for Mike Adams or NaturalNews.com, although I have been vilified by many, many people who mistakenly go to his website thinking that his information is reliable, it isn’t; and with his death threats and targeting of science journalists he has finally crossed a line that I hope he will be punished for.
GMO is not Monsanto. GMO is not a thing. GMO (Genetically Manipulated Organisms) is many things, some of them quite beneficial; but that doesn’t stop people with a phobic response from loosing their shit over the subject. Nor does its beneficial results get recognized by the self-same phobic types who decry it’s very existence. Case in point, this article offered by an anti-GMO friend on Facebook that I have since blocked due to his (Mike Adams like) insistence that I was a Nazi sympathizer for Monsanto.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic on May 14 announced a clinical trial that had been carried out in 2013, in which a Minnesota woman was injected with enough measles vaccine to treat 10 million people. Over the course of several weeks, the multiple tumors growing throughout her body shrank and vanished.
After undergoing chemotherapy and stem cell transplants, Stacy Erholtz’s myeloma — a blood cancer affecting the bone marrow — had spread into her skull and other parts of her body. The virus she was injected with had been engineered by researchers for cancer therapy.
You read that right. GMO cured that woman’s cancer. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Mexico has halted planting of a GM corn that was engineered specifically to address dietary deficiencies in their poor diet (which is largely corn) based on anti-GMO fears, and the threatened profit margins of competitors.
Mexico already imports tens of thousands of tonnes of GMO yellow corn each year, largely for animal feed, and permits planting of other GMO crops, mainly cotton and soybeans.
Supporters of GMO corn like Mexico’s corn farmers’ federation argue it can boost yields by up to 15 percent.
Their peers in the United States, Brazil and Argentina – the world’s top three corn exporters – are already producing large quantities of GMO corn.
Because many children in countries where there is a dietary deficiency in vitamin A rely on rice as a staple food, the genetic modification to make rice produce the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene is seen as a simple and less expensive alternative to vitamin supplements or an increase in the consumption of green vegetables or animal products.
Our first world fears should not be given more credence than their very real needs. I think we should let them decide if they want to eat or not, want to see or not. It is a lot like the fear surrounding vaccination. When your kids start dying, you’ll discover you like medicine after all. GM foods are not health risks in and of themselves, no matter how many times you say otherwise; but, ya know, Round Up ready corn! It causes cancer! Except it doesn’t.
The biggest criticism of the study is the combination of two features – the small sample size and lack of statistical analysis. The entire study is premised on comparing various dose groups with control groups that were not exposed to GMO or glyphosate. And yet, the authors provide no statistical analysis of this comparison. Given the small number of rats in each group, it is likely that this lack of statistical analysis is due to the fact that statistical significance could not be reached.
In other words – the results of the study are uninterpretable.
So the fear of the unnatural really is a phobia, unsupported by science. Understanding that, you might get a feel for why companies that market products might not want to be subjected to labeling mandates that cover GMO content in their products.
GMOs are just one efficient tool that people using bad farming practices can also utilize. This is akin to arguing that because crop dusting huge volumes of chemical pesticides is bad, we should boycott airplanes. Herbicide and pesticide resistance were cropping up long before genetic engineering came onto the stage, necessitating much greater use of those chemicals or turning to more toxic alternatives. The introduction of Roundup ready crops actually began as a wonderful thing in this regard, since Roundup was less toxic than many of the alternatives being used previously, and could be used in much lower amounts. That happy state of affairs was mis-managed and now much larger doses are needed because of resistant weeds, but again, this isn’t the fault of the GMOs.
The fearful just want to boycott, and the manufacturers don’t want to be boycotted. Consequently labeling mandates will continue to hit brick walls (even though full disclosure should include such labeling) until there is less unreasoning fear in the public at large. In Other Words, educate yourselves and you might get what you want in return.
There is broad scientific consensus that food on the market derived from GM crops poses no greater risk than conventional food. No reports of ill effects have been documented in the human population from ingesting GM food. Although labeling of GMO products in the marketplace is required in many countries, it is not required in the United States and no distinction between marketed GMO and non-GMO foods is recognized by the US FDA.
I hear you saying “But patenting of organisms! Evil Monsanto!” If you want to change patenting, then change patenting. You won’t get much argument from me. Patenting itself is a government subsidized monopoly on production, I much prefer competition.
Monsanto, separate from the subject of GMO in general, is its own worst enemy. Every attempt that it makes to limit its liability through law, or to manipulate the media to cast itself in a better light ends up being picked up and used by its enemies to make it look all the more evil and manipulative. It’s hard to imagine that you can make a company responsible for creation of Agent Orange look more evil, but that is a failure of imagination, as the article I lead off with should illustrate. (Read this article about Monsanto and see if you can understand just how wrong the common knowledge about the corporation actually is. They didn’t create Agent Orange. That’s the start. -ed.)
Studies dated 2004 through 2006 identified several causes for farmers suicide, such as insufficient or risky credit systems, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities, a downturn in the urban economy which forced non-farmers into farming, and the absence of suitable counseling services. In 2004, in response to a request from the All India Biodynamic and Organic Farming Association, the Mumbai High Court required the Tata Institute to produce a report on farmer suicides in Maharashtra, and the institute submitted its report in March 2005. The survey cited “government apathy, the absence of a safety net for farmers, and lack of access to information related to agriculture as the chief causes for the desperate condition of farmers in the state.”
Over and over again I attempt to enlighten friends who fall for the natural fallacy offered by people like Mike Adams. Over and over again I’m told that I don’t understand the first thing about the subject. Because they know. Monsanto is evil. GMO is bad. Never mind that neither of those accusations are true, as I (and others) illustrate over and over again. Humor doesn’t work. Information doesn’t work. Maybe the problem is psychological?
Orthorexia nervosa is not listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose mental disorders. The DSM-5 currently lists anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, “other specified feeding or eating disorder” and “unspecified feeding or eating disorder”.
Some clinicians argue orthorexia nervosa should be recognised as a separate eating disorder and have proposed clinical DSM diagnostic criteria. They note distinct pathological behaviours with orthorexia nervosa, including a motivation for feelings of perfection or purity rather than weight loss, as they see with anorexia and bulimia.
I don’t want to introduce fallacious reasoning into the mix, use the “Oh, you’re just crazy” dodge to dismiss the people who disagree with me. I genuinely do want to understand why people fear GMO’s as much as they do, and why. Time and again, though, the answers are not quantifiable in any way that I can make sense of. I’m left with little else to explain the issue.
His central question in the video “Could the future of food production be genetically modified organic food production?” challenges us to understand exactly how misguided the current atmosphere is when it comes to the subject of GMO. The video is a must-see.
I was watching Deadliest Catch on Tuesday (We’ll miss you Phil) and during After the Catch they brought on fishermen from the gulf to talk about the impact of the oil spill. During that discussion, the captain of the Time Bandit pointed out that 25 years later, the fisheries affected by the Exxon Valdez have still not recovered.
This does not bode well for the future of the gulf. Here’s a TED talk on the subject.
It’s been my opinion that “the other shoe” hasn’t dropped yet as far as the gulf spill goes. No one knows what the long term impact of this event will be, but judging from the aftermath of the much smaller Alaska spill I’d be surprised if there’s much fishing left in the gulf, at all. Which begs the question, what are we going to eat, and how are those people going to make a living? Something to think about.
December 2018 – Deadliest Catch is about the only television show that I miss watching since I cut the cable almost three years ago now. There really isn’t a place for it in my current daily routines. I could anchor it in time watching it on TV. The show was telling a story about last year’s catch on the Alaskan crab grounds. Having to wait until it is available elsewhere means the show is disconnected in time. It no longer has the immediacy, the implied shared experience that broadcast TV brought to us, the viewing public. Without that I don’t have a good reason to watch anymore.
If you are interested in the subject of the corporate malfeasance that resulted in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, check out the film of the same name, Deepwater Horizon. The film very adequately portrays the heartbreak of the survivors and the penny-ante betrayal of acceptable safety standards, the kind of business practices that are all too common in today’s world of big business.