Feb 24 2015

Anti-GMO Propaganda

There is so much anti-science propaganda out there I often feel like I am emptying the ocean with a spoon. Just today I was faced with an array of choices for my post – should I take on anti-vaccine, anti-GMO, or anti-AGW propaganda? For today, anyway, anti-GMO won. I’ll get to the others eventually.

This was sent to me by a reader – 5 reasons to avoid GMOs.  The content is mostly tired anti-GMO tropes (lies, really) that have been thoroughly debunked, but it is good to address such propaganda in a concise way. Also, it is a useful demonstration of the intellectual dishonesty of the anti-GMO movement. I may not get through all of them today – each one is so densely packed with wrong, and it takes longer to correct a misconception than to create one. Here is point #1 – GMOs are not healthy:

GMOs are unhealthy: Since the introduction of GMOs in the mid-1990s, the number of food allergies has sky-rocketed, and health issues such as autism, digestive problems and reproductive disorders are on the rise. Animal testing with GMOs has resulted in cases of organ failure, digestive disorders, infertility and accelerated aging. Despite an announcement in 2012 by the American Medical Association stating they saw no reason for labeling genetically modified foods, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has urged doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for their patients.

The author begins with an assumption of causation from correlation. The increase in food allergies actually does not correlate well with the introduction of GMOs. The correlation between organic food and autism is much more impressive. In fact, the organic food industry has been rising steadily over this same time period, and so one could make the even stronger point that organic food causes all the listed ills.

Food allergies are a particularly bad target for fear mongering, however. There has yet to be a single case of food allergy linked to a GMO. Not one. Further, GMOs are tested for their allergic potential. Allergenic foods have features in common. For example, the proteins that provoke an allergic response are able to survive stomach acids sufficiently intact that they can still produce a reaction. Scientists can therefore test any new proteins against known allergens and look for homology. (The same is true for known toxins.) This, of course, is not an absolute guarantee, but it is a very good safety net, and it has worked so far.

What about the animal studies? Well, 19 years of animal feeding with GMO has not resulted in any detectable increase in negative health outcomes of livestock. Further, systematic reviews of animal feeding studies have shown no harm. The author here is cherry picking a couple of poor quality outliers. They don’t give specific references, but the same few studies (such as the retracted Seralini study) always crop up on such lists.

They finish with an odd argument from authority. They mention that the AMA says GMOs are safe, but fail to mention the dozens of other medical and scientific organizations that have also reviewed the evidence and found current GMO crops to be safe. Instead they cherry pick another outlier, an anti-GMO environmental group.

They increase herbicide use: When Monsanto came up with the idea for Round-up Ready crops, the theory was to make the crops resistant to the pesticide that would normally kill them. This meant the farmers could spray the crops, killing the surrounding weeds and pests without doing any harm to the crops themselves. However, after a number of years have passed, many weeds and pests have themselves become resistant to the spray, and herbicide-use increased (both in amount and strength) by 11% between 1996 and 2011. Which translates to – lots more pesticide residue in our foods – yum!

The story is more complex than this cartoon. First, the introduction of Bt GMO varieties has clearly reduced the use of insecticide (pesticides include insecticides and herbicides). The introduction of glyphosate-resistant crops has increased the use of glyphosate (an herbicide), but decreased the use of other herbicides. Total herbicide use has actually decreased. Further, glyphosate is among the least toxic herbicides, and so the trend has been to replace more toxic herbicides with a less toxic herbicide.

Therefore, the bottom line conclusion of the author – more pesticides in our food – is the opposite of the truth.

Herbicide resistant crops have also allowed the reduction in tilling, which harms the soil and releases CO2 into the atmosphere.

It is true that overreliance on any single strategy for weed control will lead to resistance. This is a generic problem with any strategy that we use. This is a problem of the massive farming needed to feed the world, and is not unique to GMO. Therefore, of course we need to use technology carefully and thoughtfully to optimize sustainability. Some form of integrated pest management is therefore probably a good idea, but this is not incompatible with GMO technology.

They are everywhere! GMOs make up about 70-80% of our foods in the United States. Most foods that contain GMOs are processed foods. But they also exist in the form of fresh vegetables such as corn on the cob, papaya and squash. The prize for the top two most genetically modified crops in the United States goes to corn and soy. Think about how many foods in your pantry or refrigerator contain corn or its byproducts (high fructose corn syrup) or soy and its byproducts (partially hydrogenated soybean oil).

So what? GMO are safe to eat. They are good for the environment. I would be happy if 100% of our crops were genetically modified in order to optimize their traits. In fact, 100% of our crops have been extensively genetically modified through breeding over centuries and even millennia. You would hardly recognize the pre-modified versions of the food you eat every day.

GM technology is faster and more precise. It can also introduce genes from distant branches of life, but again – so what? All life on earth shares a common genetic code and basic biochemistry. We share genes with peas. There is no such thing as a “fish gene” really. There are just genes that are found in fish, most of which are also found in vegetables but some that aren’t. As long as we know what the genes are doing, and test their net effects on the crop, who cares where they came from?

GM crops don’t ensure larger harvests. As it turns out, GMO crop yields are not as promising as some projections implied. In fact, in some instances, they have been out-yielded by their non-GMO counterparts. This conclusion was reached in a 20 year study carried out by the University of Wisconsin and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thus negating one of the main arguments in favor of GMOs.

This is one of those – sort of true, but very misleading – factoids that are common in propaganda. The currently available GM crop traits are not specifically designed to increase yield. They are designed to make yield more predictable, by reducing loss through pests, drought, or disease. Higher yielding traits are in the pipeline, however.

What about that University of Wisconsin study the author specifically cites (it’s nice when they give a specific reference to check their sources)?  It concludes:

Their analysis, published online in a Nature Biotechnology correspondence article on Feb. 7, confirms the general understanding that the major benefit of genetically modified (GM) corn doesn’t come from increasing yields in average or good years, but from reducing losses during bad ones.

That’s a little different than what the author implied. It reduces losses in bad years – which mean overall yields are increased. This also only referred to corn. Bt cotton has increased yields by an average of 24%, increasing profit and quality of life for cotton farmers in India.

A 2014 meta-analysis concluded:

On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

Still, anti-GMO activists continue to lie about the data, claiming the exact opposite of what the scientific evidence shows.

And finally:

U.S. Labeling suppression: Many of the companies who have an interest in keeping GMOs on the market don’t want you to know which foods contain them. For this reason, they have suppressed recent attempts by states such as California and Washington to require labeling of GMO products. And since they have deep pockets, they were successful – for now. The companies who spent the most on these campaigns are Monsanto (who produces the GMO seeds), and Pepsi, Coca Cola, Nestle and General Mills, who produce some of the most processed foods in existence. Incidentally, most other developed countries such as the nations of the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, and China have mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. Food for thought!

They somehow fail to mention that the multi-billion dollar organic food industry lobbies for labeling. But again I say, so what? The fact that there is a political argument about labeling does not directly imply anything about the safety of GMO or whether or not it is a good thing for people and the planet. In fact – that is the very reason that many people (the corporations aside) oppose labeling.

Mandatory labels imply that there is something for the consumer to worry about. It is a transparent attempt to demonize a safe and effective technology, so that anti-GMO propaganda will have a target. This is also an attempt by a competitor – the organic food industry – to create a negative marketing halo around its competition.

Conclusion

This is only a small sampling of the anti-GMO propaganda that is out there. I am all for a vigorous evidence-based discussion about the true risks and benefits of a new technology. This includes how to optimally regulate such technologies. I believe in the need for thoughtful and effective regulations of any technology that has health or environmental impacts. We have seen what happens when an industry, like the supplement industry, is not effectively regulated.

GMOs are highly regulated. They are the most tested food that we eat. Cultivars that resulting from hybridizing plants and mutation farming, using chemicals or radiation to speed up the process of DNA mutation, are not tested and are even considered organic. This is a double standard, but fine. Let’s test the hell out of GMOs to make sure there are no surprises. This is already happening – and GMOs currently on the market are safe.

The anti-GMO campaign is largely an anti-science campaign. This one article is not an outlier – it is squarely in the mainstream of anti-GMO rhetoric.

124 responses so far

124 Responses to “Anti-GMO Propaganda”

  1. Gallenodon 24 Feb 2015 at 10:09 am

    Great post, Steve. Thanks!

    On a related note, I’m seeing a lot of people forwarding stuff from this site on Facebook:

    http://www.foe.org/beeaction

    Most of them revolve around the claim that Home Depot and Lowe’s are selling “bee-killing” plants laced with neonicotinoid pesticides. This is the best of the example of their position I have at the moment:

    https://sustainableplantsexchange.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/gardeners-beware-plants-that-are-killing-bees/

    They seem to be taking a couple of actual facts (neonicotinoids can have an averse effect on bees and that they have been detected in/on plants sold by retailers) and infer that bees feeding on these plants once they’re in our gardens put the bees at significant risk. I have looked for actual skeptical treatments of FoE’s claims, but so far have not found any that specifically address the idea that buying plants from Big Box garden retailers could help kill off local bee colonies.

    Many of the groups pushing this narrative are the same ones pushing the anti-GMO narrative in general, so this appears to be an side branch of anti-GMO advocacy. I would welcome your analysis of their assertions, either here or on the SGU podcast (or both).

    Thank you. 🙂

  2. Gallenodon 24 Feb 2015 at 10:13 am

    And of course I find an even better example fight after I push Submit Comment:

    http://rmpjc.org/talking-points-for-gardeners-beware-2014-bee-toxic-pesticides-found-in-bee-friendly-plants-sold-at-garden-centers-in-the-u-s-and-canada/

  3. evhantheinfidelon 24 Feb 2015 at 10:47 am

    Gah! The anti-GMO rhetoric really gets under my skin sometimes (not to the extent that I’m mean to people, but more that I get depressed). Its naturalistic fallaciousness and nigh-Luddism is transparent and immature. The thing is, I know a lot of these people and they’re mostly of good intents, but I also feel that a lot of them engage in this whole anti-GMO campaign as a way of being holier than thou, and considering the abject wrongness of a lot of the talking points, it particularly irks me.

    Doctor Novella, do you see any good way to defend GMOs against such unfair treatment beyond what you’re doing here? I would hate to seem to be lobbying for an industry (not because I’m particularly anti-industry, but more to avoid bias), but I also don’t like to see relatively benign or even amazingly helpful technologies stunted due to people’s knee-jerk reactions. This is also an issue where people I tend to think of as more reasonable still get held up (in addition to alternative medicine; at least a few years ago).

  4. arnieon 24 Feb 2015 at 11:32 am

    Steve……Your post is also very timely in light of Consumer Reports anti-GMO (pro-labeling of GMO products) article in the most recent issue. The irony of a supposedly pro-consumer periodical featuring such anti-scientific and therefore anti-consumer bias and false propaganda just emphasizes the strength of the opposition we face. Naturally, we accompanied our cancellation of our subscription in a strong letter pointing out CRsr extraordinary disservice to their readership.

    On the other side, I was pleased to see a pro-GMO/anti-labeling editorial in a recent edition of The Hartford Courant.

  5. pdeboeron 24 Feb 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Hey Steve,

    When you say ” It reduces losses in bad years – which mean overall yields are increased.” This sounds like you mean averaged over time the yields of GM crops are better than their hybrid counterparts. I don’t think that is strictly true, nor is supported by the paper.

    When the researchers combined the yield data from all of the ECB hybrids grown in the trials over the years, they found that the ECB plants out-yielded conventional hybrids by an average of more than six bushels per acre per year. GM hybrids with “stacked traits,” or multiple transgenes, tended to have slightly improved yields — an extra two or three bushels per acre. On the other hand, grain yields from hybrids with the Bt for Corn Rootworm (CRW) transgene trailed those of regular hybrids by a whopping 12 bushels per acre.

    Some GM crops had higher yields some had lower, so when the anti-GMO guys say “…some instances, they have been out-yielded by their non-GMO counterparts.” It is true according to the paper, but it certainly isn’t true for all GM corn crops in Wisconsin.

    Lauer notes. “My message to farmers is that every hybrid has to stand on its own.”

  6. BBBlueon 24 Feb 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Gallenod,

    You may find this of interest: “Bee deaths and neonics: Inside story of Colony Collapse Disorder, Harvard’s Chensheng Lu’s crusade” http://bit.ly/1wkMuKQ

    Not much debate about the fact that most insecticides are harmful to bees to some extent. The unresolved question about their effect on bees is related to chronic, sublethal exposures. There are a number of poorly designed studies that claim to characterize those effects, but which do not. However, as in the case of GMOs, all that is necessary is for a study to seem legit to a layperson journalist in order to spawn bee apocalypse headlines and fuel existing narratives about the evils of pesticides. In the absence of definitive data, the precautionary principle grabs a foothold.

    Neonics were and are still seen as a valuable tool for IPM programs because their use results in fewer outbreaks of secondary pests compared to many of the alternatives. Their low mammalian toxicity is also a big plus. Neonics are of great value to farmers and consumers alike.

  7. tmac57on 24 Feb 2015 at 1:45 pm

    A good article over at Popular Science covers the Intelligence Squared debate on GMO’s where the pro side of GMO won by a nice margin. Worth a listen. Even Bill Nye makes a cameo with his somewhat skeptical view on GMO (he was supposed to meet with Monsanto scientists to help convince him of the science supporting GMO’s. Don’t know if that has happened yet).

    http://www.popsci.com/head-head-gmo-debate-win-gm-foods

    Before the debate, 30 percent of the audience said they were against genetically engineering crops, 32 percent said they were for it, and 38 percent were undecided. In the end, 31 percent were against—and 60 percent were for, a gain of 28 percentage points. The average wining margin in the last ten Intelligence Squared U.S. debates was around 18 percentage points. The final vote also contrasts with what national polls say about how American feel about GM foods.

  8. LittleBoyBrewon 24 Feb 2015 at 2:10 pm

    The labeling issue is one I laugh at. No one is preventing a company form making and labeling their product as ‘GMO free’ (assuming that it is labeled correctly). Sometimes the libertarian argument makes the best sense.

  9. Credoon 24 Feb 2015 at 2:19 pm

    As I was reading this blog post a friend of mine posted the following article about Roundup link to autism “epidemic” on her timeline

    http://goo.gl/nVIDPv

    I honestly had a great laugh reading it because it is the first time (at least for me) that I have seen someone use the same talking point of ASD link that anti-vaxers use, in an anti-GMO propaganda.

    P.S. I am new here but I have been secretively binge reading this blog and SBM and others for the past two month, in almost unhealthy quantities 🙂

  10. jsterritton 24 Feb 2015 at 3:02 pm

    ^There is a perfectly viable labeling system in place for anyone who wishes to avoid GMOs. Some people just don’t know how to take “yes” for an answer. 🙂

  11. MaryMon 24 Feb 2015 at 3:21 pm

    There’s a really fascinating data set from this one farmer in Delaware. She’s comparing results on her own farm, with her own same practices, weather, etc. She gets better results with GMOs.

    http://thefoodiefarmer.blogspot.com/2014/12/gmo-versus-nongmo-cost-of-production.html

    But in larger data sets, her numbers might get lost among the averages. And maybe there’s another farmer who doesn’t have that experience. “But again I say, so what?” What this means is that farmers ought to be able to choose what is right for their experience. And why anti-GMO activists think they get to make that choice for someone else is just bizarre to me. They holler all day long about how they need choice–but want to restrict that from farmers.

    If they think they can fool farmers with their cherry-picked rhetoric, good luck to them.

  12. Gallenodon 24 Feb 2015 at 3:38 pm

    BBBlue,

    Thanks for the reference. The Genetic Literacy Project is one of my regular daily reads. 🙂

    Yes, I’m familiar with Chenseng Lu’s work. This post (http://www.biofortified.org/2015/02/what-makes-honeybee-colonies-collapse/) by Joe Ballenger on the Biology Fortified blog makes some interesting observations, too, including that while Lu claimed that he had replicated Colony Colapse Disorder, his research only apparently showed two of the five symptoms of CCD.

    I’m largely frustrated because there are just days where I depair at the apparently scientific illiteracy of the general populace, with some of my best friends among them. When 81% of a survey population says they want GMOs labeled and another 80% of a survey population says they want food with DNA labeled, taken at face value it might suggest that only 1% of the population actually knows the difference.

    (We can’t make that assumption, of course, but but it’s stronger evidence than most of the true-believer cranks have and both fun to fling at a GMO denier and appalling to consider that it might not actually be that far from reality.)

    However, referencing this blog, Science-Based Medicine, the GLP, and other good science-based skeptical sites, I have made inroads into the misconceptions held by some of my friends. I share at least one (or more) of Steve’s Neurologia posts on Facebook every week; it has been the most persuasive source availabe to me for combating scientific illiteracy among otherwise rational people.

    I’m an IT guy by trade. Unlike another infamous IT person, the Food Babe, I prefer to enlist actual experts and factual scientific consensu (where such exists) to my cause. So when I see friends getting sucked into nonsense, Neurologia and the SGU are the first two places I look for rational dissection of the issues. Steve (and the Rogues, and even some of the knowlegable posters in the Comments here) has yet to steer me wrong and his logic has made some dents in the local pool of ignorance.

    Progress continues. 🙂

  13. BillyJoe7on 24 Feb 2015 at 3:47 pm

    “The content is mostly tired anti-GMO tropes (lies, really) that have been thoroughly debunked”

    This how I’ve come to view this as well. When your claims have been shown time and again to be wrong and you continue to make them, then they become lies. It doesn’t matter anymore if you haven’t bothered to address the debunking argments or haven’t seen them and are just repeating the views of those who have not addressed the debunking argments, you are now telling lies or repeating lies.

  14. Steven Novellaon 24 Feb 2015 at 4:41 pm

    pdeboer – of course, it’s crop by crop. Not all GM traits are supposed to increase yield. I was countering the argument that in the aggregate GM crops don’t increase yield. They do, because most (not all) increase yield in total by reducing losses in bad years. In the aggregate is what’s important for the environment, because total yield will impact our need for farmland.

    For the individual farmer yields also matter, but so do predictability. GM crops with certain traits, like Bt, improve predictability by mitigating bad years.

    So sure, there is the occasional crop for which we have good hybrids that outperform their GM counterparts. Sometimes hybrids are the better technology. Sometimes the GM crops have not been bred to optimally adapted local varieties.

    But the bottom line remains – GM as a technology has resulted in overall increased yields. The anti-GMO’ers try to deny this with cherry picked data or simply misstating the facts.

  15. pdeboeron 24 Feb 2015 at 5:05 pm

    Steve,
    I realize now that you meant average yield over crops and years, not just years.

    I think it should be noted that even if “normal” hybrids had a higher yield, there may still be a net benefit. You noted a more consistent yield which stabilizes the growers income, but also the quality of product may be better. Considering that most of the genetic modification was to help control pests or resistance to pesticide, I’d guess GMO corn is more likely to get through QA.

    I’m unsure whether quality control occurred before the yields are counted in the study and if quality control rejects a significant amount.

  16. Egstraon 25 Feb 2015 at 10:05 am

    Re use of pesticides with GMOs … have you read the article by Charles M Benbrook published this week?

    http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

  17. hardnoseon 25 Feb 2015 at 1:17 pm

    “100% of our crops have been extensively genetically modified through breeding over centuries and even millennia.”

    Breeding is not the same as genetic engineering, because you can’t cross distant species with breeding. It doesn’t matter how much testing is done if you can’t foresee all possible problems, and you can’t.

    And you can’t prove that no health problems have resulted from eating GMOs, since almost everyone in the US eats them without necessarily knowing it.

    There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.

  18. jsterritton 25 Feb 2015 at 1:38 pm

    @hardnose

    “Breeding is not the same as genetic engineering, because you can’t cross distant species with breeding.”

    True.

    “It doesn’t matter how much testing is done if you can’t foresee all possible problems, and you can’t.”

    Negative proof fallacy; appeal to ignorance.

    “And you can’t prove that no health problems have resulted from eating GMOs.”

    Negative proof fallacy; shifting the burden of proof.

    “Almost everyone in the US eats [GMOs] without necessarily knowing it.”

    False.

    “There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.”

    Confusing correlation with causation; affirming the consequent; absurd speculation with zero authority.

  19. BBBlueon 25 Feb 2015 at 1:44 pm

    pdeboer,

    Quality, yield, predictability, etc., can all be combined as a single term called “profit”. All one really needs to know is that farmers have a choice and the majority of corn and soybean growers choose GE varieties. Similar argument has been made regarding cotton growers in India; when farmers pirate Bt cotton seed, its not because Bt cotton is inferior.

    You make a good point about QA. Penalties or rejections due to insect damage may play a role, but also, there are often bonuses paid for attributes such as oil or protein content and milling properties. The greatest amount of bulk yield may not result in the greatest amount of finished product. That is the beauty of GE; one may preserve the best quality attributes while adding in other characteristics of value.

  20. ndvb88on 25 Feb 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I am a defender of GMO for the obvious benefits it gives but recently I had a discussion with a friend who had a point for which I didn’t have a response and I can find very little research about it. His point:

    If GMO plants spread to the wild can they not have irreversible negatively affects to wild ecosystems, disrupting a part of the food chain which can cause a chain reaction affecting multiple species of plants and animals.

    For example (maybe a bad example but just to illustrate it) what if a GMO plant is made to be resistant to a certain type of fungus. Let say this crop spreads to the wild and lets assume the resistance to the fungus gene is a dominant gene. This is an obvious evolutionary benefit which might cause this gene to become present all throughout the wild population of this crop, wiping out the fungus it is resistant to. What if a small insect depends on the fungus for food or whatever reason, and other animals depend on this insect, etc. Point being that a small change might cause a chain reaction having a large unforeseen impact on an entire ecosystem.

    His point was maybe GM goes well 1000 times, but if an unforeseen mistake is made it can cause irreparable damage to ecosystems. I had no way of answering him and wondered if you might know of any research that has been done about this subject.

    Thank you!

  21. mumadaddon 25 Feb 2015 at 1:53 pm

    jsterritt,

    Affirming the consequent? How so?

  22. Bronze Dogon 25 Feb 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Breeding is not the same as genetic engineering, because you can’t cross distant species with breeding.

    In addition to jsterrit’s statement of “True,” I add, “So what?” Why should I be concerned about genes from other species getting thrown in?

  23. Bronze Dogon 25 Feb 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Oops. Missed the / in the closing tag.

  24. BBBlueon 25 Feb 2015 at 2:08 pm

    hardnose,

    Your comments are the epitome of Steve’s statement that “The anti-GMO campaign is largely an anti-science campaign.” Whatever else your comments represent, they are not founded on the existing evidence or scientific principles. Not being able to prove a negative is not evidence or a compelling argument.

  25. jsterritton 25 Feb 2015 at 2:34 pm

    “There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.”

    This statement begs the question that GMOs cause sickness. From there it affirms the consequent that GMOs cause sickness, because there is sickness.

    1. If GMOs are bad for us, then people will get sick.
    2. People are sick.
    3. Therefore, GMOs are bad for us.

    Maybe not the perfect example of this fallacy. I should have included begging the question. It is purely speculative (with only hn’s authority) and textbook ergo prompter hoc reasoning.

  26. BBBlueon 25 Feb 2015 at 2:36 pm

    “Updated: Agricultural researchers rattled by demands for documents from group opposed to GM foods” http://bit.ly/1ArQl8F

    “Silencing Public Scientists” http://bit.ly/1ArQqch

  27. hardnoseon 25 Feb 2015 at 6:43 pm

    jsterrit,

    My statement in no way resembles that defective syllogism.

    New unprecedented substances have been introduced into our food, and lots of people are sick. That is a correlation, but sometimes correlation is all we have when we can’t easily do an experiment.

    It is wrong to assume causation from correlation, but it is perfectly ok to say there is a possible or probable causal relationship.

    You have committed the logical fallacy of wrongly accusing someone of committing a logical fallacy.

  28. Bronze Dogon 25 Feb 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Hardnose, it sounds like you’re naively assuming that GMOs are the one and only thing that correlates.

  29. vahtrynon 25 Feb 2015 at 7:10 pm

    How about the fact that I as an heirloom farmer can get sued should the bees from my property cross pollinate my plants from someone that uses a GMO? How is *that* fair?

  30. Willyon 25 Feb 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Hardnose: Why is it an issue to cross “distant species”?

  31. jsterritton 25 Feb 2015 at 7:52 pm

    HN

    “You have committed the logical fallacy of wrongly accusing someone of committing a logical fallacy.”

    No, I haven’t. But nice try!

  32. Willyon 25 Feb 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Hardnose: And what “new unprecedented substances” have been introduced to our food?

  33. Bronze Dogon 25 Feb 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Nature has a habit of introducing new, unprecedented proteins and combinations of proteins in our food. I find it ironic that a lot of anti-GMO tropes are unintentionally pro-clone monoculture.

  34. Barryon 25 Feb 2015 at 9:14 pm

    The labeling requirement is the one that really gets on my tits. Of course we all know what will happen if labeling is ever mandated. The arguments will become “If GMOs are so safe, then why does the government require them to be labeled!!?”

  35. grabulaon 25 Feb 2015 at 9:34 pm

    “It doesn’t matter how much testing is done if you can’t foresee all possible problems, and you can’t.”

    There’s no way to see if you’re going to die in a car crash today yet you get in a car just about everyday

    “New unprecedented substances have been introduced into our food, and lots of people are sick. That is a correlation, but sometimes correlation is all we have when we can’t easily do an experiment.”

    People live longer today then they ever did 100+ years ago. That also correlates with GMO’s.

  36. grabulaon 25 Feb 2015 at 9:36 pm

    http://www.livescience.com/23989-human-life-span-jump-century.html

    In case you get confused hardnose, science is hard.

  37. RickKon 25 Feb 2015 at 10:59 pm

    “There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.”

    Current human average life expectancy is longer than it has ever been. Maybe GMOs contribute.

  38. RickKon 25 Feb 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Oh shoot, grabula just said that. Nevermind.

  39. BillyJoe7on 26 Feb 2015 at 6:28 am

    Hmmm…I thought we were going to let trolls like hardnose starve to death (;

  40. Bruceon 26 Feb 2015 at 6:44 am

    I am with you BJ7

  41. arnieon 26 Feb 2015 at 6:56 am

    Include me in the “starve to death” squad. This has been a perfect example of why that’s the only way.

  42. Steven Novellaon 26 Feb 2015 at 7:19 am

    vahtryn – that’s a myth. No one gets sued for accidental contamination. The only cases that are pursued are those where seed was deliberately stolen, for example by selecting plants with the GM trait and only planting them the following season.

  43. RCon 26 Feb 2015 at 10:50 am

    @ndbv8

    “If GMO plants spread to the wild can they not have irreversible negatively affects to wild ecosystems, disrupting a part of the food chain which can cause a chain reaction affecting multiple species of plants and animals.”

    Yes. But this is not different than non-GMO plants. There are dozens of examples of species of conventionally bred plants escaping and wrecking local ecosystems – kudzu is probably the best example. It’s destroying forests in the southeast because it has no real predators in the area.

    There’s nothing fundamentally different about a GMO that makes them any more dangerous than anything else.

  44. pdeboeron 26 Feb 2015 at 11:28 am

    BBBlue – concisely said about the determining factor being profit and choice of the farmers.

    Extending that argument further, I’d worry to leave best practices up to the market to determine. That is what might lead to single cultivars and overuse of particular pesticides.

    Very interesting addition that the farmers are paid by quality.

    That however may be misleading as whenever I’m at the market, the organic produce always does look a little better and more consistent. Their QA might be tighter, since they can afford it. I assume they can since organic usually costs twice as much.

  45. hardnoseon 26 Feb 2015 at 11:56 am

    “People live longer today then they ever did 100+ years ago. That also correlates with GMO’s.”

    That is ALWAYS the last resort argument on this subject, I always know it’s coming.

    Average lifespan is longer now than before antibiotics because babies and young children seldom die now. They used to die often. That dramatically increased the average lifespan.

    That does NOT mean people are healthier or that chronic diseases have not increased.

    I NEVER said GMOs are definitely the cause of the increasing health problems, just that they might be one factor.

  46. hardnoseon 26 Feb 2015 at 12:00 pm

    grabula, you are even more confused than I am. That article you posted is written by someone who is even more confused than you.

  47. tmac57on 26 Feb 2015 at 12:10 pm

    RickK- “Current human average life expectancy is longer than it has ever been. Maybe GMOs contribute.”

    Okay, reverse tactic deployed: GMO’s are the cause of overpopulation and thus destroying the world!!!

    😉

    Note: I have actually seen similar arguments

  48. BBBlueon 26 Feb 2015 at 12:17 pm

    ndvb88,

    RC is correct, experience has shown that we should be far more concerned about invasive species (http://1.usa.gov/1DutFEy) than any possible genetic contamination from GE plants.

    When this argument comes up, I always think about large scale resistance breeding programs like the one for wheat stem rust. Plant breeders were able to stay ahead of that disease for decades and there was never an instance of genes for resistance winding up in a wild population of grasses that resulted in negative consequences (of course, wild grasses were probably not susceptible to wheat stem rust in the first place, so it wasn’t a selective advantage). The problem now is that the library of genes for stem rust resistance is being outpaced by the disease. GE could be the solution for that.

    The most likely risk from genetic contamination is where harvested organic crops may contain genes from nearby GE crops and then fail to pass organic specs. However, that is an artificial construct to begin with that has nothing to do with risks to consumers or the environment.

    For the sake of argument, lets say there is a scenario where cross pollination and contamination by GE plants was a legitimate ecological concern, it would be easy enough to identify and control that situation with proper management or perhaps even prohibiting production of that particular GE crop. The risks of cross pollination are not the same with every plant, and so there are a multitude of scenarios where that would never be a threat, but anti-GMO interests do not discriminate, to them, there is no such thing as an acceptable GE plant. It doesn’t fit their definition of natural and that’s all that matters.

    Steve has pointed this out numerous times, particularly in the case of golden rice. If arguments against GE were science-based, there would be acknowledgement of the fact that there are at least some GE traits for which there is absolutely no identifiable risk, but that is not the anti-GMO position.

  49. jsterritton 26 Feb 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Increased longevity doesn’t correlate with improved health? Now I’ve heard everything.

  50. BBBlueon 26 Feb 2015 at 12:45 pm

    pdeboer,

    “Extending that argument further, I’d worry to leave best practices up to the market to determine. That is what might lead to single cultivars and overuse of particular pesticides.”

    Best practices aren’t always left up to the market now. For instance, for pesticides that have a greater potential for resistance, labels are written in a way that prohibits how many times they can be applied and may even require rotating them with pesticides that have a different mode of action. Pesticide manufacturers do not want their products misused because that shortens their ultimate market life, so they often develop stewardship programs to educate and ensure best practices are followed. Then there is the fact that if one violates a use label, they are violating the law and can be penalized. Controlling the use of GE crops in similar fashion would fit right in with our current regulatory system.

    “…whenever I’m at the market, the organic produce always does look a little better and more consistent.”

    I’m in the fruit business and I visit quite a few of our customer’s stores every year. All I can tell you is that your observation is certainly not consistent with mine on this subject. There may be cases where a store has very inexpensive conventional produce that doesn’t look very good, but that is because it is the bottom tier in terms of quality and price. I have never seen an instance when top tier conventional produce did not look better than top tier organic. Of course, appearance is only one factor. Eating quality of produce has more to do with condition at harvest, variety selection, freshness, and postharvest handling than it does with conventional versus organic.

  51. tmac57on 26 Feb 2015 at 1:30 pm

    jsterrit- Haven’t you ever heard the old saying “If I knew that I would live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”?

    Forget worrying about GMOs…eat a balanced and moderate diet, and go get some exercise instead. The evidence for that is pretty damn solid!

  52. pdeboeron 26 Feb 2015 at 1:53 pm

    BBBlue

    Very interesting, good to know that there are smart people out there considering sustainability.

    I don’t know why I see organic fruits and veggies being nicer. I will yield to the expert opinion on this one.

  53. Willyon 26 Feb 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Regarding regulation of GE crops, the EPA does require that a farmer leave of portion of his field as a ‘refuge”, an area planted with non-GE crops that allow the pest insect(s) a place to feed and not consume the GE crop. There are probably a lot more regs we are unaware of.

    Also, regarding increased used of pesticides discussion, an example of a significant decrease in pesticide use is the planting of GE cotton, which is resistant to the bollworm.

    Hardnose–I’m still unclear as to what health threats you believe are likely to occur from GMO foods.

  54. hardnoseon 26 Feb 2015 at 7:10 pm

    “Increased longevity doesn’t correlate with improved health? Now I’ve heard everything.’

    Increased average lifespan can result from lower rates of childhood death. And in fact that is the major factor. And it has nothing to do with the average lifespan or health of adults.

  55. Willyon 26 Feb 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Hardnose: I’m a relative newbie. Why don’t you answer my questions?

    1) What is wrong with crossing “distant species”, and

    2) What “new, unprecedented substances” have been introduced to our food supply?

    I’m looking forward to learning something from you.

  56. BillyJoe7on 26 Feb 2015 at 10:35 pm

    “I’m looking forward to learning something from you’

    😀

  57. grabulaon 26 Feb 2015 at 10:46 pm

    You’re right BJ7, fell into the trap, I was bored in class.

    Don’t fall for it Willy, nothing to see here, move along.

  58. jsterritton 27 Feb 2015 at 12:38 am

    ^Hey. These trolls belong to all of us, I will play with them as I see fit. 😉

    On an unrelated subject:

    HN, what do you have against children living into adulthood? Does it conflict with your bleak worldview? How are we not living longer if we are, in fact, living longer? Do you begrudge children for not dying? Do you yearn for the good old days? Why do you credit one health intervention — antibiotics — with such success while damning another — modern nutrition — for killing us all? Do you like having words stuffed in your mouth? Does it taste like your own medicine?

    People — ahem, adults — are living ~20 years longer now than 100 years ago (20 year old women can expect to live >22 years longer now than in 1850). Granted, old people are sometimes cranky (probably the GMOs), but how would you like it if modern cabals of scientists and farmers and financiers, etc conspired to keep you living longer just to sell you premium cable subscription packages?

  59. Bruceon 27 Feb 2015 at 4:24 am

    Jsterritt, he has proven many times that he does not understand population statistics at all. You are better off looking for a nearby wall and running into it repeatedly shouting “I’M A FLYING PENGUIN AND I LIVE IN THE NORTH POLE!” than to engage with him on that.

  60. hardnoseon 27 Feb 2015 at 1:29 pm

    “HN, what do you have against children living into adulthood?”

    That is completely unrelated to the logic of what I said. Whether I want children to survive has absolutely nothing to do with whether they survive or not, and has nothing to do with the facts about average lifespan.

  61. hardnoseon 27 Feb 2015 at 1:40 pm

    “What is wrong with crossing “distant species”

    We don’t know. That is the point. When they say genetic modification has been going on for thousands of years, they are not talking about crossing distant species.

  62. steve12on 27 Feb 2015 at 1:50 pm

    HN:

    “Average lifespan is longer now than before antibiotics because babies and young children seldom die now. They used to die often. That dramatically increased the average lifespan.”

    So antibiotics only work on babies?

  63. jsterritton 27 Feb 2015 at 3:36 pm

    It’s called a joke, HN. I was lampooning the absurdity of “balancing the books” on increased longevity using childhood mortality (aka dead children). You said something sweeping and stupid (“average lifespan is longer now than before antibiotics because babies and young children seldom die now”) and now you have to take your lumps. Life expectancy at adulthood has increased dramatically (~20 years) precisely during the modern, scientific era, not in spite of it. Medicine, nutrition, and sanitation are usually credited for this success. I know it’s inconvenient to your preferred narrative, but we’re living longer, healthier lives — you’ll just have to get used to it.

    Or deny it (this is a popular choice, too).

  64. tmac57on 27 Feb 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I believe that worldwide, and even in the US, the average lifespan for people over 65 has continued to rise. If GMO’s were making us sicker wouldn’t we be seeing declining lifespans for older people rather than an increase? This appears to be true despite increases in obesity since 1980’s which has negative influences on diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. We would probably be living even longer if we just got fit and reduced calories. That’s something that we can do personally, rather than fret over some unproven boogieman.

  65. Bronze Dogon 27 Feb 2015 at 4:00 pm

    The subtext I tend to get with people saying that we’re less healthy today than the people of the bygone golden age:

    “Waah! People are dying of scary, currently incurable old people diseases instead of dying when they’re in the healthy prime of life from tame, treatable diseases! People with stigmatized lifelong medical conditions have been given human rights and are allowed to live in public instead of being shut away in institutions so we don’t have to talk about them in polite company!”

  66. mumadaddon 27 Feb 2015 at 6:25 pm

    HN,

    “That is completely unrelated to the logic of what I said.”

    I know there’s a fair bit of water under the bridge between you saying that and this:

    “There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.”

    …but I still think it’s quite funny and incongruous to hear that you think there’s logic to what you say.

    HN, are you serial?

  67. Egstraon 27 Feb 2015 at 6:34 pm

    The article states: “The story is more complex than this cartoon. First, the introduction of Bt GMO varieties has clearly reduced the use of insecticide (pesticides include insecticides and herbicides). The introduction of glyphosate-resistant crops has increased the use of glyphosate (an herbicide), but decreased the use of other herbicides. Total herbicide use has actually decreased. Further, glyphosate is among the least toxic herbicides, and so the trend has been to replace more toxic herbicides with a less toxic herbicide.”

    and yet, according to this article published recently,

    http://www.enveurope.com/content/24/1/24

    “Herbicide-resistant crop technology has led to a 239 million kilogram (527 million pound) increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011, while Bt crops have reduced insecticide applications by 56 million kilograms (123 million pounds). Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

    “Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%. The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

  68. Egstraon 27 Feb 2015 at 6:37 pm

    The article states: “The story is more complex than this cartoon. First, the introduction of Bt GMO varieties has clearly reduced the use of insecticide (pesticides include insecticides and herbicides). The introduction of glyphosate-resistant crops has increased the use of glyphosate (an herbicide), but decreased the use of other herbicides. Total herbicide use has actually decreased. Further, glyphosate is among the least toxic herbicides, and so the trend has been to replace more toxic herbicides with a less toxic herbicide.”

    and yet, according to the article published by Charles M Benbrook in http://www.enveurope.com/,

    “Herbicide-resistant crop technology has led to a 239 million kilogram (527 million pound) increase in herbicide use in the United States between 1996 and 2011, while Bt crops have reduced insecticide applications by 56 million kilograms (123 million pounds). Overall, pesticide use increased by an estimated 183 million kgs (404 million pounds), or about 7%.”

    “Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%. The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”

  69. mumadaddon 27 Feb 2015 at 7:10 pm

    Me: “…but I still think it’s quite funny and incongruous to hear that you think there’s logic to what you say.”

    Although it is true that curing common childhood diseases drastically adjusts the mean average life expectancy without necessarily resulting in most 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 year-olds being able to expect to live any longer as a direct result. I suppose that’s logical. Hmmm, I wonder if the average life expectancy of a 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 year old has been increased by medical science. Who knows? If it did, maybe GMOs contributed.

  70. mumadaddon 27 Feb 2015 at 7:44 pm

    HN,

    My impression is that you aren’t saying what you say solely to piss people off (as in, you have some investment in what you’re saying), but you’ve ’embellished’ the truth of your background on occasion to support whatever point you were trying to make, and specifically that you either lied about being a scientist or you’re maybe a computer scientist.

    Anyway, this: “There is an awful lot of sickness, and maybe GMOs contribute.”

    You’ve failed to define “awful lot” and “sickness”, or provide any evidence of or mechanism for GMOs’ contribution to this ill-defined “awful lot of sickness”.

    And then this:

    “When they say genetic modification has been going on for thousands of years, they are not talking about crossing distant species.”

    Have you ever considered that you might be gleaning spurious cause/effect relationships because your (really everyone’s) brain works like that by default? The information most available to the associative machinery in your head is… not the full picture, perhaps?

  71. Egstraon 27 Feb 2015 at 7:59 pm

    sorry about the double post — it claimed the first one would not post as it was a duplicate. Can’t trust the internet!

  72. Willyon 27 Feb 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Hardnose: We didn’t have electricity until recently, either. So, your basic response is “it creeps me out”?

    You neglected to specify the “new, unprecedented substances” in our food supply.

  73. jsterritton 27 Feb 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Egstra…

    Benbrook’s paper is contentious. His “interpretation” of the limited data sets available has come under criticism for inaccuracy. This coupled with his anti-GMO editorializing in his conclusions make his paper controversial, to say the least. As researchers have pointed out (see below), claiming that overall pesticide use has increased by 7% (as Benbrook does) while ignoring that crop yields (corn, soy) increased by >30% over the same period is disingenuous. I have to agree, this is a serious omission.

    The environmental benefits of glyphosate-resistant crops are many. The perils of weed resistance are not unique to GM crops. Benbrook sidesteps such nuance in favor of an anti-GM “narrative.” Whole tracts of his paper are devoted to prophesying about the imagined effects of hypothetical future pesticides and griping about the USDA’s statutory authority — this is neither scientific nor appropriate. Benbrook’s omissions, editorializing, and soothsaying are red flags for bias. Other researchers, like the ones cited here, have looked at the data with less passion and refuted Benbrook’s key assertion that GM crops have increased pesticide use.

    “The blog Big Picture Agriculture broke down Benbrook’s numbers and found that pesticide use is actually falling on a yield per acre basis—in accord with what biotech proponents have claimed would happen.” [1] [2]

    “The introduction of glyphosate-resistant crops has increased the use of glyphosate (an herbicide), but decreased the use of other herbicides. Total herbicide use has actually decreased.” (above, OP)

    “The total amount of herbicides is trending down and the total environmental impact due to herbicides has decreased. While we can’t be sure if HT crops were the cause of the total decrease in herbicide use, we can be reasonably certain the change in herbicide types was due to HT crops.” [3]

    ______

    [1] http://www.bigpictureagriculture.com/2012/10/an-evaluation-of-benbrooks-pesticide-use-study-super-weeds.html
    [2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2012/10/12/scientists-journalists-challenge-claim-that-gm-crops-harm-the-environment/
    [3] http://www.biofortified.org/2014/02/herbicides/

  74. Egstraon 27 Feb 2015 at 11:07 pm

    jsterritt

    thank you — I was looking for an evaluation of his ork, but hadn’t yet found one.

  75. saschbon 28 Feb 2015 at 8:53 am

    “We don’t know. That is the point. When they say genetic modification has been going on for thousands of years, they are not talking about crossing distant species.”

    Apparently, hybridization of closely related species is alright but the theoretical hybridization of “distant species” would be dangerous. I’m wondering, where the treshold is. At what degree of relatedness hybridization becomes dangerous?
    But you’re deliberately missing the point here. When we speak about genetically modifying organisms, we speak of the introduction of one or a few new genes, not of the combination of the halves of two genomes. So you are saying that the introduction of a very low number of proteins with a known function is somehow more dangerous than the introduction of tens of thousands, most of which we don’t even know what they are doing? Where is the data supporting that assertion? Is your point that we don’t have this data, but we can’t know for sure? With this interpretation of the cautionary principle you want us to prove a negative without even the slightest hint of any health risk.

    And as others have already asked: What “sickness” are you talking about? What “unprecedented substances” are introduced?

  76. jsterritton 28 Feb 2015 at 9:33 am

    @saschb

    “So you are saying that the introduction of a very low number of proteins with a known function is somehow more dangerous than the introduction of tens of thousands, most of which we don’t even know what they are doing? Where is the data supporting that assertion?”

    While making precisely the claim that this is somehow more dangerous, what HN means* is more unfamiliar, less natural, and therefore more frightening. Like most anti-GMOers, HN conflates novelty with uncertainty, and uncertainty with calamity. Therefore fear. Such arguments are predicated on scientific illiteracy. More than that, these arguments show contempt for science and human understanding.

    You will get no data from HN.

    *While I hate to speak for someone else, it is necessary with HN, who speaks only in a weird pidgin of oblique, gauzy, backpedaling declamatory statements delivered with a Bill O’Reilly-like degree of self-regard, misplaced confidence, and absent authority. (Snicker.)

  77. Bronze Dogon 28 Feb 2015 at 10:42 am

    You’re probably on the money there, jsterritt.

    One observation I’ve made in this topic is that, to me at least, a lot of the anti-GMO rhetoric sounds like that of eugenicists and anti-miscegenation demagogues, only tamer since this is usually about plants or livestock and rarely about people. But if we find viable medical uses for trans-species insertion in humans, we’d be seeing more people speaking as if such treatments were intended to produce furries for cosmetic, military, or apocalyptic reasons. Shortly thereafter, it’d be followed by bigotry towards any person known to have such a modification, as if their “contaminated” genome was a more important feature in defining them as a person than their sapience.

  78. hardnoseon 28 Feb 2015 at 10:51 am

    ” I wonder if the average life expectancy of a 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 or 80 year old has been increased by medical science.”

    There are a small number of medical advances that may have increased life expectancy for adults. People used to die from appendicitis, for example, and women used to die giving birth in hospitals, before doctors started washing their hands.

    Some non-medical improvements increased average lifespan, involving sanitation in cities, maybe.

    In recent decades, cigarette smoking has decreased and that has decreased death rates of older adults.

    People can live a very long time with disabling chronic diseases, so average lifespan is not adequate for measuring health.

    If you want to know if the health status of Americans is getting better or worse, you would have to consider many variables and there is no simple way of doing that.

    If you think of the middle-aged and older adults that you know, you can’t help noticing that many are unwell and on prescription drugs. Of course, that mainstream medical answer to that is always that people are living longer, thanks to medical advances, so there is more age-related sickness.

    However, that is nothing but wishful speculation. We know that industrialization dramatically increases certain diseases.

    In traditional societies, the rate of survival to adulthood is usually lower, but the adults who do survive are much less likely to get cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc.

  79. saschbon 28 Feb 2015 at 12:11 pm

    “[…] average lifespan is not adequate for measuring health. […] If you think of the middle-aged and older adults that you know, you can’t help noticing that many are unwell and on prescription drugs.”

    Well, that’s proof of course. And much more reliable

    “In traditional societies, the rate of survival to adulthood is usually lower, but the adults who do survive are much less likely to get cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc.”

    Again, you’re claiming this, but I seriously doubt that for the most part. And the part, that I don’t doubt, is because you are cheeky with your arguments. Type 2 diabetes okay, that’s trivial. No one will deny that it’s caused by overweight, a result of modern oversupply of high calory food. Children with type 1 diabetes and probably many other auto-immune diseases will not live to celebrate their 20th birthday in your “traditional society”. Most immune diseases are too rare to be seen in such societies anyways. Cancer and dementia were pretty well known before industrialization and already were described in antiquity.
    If you’re claiming that these occur less often in your “traditional societies”, that needs to be substantiated by numbers, otherwise it’s just fantasy. I’m even sure that someone already did these calculations.
    Okay, be that as it may, are you implying that GMOs cause these?

  80. saschbon 28 Feb 2015 at 12:20 pm

    @ jsterrit and Bronze Dog

    You are probably right, but the problem is that for someone who is reading this and undecided in this issue hardnose may make superficial sense. That’s why these same claims have to be countered time and again.

  81. BBBlueon 28 Feb 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Hardnose,

    “In traditional societies, the rate of survival to adulthood is usually lower, but the adults who do survive are much less likely to get cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc.”

    So what’s your definition of a traditional society and what is your evidence for the claim that a 70 or 80-year old in a “traditional” society is much less likely to get cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc. when compared to a 70 or 80-year old in a “non-traditional” society?

    And as saschb implies, what the heck does any of that have to do with GMOs?

  82. jsterritton 28 Feb 2015 at 3:06 pm

    @HN

    “In traditional societies, the rate of survival to adulthood is usually lower, but the adults who do survive are much less likely to get cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune disorders, etc.”

    You’ve outdone yourself, HN. Not only are you manufacturing nonsense to support your weird naturalistic anti-science fantasy, but you’re stooping to the lowest depths of amorality to do so. Plus, you’re all over the place. First you claim that cancer, dementia, etc are modern diseases — ones you are trying to pin on innovations as contemporary as GMOs. Then you argue directly counter to that by claiming that — “traditionally” — those who did not survive into adulthood are precisely those who would have had these diseases if they had survived. Not only is your argument self-contradicting, but contemptible: that childhood death weeds out the would-be future victims of adult diseases. You make it sound like a good thing! Oh, the good ol’ days. Of course, such a statement is untestable by definition and you don’t have a scrap of proof or authority with which to back it up. New low.

    “We know that industrialization dramatically increases certain diseases.” Citation needed. None expected. Ever.

    “If you want to know if the health status of Americans is getting better or worse, you would have to consider many variables and there is no simple way of doing that.” This is a garbage statement. I know you despise science, but that doesn’t make it disappear. I would also add that survival is the first and foremost yardstick used to measure health outcomes. You seem to be arguing that living in anything but robust, unmedicated health is the only condition preferable to death. Every single sick person in the world — their friends, families, and economies — disagrees with you on this one.

    It is laughable that you refuse to consider something as self-evident as improved health correlating with longer life (or more accurately, one following directly from the other), yet you’ll jump through flaming hoops of illogic connecting dots that defy credulity.

  83. Bronze Dogon 28 Feb 2015 at 3:49 pm

    More simply: If people die of childhood diseases, they don’t get the opportunity to die from geriatric conditions.

    Something that I think also needs to be said: Life has a 100% mortality rate. Everyone is inevitably going to die of something. I often wonder if people who complain about diseases like cancer think that death itself is also a recent phenomenon.

  84. tmac57on 28 Feb 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Industrialization does have negative effects (ones for which we are constantly attempting to mitigate), but it has also, along with modern food production and medicine, enabled us to live much longer and far more comfortably and with more time to enjoy life, and along with that the rising probability of contracting the diseases and infirmities associated with advancing age.
    I guess if GMO’s are helping us to live longer, then it could perversely be claimed as a part of the problem.

  85. hardnoseon 28 Feb 2015 at 7:09 pm

    You claim that modern medicine lets us live much longer, and that’s why cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc., are increasing. That is a very common belief, even though there is no evidence for it. It is simply what you want to believe.

  86. jsterritton 01 Mar 2015 at 2:01 am

    hardnose…

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Incidence of cancer is decreasing.

    Furthermore, NO ONE is claiming that medicine lets us live “much longer.” People are living much longer for a variety of reasons (medicine is one of those reasons). It is an indisputable fact that people are living much longer (life expectancy has increased by decades over the last century).

    Evidence abounds. You just don’t fact-check your own stupid flights of fancy and contrarian worldview.

    http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/arn_7508.htm
    http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/cancer-statistics-report-deaths-down-20-percent-in-2-decades

  87. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2015 at 2:58 am

    Hardnose,

    About two thirds of cancers occur in those 65 and older. Also, those who have had or have cancer are more likely to have a second cancer diagnosis. Therefore, more old people equals more cancers. Furthermore, the total incidence of new cases has actually declined over the past ten years.

    There are lots of data to support claims made by others among these comment about age and the incidence of cancer, but so far, no evidence to support your claims about differences due to traditional versus non-traditional factors unless you are putting things like smoking, alcohol, and obesity in the non-traditional category.

    http://1.usa.gov/1l8j2iJ

    http://1.usa.gov/1BNZ4EA

  88. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 11:37 am

    Cancer declined in recent years because of decreased cigarette smoking.

    The modern industrial lifestyle of processed food and physical inactivity contributes to cancer, heart disease, dementia, etc. Environmental pollution is also a factor, although even non-industrial areas are affected by it now.

    GMOs might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.

  89. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 11:45 am

    Evidence that cancer seldom occurred before modern industrialization http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=6243

  90. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 11:57 am

    “GMOs might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.”

    We have equal evidence to say:

    Street lights might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.
    Grass might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.
    The Dallas Cowboys might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.
    Spoons might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.
    Ernest Borgnine might contribute to chronic autoimmune disorders and allergies. We do not know.

    The endless “Appeal to What the Beep do We Know?” is equal parts nonsensical and tiresome.

  91. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 12:03 pm

    “Evidence that cancer seldom occurred before modern industrialization http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/article/?id=6243

    From the article:

    “It has been suggested that the short life span of individuals in antiquity precluded the development of cancer. Although this statistical construct is true, individuals in ancient Egypt and Greece did live long enough to develop such diseases as atherosclerosis, Paget’s disease of bone, and osteoporosis, and, in modern populations, bone tumours primarily affect the young.”

    I will say this, HN: I do agree with you in part here. Environmental pollutants and modern lifestyle indeed increase cancer rates. No doubting that.

    But jumping to the extreme notion that cancer simply did not exist in ancient times is an extreme that is, at the least, unsupportable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor_of_All_Maladies

  92. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 12:28 pm

    The research I just linked said cancer seldom occurred in ancient Egypt.

  93. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Because they didn’t live long enough to get cancer.

  94. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Not to discount the environmental causes. They are certainly real.

  95. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 2:57 pm

    They lived long enough to get cancer. Average lifespan for people who survived childhood was not very different from ours.

  96. tmac57on 01 Mar 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I am pretty sure the the Argument From Ignorance is the cause of cancer. That is indisputable!

  97. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 3:03 pm

    This article explains how longevity distributions are skewed by high rates of infant mortality. There are many others saying the same thing.

    http://www.livescience.com/10569-human-lifespans-constant-2-000-years.html

  98. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 4:01 pm

    HN:

    “They lived long enough to get cancer. Average lifespan for people who survived childhood was not very different from ours.”

    You’re just confusing life span (the max people can live to) and life expectancy (the average age people live to).

    But people above have already told you this AND given you evidence re: expectancy, yet you persist to say the same things without new evidence!!!!!

    Where is the evidence that life expectancy has not changed since ANCIENT EGYPT HN? Where is it?

  99. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Hardnose,

    You are making the same mistake the person who wrote this headline made…

    “Cancer ‘is purely man-made’ say scientists after finding almost no trace of disease in Egyptian mummies”

    …based on this.

    “In an ancient society lacking surgical intervention, evidence of cancer should remain in all cases. The virtual absence of malignancies in mummies must be interpreted as indicating their rarity in antiquity, indicating that cancer causing factors are limited to societies affected by modern industrialization”

    The fact that one study indicates there is a low incidence of detectable cancers in Egyptian mummies suggests many things but proves nothing about environmental causes.

    There are many well-understood risk factors for cancer such as smoking, inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables, alcohol consumption, obesity, solar radiation, lack of exercise, and specific occupation exposures. For those factors, there is compelling evidence, and plausible theories related to cause and effect. In the case of GMOs and cancer, however, there is no evidence, and no plausible theories to describe cause and effect that even hint that “…maybe GMOs contribute” to sickness.

    Starting a line of inquiry with “What if?”, even if the “What if?” is a total construct of one’s imagination, is fine, but if you want anyone to take your “What if?” seriously, to consider it more than just a personal belief or anti-something propaganda, you need more than “maybe”, and you haven’t offered anything more than that in regards to GMOs.

    P.S. Yes, “life expectancy at birth” is significantly affected by infant mortality, but that doesn’t mean that most ancient Egyptians weren’t dying at a younger age than we are now. Age specific death rates are more relevant to this discussion. I found THIS to be a fair discussion of the subject. I also found this interesting: “…for millennia Egypt appears to have been a hotbed of disease. Life was short even by pre-modern standards, and seasonal infections ravaged even people in the prime of life.”

  100. BBBlueon 01 Mar 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Just ran across this reply to a comment on another blog. Thought I would share.

    “…when God made the earth he also made the seeds. Read Genesis 1:29. When God creates something its perfect. We do not need a company like Monsanto to come along and manipulate something beautiful that God made for us to enjoy and turn it into a profit scheme. I don’t know about you, buy I rather eat something given to me by the creator than to eat something from a laboratory from greedy Monsanto.”

  101. saschbon 01 Mar 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Hardnose,

    While I notice that you’re somewhat successfully directing attention away from the question where the connection to GMOs is, I want to thank you for providing a source for at least one of your statements. I immediately jumped to the original review paper (http://www.nature.com/nrc/journal/v10/n10/full/nrc2914.html) because these press releases are not always reliable. It was certainly an interesting read.
    As an aside, I was not aware that all ancient Egyptians were mummified not just the wealthy. But that makes them a good sample for this study in theory.
    First of all, I have no expertise in this field. Nevertheless and you can dismiss this as motivated reasoning, but I don’t find this paper convincing. Especially their analysis of the only 12 documents, dealing with the Egyptian concept of physiology, that we know of. Seems a bit meager to be comprehensive to me. They find “a few tenuous references to the disease” and count this as evidence for its scarcety. Then they go on to contradict themselves and say that in ancient Greece cancer “was common enough to be widely studied and recorded”. Too much arguing from ignorance in this section.
    Apparently, I’m not the only one who doubts their reasoning. A comment, published in the same journal (http://www.nature.com/nrc/journal/v11/n1/full/nrc2914-c1.html), calls the methodology into question: “. A recent meta-analysis of all published palaeopathological studies of Egyptian mummies demonstrated how diagnostic uncertainty was a general problem in palaeopathological research and explained why clinical standards of diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were rarely applied (Ref.2).These methodological limitations make it difficult to reach the conclusions that are claimed by the authors regarding the frequency of cancer in antiquity.” He also cites evidence from other studies: ” A recent study by Nerlich et al. examined the preserved skeletal remains of 905 individuals from two major ancient Egyptian necropolises spanning 3,200–500 BCE and also those of 2,547 individuals in ancient Germany dating back to 1400–1800 CE. This study established the presence of malignant tumours in spatially and temporarily different populations over the past 4,000 years with an age- and gender-adjusted frequency the same as that of a control group of the English population between 1900 and 1905 (Ref. 3). Another study from the same group by Zink et al. examined the mummified remains of 325 adults in the ancient Egyptian necropolis of Thebes-west from 1,500 to 500 BCE showed a higher prevalence than the same reference English population mentioned above (Ref.4). We also have evidence from some studies that distinct types of malignant tumours such as multiple myeloma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma occurred at rates that are much higher than those in modern populations (Ref.5).”

    2. Zweifel, L., Buni, T. & Ruhli, F. J. Evidence-based palaeopathology: meta-analysis of PubMed-listed scientific studies on ancient Egyptian mummies. Homo 60, 405–427 (2009).

    3. Nerlich, A. G., Rohrbach, H., Bachmeier, B. & Zink, A. Malignant tumors in two ancient populations: An approach to historical tumor epidemiology. Oncol. Rep. 16, 197–202 (2006).

    4. Zink, A. et al. Malignant tumors in an ancient Egyptian population. Anticancer Res. 19, 4273–4277 (1999).

    5. Capasso, L. L. Antiquity of cancer. Int. J. Cancer 113, 2–13 (2005).

  102. tmac57on 01 Mar 2015 at 6:07 pm

    BBBlue- Interestingly, if you break down the name Monsanto, it can read as Mon ‘my’ in French, and santo ‘saint’ in Spanish. Maybe ‘god’ is acting through Monsanto to improve on so-called ‘perfection’, and the people trying to stop them are being influenced by El Diablo. Sounds perfectly plausible to me 😉

  103. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Now it’s hard to find indigenous people living their traditional lifestyle. But researchers have studied them in the past and found that cancer was very rare.

    Industrialization and technology have done a lot to modify nature, often in unexpected ways. It seems to be our specie’s nature to modify nature, and we can’t stop doing it. But it has brought us cancer and other horrible diseases.

    GMOs are just another example of our species playing with complex systems it barely understands.

    I am not saying genetic engineering should be prevented — we can’t prevent it, someone will do it no matter what. But those of us who are skeptical about its safety and want to avoid it should have that right.

  104. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 6:58 pm

    Hardnose:

    Let’s forget about GMOs and life expectancy for a sec…

    Can you tell us why you think it’s OK to make assertions w/o evidence? Because at this point, there’s no point in discussing anything with you until we settle this.

    Do you think that we should just accept what you say as true w/o evidence? Do you think that’s fair?

  105. hardnoseon 01 Mar 2015 at 7:23 pm

    steve12,

    I know for a fact that you have internet access, because otherwise you would not be here. I don’t know what prevents you from using it to find whatever evidence you need. I have already posted links to articles, I am sure you can find many more.

  106. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 8:16 pm

    HN:

    “I don’t know what prevents you from using it to find whatever evidence you need.”

    Ummmm….becasue they’re not my assertions.

    So you think that you should just be able to say things, and everyone else should go find the evidence? Doesn’t that seem backwards to you?

    “I have already posted links to articles, I am sure you can find many more.”

    Foe some, yes. But then you want us to accept some assertions absent all evidence.

    To wit:

    “Now it’s hard to find indigenous people living their traditional lifestyle. But researchers have studied them in the past and found that cancer was very rare.”

    Link? Name?

    “Industrialization and technology have done a lot to modify nature, often in unexpected ways. It seems to be our specie’s nature to modify nature, and we can’t stop doing it. But it has brought us cancer and other horrible diseases.”

    So you’re making the assertion that cancer didn’t exist before industry. You keep saying it. You had one link that was far from dispositive. I linked a book that challenged that. YOU got anything else for such a revolutionary claim?

  107. Bronze Dogon 01 Mar 2015 at 8:56 pm

    1. Troll tells skeptics they should be the ones to look up the evidence for his hypothesis.
    2. Skeptics who haven’t played this game before do their own search for evidence supporting the troll’s hypothesis.
    3. Said evidence turns out to be crap, and the skeptic points out all the logical fallacies, stronger evidence against it, and so on.
    4. Troll says they were cherrypicking the worst evidence, picking low hanging fruit, et cetera.
    5. Skeptic asks troll for the best evidence, since he obviously needs help finding it.
    6. GOTO line 1.

  108. jsterritton 01 Mar 2015 at 9:03 pm

    @hardnose

    “I have already posted links to articles.”

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    “Now it’s hard to find indigenous people living their traditional lifestyle. But researchers have studied them in the past and found that cancer was very rare.”

    No citation. No nothing. Just this argumentum ad Amish aka sharks-don’t get-cancer BS. The stupid things you say are so easily fact-checked as long-debunked nonsense they have names!!!

    “[Modifying nature] has brought us cancer and other horrible diseases.”

    To paraphrase your favorite (and only) source of authority: “I know for a fact that you can read, because otherwise you would not be here. I don’t know what prevents you from reading to find evidence right on this very page correcting your demonstrably false assertions. Many have already posted links to resources proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the wrongness of these assertions. I am sure you can find many more.”

  109. steve12on 01 Mar 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Bronze Dog:

    How many times have we seen this exact sequence? You’ve definitely nailed it…..

    I just can’t imagine making an extraordinary claim w/o offering something in the way of evidence. It’s just odd….

  110. Bruceon 02 Mar 2015 at 4:04 am

    saschb,

    Thank you for the effort you put in there. As you can see, it was completely ignored by who you were addressing it to.

    BD and BJ7 has said it before and I will always pop in to echo their thoughts on this particular troll. He has nothing to offer and, unfortunately, if you are thinking of changing his mind, you will get nowhere. He has displayed no willingness to learn and has a very tenuous grasp on the scientific method and no grasp on basic statistical analysis.

    It is so easy for the troll to get attention by posting some bull assertion, this blog post itself is a great example. As my Chemistry teacher used to say: “The empty vessel makes the most noise!”

  111. arnieon 02 Mar 2015 at 9:41 am

    I believe trolls thrive on feeding (pointing out where they’re wrong) and wither with a blanket of silence after the initial response to their ignorance (for the sake of the naive reader). It seems to have worked with sonic (although that remains yet to be seen). Hardnose is more hardnosed and resistance to that treatment, but it would be interesting to give it a try.

  112. hardnoseon 02 Mar 2015 at 10:30 am

    Ok, you convinced me. Artificial carcinogens are good for you. Polluted air and water is harmless. The only reason cancer has increased is the wonderful new drugs that make you stay healthy and live forever. GMOs are fine, nothing matters our bodies can handle any kind of artificial crap, just as long as you remember to take your psychiatric drugs.

  113. Bronze Dogon 02 Mar 2015 at 10:40 am

    And, of course, trolls lie about what your actual position is so that they don’t have to deal with the real you, just the script.

  114. tmac57on 02 Mar 2015 at 10:45 am

    Hardnose- You missed one ” Strawmen are part of a healthy, balanced, daily diet”.

  115. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I have to say that if it wasn’t for Hardnose, I would not have bothered learning more about life expectancy statistics and age distribution of ancient Egyptians, but there is no denying that he has a very hard time grasping the whole logic and evidence thing. Not sure if that makes him a troll or a numbskull.

  116. jsterritton 02 Mar 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Recently, there has been some discussion and strategizing about troll protocol among commenters here. I’d like to add three points:

    1. Although trolls often sucker new and old commenters alike into responding to their shenanigans, the results can be of value. For example, a commenter will use the bait of a troll’s sweeping statements of dubious authority as a springboard to explore a topic throughly. I think we all have learned a surprising amount about the limitations of Egyptology for diagnosing non-ossifying cancers in mummies.

    2. Some trolls are hilarious. If HN showed up only less frequently, I wouldn’t mind his antics at all (they wear thin fast, though). Some of our beloved trolls here practice their art with exquisite timing, providing comic relief and helpful object lessons on topics like Solution Aversion and Motivated Reasoning and Lessons from Dunning-Kruger. Some commenters here are classic tinfoil hatters, some are merely contrarian, and some are know-it-alls who get their kicks ignoring every tenet of evidence-based reasoning and skepticism. (Marcus Morgan I can only imagine in a black cape, pulling on a goatish beard, obsessing about genitalia, and finding the answer to everything in his devil’s geometry.) Our trolls are good for a laugh.

    3. Neurologica doesn’t have a troll problem. As I understand it, Internet comments sections are famous for the worst kind of human behavior that doesn’t involve physical contact. By comparison, this is a five-star operation. I credit this to the genuine curiosity and critical thinking skills of Dr Novella and the many fine regular and occasional commenters here. There aren’t even many drive-bys at Neurologica (this I credit wholly to Dr Novella’s skill as a writer and blog host). It’s heartwarming when the occasional commenter opens with, “I’m sure this comment will be censored…” I guess other corners of the Internet aren’t so warm-n-fuzzy. The level of discourse here is way higher than elsewhere. Trolls can’t really get a toe-hold and flamers cannot turn reasoned debate into shouting matches. Perhaps that’s why there are only a few here. And since there’s no infestation, can’t we keep the few we have as pets? Puh-leeeeease?

    I have been enjoying Neurologica for some time (and commenting for just over a year). I get a lot out of it. I don’t think I have the personal fortitude to participate in a don’t-feed-the-trolls policy, which is probably why I favor the dog-pile approach of burying them under an avalanche of good evidence.

    My 2 cents.

  117. arnieon 02 Mar 2015 at 1:23 pm

    jsterritt,
    Thanks for your response. Your points and arguments are fairly persuasive. Perhaps I have been too inpatient. I don’t follow many blogs and perhaps haven’t appreciate the relatively small problem on this one. I do get tired of commenters seemingly expecting trolls to change their ways and getting very frustrated and angry when they don’t when it should be obvious by now that they sometimes pretend to “listen” but really don’t. They just throw out more bait. Anyway, I’ll try to appreciate more the limited amount of damage done on this outstanding blog compared to others. Have at’em! 🙂

  118. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2015 at 3:02 pm

    In hardnose’s case, how does one distinguish a troll from someone who is genuinely ignorant of scientific and skeptical principles?

  119. Bronze Dogon 02 Mar 2015 at 3:51 pm

    I’d say the distinction is one of persistence. Someone who is merely ignorant is less likely to follow the familiar tropes of trolling in the face of new information. The problem, however, is that lot of people talk past us, and look for confirmation of their prejudices about science and skepticism based on popular media, rather than read our posts and comments for comprehension.

  120. arnieon 02 Mar 2015 at 3:59 pm

    BBBlue,

    Probably no clear distinction, but I think of a troll as someone who primarily seems to want to dominate the comment strings without ever progressing in the exchange of information, evidence and relevant links, who doesn’t seem interested in critical thinking principles, and also who tries to divert the comment exchanges into areas of their ideological agenda rather than related to the OP. They wind uo being more disruptive than contributory. Their value seems limited to occasionally evoking some good new information exchange between serious blog participants (see jsterritt above).

  121. jsterritton 02 Mar 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Hardnose is an across-the-board denialist. There doesn’t appear to be a single instance of scientific consensus that he doesn’t reject out of hand. HN’s sword of denial has two edges: conspiracy and argument from complexity. He will, for instance, argue that AIDS is too complex to possibly be understood by anyone and that the dazzling treatment outcomes achieved using multiple drug therapies could just as likely be coincidence. When challenged why he rejects the irrefutable science showing the causal relationships between HIV and AIDS and between treatment and health outcome, he argues that science is a conspiracy in cahoots with drug makers to exploit said coincidence for profit. Hardnose elliptically claims to be a retired scientist. As far as I can make out, he is a garden variety wackadoo who is smitten with conspiracy nonsense and gets to spout it here. Across hundreds of posts here HN has unilaterally denied the legitimacy and authority of science without ever providing a shred of evidence in support of his wild claims. One might guess that HN knows better than to cite his crackpot sources here, but I think he likes to pretend that his positions are novel and the product of his own insight, research, and original thinking. I think HN would claim that the striking similarity between his crank anti-science and that of crank anti-science websites is just another coincidence.

    HN claims to be “in the dreaded top 1% for intelligence.” He also considers “formal education to be…BS.” I could speculate about other indicators that suggest HN did not excel in school or career (he was singled out for defying the orthodoxy!) and that he considers himself — despite all evidence — to be of exceptional intelligence, but why speculate: There is a robust and incontrovertible literature here on Neurologica proving that he is a moron and a troll par excellence.

  122. BBBlueon 02 Mar 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I guess I tend to define a troll as someone who knows better, but intentionally tries to stir stuff up just for the sake of being provocative or destructive. I think a person can be an ignorant denialist without being a troll, but perhaps the distinction is not important and both should be ignored.

  123. jsterritton 02 Mar 2015 at 11:19 pm

    ^He’s got to know better. Ignorance is not a defense for HN’s behavior, especially persistent ignorance in the face of (in order): evidence, incredulity, evidence, education, evidence, disbelief, evidence, ridicule, evidence, and, ultimately, scorn and derision.

    Dude’s a troll. He’s loving this.

  124. Bruceon 03 Mar 2015 at 8:37 am

    jsterritt pretty much hits the nail on the head in the last three posts there.

    Initially HNs level of self deception and arrogance fascinated me, then angered me and now just bore me. I don’t even have to try to not respond anymore. He should know better and is now acting like a petulant child. He probably doesn’t even know how well he is treated here compared to how he would be on other blogs.

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