Jul 25 2014

Mike Adams is a Dangerous Loon

Where do I even begin? Mike Adams, the self-proclaimed “healthranger” who runs the crank alt-med site naturalnews, has sunk to a new low, even though he was already scraping bottom.

Adams combines the worst CAM propaganda with a blend of conspiracy theories from across the spectrum, while selling supplements and other nonsense. He portrays himself as someone who is engaged in a righteous battle against the forces of evil – so hardly someone who is engaged in rational discourse.

In a recent rant, however, he has become a parody even of himself. This time he is raving about Monsanto and GMOs, writing:

Monsanto is widely recognize (sic) as the most hated and most evil corporation on the planet. Even so, several internet-based media websites are now marching to Monsanto’s orders, promoting GMOs and pursuing defamatory character assassination tactics against anyone who opposes GMOs, hoping to silence their important voices.

He doesn’t stop there, he goes full Godwin – right for the Nazi analogies, which he repeats throughout his article, complete with pictures of the Holocaust. He goes on:

Anyone who resisted the Nazi regime was condemned as “anti-science” in precisely the same way that anyone who now questions the wisdom of unleashing genetically modified seeds into the open environment is also called “anti-science.”

Thus, GMOs aren’t based in science at all. They are the domain of a radical cult where questions are not allowed and critical thinking is condemned and censored.

According to Adams’ logic, anyone accusing anyone else of being anti-science is just like the Nazis, because they did that too. But here is the money quote:

This official ceremony sends a message to the world, and that official message from the nation of Germany to the rest of the world is that “it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.” (UPDATE: Those are the paraphrased words of the German government, not my statement.)

The emphasis is Adams’. As you can also see, Adams added an update trying to distance himself from this statement. He has been feverishly adding such updates to this article, which I will get to. Perhaps some small part of him realized he has stepped over the line.

He also writes:

Today, Monsanto collaborators — publishers, journalists and scientists — have signed on to the Nazi genocide machine of our day: the biotechnology industry and its evil desire to dominate the world’s food supply and blanket the planet with deadly chemicals that have been scientifically shown to cause horrific cancer tumors. They use many of the same tactics as the Nazi regime, too: intimidation, character assassination, threats and fabricated disinformation. Hitler’s Ministry of Propaganda, it turns out, is alive and well today in America. Its headquarters is not in Berlin but St. Louis.

and…

I’m hoping someone will create a website listing all the publishers, scientists and journalists who are now Monsanto propaganda collaborators. I have no doubt such a website would be wildly popular and receive a huge influx of visitors, and it would help preserve the historical record of exactly which people contributed to the mass starvation and death which will inevitably be unleashed by GMO agriculture (which is already causing mass suicides in India and crop failures worldwide).

Let me summarize Adams’ points here: Monsanto is equivalent to modern day Nazis committing their own genocide and bid for domination. Anyone who defends GMOs (or just doesn’t buy into anti-GMO nonsense) is a “Monsanto collaborator” and are just as bad as Nazi collaborators. He says directly, “These attacks all have one thing in common: they are orchestrated by paid biotech muckrakers — people I call ‘Monsanto collaborators.’”

These people should be named, their addresses and photos made public. And by the way, it is your moral right, even responsibility, to kill them.

He then tries to insulate himself from the unavoidable implications of his article by saying he does not condone violence and is not calling for vigilante justice. This is small comfort, however – the kinds of people who would respond to his obvious call to action are likely not to be dissuaded that he says it is not a call to action (wink, wink).

I also have to point out that Adams’ article is incredibly free of any facts or documentation. He states as a matter of fact that people are being paid by Monsanto to shill for them, but he is just making this up. He demonstrates a depraved disregard for the truth, all the while claiming to be defending the truth.

His first update was to announce that someone was indeed inspired by his article (but not a call to action) to create the “Monsanto collaborators” website, complete with swastika. The site lists journalists, publications, and scientists who are alleged Monsanto shills. 

The site also repeats the claim that Monsanto is responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 Indian farmers from suicide. This is a complete myth, however. Keith Kloor nicely puts this story into perspective at Discover Magazine, which earned both Kloor and Discover a place on the Monsanto collaborators site.

Your truly, btw, is also named on the site, with the tag, “Another corporate science shill who attacks the Seralini study.” At least I am not as bad as David Gorski who apparently is a, “Key perpetrator of the poisoning of hundreds of millions of children with GMOS and vaccines.”

The response to Adams has not been positive, even from his usual supporters, some of whom may be starting to sense the crazy. So Adams posted a second update claiming:

After careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that the Monsanto Collaborators website is a bait-and-switch trap engineered by the biotech industry in an effort to lure in support from GMO skeptics and then discredit them with some sort of insane “call to action” of some kind.

That’s right, he is trying to cover up his original crazy conspiracy theory by inventing out of whole cloth another crazy conspiracy theory. He links to his “evidence” for this conclusion, but it just goes to another article by him repeating the claim, entirely evidence-free. He is playing the “false-flag” card, which is a favorite in the conspiracy theory deck. Any conspiracy theory or theorist which gets caught red-handed doing something embarrassing, was obviously part of a false-flag operation to discredit the genuine conspiracy theorists. The rabbit hole goes all the way down.

But even in his false-flag post he can’t get away from his Nazi narrative, writing:

“(The Holocaust killed 6 million people, and GMOs are already blamed for hundreds of thousands of suicides in India, with the number growing by the hour. The future death from GMOs may reach 100 million or more…)”

Conclusion

In my opinion Mike Adams is a dangerous loon who is now directly threatening the lives of innocent journalists and scientists. He is promoting a paranoid conspiracy narrative, free from any evidence or even basic logic, and invoking holocaust imagery and witch-hunt tactics.

His pathetic attempts to distance himself from the clear implications of his narrative are not convincing, nor are they likely to be effective.

Hopefully this sad affair will marginalize Adams somewhat. Of course he is claiming that people are trying to marginalize him by calling him a crazy and dangerous conspiracy nut, when in fact he is marginalizing himself by actually being a crazy and dangerous conspiracy nut.

Update: The Genetic Literacy Project is now reporting that they have confirmed that Adams is behind the Monsanto Collaborators site, that he is now claiming is a false flag operation. They write:

The GLP has been able to confirm that Adams is indeed the mastermind and financier behind the Monsanto Collaborator’s website. The story has now taken an even more bizarre twist, as Adams, facing multiple investigations from law enforcement officials, including the FBI, is now trying to make it appear that not only did he not oversee the project, but that it was a set up by Monsanto in a twisted plot to discredit anti-GMO critics.

Apparently the FBI is investigating.

Here is an analysis of the source code of naturalnews and monsantocollaborators, strongly suggesting that Adams is responsible for the latter: http://www.twipscience.org/news/2014/7/25/mike-adams-builds-a-naturalnews-nazi-time-machine

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271 responses so far

271 Responses to “Mike Adams is a Dangerous Loon”

  1. mumadaddon 25 Jul 2014 at 9:03 am

    Wow. I do hope Mikey shows up here in the comments section to defend himself, it would be hugely entertaining. But perhaps he’s too busy beavering away in his laboratory being a ‘real scientist’.

  2. John Danleyon 25 Jul 2014 at 9:08 am

    Beware of the Seed Hall Putsch!

  3. hardnoseon 25 Jul 2014 at 9:29 am

    Yes, it sounds like he is a crazed conspiracy theorist. There are many of them, thanks to the internet.

    As for his calling Monsanto supporters “Nazis,” well that is what everyone calls everyone they strongly disagree with now days. Calling someone a Nazi simply means “I hate you and I think you are evil.” I wouldn’t take it literally.

    From your quotes, this guy sounds like his logic circuits are overwhelmed by uncontrollable hatred and paranoia. That alone discredits him and throws him into the lunatic fringe. Being on his hate list will actually make you more credible, not less.

    This kind of lunatic is actually Monsanto’s best friend and ally.

    But Monsanto is slimy, imo, and desperately needs to be reigned in.

    As in so many controversies, both sides are wrong, and the truth is somewhere in between or altogether elsewhere.

  4. elmer mccurdyon 25 Jul 2014 at 10:46 am

    You typed “Nazi’s” where you meant “Nazis,” AND you did it shortly after using “(sic).” Oh, the irony!

  5. motieoneon 25 Jul 2014 at 11:23 am

    hardnose, I cannot agree with your closing line “…both sides are wrong, …” . The people I respect on the side of science (Dr. Novella, Dave Gorski, et. al.) are not to my knowledge ‘wrong’. Of course they are limited by the current science but my definition of ‘right’ is set up relative to what we know now since I am not omniscient. If you mean that there are some crazies on both side yep I am sure there are as always. The difference is in the ratio. The average anti GMO person in my experience is not as crazy as Adams but by no means are they scientifically literate and sound rational thinkers while those factors are drastically reversed in the pro science camp.

  6. Teaseron 25 Jul 2014 at 11:51 am

    Steven Novella is listed here.
    monsantocollaborators.org

    Steven Novella
    Another corporate science shill who attacks the Seralini study.

    On Natural News, Adams has posted this statement

    (NaturalNews) UPDATE: After this story was first published, someone has indeed launched a website that appears to be inspired by a suggestion from this story. The Monsanto Collaborators website lists the names of journalists and publications that the site says have contributed to the agricultural genocide of GMOs, comparing the 250,000+ suicides caused by GMOs to “genocide” and the Holocaust. The site looks new and somewhat sparse, but it does put special emphasis on people like Jon Entine, including a link to a rather detailed and shocking background on Jon Entine at Truth Wiki.

    UPDATE 2: After careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that the Monsanto Collaborators website is a bait-and-switch trap engineered by the biotech industry in an effort to lure in support from GMO skeptics and then discredit them with some sort of insane “call to action” of some kind. Click here to see the evidence and reasoning on this. Because of this, I am recommending that members of the GMO skeptics community refrain from linking to or endorsing the Monsanto Collaborators website.

  7. Steven Novellaon 25 Jul 2014 at 11:56 am

    hardnose – I never even implied that I took the Nazi reference literally. Of course it is a claim that someone is hated and evil.

    Teaser – you are just repeating what I already discussed in my article. BTW – I am deliberately not linking directly to any of Adams’ articles. People can use Google and easily find them.

  8. hardnoseon 25 Jul 2014 at 12:01 pm

    motieone,

    Monsanto has more than enough money to make sure the “science” comes out the way they want it to.

    Your head is in the clouds if you think “science” is an unfailing oracle of Truth.

    First, only ideas that manage to get funding can be studied.

    Next, research that does not turn out the way it’s “supposed” to does not have to be published.

    And then, it is very easy to confuse the media, the public, and even other researchers, with fancy statistics.

    In conclusion: Most research is never done, of what research is done a large percentage is never seen, of what research is done and seen a large percentage is intentionally or unintentionally deceptive.

    Scientists are human, funding organizations consist of humans, humans are fallible creatures who like to get paid.

    The solution: only consider research done by amateurs in their garage. Even then, be skeptical.

  9. Surakyon 25 Jul 2014 at 12:12 pm

    So does Mike Adams … the Health Danger … not realize that by calling out to have the people he hates marked so that they can be ‘taken care of’, he is actually behaving like the Nazis who marked Jews with a yellow star of david so that Nazi supporters could target them?

  10. Steven Novellaon 25 Jul 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Hardnose – you have any sources on those assertions you are making?

    If you read my writing you know that I agree with the types of problems you point out, but you seem to be grossly exaggerating their magnitude without evidence.

    Most GMO research, BTW, is not funded by Monsanto but is independent. Here’s a list: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/independent-funding/

  11. Surakyon 25 Jul 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Hardnose … and anyone else looking to discuss the pros and cons of GMO foods might like to join the GMO Skepti-Forum on Facebook, where open civil discussion is encouraged by everyone for and against GMO foods.

    But bring your best evidence with you. All claims must be backed up.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/GMOSF/

  12. steve12on 25 Jul 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Hardnose is also going off the deep end:

    “As for his calling Monsanto supporters “Nazis,” well that is what everyone calls everyone they strongly disagree with now days.”

    Oh, Ok. No worries then.

    And then your nonsense above above saying, essentially, that science doesn’t work. Remember that when you’re getting medical care, getting into your car, talking on your cell phone. YOu’re right – just a bunch of fancy stats and BS.

  13. Bytoron 25 Jul 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Hadrnose: “The solution: only consider research done by amateurs in their garage. Even then, be skeptical.”

    Umm, no, and I hope you’re just trolling.

    Amateurs make mistakes and do not enough to properly try and correct for bias. Amateurs didn’t figure out the placebo effect. Amateurs don’t know what non-obvious things might invalidate their experiment.

    You know how most people will go looking only for stuff that supports their opinion but not the stuff against? This is what leads to anti-GMO people (for example) using the infamous Séralini study as support because they never saw the problems with it. Amateurs in their garages, the ones you want to trust, are going to make mistakes like that.

    That ain’t being skeptical, that’s being gullible.

  14. Michael Simpsonon 25 Jul 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I don’t know where Novella has the time to accomplish anything given both his Big Pharma and Monsanto shilling. I bet he’s got gold bars stored in his basement from all of this. I’m amazed.

    And even though those who make the assertion, idiots like Adams, there’s tons of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO’s are safe for humans and for the environment. Meh.

    http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/science-gmo-safe/

  15. Michael Simpsonon 25 Jul 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I am incapable of writing before 6 cups of coffee.

    “And even though those who make the assertion, idiots like Adams, there’s tons of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO’s are safe for humans and for the environment. Meh.”

    Should be:

    “And even thought those who make the assertion, idiots like Adams, are responsible for providing the evidence, there’s tons of peer-reviewed scientific evidence that GMO’s are safe for humans and for the environment. Meh.”

    More coffee coming.

  16. jreon 25 Jul 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I semi-suspect, from his last line, that hardnose is actually trolling. But it should be kept in mind that many people really do believe in the picture painted by hardnose in the previous lines — in which science is a rigged game because interested parties control the funding, manipulate the research and filter the results.
    To anyone who has actually done science this picture is wildly at variance with the world is actually is. However, it does serve the important purpose of calling any and all research into doubt and putting all theories, of any degree of cockamamieness, on an equal evidentiary footing.

  17. Sylakon 25 Jul 2014 at 4:21 pm

    WOW, each time you think he has reached the bottom, he finds a hidden trap and a way to go deeper. He seems even too crazy for his own supporters. I always thought that the guy was deliberately crazy too make money with his scams, now I think he has a mental illness.

    Some Anti-gmo group already use violent against research equipment, and crops. I hope that this won’t make things worst.

    one of the craziest part : The conspiracy is a conspiracy to discredited the conspiracy truthers. wow talk about a multi-layer sandwich of non sense

    Use donotlink.com if you have to go to his site, do not give him google ratings.
    I’m totally for free speech, but every freedom have a limit, which is freedom of others, and He’s clearly stepping on the freedom of other people. Guys like him are borderline criminal. And yet they roam free smearing people with lies.

  18. jsterritton 25 Jul 2014 at 4:39 pm

    The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it (of course, they still deny it, but that only goes so far). So the tools remaining in the toolbox are the usual suspects: conspiracy, cherry-picking, special pleading, and propaganda. Trumping even the naturalistic fallacy in its appeal is distrust of institutions (in this case, Big Agra). The anti-GMOers have been very successful in conflating the specter of nefarious business practices with food safety. Since the motives of a for-profit corporation are by definition not altruistic and good, they must be selfish and bad. Hop, skip, jump to evil. Monsanto is evil. So evil, in fact, that they are conspiring to force us all to become their customers, in order to kill us (the ultimate business model). Because evil.

    The Indian farmer myth is a perfect example of post-consensus propaganda. This spurious story about Indian farmers reduced to penury and suicide by Big Agra says nothing about food safety. If GMOs are so bad for our health, why not invent stories about negative health consequences of GMOs? Why trade on fears about economic hegemony instead? Because the science is in. Séralini doesn’t fly anymore. Anti-GMOers lost the debate about food safety on the level playing field of science. So anti-GMOers moved the debate and changed its substance, making the fight about consumer rights and bogeymen. After all, fear mongering doesn’t require facts and conspiracy thinking exists in spite of logic and reason. So instead of food or environmental safety, the fight is now over straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks on corporations and their “shills.” This is not a bad strategy as it demoralizes the pro-science, pro-GMO camp: defending for-profit corporations is a far cry from standing up for good science and promising technology. But Adams has so grossly overreached that he has potentially ruined this strategy for the anti-GMOers. He went “full Hitler” and pulled back the curtain on just how crazy the anti-GMO arguments are.

  19. Steven Novellaon 25 Jul 2014 at 4:57 pm

    “Full-Hitler” – love it. I am definitely going to steal that.

  20. rezistnzisfutlon 25 Jul 2014 at 5:21 pm

    But Monsanto is slimy, imo, and desperately needs to be reigned in.

    This is a common sentiment among anti-GMO activists. Some even claim that they aren’t against GMOs per se, just against Monsanto and the like. When it comes to pointing out what Monsanto, et al., have actually done that is “slimy” enough to warrant being “reigned in” (how exactly, and for what?), we get a lot of conspiracy theories and even outright fabrications. I have yet to see anything that indicates Monsanto has done anything particularly untoward, and sorry, but profit motive isn’t in itself “evil”, it’s just a motive. From what I’ve seen, Monsanto has bent over backwards to accommodate anti-GMO activists, short of giving up on the development of GMOs, but it seems that A) activists will never give up until GMOs are completely banned from the planet, or B) corporations are a thing of the past.

  21. mumadaddon 25 Jul 2014 at 8:44 pm

    “Full-Hitler” – love it. I am definitely going to steal that.

    That’s an ‘attaboy’ if ever I heard one. It was exceptionally well put though. Indeed. Nicely done.

  22. Mlemaon 25 Jul 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Dr Novella – you reveal either your ignorance or your bias in linking to “Genera” – a disorganized list of research put together so the industry advocates at “Biofortified” – and other blogs like “Academics Review” or now here at Neurologica can say “here are 600+ studies that show the safety of GMOs”.

    Show me that “most research” on GMOs is independent of the influence of industry money. Go through those 600 studies – read them all with a critical eye and tell me how they establish the “safety” of GMOs for humans and the environment. Show me how the research that’s been done that applies to questions of equivalency and harm for non-target pests, soil, etc. show that GMOs have had any benefit beyond a temporary reduction in pesticide use which has now turned to stacking of more and more poisonous pesticide resistant traits.

    You haven’t bothered to critically read even the articles you use to support your ideology: the Stanford paper on organics vs. conventional, the situation in India (yes, GMOs weren’t directly to blame, but did fail outright in at least two districts planted side-by-side with traditionally planted Indian hybrids which did very well, and yes, the failures did contribute to a situation which included every influence from global markets to unscrupulous seed sellers who also were loan sharks – and therefore WERE indirectly linked to the suicides) Yup – that’s what your past links show – for anybody who wants to waste their time reading them in order to try to point out to you that it takes more than a cursory examination of the literature combined with a techo-panacea fallacy to be a legitimate expert in this area. You really ought to read the stuff you link to instead of relying on the media’s spin to help you decide whether or not that stuff supports your ideology.

    When you don’t want to know anything beyond a superficial rhetoric which the industry has worked to disseminate for over 10 years, you can’t say anything with authority. You really ought to stay out of this area unless you do indeed wish to be an unpaid industry shill. You need to recognize undue influence when you see it, and you need to be able to dissect the research that’s been done AND assess the field of research as a whole if you want to be taken seriously by anyone who does understand the science (who, by the way, AREN’T posting on social media). You’ll get a lot of positive feedback from the pro-industry camp. If that’s what you want, that is: a little fame and approval from the industry mouthpieces who are all over the internet now – then more power to you. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking that’s the “science”. It most definitely is not. It’s nothing but profit-driven spin and public relations.

    Align yourself with the “authorities” and you never have to worry about being on the “wrong” side – because right is whatever the money says it is. Naivety isn’t flattering to a skeptic.

    Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today? We’ve got nutjobs like Mike Adams on one side, and shills like Chassy on the other. The real scientists aren’t doing “science communication” (read: “we’ll tell you what to believe the science says”) – they’re struggling with hamstrung academic budgets and legal subterfuge from companies like Monsanto. They’re not fighting popularity contests on social media. I felt sick when I saw one of Dr. Novella’s posts on fluoride linked to elsewhere as if it were a science article. I have to ask myself: “what can I do to improve science education so that young people can find their way through all the shit on the internet and hopefully form a sound opinion on these critical issues/” – rather than wasting my time trying to point out what a rational consideration might be on a stupid blog that covers everything from neuroscience to UFOs and bigfoot.

    And yeah, I’m making assumptions about my own qualifications in judging what a rational consideration might be – because that’s what we do here!

    Bias on Wayne. Bias on Garth.

    Dr. Novella doesn’t deserve to be on an anti-gmo hit list. I hope that horrible nazi/Monsanto site disappears fast. But I likewise would like to see biofortified and Academic Review disappear. I ‘d like to see people who don’t know what they’re talking about (Mike Adams and Dr. Novella) quit talking, and I’d like to see those who know what they’re talking about but lie (Chassy and Tribe) quit talking too.

  23. rezistnzisfutlon 25 Jul 2014 at 11:44 pm

    Mlema,

    Once again with the conspiracy theories that “Monsatan” has somehow perpetrated a massive conspiracy to cover up evidence and drive research in their favor. Then comes the ubiquitous cry of “shill” the anti’s such as yourself so love to fall back to.

    I, for one, have read many of those 600 studies as well as looked at many more that I didn’t read their entirety to determine where they came from. No, none of them were bought and paid for by Monsanto. Nearly all of them were done independently at universities, many of them overseas where there are much stricter regulations on GMOs. They all come to the same conclusion. All you have is Seralini.

    Also, you again trot out the Nirvana Fallacy ,”Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?” My impression is that there will likely never be any reasonable assessments unless they are positive. This is why you so ardently defend Seralini. What it actually reflects is your poor understanding of science in that no study has yielded positive results in safety/efficacy testing that would warrant further testing. In other words, there is no hypothesis to test beyond the null hypothesis that has already been tested.

    You make claims that anyone who supports GMOs do so out of pro-industry or some form of ideology. You are projecting. Few of us here have any stake in the industry. It’s the science that we support, and when anti-science people like you make false statements and erroneous claims, of course we’re going to speak against it. That makes us neither shills, pro-industry, or lovers of Monsanto. That makes us science supporters, and skeptics, who abhor the mangling of science at the hands of anti-GMO activists.

  24. mumadaddon 25 Jul 2014 at 11:48 pm

    Mlema,

    You seem uncharacteristically angry. Can you give us a quick summary of why? Assume we don’t understand your post or your links and just want an executive summary.

  25. jsterritton 26 Jul 2014 at 12:41 am

    Mlema…

    I think you might have meant to post your comment in the Seralini comments. But since you ask (“where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?”) and since I’m here anyway and since it only took Google 0.34 seconds:

    Organizations that support the scientific consensus on GMOs:

    This is a partial list of well-respected organizations that have commented on genetically modified crops including a link to where they made the statement:

    American Association for the Advancement of Science: ”The science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.” (http://tinyurl.com/kkf277d)

    American Medical Association: ”There is no scientific justification for special labeling of genetically modified foods. Bioengineered foods have been consumed for close to 20 years, and during that time, no overt consequences on human health have been reported and/or substantiated in the peer-reviewed literature.” (http://bit.ly/166OUdM)

    The United States National Academy of Sciences: “Environmental effects at the farm level have occurred as a result of the adoption of GE crops and the agricultural practices that accompany their cultivation. The introduction of GE crops has reduced pesticide use or the toxicity of pesticides used on fields where soybean, corn, and cotton are grown.” (http://tinyurl.com/l75nmc2)

    World Health Organization: ”No effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of GM foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.” (http://bit.ly/18yzzVI)

    The United States National Academy of Sciences: “To date, no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.” (http://tinyurl.com/m8muumm)

    American Phytopathological Society: ”The American Phytopathological Society (APS), which represents approximately 5,000 scientists who work with plant pathogens, the diseases they cause, and ways of controlling them, supports biotechnology as a means for improving plant health, food safety, and sustainable growth in plant productivity.” (http://bit.ly/14Ft4RL)

    American Society for Cell Biology: ”Far from presenting a threat to the public health, GM crops in many cases improve it. The ASCB vigorously supports research and development in the area of genetically engineered organisms, including the development of genetically modified (GM) crop plants.” (http://bit.ly/163sWdL)

    American Society for Microbiology: ”The ASM is not aware of any acceptable evidence that food produced with biotechnology and subject to FDA oversight constitutes high risk or is unsafe. We are sufficiently convinced to assure the public that plant varieties and products created with biotechnology have the potential of improved nutrition, better taste and longer shelf-life.” (http://bit.ly/13Cl2ak)

    American Society of Plant Biologists: ”The risks of unintended consequences of this type of gene transfer are comparable to the random mixing of genes that occurs during classical breeding… The ASPB believes strongly that, with continued responsible regulation and oversight, GE will bring many significant health and environmental benefits to the world and its people.” (http://bit.ly/13bLJiR)

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA is confident that the bioengineered foods on the United States market today are as safe as their conventional counterparts.” (http://tinyurl.com/qzkpacd)

    Health Canada: “Health Canada is not aware of any published scientific evidence demonstrating that novel foods are any less safe than traditional foods.” (http://tinyurl.com/pou7ma6)

    Society of Toxicology: ”Scientific analysis indicates that the process of GM food production is unlikely to lead to hazards of a different nature than those already familiar to toxicologists. The level of safety of current GM foods to consumers appears to be equivalent to that of traditional foods.” (http://bit.ly/13bOaSt)

    International Seed Federation: ”The development of GM crops has benefited farmers, consumers and the environment… Today, data shows that GM crops and foods are as safe as their conventional counterparts: millions of hectares worldwide have been cultivated with GM crops and billions of people have eaten GM foods without any documented harmful effect on human health or the environment.” (http://bit.ly/138rZLW)

    Council for Agricultural Science and Technology: ”Over the last decade, 8.5 million farmers have grown transgenic varieties of crops on more than 1 billion acres of farmland in 17 countries. These crops have been consumed by humans and animals in most countries. Transgenic crops on the market today are as safe to eat as their conventional counterparts, and likely more so given the greater regulatory scrutiny to which they are exposed.” (http://tinyurl.com/o72hu84)

    Society for In Vitro Biology: ”The SIVB supports the current science-based approach for the evaluation and regulation of genetically engineered crops. The SIVB supports the need for easy public access to available information on the safety of genetically modified crop products. In addition, the SIVB feels that foods from genetically modified crops, which are determined to be substantially equivalent to those made from crops, do not require mandatory labeling.” (http://bit.ly/18yFDxo)

    The Royal Society of Medicine: ”Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries, the USA.” (http://1.usa.gov/12huL7Z)

    American Dietetic Association: ”It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that agricultural and food biotechnology techniques can enhance the quality, safety, nutritional value, and variety of food available for human consumption and increase the efficiency of food production, food processing, food distribution, and environmental and waste management.” (http://1.usa.gov/12hvWnE)

    Federation of Animal Science Societies: ”Meat, milk and eggs from livestock and poultry consuming biotech feeds are safe for human consumption.” (http://bit.ly/133F79K)

    Consensus document on GMOs Safety (14 Italian scientific societies): ”GMOs on the market today, having successfully passed all the tests and procedures necessary to authorization, are to be considered, on the basis of current knowledge, safe to use for human and animal consumption.” (http://bit.ly/166WHYZ) Google translate (http://tinyurl.com/noawpkm)

    “Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture” – Prepared by the Royal Society of London, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences: “Foods can be produced through the use of GM technology that are more nutritious, stable in storage, and in principle health promoting – bringing benefits to consumers in both industrialized and developing nations.” (http://bit.ly/17Cliq5)

    French Academy of Science: ”All criticisms against GMOs can be largely rejected on strictly scientific criteria.” (http://bit.ly/15Hm3wO) Google translate (http://tinyurl.com/nwoztm8)

    International Society of African Scientists: ”Africa and the Caribbean cannot afford to be left further behind in acquiring the uses and benefits of this new agricultural revolution.” (http://bit.ly/14Fp1oK)

    Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities: ”Food derived from GM plants approved in the EU and the US poses no risks greater than those from the corresponding conventional food. On the contrary, in some cases food from GM plants appears to be superior with respect to health.” (http://bit.ly/17ClMMF)

    International Council for Science: ”Currently available genetically modified crops – and foods derived from them – have been judged safe to eat, and the methods used to test them have been deemed appropriate.” (http://tinyurl.com/na7ojbu)

    Thanks to Richard Green for compiling this list. I’m pretty sure the links won’t work here, but you get the idea…

  26. BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2014 at 12:58 am

    hardnose,

    You’ve identified the problems in science research.
    So far so good.
    Unfortunately, you then exaggerate them out of all proportion.
    Next you throw up your hands in defeat.
    (I suppose it’s a lot harder then trying to fix the problems)
    But your last sentence is just inane… a rejection of all the reasons why a scientific approach IS required.

    Big fail, man.

  27. Steven Novellaon 26 Jul 2014 at 7:34 am

    Mlema – On this topic I am acting as a science journalist, one with some background in science and who actually takes the time to read the research. Yes, I have read much of it, and it is my scientific assessment, not ideology as you suggest. I have no a-priori bias here, except to reflect what the science says.

    And there are scientists communicating on this issue. Kevin Folta is a genetic scientist doing GMO work, independently at a university, who is outspoken on this topic.

    And many scientific organizations have reviewed the evidence and come to the conclusion that GMO are safe – AMA, AAAS, WHO, European Commission, and others. That is where the consensus is, which puts you in the position of global warming deniers – going against the consensus with conspiracy theories.

    You’re also just wrong on the Indian suicide thing – Monsanto and GMO crops were not a necessary or critical variable in the suicides. They are common in rural regions anyway, especially among farmers, and correlate with predatory lending practices and high risk practices on the part of the farmers. GMOs were entirely incidental. Saying they were “indirect” is misleading. They were no more involved than the farm equipment they had to buy also. Why not blame the tractor manufacturers?

  28. Andyoon 26 Jul 2014 at 11:12 am

    Milema:

    (yes, GMOs weren’t directly to blame, but did fail outright in at least two districts planted side-by-side with traditionally planted Indian hybrids which did very well, and yes, the failures did contribute to a situation which included every influence from global markets to unscrupulous seed sellers who also were loan sharks – and therefore WERE indirectly linked to the suicides)

    Well if this post is going to be featured on this week’s Name that Logical Fallacy on the SGU I call this one: Moving the goalposts!

  29. BillyJoe7on 26 Jul 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Mlema,

    It seems that, if someone sells a fake version of your product, you are indirectly to blame because, if it wasn’t for your product being on the market, there would be no possibility of a fake version of your product being sold by unscupulous sellers.

    (My reading leads me to conclude that this is why GMO crops failed – they weren’t actually GMO crops but merely labelled as such. Please correct me if I have misundersood this, of if you have evidence to the contrary)

  30. Mischa Popoffon 26 Jul 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Please have a look at the page I posted in response to having my name on this deplorable “Monsanto Collaborators” website: http://www.isitorganic.ca/biotech_collaborator

    The world of biotechnology is so much bigger than Monsanto.

  31. rezistnzisfutlon 26 Jul 2014 at 8:19 pm

    BJ7,

    There is a thriving underground black market for GMOs in places like India and China where basically untrained laypeople take a paid-for product and “re-engineer” it in order to sell their own version of it at reduced cost for their own profit. Unfortunately, this in itself has unforeseen consequences as oftentimes the seeds don’t produce like they should. This would be like improperly using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, or worse, creating one’s own homemade version without having any idea of how to do it properly. In other words, they’re getting greedy and want to circumnavigate established procedures that are in place for good reasons.

    Mlema seems to think that they should go back to ancient farming methods. The problem is, those methods cannot feed a population of billions and are fraught with far more problems, which is why modern methods were developed in the first place.

  32. Ekkoon 26 Jul 2014 at 9:08 pm

    The Genetic Literacy Project has an update on this story and has apparently confirmed Adams is behind this website and is being investigated by law enforcement.
    http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/07/25/mike-adams-claims-monsanto-set-up-kill-gmo-supporters-website-as-scientists-journalists-face-death-threats/#.U9JYMNZVVfo.twitter
    The scary part isn’t the crazy so much as the cold, calculating aspect to the crazy here…partnered with the fact that he has a depressingly large amount of “followers”. Hopefully a lot of them wake up to how off the rails Adams truly is with articles like this…

  33. Bronze Dogon 26 Jul 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Stochastic terrorism waiting to happen. Let’s not let Mike Adams relax.

  34. Sylakon 26 Jul 2014 at 11:20 pm

    @jsterritt LOL He went “full-hitler” good one, reminds me of tropic thunder “you went full retard man, you never go full-retard”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y3FzVQi-R8

  35. Sylakon 27 Jul 2014 at 1:15 am

    @Mlema : wait, Really ?did you really said Steven Novella does not read the studies is critic, wow, YOU are showing you ignorance much about who you are talking to. Before criticizing somebody KNOW what that person do that person before hands, Listens to a couple of his podcast, read the TONS of article he write, just that empty accusation makes all the rest of your too-long for-no-good-reason post null. That not just a Straw man, it is a hollow mannequin.

  36. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Jul 2014 at 4:15 am

    …your too-long for-no-good-reason post

    This is so true. I’m a pretty verbose person, sometimes to my detriment, but I try to make my sentences count. Mlema, on the other hand, inundates us with a lot of useless garbage that can honestly be distilled into one or two sentences. Essentially, the arguments come down to: we’re shills, there is a massive conspiracy occurring directed by Monsanto, Monsanto is suppressing research, and all safety research regarding GMOs, aside from Seralini and Benbrook, of course, is either the direct work of shills or is being funded, and therefore given heavy-handed direction, by Monsanto.

    Personally, I think it’s a tactic not unlike a Gish Gallup where a person is subjected to a long string of arguments that is nearly impossible to address all of it, in order to catch a person in a “aha!” moment or to claim that us pro’s weren’t able to address the arguments.

  37. Bruceon 27 Jul 2014 at 5:19 am

    “Mlema seems to think that they should go back to ancient farming methods. The problem is, those methods cannot feed a population of billions and are fraught with far more problems, which is why modern methods were developed in the first place.”

    This is starkly evident in Africa, and more specifically Zimbabwe where I am originally from. The government tried to sell giving the land back to the people, so they could farm themselves instead of relying on the big mostly white owned farms. You only need to look at the thousands who are now starving and how ancient farming methods completely sucked the land dry, to see that they just don’t work on the scale we would need them to… they need modern farming methods and techniques to be able to survive. It is all very nice to make wonderful long posts about the benefits of “natural” farming or whatever you want to call it and going back to basics etc, but the reality is all you would do then is create mass starvation and most likely speed up desertification.

    (PS the story there is much more complicated than that and there are many political twists and turns, but ultimately, without modern farming practices: people starve)

  38. hardnoseon 27 Jul 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Our society has several dominant factions:

    One powerful faction is the alliance between huge corporations and the huge central government. I am not against business or corporations or government. I believe in capitalism and I believe that we need a government. I am not a leftist loon or an anarchist loon. However, as the American founders were aware, any organization that becomes too powerful is a threat to democracy.

    Another powerful faction is the alliance between Big Science and Big Drug and the Medical Industry. I am not against science or technology. I have been a scientist most of my life and I believe in the scientific method. But our scientific establishment has become overly powerful and corrupted and biased.

    I think all skeptics should be aware of these factions. Your tendency is to go along with anything that is labeled as “science.” You don’t apply the same level of skepticism to mainstream science as you apply to what you consider fringe science. But sometimes “fringe” science is actually a sensible rebellion against an irrational mob consensus.

  39. Bruceon 27 Jul 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Hardnose,

    Do you ever just sit back and read what you type?

  40. Bruceon 27 Jul 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Just in that your reference to Big Science and Big Drug are actually huge indicators of your own bias.

  41. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 2:10 pm

    hardnose…

    Your characterization of skeptics as people who “go along with anything that is labeled as “science”,” is absurd. You are making the familiar claim that science is like religion or team sports: something people choose to believe in and then do. Science is not an ideology. Science is evidence-based, not loyalty-based. Sure, there is corruption in institutions — some people will always try to game the system and there will never be a shortage of corruptible people. The role of science is to (try to) strip away all biases in order to make accurate observations and get at truth. Corruption is another one of the biases that impedes science. Your gambit is that corruption somehow defines science.

    I do not have any idea what you mean by “fringe” science. It seems like you mean bad science: the pseudo- and junk- and anti-science we discuss in these pages. I would argue that there are not flavors of science (no fringe vs mainstream), there is only quality (good vs bad). To draw from a salient point about “alternative” medicine: what do you call an alternative modality that works? Medicine. What do you call “fringe” science that is plausible, rigorous, valid, reproducible, and free from bias? Science.

    Your phrase, “irrational mob consensus,” is also BS. You would like to be dismissive of scientific consensus (for some reason), so you call it a bad name and attach it to poor thinking (that of an irrational mob). Again, science doesn’t work like that. Despite your attempt to characterize scientific consensus as some sort of bandwagon fallacy, there is really nothing you can say to chip away at the reputation of scientific consensus. It is not a dogma, an institution, an interest, an ideology, or some person or physical place you can go to and thumb your nose at.

  42. Bruceon 27 Jul 2014 at 4:51 pm

    “Your phrase, “irrational mob consensus,” is also BS. You would like to be dismissive of scientific consensus (for some reason), so you call it a bad name and attach it to poor thinking (that of an irrational mob).”

    Hardnose will dismiss the consensus in exactly the same manner he accuses skeptics of dismissing the fringe.

  43. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Mlema:

    It is clear from your comment that you have not bothered to educate yourself about the science in support of GMO safety, yet the substance of your long rant, of which there is very little, pillories Dr Novella for his (alleged) ignorance. You also demand proof of research that is “independent of the influence of industry money,” yet reject an industry-independent website’s list of exactly that (i.e., industry-independent research). You’ve even cobbled together a narrative keeping the Indian farmer suicide meme alive (and that’s all it is — a mean, vicious, manipulative meme), all while criticizing others for speaking on matters without properly informing themselves.

    I’d like to address this sad myth directly. I know it’s hard to “unsee” a heartrending documentary like “Bitter Seeds” and re-think the propaganda of compelling figures like Vandana Shiva. However, just a few minutes on the Internet is all it takes to learn, from non-industry-funded scientific and academic journals, the facts of this well-studied matter. I would urge you to invest such a small amount of effort before accusing others of your own faults.

    ***

    The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 170,000 deaths by suicide occur annually in India.

    Only about 10% of the total annual number of suicides in India are those of farmers.

    A 2008 meta-review of data between 2002 and 2006 “suggests that Bt cotton has been quite successful in most states and years in India, contributing to an impressive leap in average cotton yields, as well as a decrease in pesticide use and increase in farmer revenue.”

    A comprehensive review in October of 2008 by the International Food Policy Research Institute found: “First, there is no evidence in available data of a “resurgence” of farmer suicides in India in the last five years. Second, we find that Bt cotton technology has been very effective overall in India. However, the context in which Bt cotton was introduced has generated disappointing results in some particular districts and seasons. Third, our analysis clearly shows that Bt cotton is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the occurrence of farmer suicides.”

    A 2012 paper in The Lancet that surveyed India’s suicide mortality rate noted: “Studies from south India have shown that the most common contributors to suicide are a combination of social problems, such as interpersonal and family problems and financial difficulties, and pre-existing mental illness.”

    Another Lancet study also published in 2012 found that young women in rural areas of India and China “are at especially high risk of dying by suicide.” The authors of this paper were surprised to find “that suicide was higher in India’s richer states and that divorce, separation, and widowhood in women were protective [that is, mitigating] factors for suicide.” Why would that be? One of the paper’s coauthors said in a press interview that “interpersonal violence” (such as “marital violence”) and “economic difficulties” in India are the “main social determinants for suicide in women.”

    A 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that in India “the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes.”

    A 2014 review published in The Conversation looks at the numbers: “In 2001 (before Bt cotton was introduced) the suicide rate was 31.7 per 100,000 and in 2011 the corresponding estimate was 29.3 – only a minor difference.”

    Neither Monsanto nor the biotechnology industry funded any of the aforementioned studies.

    Sources:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/gmo-and-indian-farmer-suicide/

    http://issues.org/30-2/keith/

  44. ccbowerson 27 Jul 2014 at 5:29 pm

    “Hardnose will dismiss the consensus in exactly the same manner he accuses skeptics of dismissing the fringe.”

    The hypocrisy of this is not even the biggest problem, because dismissing the fringe is usually justified, and explanations are given for why specific ideas should be dismissed. On the other hand, hardnose uses vague nonspecific stereotypes to treat the consensus as if it were worthy of dismissal.

    His ideology is contrarianism of skeptical positions, and a common tactic that he uses is to create a false equivalence between the fringe and mainstream. The problem is that this equivalence is false. Consensus science is not perfect, but that does’t mean that is equal to quackery. It’s related to the “perfect solution fallacy” and hardnose wants to put all of the positions that are not perfect into the same category when they are not.

  45. BillyJoe7on 27 Jul 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Mischa Popoff,

    “Please have a look at the page I posted in response to having my name on this deplorable “Monsanto Collaborators” website: http://www.isitorganic.ca/biotech_collaborator

    Please don’t use this site for self-promotion.

  46. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Hardnose is nosing around the Galileo gambit. Only for him, it’s less important that he (or Seralini) gets to be Galileo than it is for scientific consensus to be a big, bad, totalitarian doctrine. He’s not talking about science, he’s railing against the Empire. Like the anti-GMOers and others, hardnose is anthropomorphizing science; turning it into an exclusive, colluding club who have power — and it is only that arbitrary power that gives greater credibility to “mainstream” science over the “fringe’s.” Hardnose paints a picture of science that is sectarian and dogmatic. Sorry, but that not how it works. Scientific consensus isn’t Church dogma. This isn’t 1610. Hardnose, Seralini, vom Saal, and the Food Babe are not Galileo.

  47. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Jul 2014 at 6:04 pm

    It seems to me that the most compelling argument regarding science is its efficacy – it works in a practical manner. “Fringe” science (aka pseudoscience) does not, nor can it demonstrate its efficacy, which is why it’s “fringe”. While science in practice isn’t perfect, human errors and biases are there just like in any other endeavor, the way science is set up is to minimize these issues in order to tease out factual reality. No other human endeavor has been able to do this in practical reality. For me, that’s a big reason why I’m so protective of science from cranks and pseudoscience proponents, and I think it’s important to protect the integrity of science as much as possible, because it works, and those who attempt to undermine it in the name of their ideology, greed, or whatever other motive they may have, should be (rightfully) called out.

  48. hardnoseon 27 Jul 2014 at 6:08 pm

    ccbowers,

    The mainstream consensus can be wrong, and the fringe rebels can be wrong. What we should try to do is make our decisions based on evidence and reason, not on who is saying what.

    If a fringe researcher says something, it could be right, and if a mainstream researcher says something it could be wrong.

    I don’t form my opinions based on whether they are aligned with the mainstream or not.

    People who call themselves “skeptics” are often pro-science, and that often gets confused with pro-mainstream science. Science and mainstream establishment science are not the same thing at all.

    No, science does not guide us inevitably towards the truth. It can get stuck in dead ends and it can go in circles. Sometimes the mainstream consensus is nothing but mob tyranny.

    Sometimes non-mainstream rebels are just trying to break out of a rut that the mainstream has fallen into.

    And sometimes non-mainstream rebels are just as irrational as the mainstream, and sometimes much more so.

    But any powerful mob is likely to become irrational and self-serving and despotic. I believe that is what has happened to our scientific establishment, unfortunately.

    Not all mainstream science is bad, but some is.

  49. the devils gummy bearon 27 Jul 2014 at 7:39 pm

    What’s the deal with people who reject scientific consensus?

    hardnose, guy… Consensus in science is in fact a reliably useful indicator of what’s what. Sorry mate, but it is. You may not like it, or believe it, but it doesn’t change it.

  50. the devils gummy bearon 27 Jul 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Oh, wait… hardnose, I guess I read your post too fast. I see you’re knee-deep in pop culture tropes; cardboard caricatures of “mainstream” science and bad ass “rebels” bucking the system.

    Jeesh.

  51. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Hardnose…

    Those are some very even-handed statements, but I don’t understand your terms. You seem to have some personal and interchangeable definitions for things (science, mainstream science, establishment science, etc). On the one hand, you’ve got some kind of “rut” that “mainstream science has fallen into” and “rebels” who are “just trying to break out” of it. On the other, “our scientific establishment” is a powerful, irrational, self-serving, and despotic mob. Strong words against no less broad and awesome a thing as all of science.

    Scientific consensus is not a conspiracy. It does not mean that some ideas got more votes than others. It certainly isn’t a might-makes-right totalitarian doctrine forced on us by a powerful few. Why are you trying to shoehorn something as broad as scientific inquiry into an X-Files plotline?

    Those who choose to pursue avenues of inquiry that run counter to scientific consensus are acting, by definition, against the best information available. Moreover, they need to bring their A game. If you intend to overturn scientific consensus, you need to have the cleanest experiments, perfect controls, massive numbers, good replicates and appropriate statistics (I’m paraphrasing Kevin Folta here). This is not the kind of science we see from the “fringe rebels,” which is why the fringe doesn’t influence consensus (sorry — it’s not because of unfair bullying coverups by shadowy conspirators).

  52. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 8:56 pm

    @jre

    “I semi-suspect, from his last line, that hardnose is actually trolling.”

    hardnose isn’t trolling, that’s consistent with his ongoing, anti-science message on this blog.

  53. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:34 pm

    @jsterritt

    “The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it”

    Not sure I agree with this. Human beings are incredibly talented and keeping themselves blind to truths they disagree with. I work with several people who get their information from limited sources and have no real inkling that there might be other sources out there that have a different take, specifically with Monsanto and GMO’s. It’s the whole ‘you say my sources aren’t credible but what makes your sources any more credible’ argument. As long as whoever they’re using as a source fits their paradigm than they’ll continue to use them to confirm their biases.

    “I would argue that there are not flavors of science (no fringe vs mainstream), there is only quality (good vs bad).”

    That’s a great way to put this. Too often woo believers try to draw this false dichotomy between ‘Real’ science (Their particular woo) and most other science, because it doesn’t support their fantastical claims.

  54. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:34 pm

    @Mlema

    “Show me that “most research” on GMOs is independent of the influence of industry money. Go through those 600 studies – read them all with a critical eye and tell me how they establish the “safety” of GMOs for humans and the environment”

    Shifting the burden of proof? A 7 paragraph rant with no evidence provided, fantastic job wasting your breath. See jsterritts response to you for an example on how it’s supposed to be done.

  55. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:35 pm

    @hardnose

    ” I have been a scientist most of my life and I believe in the scientific method”

    Like we learned with Michael Fullerton, saying it doesn’t make it so. You make this claim every discussion and have yet to identify what exactly makes you a scientist. In fact, your consistent anti-science behavior and your consistent misunderstanding of how science works tends to point to something other than a science background, for example:

    “The mainstream consensus can be wrong, and the fringe rebels can be wrong. What we should try to do is make our decisions based on evidence and reason, not on who is saying what.”

    You’re first sentence is correct. The second assumes that some sources aren’t anymore credible than others, which isn’t true. In fact the hypocritical part of this statement is that evidence and reason provide us with consensus and understanding – in the case of most actual science, evidence can reasonably alter our view on a thing. Fringe science however constantly seeks to validate a predetermined bias or goal, and absolutely refuses to acknowledge any evidence that works against their beliefs.

    “I don’t form my opinions based on whether they are aligned with the mainstream or not. ”

    Neither do most of us, however after looking into the research and bothering to understand it, often our opinions align with the consensus, for a reason. that’s HOW a consensus is formed. As a self proclaimed scientist, you should understand this.

    “Sometimes non-mainstream rebels are just trying to break out of a rut that the mainstream has fallen into.”

    It’s extremely rare, especially now a days for anything of consequence to be discovered by a lone rogue scientist as you woo believers like to romanticize it. Research is expensive and often takes teams of people working to accomplish. Like it or not, organizations like governments, schools and companies are responsible for more than 99% of all research done today. The nice thing about science is once you show some evidence for something, others will work to confirm your findings. If confirmed you build…wait for it…a CONSENSUS! Overtime as evidence is gathered to support a claim a consensus is formed.

  56. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Dr. Novella,

    First let me understand what you’re saying. Have I got this right?:
    ‘GMOs are safe and my evidence is: AMA, AAAS, WHO, European Commission, and others.’

    But let me begin anyway by saying: a statement like ‘GMOs are safe’ is not scientific and can’t be supported because: 1) Every organism is a unique event and there are numerous techniques considered to be “GM” – and the organisms involved vary widely 2) Safe can only be defined in the context of use and consumption. 3) there’s been no comprehensive evaluation for more than a few organisms, if that. The surveys on safety research reveal problems in the research, and do indicate safety problems (depending on which organisms your’e discussing and whether or not you’re discussing environment or consumption – and remember, environment does effect human safety)

    In other words: which gmos are safe and what are they safe for, or in regards to? And where is the testing that’s appropriate to the risk? Or, for that matter, where is the evidence of benefit beyond, what I’ve said, a temporary reduction in toxicity and volume of pesticide use. Also, I have to ask anyone who makes the claim “gmos are safe” to reconsider the following typical belief (if they have this belief): that genetic modification doesn’t change the plant in any way that non-transgenic breeding doesn’t. Transgene modification is generally what people are referring to when they say GMO. It’s a mutagenic process and automatically brings into question the relationships to other organisms.

    I’m willing to address your argument from authority, but I expect you will provide the words spoken and their context in order for me to reply in each case. I would hope too that you would take the time to say why you think what one particular group is saying means “gmos are safe” Personally, I’m wondering how your opinion on this topic evolved from ‘gmos must be evaluated on a case by case basis on risk vs. benefit.’ (that is what I’ve seen happen here on this blog over the last 2 years or so) “GMOs are safe” is nonsensical to my ears.

    Regarding the Indian Farmer suicides. I’m looking at an earlier post in which you deny any connection to bt cotton. I have to dismiss studies where stats used on cotton yield are erroneous – or the paper was irrelevant to the actual phenomenon of the bt cotton in India. But the first study you linked (from 2008) had some value for me in at least illustrating the multifaceted nature of the issue and where bt cotton fit in, and how it couldn’t be ruled out as playing a role overall in a development that was influenced by nothing less than global economics, especially in certain districts. In fact, I would say the problem of bt cotton in India was more about the Indian entrance into the WTO which opened markets to companies like Monsanto and expected farmers to compete against countries like the US – which subsidizes its own cotton farming. But there was outright crop failure to start off, when only a few GM hybrids were available. (why should that be surprising? It’s happened in the US when product was introduced. But in the US we require compensation for farmers when a product fails in such a way) Now that most of the 200+ cotton varieties Indian farmers have developed over many years have added the bt trait, farmers find it difficult to get the older non-patented varieties. As bt cotton has become a larger part of cotton in india, yields have dropped. I also would say that the data in that paper needs to be evaluated in light of factors like how many farmers are leaving farming altogether. But anyway, it took me a long time to read that paper, and that’s the reason I never ended up commenting on that post. But if you want to take some time to re-address that issue and to bring in other evidence which is more direct (the paper was more or less an assessment of numerous writings on the issue, including government statistics, which some Indian journalists claim are not up to date.)

    That tractor comment was funny. It’s surprising we don’t have a tractor company marketing magic “don’t need gas” tractors in India – promising a better life through technology and blaming the farmers when it turns out: the tractor needs gas and doesn’t plow.

    My contention is: bt cotton in India has been a failure and did, in some districts, contribute to the situation which instigated suicides. I have dozens of links on different matters pertinent to this issue from reading about it after becoming acquainted through this very site (thank you). I’m happy to make those available, but I’ll need to resurrect a laptop to do that. So for now I’ll just go with what I find immediately available, and if it seems useful we can expand our exploration.
    http://region-aktiv-chiemgau-inn-salzach.de/sites/default/files/doc/indien_erfahrungen_mit-bt-baumwolle.pdf
    http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Failure-of-Monsanto-Bt-Cotton/2013/12/06/article1930013.ece
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx

  57. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Dr. Novella, cont’d

    Regarding the last link immediately above, I would just correct a few things written in that article:
    “Bt cotton’s success, it appears, lasted merely five years. Since then, yields have been falling and pest attacks going up.”
    There never was a bt cotton success. When it was introduced in 2002, it only formed a small percentage of yield, so its failures weren’t notably registered, As the % of bt/total cotton grew, yields dropped. So, everywhere this article reads “in the last 5 years” – read instead: since bt cotton became a notable % of planted cotton.
    http://fieldquestions.com/2012/02/12/bt-cotton-remarkable-success-and-four-ugly-facts/
    http://indiagminfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Bt-cotton-fact-finding-report-for-uploading.pdf

  58. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:39 pm

    It’s Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which can’t be ruled out as districts where suicides were affected by the bt cotton phenomenon, according to your 2008 IFPRI paper. But apparently since the time that paper was written more districts are investigating the performance of bt cotton. The diagram on page 39 of the IFPRI paper covers things pretty thoroughly but leaves out the fact that in many cases the crop did fail for reasons other than drought – pest infestation, bolls dropping, or no boll production. So put those in there in the area of low yields and I think you’ve got a fairly complete picture. But if you want to enlarge the picture and include India’s entrance into the WTO and opening its markets to seeds from Monsanto and fallacious advertising (called out on India’s, or to compete with countries like the US where cotton is subsidized, (although that could be inside the “Low market & support cotton prices” bubble). And you’d have to add a bubble for intensive, and misleading marketing.
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/11/how-the-times-of-india-colluded-with-monsanto-in-fake-reports-of-bt-cotton-successes/
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/sainath/reaping-gold-through-cotton-and-newsprint/article3401466.ece
    http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/fwire-india/asci-objection-forces-mahyco-monsanto-to-modify-bt-cotton-ad-188944.html
    So that’s as brief as I can be to start with on the Indian farmer suicides, and it’s way too brief. This is a gigantic issue, difficult, complicated, and global in its roots.
    What do YOU think brought about the controversy over bt cotton in India? Monsanto was excited, the Indian government was excited, the farmers were excited…what happened? Why did we go from anticipation of a technological boon to claims of suicides due to failure of bt cotton? are you saying this was all about drought? The Indian farmers have been dealing with drought for many centuries. Loan sharks? The cotton was supposed to save money on pesticides, increase yield and be “white gold” according to advertisements.
    Was it about inflated expectations? poor performance of the few varieties introduced? Global marketing forces? Who was responsible for what happened? I guess it was the farmers themselves? Or, did nothing happen except the same old same old? – and it’s those nasty anti-gmo groups that overlaid an interpretation which would make Monsanto look bad? poor Monsanto!

    Monsanto now controls 95% of the cotton seed in India. Is this because bt cotton in India has been successful? Now Bollgard 2 and Roundup make their way onto the scene and Monsanto profits in India increase. What’s really going on here? We have about 15 years now since markets in India were opened to companies like Monsanto, Cargill, et al. What’s the result for cotton farmers in India?

    yup, i can do a little jaqing off too. :)

  59. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Not sure what Kevin Folta has to do with any of this, but the guy’s a master of industry-inspired rhetoric. But he hasn’t made GMWatch’s list of “myth makers”. Coincidentally, here’s an interesting article I just happened to come across last night. Folta takes part in some of the conversation (as does the scientist referred to in the article) very interesting. Folta indulges in a little “jaqing off” himself in this one.
    http://www.boulderweekly.com/article-12640-muzzled-by-monsanto.html

  60. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:40 pm

    jsterritt,

    I respect and appreciate that you took a moment to try to support your statement – something I used to do :)
    But what exactly is your statement?
    If you’re posting this list of organizations in order to show what you believe is a “reasonable assessment of GMOs today” by providing:
    “…a partial list of well-respected organizations that have commented on genetically modified crops.”
    Well, thanks! But I have to ask you to please make some connection between the comments and the reasonable assessment you think they make if you want a more detailed reply from me.

  61. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Bruce,
    Do you think that when people are given land taken from them generations ago that they automatically know how to utilize it, or just automatically go back to “ancient farming methods”? (what is that anyway?) Ancient vs. modern is a false dichotomy here. Agricultural scientists and farmers can maximize biomass production by considering the climate, soil, indigenous plants and animals and diversifying the land use. And that’s what they’ll do if given the resources and left alone by the MNCs – who want to “modernize” agriculture (read: fossil fuel inputs, GMO monoculture – all temporary fixes) If you’ve got no money you can’t very well use anything but “ancient farming methods”. But if you’re only given loans to buy products from MNCs, you can overlay US-style agriculture, which may, with great cost, improve things for a while. Keep the WTO and IMF out, put in technical and financial assistance and a long-term solution may be possible. But maybe that’s what you’re saying. Anyway – that’s my 2 cents.

    “It is all very nice to make wonderful long posts about the benefits of “natural” farming or whatever you want to call it and going back to basics etc, but the reality is all you would do then is create mass starvation and most likely speed up desertification.”

    Straw man and conclusion based on false premise.

    “ultimately, without modern farming practices: people starve”

    Definition needed for: modern farming practices, ancient farming practices and “natural”. Does modern mean the practices generated post WW2 in the US? “Natural” is a fallacy. Anything humans do is “natural”. Make no mistake, diversified farming with integrated pest management is not an unsophisticated agriculture. And yeah, there are definitely “many political twists and turns” which are a very critical consideration in how these things go down and whether or not there is any success in attempting to re-establish independent farmers on their own land. Ancient agriculture was communal.

  62. Mlemaon 27 Jul 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Rez – I’ve scolded you before for the straw man army you always try to build against me. Not going to engage this time around. 2+ years is long enough. Have fun storming the invisible castle.

  63. The Sparrowon 27 Jul 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Hardnose, could we get a straightforward statement about what you’re point is? Preferably without all the flowery metaphors and prose, just a sentence or two that explains what it is exactly your issue with Monsanto is, preferably with a reference? Thanks.

  64. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 10:35 pm

    @mlema

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx

    That article makes a lot of claims but fails to provide one source for any of it.

    This article:

    http://www.newindianexpress.com/columns/Failure-of-Monsanto-Bt-Cotton/2013/12/06/article1930013.ece

    states:

    “Monsanto has been arguing that “there has been no confirmed cases of poor field performance of Bt cotton attributable to insect resistance”. Eight years down the line Monsanto admitted its failure. The question is why?”

    Is this a rant against business practice or science? Scientifically speaking, if the facts in the article are true (and again, no sources referenced) then Monsanto is admitting some failure, down the road, when it’s found that it might not be working as planned.

    so what you have is a couple of articles in a couple of newspapers (Huffpro anyone?), one for which you claim to have to “fix” because it doesn’t suit your narrative. You later to go on linking a counterpunch article (no political motivations there!) claiming collusion by an Indian Newspaper. Do I need to even address the issue with opinion pieces you linked to?
    Boulder Weekly…Boulder’s TRUE Independent Voice…really? I’m sure a small local newspaper in a location who’s general leanings are no secret (I live near by, am mostly what one would call liberal and Boulder makes even me blush) that contains an entire section called ‘Boulderganic, no way they have a bias.’

    I mean, have people friggin forgot how to provide evidence for an argument these days? jsterritt and Dr. Novella have provided links to study upon study, experiment upon experiment and articles laden with actual facts as examples.

  65. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 10:36 pm

    ” Have fun storming the invisible castle.”

    Lol, I guess the king feels safe in his castle.

  66. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Mlema…

    Really? I give you The Lancet, you give me CounterPunch? You invoke the insidious myth of Monsanto’s Indian farmer “genocide,” then shift the burden of proof and move the goalposts to the begged question, “what do YOU think brought about the controversy over bt cotton in India?” Really?!?!?

    ***

    “Where is the reasonable assessment of GMOs today?”

    If the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet isn’t good enough for you, then you will never be satisfied. You can’t make that a problem of insufficient evidence and you can’t make it my problem or Dr Novella’s. It is denial on your behalf, plain and simple.

  67. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 11:15 pm

    @jsterritt

    “If the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet isn’t good enough for you, then you will never be satisfied.”

    Come on jsterritt, you can’t seriously expect mlema to accept your sources as reliable. I mean, as he pointed out they aren’t asking the RIGHT questions. We’re all beautiful butterflies, so until they do an experiment on each and every one of us you can’t possibly know if it’s safe or not.

  68. jsterritton 27 Jul 2014 at 11:30 pm

    grabula…

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Mlema is, indeed, conflating business practices with science. Like I said earlier, having lost on the level playing field of science, anti-GMOers are waging a proxy war and Mlema is doing exactly that: as long as Monsanto comes out as a bad guy, GMOs are bad. Frankly, I’m surprised it took that much cherry-picking to paint Monsanto in a poor light. It boggles my mind that a regular reader here wouldn’t have the good sense to be embarrassed about arguing in this manner. We’re here because Mike Adams posted a gruesome screed fueled by lowdown tricks and lies conflating business practices with science…and here we are with Mlema (same tricks, just less diabolical). For the record, I surrender unconditionally to Mlema’s ultimate gambit: I cannot provide proof that Monsanto is virtuous and innocent of all shenanigans.

    “The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it” — one thing’s for sure, Mlema made whoever said that look like an idiot ;)

  69. grabulaon 27 Jul 2014 at 11:40 pm

    @jsterritt

    Mlema along with a few others, like hardnose have an ongoing struggle here to try to understand how to follow evidence and how science operates. It’s tiresome in that they mostly repeat the same basic tropes with the same basic problems over and over again. As you can see, what stands for evidence with these guys get’s pretty bad, and it’s mostly an exercise in a confirmation bias. Mlema commits the same anti-organized anything arguments that hardnose does, he’s just slightly less obvious about it.

    I realize Monsanto is a touchy subject for some. I also realize that business can make people and organizations do things that are motivated more by profit than common sense. What I don’t believe however is that there’s a conspiracy to do anything more than make money. If these companies are killing off or making sick their consumer public than what is the point? Just because a company has made some products in the past or even currently, used to do harm, doesn’t mean they’ve become soulless death dealing machines.

  70. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 12:05 am

    @grabula

    Thanks for giving me the lay of the land. I’m enjoying the crazy here.

  71. rezistnzisfutlon 28 Jul 2014 at 12:16 am

    I, for one, have yet to see anyone provide evidence that Monsanto, et al., has done anything untoward or has been complicit in any harm, including Indian farmers. It seems to me that, as far as I can tell, they’ve been playing it pretty straight and just trying to run a business. If a person has a philosophical objection to profit motive, well, that’s a different conversation I would think. People are making Monsanto out to be some great satan when all we’ve seen are a bunch of conspiracy theories and a cynical “you can’t trust them” attitude.

    As far as Monsanto and the Indian suicides, from what I can tell they have been straight about the product they sold, it worked well, but the faux pas was with a local government temporary ban on GMOs that some farmers chose to ignore, and we’re then distraught when that government came in and destroyed their crops.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxpypapQeDk
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/01/26/the-myth-of-indias-gm-genocide-genetically-modified-cotton-blamed-for-wave-of-farmer-suicides/
    http://gmopundit.blogspot.com/2012/06/conversation-about-suicide.html

    I realize one of the links is to a YT video which is usually bad form, but the Cornell professor has some experience with Indian farmers and sheds some light on the situation there. It’s not a cut and dried topic, but there is little evidence that GMOs were the cause of suicides nor were Monsanto business practices.

    I always get a bit queasy when I have to resort to defending Monsanto. That is part of the anti-GMO narrative, and it seems that many activists who base conclusions more on ideology than evidence have to have their bad guy. Of course, I suppose it helps many of their anti-corporate, anti-capitalist stances as well.

  72. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 12:25 am

    @jsterritt

    Stick around long enough or just browse past blogs/comments and you’ll see who’s a repeat offender. Mlema can occasionally come off as skeptical but he goes and ruins it with this kind of crap almost every time. hardnose is another one but he’s not so flexible. He basically opposes in some way or another anything Dr. Novella posts, typically without much substantial to support his arguments. Some of them try, some of them don’t. There are different levels of sophistication on both sides and I find the woo believers that haunt this place to have some pretty strong patterns, most of which become disappointing after a time.

    “I, for one, have yet to see anyone provide evidence that Monsanto, et al., has done anything untoward or has been complicit in any harm, including Indian farmers”

    But Rez! Agent Orange!!!!

  73. the devils gummy bearon 28 Jul 2014 at 2:22 am

    @grabula

    Like we learned with Michael Fullerton, saying it doesn’t make it so. You make this claim every discussion and have yet to identify what exactly makes you a scientist.

    Interestingly, actually, no… The opposite of interestingly… Let me start again… Speaking of our little one-wit Mikey, he had this to say on the matter of consensus the other night on youtube:

    Science in no way whatsoever is based on consensus. Science is based on evidence and the scientific method. That’s all. Appealing to any kind of consensus to determine truth is a logical fallacy: appeal to consensus.

    (I’m not giving links to that nutjob anymore, but it is in the comments of his single YouTube video, and I can’t get google to stop sending me bloody notifications every time someone comments there, grr…)

  74. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 2:24 am

    Grabula – are you perhaps too young to understand what the press is supposed to be? Since the scientist about whom the Boulder article was written verified the accuracy herself in the comments, who are you to question it? And India’s media isn’t as corporate-influenced as our own at this point.

    jsterritt – sorry. the post you seemed to think was for you was for Dr. Novella. I should have put his name on it. But I just saw your post on the study on Indian suicides so I understand what happened there now in my confusing the comments. I’m not saying that any one farmer killed himself or herself because his bt cotton failed. I’m saying that, even as was shown in the 2008 paper, bt cotton may very well have played a role in certain districts. And I’m trying to show that more recent research shows that bt cotton is indeed failing, so the weight of being a contributing factor can’t be lifted by protests that it was only about drought, or only about unscrupulous lenders, or overly enthusiastic farmers. As I said, it’s a complicated situation, and I see evidence that an inadequately developed and overpriced product could have played a role assisted by aggressive advertising and bad governmental policies (like the perverse incentive of financial compensation to the families of suicide victims). I could be wrong. But the Indian researchers still have to be answered. And I don’t see how anyone can rule out a role for bt cotton while at the same time trying to explain why it is that while the percentage of bt cotton in India grew to 95%, total cotton yields proportionately dropped, resistance and new pests flourished, and cotton farmers are leaving their farms.
    Would you like to link me to The Lancet articles?

    Re: Monsanto. Not sure why you’re reacting to what I’ve said in the way that you are. I did say “poor Monsanto” which was probably an uncalled-for bit of sarcasm. Sorry if that slight towards Monsanto offended you in some way. But why would you want to “provide proof that Monsanto is virtuous and innocent of all shenanigans.”? It would be hard to do that for any modern corporation.

    You know, I meant to say in my earlier comments that we all here are having to rely on an ability to critically assess the reporting and research on this issue. I don’t know that anyone who isn’t there with a family affected by this can say exactly what the reasons are. So maybe I shouldn’t try to implicate bt cotton. But by that same reasoning, it’s wrong to claim outright that bt cotton had nothing to do with the controversy that has arisen. It’s a horrible thing, but there’s more money behind the motivation to absolve the seeds and blame the farmers or the weather than there is behind the motivation to implicate Monsanto. And of course we can have an argument about that too. Ideological motivation is what affects us here – we who indulge in parsing what for us is a distant tragedy. Maybe it’s better to ask: how can we prevent this? That’s when I start looking at the political and economic policies that were in place. And that puts it back to a bigger discussion than just the seeds. Anyway, again, sorry for any offense given. I just didn’t see the post I guess you thought I was responding to in my comment to Dr. Novella.

  75. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 2:32 am

    @DGB

    woah seriously? is it a new video? I believe he said the exact same thing here as well but don’t feel like searching. Guess it sounded good enough to him to post on youtube as well lol.

    @mlema

    Don’t be naive. I’m ‘old enough’ to know that 1 – the press doesn’t make a good source for any type of evidence, and 2 – it doesn’t take corporate interest to spin news, that’s been going on long before I’m sure some conspiracy theory you believe in took over the media here in the west. You’re bias is showing, better pull your skeptical pants up.

  76. the devils gummy bearon 28 Jul 2014 at 2:38 am

    Same old ridiculous video, arguing with someone there in the comments, I’m not even sure about what.

  77. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 3:32 am

    grabula – “I’m sure a small local newspaper in a location who’s general leanings are no secret…”

    So, for you the publication is more important than the content of the article – is that right? I’ll just suggest that extraneous factors shouldn’t inspire a true skeptic to presumptively write off any possible source of information. Credibility of content and author should come first to critical thinkers. But I will say, if you have more with regard to either of those, I’ll listen. But I don’t think I need to pull up my skeptical pants until I’m done pissing on your irrational reasoning.

  78. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 3:50 am

    @mlema

    “So, for you the publication is more important than the content of the article – is that right?”

    No, but it shows bias. Just like wikipedia should be a jumping off point for research on the internet, newspapers aren’t a good source for any kind of evidence, especially when you take into account their leaning. YOU yourself indicate ‘india’s media isn’t as corporate influenced…’ meaning you know what I’m talking about but since it supports your own biases it’s ok in your book. Half or more of the articles you linked provided no source material for their information, making them useless as reference material. See jsterritt and Dr. Novella’s posts on what good sources are for information.

    I’m guessing you wouldn’t just accept whatever CNN or MSNBC reports to you on a daily basis, why would a small time, biased paper in Boulder be any different.

  79. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 3:52 am

    should read:

    “No, but it shows bias. Just like wikipedia should be a jumping off point for research on the internet but not a credible source itself, newspapers aren’t a good source for any kind of evidence, especially when you take into account their leaning.”

  80. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 4:02 am

    ok grabula. I think I see where you’re coming from. But here’s the thing. The article is reporting on an issue of recent research. It’s the start of a conversation which the researcher takes part in. That’s why I linked to it – and there’s no other reason. I’m not trying to support either side in the disagreements that ensue.

    And with regards to the other newspaper articles – I would say the same. What exactly is the thing you need evidence for? And what kind of evidence would you need for this thing? Please be specific with your criticism of what I’ve linked to. Just the fact that it’s a newspaper article isn’t enough if a newspaper article is an appropriate means of providing information or context. I won’t say you don’t have a valid criticism, but apparently I don’t have the intellectual capacity to figure it out from what you’ve said so far. I’m sorry but I need more details. Thanks.

  81. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 4:21 am

    @mlema

    we’re having a discussion on GMO’s. Specifically you’re defending your belief that BT Cotton for example did harm in India and was of no benefit, supporting the misconception among anti-GMO’ers that BT Cotton contributed to farmer suicides in India. Your overall message is that GMO is bad, and Monsanto is bad. If this is not the case you’re misrepresenting yourself.

    The pro GMO side has been posting links to studies showing GMO’s to be safe for human consumption (I don’t think anyone here is not advocating responsibility in this arena ongoing), you refute this by asking what is ‘safe’, for whom and how do you determine it. To support your argument (unless you’re just randomly pasting articles that appear to support your claim) you’re posting primarily newspaper articles lacking in source material and attributions to where they get their information. One could certainly glean this information in some of those but the articles themselves are not evidence in support of anything except that the writers appears to agree with you. In fact a few of those articles are commentaries on Monsantos perceived business practices – again with no actual evidence provided.

    In essence, we’re (specifically jsterritt and Dr. Novella) are linking actual scientific papers and studies on the subject while you’re primarily linking opinion pieces.

    You also make the common mistake of thinking the source is unimportant to the story. However the source is always going to provide some spin, especially when we’re talking about editorial content. You yourself have accused non-Indian media sources as being corporate influenced, which means you understand this concept so linking to those types of sources is disingenuous if you want to also turn around and claim pro GMO sources are biased.

  82. Bruceon 28 Jul 2014 at 5:09 am

    “Definition needed for: modern farming practices, ancient farming practices and “natural”. ”

    I am not getting involved in your semantic games, ultimately you have an agenda and from what I have read here it is very much ideological.

    And I was going to write more, but I just picked up on your “I’ll just suggest that extraneous factors shouldn’t inspire a true skeptic to presumptively write off any possible source of information. ” comment. Really? You are going to accuse people here of not being true skeptics and imply heavily that you are? You are veering very dangerously into fullerm territory with your fallacy waving and skeptical arrogance.

    I have work to do…

  83. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 5:18 am

    “we’re having a discussion on GMO’s. Specifically you’re defending your belief that BT Cotton for example did harm in India and was of no benefit, supporting the misconception among anti-GMO’ers that BT Cotton contributed to farmer suicides in India. Your overall message is that GMO is bad, and Monsanto is bad. If this is not the case you’re misrepresenting yourself.”

    What I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role. There’s motivated reasoning at work here on both sides. Let’s respect that fact and quit fighting Monsanto’s battles just because we love science. Investigative journalists, sociologists, agricultural scientists are piecing things together. Why is it so important for you and I to establish yea or nay that bt cotton is or isn’t problematic in India? That’s for India’s citizens to decide. Since the opinion on this site is: bt cotton has been an unmitigated success but for weather or risky behavior of farmers, I’m trying to provide a counterbalance. I understand the reaction to ranting by people like Mike Adams. But do you really want to go off the deep end in the other direction? If I have an overall message, it’s: no one can say “GMO is bad” or “Monsanto is bad”. And no one can say “GMO is good” or “Monsanto is good”. This isn’t the nature of these issues. I’ve acknowledged that the IFPRI paper was a good one in illuminating the complex nature of this. Why is the so-called skeptical reaction nothing more than to use the paper to defend industry reputation? We’re supposed to be dissecting these issues, not using the research to defend ideological commitments to a technology, separate from it’s implementation.

    “The pro GMO side has been posting links to studies showing GMO’s to be safe for human consumption (I don’t think anyone here is not advocating responsibility in this arena ongoing), you refute this by asking what is ‘safe’, for whom and how do you determine it. To support your argument (unless you’re just randomly pasting articles that appear to support your claim) you’re posting primarily newspaper articles lacking in source material and attributions to where they get their information. One could certainly glean this information in some of those but the articles themselves are not evidence in support of anything except that the writers appears to agree with you. In fact a few of those articles are commentaries on Monsantos perceived business practices – again with no actual evidence provided.”

    It would be impossible for anyone to link to a study showing GMOs to be safe for human consumption. There is no such research. Safety is assessed in a number of ways, and the salient assertion in this area is “we’ve been eating them for years and nothing’s happened” – if I have to explain to you why that isn’t scientific, then our conversation will become prohibitively long. And anyway, we haven’t been eating GMOs as GMOs at all. And no, I haven’t posted any newspaper articles that have anything to do with GMO safety. The newspaper articles are about cotton, which we don’t eat.

    “In essence, we’re (specifically jsterritt and Dr. Novella) are linking actual scientific papers and studies on the subject while you’re primarily linking opinion pieces.”

    Which subject? which links? which opinion pieces? Perhaps it would be best to let jsterritt and Dr. Novella respond on their part. It’s probably a mistake to try to talk about bt cotton in India and the safety of GMOs together in one discussion, but that’s what’s happened. And it’s only going to make it more confusing if I try to address other people’s comments in my reply to you. If you want to specifically talk about something that someone else said, please reference the particulars and tell me what you want to discuss.

    “You also make the common mistake of thinking the source is unimportant to the story. However the source is always going to provide some spin, especially when we’re talking about editorial content. You yourself have accused non-Indian media sources as being corporate influenced, which means you understand this concept so linking to those types of sources is disingenuous if you want to also turn around and claim pro GMO sources are biased.”

    What you’re saying is fair enough on it’s own. I absolutely agree that source is important. But if you want to refute a source, do it. Show the conflict of interest, financial ties, ideological bias or factual inaccuracy. Don’t just say I’m giving you a bad source on something because you don’t like what I’m saying. Disregard my links altogether if you like and just address what I have said for myself. I don’t care. But what is this argument between you and I? Is it just that you believe scientists have shown that GMOs are safe and that bt cotton in India has been a success and therefore you must disagree with me and find some way to criticize me? Hey, that’s ok. That’s what it’s all about. Rock on. And just so you know, when I don’t respond to your insults it’s because I don’t see that they have any merit in the discussion. Just want to acknowledge that so that when you’re enjoying yourself in that way you don’t have to worry that what you’re saying really makes any difference to me.

  84. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 5:21 am

    ok Bruce. But you’re the one who accused me of making some claim about natural farming practices or something like that. So the “semantics” excuse is kinda thin.

  85. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 5:25 am

    and anybody who posts here has some kind of agenda, even if it’s just a social or psychological agenda. Or, maybe in the case of fullerm it’s – well, I don’t know. Just what exactly was that all about?

  86. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 6:33 am

    @mlema

    “What I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role.”

    I put together a paper for a class about 6 months ago that addressed this. I don’t have it handy but the numbers showed no significant increase in farmer suicides (which were already common due to practices associated with land owners and borrowers). As well as this, it’s been shown BT cotton was much more successful than standard crops. It’s popularity increased in leaps and bounds due to its successes.

    “There’s motivated reasoning at work here on both sides. ”

    Including Indian newspapers…India isn’t ecluded from credulous and biased thinking.

    “…fighting Monsanto’s battles just because we love science.”

    I’m fighting a battle for a technology that will prove to be extremely important to an ever growing population and ever shrinking world. How about let’s not succumb to the naturalistic fallacy because we don’t understand the science behind GMO’s?

    “Why is it so important for you and I to establish yea or nay that bt cotton is or isn’t problematic in India?”

    It’s important for us to establish honest discussion, and not spread emotional appeals based on lies and misunderstanding. We fight this fight for the same reason we fight against crappy woo modalities and misinformation based around ridiculously credulous conspiracy theories.

    “I’m trying to provide a counterbalance.”

    You’re JAQing off not providing honest, unbiased understanding of the issues.

    ” But do you really want to go off the deep end in the other direction? If I have an overall message, it’s: no one can say “GMO is bad” or “Monsanto is bad”. And no one can say “GMO is good” or “Monsanto is good”.”

    This is nonsensical and misses the point of the discussion entirely. While science based rational thinkers are following the science, anti-GMO activists continue to build a fantasy world based around a whole list of fallacies I don’t need to go into here. The issue of whether GMO’s are good or bad, or safe or unsafe, is important.

    “Why is the so-called skeptical reaction…”

    You’re ‘skeptical’ pants are down again.

    “It would be impossible for anyone to link to a study showing GMOs to be safe for human consumption. There is no such research. Safety is assessed in a number of ways, and the salient assertion in this area is “we’ve been eating them for years and nothing’s happened” – if I have to explain to you why that isn’t scientific, then our conversation will become prohibitively long”

    You and sonic both excel at trying to manipulate semantics in order to cloud the issue. No matter where you want to move the goalposts mlema, the fact is they can and have been shown to be useful and safe. Will you move into the realm of the Fullerton’s of the world and demand exact models in real time reflecting every bit of minutiae in order to feel that something has been properly studied? This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how science works and operates. It’s never 100% sure, but consensus is built after evidence is got to form educated opinions. I won’t discuss the semantics with you on what is or isn’t safe, I’ll leave that to those who feel indulging that sort of behavior amounts to anything worth bothering with.

    “Which subject? which links? which opinion pieces? Perhaps it would be best to let jsterritt and Dr. Novella respond on their part.”

    Even for you mlema this is too disingenuous. Reading through this thread, or those specific posts including this blog posts and others by Dr. Novella provides all you need on the subject.

    ” Show the conflict of interest, financial ties, ideological bias or factual inaccuracy. Don’t just say I’m giving you a bad source on something because you don’t like what I’m saying”

    I did, feel free to go back and read my posts. I won’t play the ‘please do what you’ve already done’ game. This is really common from you guys on this blog – bother to read the posts addressed to your or don’t, but don’t reply and ask for what’s already been given, often from multiple people.

    Ultimately mlema, when you argue a specific point, especially here, you need to bring your A game. Understanding the basics of logical fallacies, what makes good and bad evidence or good and bad studies etc… is a requirement to get anywhere. More importantly understanding your biases goes a long way towards trying to make a point. I don’t’ have an particular biases or investments in GMO, it’s promising and so far the science supports it’s use. If tomorrow it turned out GMO’s are as horrible as some claim, I’d certainly be happy to move on, but that evidence has to exist and it has to be robust. You should try approaching it this way, you might find life a little easier on you.

  87. Bruceon 28 Jul 2014 at 6:34 am

    “ok Bruce. But you’re the one who accused me of making some claim about natural farming practices or something like that. So the “semantics” excuse is kinda thin.”

    I suppose you didn’t. Your posts are tend to be very long and I often rely on other people’s summaries and responses to get the essence of them when I am tired. I guess I jumped on Rez’s characterisation of you and I see you made no such assertions in this thread, so I apologise.

  88. rezistnzisfutlon 28 Jul 2014 at 6:45 am

    Bruce,

    I based the “natural farming methods” notion on previous conversations with Mlema, who has indicated a predilection for previous farming methods that utilize less technology and greater numbers of local, smaller farms with less reliance on pesticides, and even moving more toward subsistence farming. Mlema, correct me if I’m wrong on these. If necessary, I’ll pull some examples.

  89. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:04 am

    In case there is any question as to Mlemas biases:

    On GMO and Organics:

    “Being skeptical of a number of applications of genetic modification, especially as practiced by Monsanto”

    “You can say there are thousands of independent published studies that corroborate that GMOs are safe, but that doesn’t make it true”

    “By trashing the USDA organic label, Dr. Novella is undermining an area where independent farmers can still turn a good profit while being good stewards.”

    “Big ag/chemical/biotech don’t like USDA organic because it cuts into their profits.”

    “If anyone wants to be a “skeptic” with regards to our grocery store shelves, they need to wise up to where the $ are. And they can’t be fooled by sciency-looking sites like “Academics Review”.”

    “What I’m suggesting is that a healthy organic diet is healthier than a healthy non-organic diet due to the presence of pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventionally grown foods”

    “I can’t think of any GMOs that supposedly provide benefit beyond conventional breeding that aren’t more cheaply and quickly created through conventional breeding.”

    “Of course i don’t expect, or even want skeptics to agree with me. I guess you want me to agree with you?”

    “But this idea that ‘the usda organic label is meaningless’ comes straight from the big food corporations, and seems to be adopted without much analysis by many here”

    On semantics:

    “good people, and bad people…False dichotomy.”

    “People are people. Moral behavior exists on a continuum.”

    In case there’s any concern I’m cherry picking, I am, but to get context all you need to do is search GMO on this blog then search for mlema under any of those threads to get more.

  90. Bruceon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:05 am

    Rez,

    I had assumed so, hence me making comments without actually reading his post on this thread. I have observed those discussions, but I am really not in a position (time wise) to trawl through the site to pick out articles where he has commented, so felt it easier to apologise in this instance.

    Just to be clear, I am not saying your characterisation is right or wrong, it is just not one I can back up at this moment in time so I am backing down due to a big fat case of WORK and CBA.

  91. BillyJoe7on 28 Jul 2014 at 8:32 am

    You work for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia?

  92. BillyJoe7on 28 Jul 2014 at 8:35 am

    …ah…Bruce!…of course!…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f_p0CgPeyA

  93. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Mlema…

    You certainly are a slippery thing. I respectfully decline to play your semantic and disingenuous games, or do the colossal pile of homework you’ve assigned, or learn your new, special definitions of words I thought I already knew. Your goalposts move too quickly for my vision to track. As Grabula pointed out, you are wildly misrepresenting and misremembering yourself. Most maddening is your “dumb and innocent” act (“all I’m saying is we can’t prove or dismiss bt cotton’s role”). Can’t argue with someone who can’t be bothered to remember their own words or figure out who they are responding to (easy enough to see, right up there on the page) — so I won’t. It’s too bad you can’t be bothered to learn how to have a good argument following the usual rules, protocols, and (of course), logic…you seem like a nice person.

    @grabula

    The Daily Show, in their coverage of India’s election, showed how column space in many popular newspapers can be bought and paid for by candidates. It appears to be some sort of culturally accepted (or at least tolerated) practice. So it is no shock to me that Monsanto would use this type of publicity (I would). Speaking of sh***y newspapers, the Daily Mail (along with its news syndicate) is one of the worst offenders in the retailing of the Indian farmer “genocide” myth. I’m sure there are a couple of good newspapers out there, but it is a field that is famously unreliable and infamously unscrupulous. CounterPunch (Mlema’s answer to The Lancet) lauds itself for its “radical muckraking.”

    Also Citizen Kane.

    Snicker.

  94. ZooPraxison 28 Jul 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog and following/applying skepticism regularly enough to wince at terms like “Big science” and “Big pharma” etc. Oh how I only wish there was a “big science!” Can you imagine a secret cadre of all-powerful individuals and organizations pushing a scientific agenda? Sign me the fuck up.

    Anyway, what I don’t get though–and I sincerely would like an explanation, is how would you refer then, to something like the active forces that have deliberately driven and achieved wealth disparity in the U.S.A? This is just an example, but unlike the Big Pharma or Big Science or Big whatever other conspiracy–this issue of wealth consolidation does seem like a genuine example of a select group of powerful people purposefully setting out to own more, undermine social infrastructure, change the public discourse with odd doublespeak– “tax relief”–and generally just give all the money to the smallest percentage of people.

    So, in this case, where lawmakers, businesspeople, judges and politicians ARE in fact colluding to what I would consider an evil end, would the skeptic stance still be reluctant to call this Big… whatever?

    Just curious. In 8 years of reading this is probably my 3rd post so I hope someone responds in earnest.
    Thanks!

  95. Bruceon 28 Jul 2014 at 6:29 pm

    BJ… indeed… :-P

  96. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Bruce – you absolutely don’t need to apologize to me, but thanks. I need to apologize to you for not seeing that your comment was indeed just a reply to Rez, who had apparently inadvertently mischaracterized something I said somewhere on an earlier page. I’m tired too. I wish you fortitude in accomplishing your work.

  97. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Rez: “I based the “natural farming methods” notion on previous conversations with Mlema, who has indicated a predilection for previous farming methods that utilize less technology and greater numbers of local, smaller farms with less reliance on pesticides, and even moving more toward subsistence farming. Mlema, correct me if I’m wrong on these. If necessary, I’ll pull some examples.”

    Please pull some examples Rez. I don’t recall ever supporting “natural farming methods” (what is that?) or especially subsistence farming. No one should support subsistence farming. I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment. I do support local, but I’m indifferent to size. I support farming methods that diversify and integrate pest management as opposed to monoculture and synthetic inputs. But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers. If it were impossible to improve environmental safety and sustainability without hurting the food or the farmer, of course I wouldn’t stand on principle there. But I don’t see any evidence that those things are exclusive to each other though. Thank goodness.

    (this sounds like a recording for an organic or socialist association or something, but I don’t know how else to distill my viewpoint on something that’s actually a pretty big topic)

  98. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:22 pm

    jsterrit – 2x now you’ve said that after you provided support for your claim that bt cotton in no way contributed to Indian farmers suicides by ‘giving me The Lancet’, and that my answer to you was “The Counterpunch” link.

    First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you.
    Secondly, you never “gave me the Lancet” – you gave me an opinion piece which had a couple of short quotes from Lancet papers in it – and those quotes weren’t footnoted anywhere.
    Thirdly, I asked you if you’d like to link me to the Lancet papers and you’ve declined.
    Fourthly, I’ve actually spent time trying to locate the papers myself and can’t.
    Fifthly, chuck the Counterpunch if you want to – I don’t know why I linked to it anyway except that the actual article was by the award-winning Indian journalist Palagummi Sainath and went to illustrating how bt cotton was deceitfully promoted, by whomever promoted it. All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides. The third link showed that “Objections raised by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)…forced GM crop major Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) to modify an advertisement that claimed Bollgard variety of Bt cotton has led to a significant increase in farmers’ income.”
    So why are you saying 2x that you give me the Lancet and I give you Counterpunch as an answer? Are you really that confused? C’mon man. You gave me no Lancet, and I didn’t answer anything at all given to me, by you, when I linked to Counterpunch.
    Also, I didn’t reference “The Daily Mail” anywhere – did I inadvertently reference its news syndicates? If not, what are you implying?

    You’ve accused me of all kinds of stuff there. Now how about you? Are you ready to actually say something substantial with regards to “the good word of the AAAS, AMA, FDA, WHO, and virtually every health and regulatory body of experts on the planet”? What is the good word? Dr. Novella said that these organizations say “GMOs are safe”. Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs. You can’t just list a bunch of organizations and imply that they say that say GMOs are safe without at least showing me where they say it. And since there are whole books on this subject – just pick something you think best supports your belief and break it down for me a little. Give me some evidence of the claim at least – then we can address the scientific evidence and its validity. What you’re implying is that these organizations are saying GMOs are safe, and that because they’re saying that, you’re saying that too. So don’t leave me hanging on this argument from authority. At least show me the claims they make for me to look at.

  99. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:24 pm

    jsterritt,
    So here’s where you “gave me The Lancet”:
    you limited it to these quotes, with no reference as to where they came from. I even tried to find the papers myself. Keith Kloor (who included the quotes on his opinion piece without references is quoted all over the blogosphere, but I can’t find the original sources of his quotes. Maybe you can do that and contribute to the legitimacy of what Kloor is saying.
    First quote:
    “Bt cotton has been all the rage in India since it was officially approved in 2002. The technology has been adopted by over 90% of Indian cotton farmers. Multiple studies point to significant reduction in pesticide spraying and subsequent cost savings for cotton farmers. (Similar findings attest to the same in China, where Bt cotton accounts for 80% of its crop.) India’s agricultural minister said in 2012 that the country “has harvested an average of 5.1 million tons of cotton per year, which is well above the highest production of 3 million tons before the introduction of Bt cotton.” India is the world’s second-biggest cotton producer, behind China.”

    That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister who distributed an advisory to cotton growing states saying “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,” and “In fact cost of cotton cultivation has jumped…due to rising costs of pesticides. Total Bt cotton production in the last five years has reduced,” and that “The note is based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility.”
    http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/ministry-blames-bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/article1-830798.aspx
    Weight this as you will because the ministry won’t confirm or deny. But please at least provide as much information as I have about where these quotes are coming from.

    Second quote:
    “A 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that in India “the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes.”
    A 2014 review published in The Conversation looks at the numbers: “In 2001 (before Bt cotton was introduced) the suicide rate was 31.7 per 100,000 and in 2011 the corresponding estimate was 29.3 – only a minor difference.”

    Please provide the research/reference on this. Who’s calorie consumption increased? How was this determined? Where are the stats on increased family income and it’s link to bt cotton? Monsanto was charged with false advertising for inaccurate representation of income increase from bt cotton. I can’t just read these quotes and be convinced that bt cotton was an unmitigated success. not when i see boots on the ground reporting failed bt cotton planted next to thriving non-gmo cotton. Talking about an increase in calorie consumption due to bt cotton is no different that talking about a suicide increase due to bt cotton – there has to be some evaluation of the claims. And what does this suicide rate reflect? These suicide/population stats have a notoriously large margin of error. As I mentioned before, Indian journalists have said that government population statistics in India are often not up-to-date. or are skewed by numerous factors.

    Unfortunately, if we want to use these sorts of statistics to try to show that there was no increase in suicide due to bt cotton, we have to very carefully look at each suicide claimed to be related to bt cotton. That’s been done in some reports that I’ve read for individual villages. And what is shown, which I’ve already said, is: people don’t typically say outright: he killed himself because the cotton failed. It’s always a downstream reason: he couldn’t pay his daughter’s dowry (a disgrace). He couldn’t repay the loan he took against the property. And these reasons come back to: he invested everything in what he believed would be a good cash crop return – and since the crop didn’t do as well as advertised, and since he had to spend as much or more than usual on inputs, and since the markets failed and what he could get for what he did produce was far below what he was led to expect – and, most perversely, he maybe found out that if he killed himself his family might get some money from the government – he ended his life. So, in the end, the bt cotton, and everything it entailed, became a contributor to some suicides. And this is why I contend that it’s erroneous to suggest that bt cotton has only been a benefit in India. Espeially in light of the evidence that overall yields have dropped as the % of bt cotton has increased. But there are 2 sources of stats on yield – and they give opposing results. One is the International Cotton Advisory Board, and the other is ISAAA. So you can believe what you want, but the ISAAA is the industry source.

    So, you’re attempting to show that suicides were not due to bt cotton. I’m attempting to show that bt cotton likely played a role in a number of cases. These aren’t diametrically opposed viewpoints. But how do we decide which is closer to truth? And if there’s no scientific way to determine that – is it right for people like Keith Kloor, Dr. Novella, and many other pro-industry pundits to report that there were no suicides due to bt cotton? I’m just an anonymous blogger, no one needs to give much credibility or apparently even attention, to anything I say. But I say what I do because I think that Dr. Novella has a certain public credibility which he here uses in a way that distorts the science and the complex nature of a bad situation – and all apparently due to an unknowing adoption of the industry’s rhetoric. Skeptics are supposed to be analytical.

    I absolutely don’t believe that Monsanto, or anyone at Monsanto, had any idea that this tragedy would unfold as it did. And they shouldn’t be expected to shoulder any blame beyond irresponsibly and indiscriminately promoting a product that wasn’t good for all Indian cotton farmers. In the US, Monsanto works with farmers to try to manage problems related to the use of their technology. That didn’t happen in india. And the Indian farmers have always been eager to adopt new technology – even to the point of abandoning their knowledge in that area
    http://artsci.wustl.edu/~anthro/research/stone/stone480102.web.pdf

    I think it’s ideological to speak about GMOs in all-inclusive ways. Or to talk about evil and goodness in the business world. What I think we have are better or worse laws, regulations, attitudes and practices. And individuals who operate with more or less information within these systems.

  100. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Grabula, I really like talking to you. You’ve accused me of “playing innocent”. But I think that you really ARE innocent. Unfortunately, even though I enjoy talking to you, I can’t really do it anymore because you’re not giving me anything to respond to. Tell you what – if you want to keep trying to apply your comments to what I’m actually saying, I’ll keep reading your comments. And when I see that you’ve actually reflected an understanding of what I’m saying, we’ll talk again. The fact that you don’t understand what I’m saying may be more my fault that yours. But either way, we have no meeting of the minds. It makes for difficult communication. My ability falls short and so I must excuse myself from replying to your comments at this time.

  101. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 8:55 pm

    @mlema

    “I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment”

    ” But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers”

    This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.

    “First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you.”

    This detail is unimportant to the bigger picture – that you consider counterpunch and other papers like it, a good source for evidence. The overwhelming issue regardless of who you meant it for is that popular media is not a good source for reference except as I already pointed out – a possible jumping off point to real research. None of those links you provided delivered that.

    “All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides.”

    These are business practices, and have nothing to do with the efficacy of GMO’s, not to mention again, they are opinion pieces.

    ” Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs.”

    This, along with your games of semantics is what kills most of the arguments you make Mlema. This request is intellectually lazy, you are in essence saying ‘I can’t be bothered to do the footwork, you do it for me’. You’re making claims and backing them up with opinion pieces. On the flip side you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO. Is it that you don’t have time because you’re too busy looking for pieces to back your point of view, regardless of source? This is a serious problem with the anti-GMO crowd. As with a lot of other sacred cows, they can’t be bothered by facts and sources that might refute what they say, too busy trying to prop up their own arguments to understand the other side.

    “That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister…”

    Again Mlema, a story in a local news paper does not evidence make. So what? Some guy made a statement about BT Cotton that suits your view point? Where’s his source material? It didn’t take me long writing my paper to find numbers on Indian Farmer suicides and the effectiveness of BT Cotton when I was doig my research, why can’t he be bothered?

    “Weight this as you will because the ministry won’t confirm or deny.”

    It’s absolutely meaningless without source data. I won’t repeat this again.

    “Unfortunately, if we want to use these sorts of statistics to try to show that there was no increase in suicide due to bt cotton, we have to very carefully look at each suicide claimed to be related to bt cotton.”

    Fullerton, is that you? You asbolutely do not have to model or research every suicide in order to determine what the source was. In fact, unless every single suicide left a note describing in detail why they killed themselves you’re only dealing in speculation. Instead, you take the scientific approach and take a look at the number of suicides over a period leading up to the integration of BT Cotton, then examine the numbers after BT cotton integration. You effectively want to find a single suicide note saying ‘BT Cotton ruined my life’ so you can point and say aha! I was right BT cotton IS involved!

    “I absolutely don’t believe that Monsanto, or anyone at Monsanto, had any idea that this tragedy would unfold as it did.”

    I see you’ve just decided to lose your skeptical pants altogether. Whatever narrative supports your claims.

    ” The fact that you don’t understand what I’m saying may be more my fault that yours.”

    This is a common theme with you Mlema, you, like sonic confuse an issue so much it’s hard to follow for anyone. You flip flop on your meanings, try to redefine words as you see fit and cant’ seem to understand why say, posting links to newspaper articles isn’t evidence. The issue is not that I don’t understand where you’re coming from – you’ve made that pretty obvious. What I won’t do is put up with the BS some of you guys throw out that does not conform to consistency in language or message.

  102. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 9:24 pm

    Mlema:

    I typed “lancet 2012 india suicide” into Google. 0.48 seconds later (yawn) it returned this as the first hit:

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60606-0/abstract

    I am seriously considering making a hefty editorial revision to my (not grabula’s) characterization of you as “dumb and innocent.” I think I can cut it down by more than half.

    @grabula…

    You have a world of patience. I’m enjoying your replies immensely, so I hope you don’t tire soon. Btw, why does Mlema keep taking swipes at your age and experience. Does he think you are 12? If you are indeed a fifth grader, there’s plenty of work for you on Biologica these days.

  103. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 9:26 pm

    neurologica, duh.

  104. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 10:31 pm

    @jsterritt

    Mlema plays coy often. ‘I like you/what you’re saying but now I’m going to dismiss you out of hand’ stuff. It’s childish but generally I just ignore it. He’s part of a small slice of commentor’s here who require a lot of patience to deal with. I can’t get a read on whether they really don’t understand how discombobulated they’re comments really are. They show similar characteristics, a propensity to want to redefine the meaning of words ( in this case ‘safe’ ), misunderstand burden of proof and often don’t want to bother indulging in a little research into the other side.

    Mlema in this particular instance is steeped in the anti-gmo, pro organic crowd. Rez called him out on the natural thing because whether he has said it or not, he implies it most often. I posted a sampling of mlema’s past posts on this very topic and as you can see he definitely has a bias.

    The irony in my opinion is that these guys and girls who hold biases so strong they’re like blinders, often accuse us skeptics as being blind. They start by putting skeptic in scare quotes or saying things like ‘you skeptics’ as if that somehow validates that we’re not ACTUAL skeptics.

    I think Devil’s Gummy, mumadadd and a few others have talked about this ad nauseum in the past but most of us who call ourselves skeptics follow the evidence, this often involves a consensus, which is a concept woo believers find confusing. For example, when it comes to GMO, I think its got an awesome potential for solving a lot of issues. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be vetted and studied on a continuous basis for certainly there is some potential for harm. However, so far it seems it’s panning out to be extremely useful. Golden Rice, BT Cotton and so on have had huge positive impacts around the world.

    That’s not to say something can’t go wrong, and if it does I’ll certainly acknowledge that. the anti-GMO crowd will almost certainly go insane with proclamations of utter and complete failure but that’s the rational difference isn’t it? I won’t go with my gut, or my feeling that nature knows best. If this were true we wouldn’t be living well into our 80′s and 90′s these days and living longer healthier lives overall. Modern science isn’t perfect to be sure but you have to move with the evidence. This I believe is mlema’s issue, he’s having a hard time moving past the idea that maybe, just maybe his natural inclination towards ‘natural’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    About 6 months ago I decided to write a paper for a class on GMO’s. I didn’t know as much as I did now and I chose to focus on BT Cotton in India and Golden Rice in Africa. I only knew a little bit going into it. I found that you really have to slog through the anti-GMO rhetoric to really get down to the kernels of truth. Those people flood the internet with all sorts of garbage. It makes some sense though if you look at how popular supplements, dieting and anything resembling ‘all natural’.

    Anyway, jsterritt you won’t make a dent, regardless of how much information you post. Notice he’s already begun to slide the goalposts. He now wants you to do the work. He doesn’t ‘understand’ your points so you need to break it down for him barney style so he can continue to comfortably dodge the issue altogether. It get’s tiresome.

  105. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 10:44 pm

    rez sez: (from the dinosaur thread) “As a skeptic, I’m concerned not only with having evidence, but the quality of evidence. Having standards of evidence is obviously a big part of being a skeptic”

    This is an important point I’ve already grown tired of repeating on this thread. Woo believers use dubious sources, like say newspaper articles, to provide evidence without understanding why they aren’t credible sources of information.

    For example Mlema has posted the article twice from hindunews. A quick perusal or thorough reading of the article shows there’s nothing like actual data in it. When this is mentioned or brought up somehow it’s not western media so it’s ok. Later he points out that the article states the Agricultural minister of India posted some warnings on BT Cotton, again misunderstanding that this STILL ISN’T evidence for anything. There’s no follow up links to papers backing up his claim. Never mind the issues with near third world governments and corruption.

    But that’s the point, so far we have a couple of news articles and some unsubstantiated claims of farmer suicides to support an anti-GMO stance. No science, no rigorous studies, no peer reviewed journal papers.

    The ultimate irony is that Mlema has posted a couple of PDF’s, a couple of sources are from free from GMO type sources, and one even points out BT Cotton’s successes lol. All the while screaming about fixed research from the pro-GMO side. It’s so blindly dogmatic as to be laughable but most of the time I just want to get drunk and forget it.

  106. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 10:54 pm

    SGU posted this quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson on the facepages, I thought it was apropos:

    “If you want to assert a truth, first make sure it’s not an opinion that you desperately want to be true.”

  107. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Grabula: (M is me, G is you)

    M- “I support the use of any and all technology that improves agricultural yield, sustainability and preservation of the soil, water, animal environment….But I try not to be overly idealistic, and in the end the most important thing in my eyes is the food and the farmers”
    G- “This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.”

    There is absolutely no contradiction between what I’m saying now and what i’ve said in the past. If you think there is, tell me what it is. Don’t’ just say “This is definitely not how you represent yourself.” Give me the quotes you think contradict each other. You’re just making implications and insinuations.

    M-”First of all, I hadn’t even seen your post with any mention of the Lancet when I gave a link to the Coutnerpunch in a comment to Dr. Novella, not to you….All three of the links I provided in that particular comment to Dr. Novella speak to the credibility of the claims made to Indian farmers about the value of bt cotton – and had nothing to do with statistics on the suicides.”
    G -”This detail is unimportant to the bigger picture – that you consider counterpunch and other papers like it, a good source for evidence. The overwhelming issue regardless of who you meant it for is that popular media is not a good source for reference except as I already pointed out – a possible jumping off point to real research. None of those links you provided delivered that…These are business practices, and have nothing to do with the efficacy of GMO’s, not to mention again, they are opinion pieces.”

    You’re right, the details are unimportant. The important issue was: a respected journalist’s revealed deceptive advertising of bt cotton. That is pertinent, and isn’t information you get through scientific research. Also, a news report which included communications from India’s Ministry of Agriculture. And since when does false advertising (as charged by the Advertising Standards Council of India) become “business practices”? And yes, it does have something to do with the efficacy of GMOs – because there was a difference between the claimed efficacy and the real efficacy. And if you don’t like my sources on that particular issue – then disregard it altogether. It doesn’t reflect on the other sources i’ve used in reference to other issues. Please address anything I said, instead of just saying that I’ve used bad sources for non-scientific information, and then saying that all the information I provide and everything else I’ve said is invalid. That’s a fallacious approach to your goal of portraying what I’m saying as unsupportable.

    M – “Show me their good words. I looked at the pieces you linked to. Help me understand why what you think these organizations are saying should be interpreted as a blanket endorsement of the safety of GMOs.”
    G – “This, along with your games of semantics is what kills most of the arguments you make Mlema. This request is intellectually lazy, you are in essence saying ‘I can’t be bothered to do the footwork, you do it for me’… You’re making claims and backing them up with opinion pieces. On the flip side you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO. Is it that you don’t have time because you’re too busy looking for pieces to back your point of view, regardless of source? This is a serious problem with the anti-GMO crowd. As with a lot of other sacred cows, they can’t be bothered by facts and sources that might refute what they say, too busy trying to prop up their own arguments to understand the other side.”

    I’ve read the organization statements and information jsterritt linked to. Most of them were already familiar to me. A couple of them are books, which I’ve read some of. It’s not up to me to show how they don’t support a blanket endorsement of GMO safety – in fact, a number of those sources make statements contrary to what jsterritt and Dr. Novella are claiming they say. It’s up to you, or jsterritt, or Dr. Novella, or whomever else is making this same argument from authority, to show how what the organizations are saying is a blanket endorsement of GMO safety. That needs to start with locating the statements saying “GMOs are safe” Why is that too much to ask? Can you see that saying “GMOs are safe because xyz says so” without actually providing the words xyz have said which mean: “GMOs are safe”? Hey, let’s talk about it. Maybe I missed something. You say “you’ve been provided with credible scientific sources on the argument for GMO”. Well, I don’t need an “argument for GMO” because I support the technology for a number of applications. I’ve asked Dr. Novella to provide evidence for his statement that “GMOs are safe”. He hasn’t provided that. Do you want to give it a try? If you want to start with the sources jsterritt has provided, that would be fine. Before you accuse me again of not doing any footwork – take some time yourself to read these sources and find where they say GMOs are safe. The burden is on you to show that someone with authority is saying “GMOs are safe”. We can go from there to examine scientific validity.

    M- “That’s interesting, because it’s also the agricultural minister…”
    G- “Again Mlema, a story in a local news paper does not evidence make. So what? Some guy made a statement about BT Cotton that suits your view point? Where’s his source material? It didn’t take me long writing my paper to find numbers on Indian Farmer suicides and the effectiveness of BT Cotton when I was doig my research, why can’t he be bothered?”

    Please read that comment to jsterritt again more carefully, you’re mixing things all together. It wasn’t “some guy” – it was India’s agricultural minister, who sent an advisory to cotton growing states. The newspaper that reported this had a copy of the advisory. The advisory said “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,” and it also said “In fact cost of cotton cultivation has jumped…due to rising costs of pesticides. Total Bt cotton production in the last five years has reduced,” and this advisory was “based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility.” I’m kinda glad you asked about it now that I look at what I wrote to jsterritt earlier because I see now I didn’t write it quite clearly. Thanks. But please, what in the world are you basing your accusation of the reporter on? It’s not his job to research the suicide stats and effectiveness of bt cotton when the story he’s relating is about what the agricultural minister said, and that the minister’s advisory was based on observations from the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences, which administers farm science, and the Central Cotton Research Institute, the country’s top cotton research facility. Are you asserting that you have better information in your paper than the Indian Council of Agricultural Sciences or the Central Cotton Research Institute has? Can you please go ahead and locate that paper and post that information? I think this might be important to the discussion. Seriously.

    OK, I can’t respond to the rest right now due to time. But I’ll try to find time tomorrow. Remind me if I forget.

  108. Mlemaon 28 Jul 2014 at 11:36 pm

    grabula, jsterritt – your later posts came up for me as I posted this. I’ll try to find time to respond in the next day or two.

    And jsterritt – thanks for locating the paper.

  109. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Mlema:

    “I even tried to find the papers myself.”

    I typed “genetically modified plosone” into Google. 0.39 seconds later (drumming fingers) it returned this as the first hit:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064879

    I typed “conversation india suicide” into Google. 0.42 seconds later (sigh) it returned this as the first hit:

    http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-gm-cotton-lead-to-farmer-suicide-in-india-24045

    That’s a grand total of <1.5 seconds of search time. You cannot be that dense, clueless, or unable to type or you wouldn't be here (I mean you literally wouldn't have been able to use a computer to post comments here). Ergo, you are being disingenuous. Your pants are on fire. I await with bemused anticipation your next evasion, next repositioning of the goalposts, next sad fail. (What I'm really looking forward to is glossing over your next empty ramble and reading @grabula give you yer comeuppance.)

  110. jsterritton 28 Jul 2014 at 11:48 pm

    “I’ll try to find time to respond in the next day or two.”

    Oh, for the love of all things, please don’t.

  111. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 11:53 pm

    @mlema

    See, here is the fundamental problem:

    “There is absolutely no contradiction between what I’m saying now and what I’ve said in the past.”
    “Give me the quotes you think contradict each other.”

    Yet above those you quote me: “This is definitely not how you represent yourself. See my list of quotes from you above.”

    So what’s the problem here? Did you not see the second part of my sentence where I invite you to look at my list of selected quotes from you? Could you not find that post from me? I literally gave you quotes stating your stance BEFORE you asked for quotes. You contradict yourself because while saying you support any and all technology etc you’re stance is firmly and obviously anti-GMO, and as of yet with no good reason then you buy into the Indian suicides lie.

    “The important issue was: a respected journalist’s revealed deceptive advertising of bt cotton.”

    They expressed some opinions, failed to provide support for those opinions.

    “That is pertinent, and isn’t information you get through scientific research”

    No, it’s claims of bad business practices and again, unsubstantiated.

    ” And since when does false advertising (as charged by the Advertising Standards Council of India) become “business practices”?”

    Seriously? Mlema, I need you to answer two questions for me and I need you to focus for a moment. 1 – Do you understand why a newspaper article with no supporting evidence for claims made does not support an argument? 2 – If false advertising isn’t ‘bad business’ what is it?

    I absolutely cannot press forward until you answer these questions.

  112. grabulaon 28 Jul 2014 at 11:59 pm

    @mlema

    Jsterritt posted this link:

    http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-gm-cotton-lead-to-farmer-suicide-in-india-24045

    I’m asking you to take a look at it, and explain to me how it is different from the links you posted. I’m not asking you to read the article, though it’s short and sweet. There’s a glaring difference in how this article is put together and the articles you posted are put together. Can you identify what that is?

  113. jsterritton 29 Jul 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Although not about GMOs per se, last week’s Science features a special section called “Slicing the Wheat Genome.” It is about “the importance of applying scientific knowledge to develop crop varieties.” I recommend reading it to anyone seeking to understand why science’s role in agriculture cannot be divorced from it for reasons of convenience or ideology.

  114. Mlemaon 29 Jul 2014 at 11:54 pm

    “the importance of applying scientific knowledge to develop crop varieties.”

    so true. Sequencing the plant’s genome assists in breeding for agriculture in a number of ways – for instance marker-assisted selection for something like flood-tolerance.

  115. Mlemaon 29 Jul 2014 at 11:56 pm

    jsterritt said: “I typed “genetically modified plosone” into Google. 0.39 seconds later (drumming fingers) it returned this as the first hit:
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0064879
    I typed “conversation india suicide” into Google. 0.42 seconds later (sigh) it returned this as the first hit:
    http://theconversation.com/hard-evidence-does-gm-cotton-lead-to-farmer-suicide-in-india-24045
    That’s a grand total of <1.5 seconds of search time. You cannot be that dense, clueless, or unable to type or you wouldn't be here (I mean you literally wouldn't have been able to use a computer to post comments here). Ergo, you are being disingenuous. Your pants are on fire. I await with bemused anticipation your next evasion, next repositioning of the goalposts, next sad fail. (What I'm really looking forward to is glossing over your next empty ramble and reading @grabula give you yer comeuppance.)"

    Well, I didn't look for those papers, so I guess you spent more time locating them than I did. But you should be very proud of your proficiency with the googler. Good for you! :)

    me: “I’ll try to find time to respond in the next day or two.”
    jsterritt: "Oh, for the love of all things, please don’t."

    LOL – you are a bit of a drama queen aren't you? Reminder: your participation in this discussion is voluntary.

    So, now that you've finally "given me the Lancet" (you could have saved us both a lot of time if you'd explained when you kept harping on "giving me the Lancet" that what you meant was: 'I linked you to some long-winded industry apologetics that included quotes from the Lancet.) I already replied to the quotes from the Lancet and the above papers.
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/mike-adams-is-a-dangerous-loon/#comment-83858

    So, was there something about the Lancet paper that was new and important that you wanted me to see? Or was it just those extracted quotes? Or was it just the whole thing about 'I give you the Lancet and you give me Counterpunch'? Boy it sure is easy to waste time here.

    PS – That PLOS paper is one of the most twisted pieces of reasoning I've seen in a long time. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I see why Kloor didn't provide a link to that paper. What a bunch of BS.

  116. Mlemaon 30 Jul 2014 at 12:04 am

    grabula – “I absolutely cannot press forward until you answer these questions”

    LOL ok, I don’t want you to not be able to press forward :)

    “1 – Do you understand why a newspaper article with no supporting evidence for claims made does not support an argument? ”

    It depends on the argument. So I’ll explain both a “no” answer and a “yes” answer.

    No. Newspapers report the news: events, quotes, etc. If the news is evidence for “claims made”, then it’s appropriate support for an argument (as long as it’s accurately represented by the arguer) Newspapers are considered reputable sources of information – although the reputability varies widely and is usually connected to the reputation of the paper or reporter. It’s a little tricky because the nature of reporting the news is vulnerable to human error. Investigative journalism requires tighter management of evidence.
    Yes. Newspapers aren’t an appropriate place to publish scholarly papers which require bibliographies and footnotes.
    Also – newspapers aren’t supposed to be written to influence public opinion or promote causes or personal interests. So, I’m not sure why you would ask me about claims made to support an argument. Newspapers report the news, they don’t make arguments (except on the editorial pages)

    My question to you: Is a blog site a good place to form your scientific opinions?

    “2 – If false advertising isn’t ‘bad business’ what is it?”
    False advertising is definitely bad business. And in the case of Monsanto’s false advertising in India, the consequences were possibly very bad. Monsanto falsely advertised that cotton farmers who were planting bt were experiencing a great increase in income. This likely encouraged farmers to do whatever they had to do to get the seeds in the ground, hoping for a better future. It’s not the first time Monsanto has had some problems with the truth:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto#False_advertising

    Now one little question for you: wtf does any of this have to do with the original topic of discussion? Quiz time is over. If you don’t have anything to say – like why you think it’s scientifically supportable to say “GMOs are safe”, then I’m afraid I’ll have to leave you to try to figure out for yourself what a newspaper is, and what false advertising is.

    on second thought – don’t think I’ll be back. So thanks for the discussion and good luck to you in all your endeavors.

  117. Mlemaon 30 Jul 2014 at 12:05 am

    ZooPraxis, I think I’ve heard it referred to as “plutocracy”.

  118. grabulaon 30 Jul 2014 at 1:07 am

    @Mlema

    ” Newspapers are considered reputable sources of information – although the reputability varies widely and is usually connected to the reputation of the paper or reporter.”

    You’re still trying to have your cake and eat it too here Mlema. You’ll cry all day about the credibility of our sources – say the Lancet, a respected medical journal, and in the same breath refer to random newspapers in India.

    “My question to you: Is a blog site a good place to form your scientific opinions? ”

    The same criteria stand for any source of evidence. First, the source you reference must provide support for whatever statement it is trying to make. If it’s blog with no actual data then it’s an opinion piece, an editorial, and is not proof or evidence for anything.
    “False advertising is definitely bad business.”

    Is it, or isn’t it Mlema? You see why it can be a test of ones patience to discuss these things with you? You initially stated it’s NOT bad business, now you’re saying it is.

    “Monsanto falsely advertised that cotton farmers who were planting bt were experiencing a great increase in income. ”

    Monsanto isn’t the only one reporting BT Cotton successes. In fact, during my own research I never once had to reference Monsanto directly for information. This is your sacred cow and what get’s you in trouble. You WANT Monsanto to be the evil puppet master behind all that is evil in GMO but it’s not. Monsanto has created some pretty horrible products (hence their reputation) and they are a business so their ultimate end game is to produce revenue so they can continue to exist. This all however isn’t exclusive to making good products that can be useful in the future. When you removed your skeptical pants you appear to have donned your dogmatic blinders.

    “This likely encouraged farmers to do whatever they had to do to get the seeds in the ground, hoping for a better future.”

    Speculation with no source to back up this claim.

    “like why you think it’s scientifically supportable to say “GMOs are safe”

    Haha ok buddy, ignoring your slippery attempts to redefine what is safe let’s stick to the the common understanding. Current GMO’s being utilized around the world have been vetted by several organizations and are still going through vetting by others. They’ve been determined to be safe for consumption by human beings, they require less of all those nasty chemicals you anti-gmo, pro organic, pro natural types have been screaming about for years and they have little impact on the environment around them – so no fear the world will be over run by man eating mutant cotton. To add to this they produce larger crops, provide more food and income for the regions in which they exist.

    Let’s clear a few things up. When GMO crops got released and people weren’t dying in droves around these “frankenfoods” anti-GMO types jumped on a lie that Indian Farmers were committing suicide in droves. None of their evidence pointed to anything having to do with the crops themselves – and facts have shown the crops are doing fine as well as the farmers who use them – but the whole argument practically hinges on either a completely naive idea on what is actually going on, or a misunderstanding that business practices they don’t believe in equate to evil GMO’s. In either case, you Mlema and your anti-GMO crowd are much like truthers of 9/11, UFO fanatics and moon hoaxers. Regardless of the facts presented to you you’ve painted yourself so deeply into an ideological corner that you are unable to admit that you might possibly be wrong, regardless of all the empty bleating about supporting any technology that supports the farmers and the communities. And don’t think I haven’t missed your red herring on local farming versus GMO. You don’t state it as such but stating your stance as ‘supporting local farming’ reveals all. Your wish to see more local farming has nothing to do with GMO’s at all, it’s got everything to do with your irrational belief that large companies can’t provide products without being and doing evil.
    “on second thought – don’t think I’ll be back. So thanks for the discussion and good luck to you in all your endeavors.”

    I see, so we won’t play your semantic games, and we demand you provide legitimate support for your stance and you go on the run? I notice you ignored my question on that link jsterritt provided. I suspect you know what the difference is but admitting that would be admitting some weakness in your argument. We wouldn’t want that now would we? God forbid anyone bother to really understand an issue and consider they might possibly be wrong. It amazes me some of you guys and your propensity to lie to yourselves even while all the information you need to show you the way is being spoon fed to you.

  119. grabulaon 30 Jul 2014 at 1:16 am

    @ZooPraxis

    “So, in this case, where lawmakers, businesspeople, judges and politicians ARE in fact colluding to what I would consider an evil end, would the skeptic stance still be reluctant to call this Big… whatever? ”

    You’re questions aren’t really apropos to the discussion on this thread but for the sake of being friendly I’ll throw in my 2 cents.

    First, I don’t like the use of “Big fillintheblank” anything. It’s a red flag because most true believers have latched on to the concept and over use it. The idea is that there’s one organized conspiracy behind whatever their pet cause is that’s keeping the man down. In the case of the control of wealth, it’s always been the case that a few people have always worked to keep the lions share to themselves. There are certainly some issues with our system of wealth but to imply it’s organized in any significant way misses the point. With a small percentage of people being wealthy, they will have more influence than others by sheer proximity and so on occasion they get what they want. There’s no grand conspiracy, just a selfish human desire to have all the toys.

    This doesn’t excuse it of course. Consider also that there’s a good chance that if you worked hard, won the lottery, or invented something(s) that prove useful, you too could join the ranks of the rich and powerful. Of course also consider that if there were no rich and powerful, what would that imply? I don’t believe we’ll ever be free of the reality that some will be born to it, work harder for it, or cheat their way to the top, and I also don’t believe all people are capable of it, otherwise things would be much different. Ultimately we just work or fight to make sure we do not lose our rights and our ability to make a comfortable living.

  120. ZooPraxison 30 Jul 2014 at 2:51 am

    @grabula: Thanks. The reason why I felt it was apropos was because skepticism, for me, is often about evaluating your emotional reactions and judgments. So, when I see Mlema quite obviously going off the rails and ranting about “big science” my first reaction is to think, “what a kook,” and then, thanks to skepticism, think: “what tendencies toward conspiracy thinking do I have?”
    And then I start to empathize with the “Big pharma” folks. Because even now, if I tell you that I’ve read a lot of articles in the past ten years about the efforts of lobbying groups to undermine limits on monopolies, to extend tax breaks for the rich, to cut social services–these planned and joined efforts are documented.
    But then, even writing this I realize how I take the same tone as the lunatics. Quite frankly, it’s all very “gaslight.”

  121. grabulaon 30 Jul 2014 at 3:59 am

    @ZooPraxis

    As a skeptic I ask questions. If someone makes a claim, especially an extraordinary I ask for evidence.

    I have to evaluate the source(s).

    I have to try to understand the underlying issues.

    I have to understand my own biases.

    These days I’m effectively a blank slate. If I hear an outrageous claim, I look into it. An hour in google university should give you a general picture of an issue. Sometimes the answers are more obvious than others. The above system kicks in and if I care enough about the subject I’ll spend more time looking into – proportionate to my interest. Finally, if I don’t know enough about a subject I’ll avoid commenting or expressing an opinion.

    What’s more important however is that once all of this has been done, I absolutely have to follow the evidence.

    In the example of pharmaceutical companies, there are kinks in the system and businesses will always look for advantages. As long as there is some oversight more often than not the end result is fine.

    so called “Big Pharma” is a good example of the mentality of woo believers. First, simply look around and see that people live longer healthier lives than ever before. Our excesses get to us on occasion but overall modern medicine has done some pretty awesome things. However, anti-pharma types point to the few incidences where things go badly – there are always going to be mistakes, misunderstandings and the like so you have to look at the overall effect. It’s a sad fact that side effects for certain drugs might not come out until much later, or that certain cases will have bad reactions.

    When most skeptics I know deny any sort of ‘Big’ conspiracy, it’s not that they don’t believe there are issues, and people out there with only their best interest at heart. They however also understand how complex these systems are and how difficult it would be to really accomplish anything that one couldn’t discover with some investigation. Ultimately it’s really just paranoid thinking.

    This is why as skeptics we harp on the ideas of how deceitful ones mind could be and how we need to apply rational thinking everyday to get past the mistakes most people make. Ultimately the world isn’t out to get us, but we certainly have to be weary lest someone slowly and surely take rights from us. That vigilance is what skepticism is to me personally.

  122. AmateurSkepticon 30 Jul 2014 at 7:59 am

    @hardnose:

    The solution: only consider research done by amateurs in their garage. Even then, be skeptical.

    That is priceless. Do any of your neighbors happen to have a Large Hadron Collider in their garage? Do you think that the vaccine for polio was developed in a garage? How about the transistor? integrated circuits? the Atlas V expendable launch system?

    If someone told you that he has a low cost substitute for Viagra which he developed in his garage, without knowing anything more, I would recommend against it.

  123. Bruceon 30 Jul 2014 at 8:05 am

    grabula,

    “When most skeptics I know deny any sort of ‘Big’ conspiracy, it’s not that they don’t believe there are issues, and people out there with only their best interest at heart. They however also understand how complex these systems are and how difficult it would be to really accomplish anything that one couldn’t discover with some investigation. ”

    This was kind of discussed a few episodes ago on SGU and I had a long discussion on with my wife. The interesting part for me was the realisation that people are doing their best to just get things right and bumble along just like you or me or anyone else. Organisations are the same, having worked in the field of business analysis in different companies and countries, I have discovered that humans and organisations are pretty much the same in their level of competence or incompetence.

    The idea of taking a large organisation and all its employees and hypothetically asking them to keep secrets or co-ordinate massive operations covertly would have so many barriers to success that I would almost call it impossible. I know it sounds like an argument from complexity, but I see it more as an argument from “is this actually practically possible in the real world knowing that people f**k up pretty consistently?”

  124. grabulaon 30 Jul 2014 at 8:12 am

    @Bruce

    Good points. I’d also like to add that generally when the concept of a ‘Big’ anything comes up with woo types, there’s some pretty nefarious accusations. An example would be say Monsanto and GMO crops around the world. Monsanto is certainly invested in attempting to make money, it’s a business. Would killing thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, and accruing all sorts of ACTUAL bad publicity for horrible business practices get them anywhere? It takes an extremely credulous mind to think that a company could simultaneously kill hurt or maim it’s consumer base wholesale and still continue to grow in size and/or profits.

    Running with your comparison of individuals and companies, a company just like an individual has a vested interest in doing what’s in its best interests to survive. Sometimes this means begging borrowing or stealing but generally a cooperative strategy works best for long term survival and gains.

  125. Bruceon 30 Jul 2014 at 8:50 am

    grabula,

    Yup, killing people is not good for business in companies that rely on people being alive to buy their product. It is ultimately why despotic governments fail in the end, you can only suck on a population for so long before it either starves, revolts or just simply leaves.

    And on the topic of people being people, I just found the saying I was looking for.. Hanlon’s Razor:

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

  126. tmac57on 30 Jul 2014 at 9:33 am

    Bruce and grabula- Those sound like good points concerning not killing off/alienating your customers,
    but you are forgetting how the “Bigs” are keeping us all docile with the drugs,TV,contrails,fluoride,and tasty,cheap fast food and additives…Oh,oh and vaccines (can’t forget the vaccines)!
    To those who can’t see that they are all sheeple,I can only say “Baah!”.

  127. ZooPraxison 30 Jul 2014 at 10:36 am

    @grabula
    Thanks, grabula–just to be clear–I harbor no “big pharma” paranoia, though living in a Southern California beach community puts me on the front lines of highly-energetic and uninformed thinking.

  128. jsterritton 30 Jul 2014 at 11:24 am

    No one is suggesting that there aren’t real conspiracies (price fixing, gerrymandering, 9/11 hijackers, etc). It’s just that the conspiracies invented by the lazy, illogical, and ideologically motivated aren’t based in fact and reason. Neither are they limited by reason or anybody’s razor (Occam, Hanlon). They don’t exist to make sense of anything other than a theory or argument so fatally flawed that it cannot stand up without the support of a vast conspiracy of convenience. The “pharma shill” and “Big Agra” gambits are particularly noxious because they are popular and successful conspiracy theories that hew closely to our contemporary social thinking and distrust of institutions. They should fail immediately on the ridiculousness of the premise that corporations and their products are hand-in-glove with the oversight and regulatory bodies set up to oversee and regulate them. It is widely believed in the popular culture that GMOs, pesticides, and other chemicals are wholly untested and used willy-nilly (that’s right, I said willy-nilly) by faceless corporations at their profit-driven discretion. Provide evidence to the contrary, and those with an emotional attachment to the popular, paranoid version of the story invoke a conspiracy rather than concede the point on sound evidence.

    Privileged people who are living longer, healthier lives than ever before love to see themselves as persecuted guinea pigs for some reason.

  129. Bronze Dogon 30 Jul 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I think it’s worth pointing out that there’s a distinction between the sorts of conspiracies that can and do happen and the grand conspiracies posited by the conspiracy theorists.

    Real conspiracies tend to involve smaller numbers of people. IIRC, Ben Franklin said that “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.” It’s an exaggeration, but the more people you involve in the conspiracy, the harder it is to keep secret. Inevitably, someone makes a mistake, two “official” stories conflict, someone grows a conscience, someone gets bribed, or whatever. Real conspiracies also tend to be short term for the same reason.

    Grand conspiracy theories are typically long term and can involve thousands to millions of conspirators. They typically require some kind of authoritarian control over the anti-authoritarian scientific community. They often require an extreme cynicism about human nature, that people with any sort of influence are uniformly evil enough to want to advance the plot or too cowardly to resist. They’re often invoked to explain trends as being deliberately planned by a scapegoat when it’s really an emergent result from the complex systems humans create. It’s easier to scapegoat than reform the system that brought about the problem (assuming the problem exists at all).

  130. jsterritton 30 Jul 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Mlema:

    I did not provide you with links to the papers because you asked me to, but to point out how infinitesimally small an amount of effort was required to find them. Effort you claimed to have made, but clearly did not. I was calling BS on you.

    The three papers I provided links for were the three papers you specifically claimed you could not find.

    You said I had provided quotes from these papers “with no reference as to where they came from.” This is not true, as I cite the source in the very quotes I provided by name and date.

    Regardless, you soldier on with this absurdity: “I even tried to find the papers myself…. but I can’t find the original sources of [the] quotes.”

    You are either shouting from the rooftops that you are the stupidest person to ever operate a computer or you are being disingenuous. From the regard you clearly hold yourself in, I assume it is not the former. Perhaps this is a false choice kinda situation, but I’m comfortable choosing the latter.

    Why on Earth would you make such transparently false claims? You are graffitiing this comment section with esoteric links to cherry-picked news and opinion pieces from far-flung newspapers and self-admittedly “muckraking” newsletters. Do you really expect anyone to believe you cannot find dated articles on Indian farmer suicide from named, high-profile, high-impact factor sources like The Lancet? Why the charade? I know it suits you to think that those who argue against you are being cagey and keeping you in the dark, but it simply isn’t true. Your continued harping on what amounts to your own failures (to read and/or comprehend) is silly. You have demonstrated fully that you cannot keep this subject matter straight in your mind (e.g., you have confused the comments of myself, grabula, and Dr Novella). You have never once relented in shifting — and increasing — the burden of proof onto others. Your “dumb and innocent” act (to which we can now add “condescending”), is an infuriating pairing of misdirection and ad hominem rebuke. What you mistake for drama is merely exasperation.

    As @grabula has pointed out: you really should be of more open mind. What you derisively reject as an argument from authority is in fact an argument from authority with authority. Such an argument is not necessarily fallacious. This is one of those times when it is not. Welcome to consensus.

  131. jsterritton 30 Jul 2014 at 6:09 pm

    @BronzeDog

    Very well said.

    The editors of Nature said, “People are positively swimming in information about GM technologies. Much of it is wrong — on both sides of the debate… With GM crops, a good gauge of a statement’s fallacy is the conviction with which it is delivered.”*

    I would extrapolate from this to say that another good gauge of a statement’s fallacy is its proximity to conspiracy thinking. Please forgive the sweeping statement, but the debate on GMOs has basically devolved down to consensus vs conspiracy — as if this false dichotomy had any merit whatsoever. In “reasoned” debate in forums like this one or in casual conversation with friends, it is never long before conspiracy (of Monsanto and governments and regulatory bodies across the globe) is invoked, almost as a given, as a counter to science.

    Science is hard. But is grand conspiracy thinking really easier? It certainly is convenient to imagine that anyone whose position runs counter to your own is at the least being manipulated by a conspiracy, if not an outright co-conspirator.

    ____
    *http://www.nature.com/news/fields-of-gold-1.12897

  132. Bruceon 30 Jul 2014 at 6:37 pm

    That reminds me of what a friend of mine said about Zimbabwean politics when I was living there:

    “If someone tells you they understand Zimbabwean politics, you can be sure they know less than someone who says they don’t”.

  133. jsterritton 30 Jul 2014 at 7:53 pm

    @grabula (and everyone else here who has pointed out the flaws of a kill-your-customers conspiracy-as-business model).

    It is a sacred trope of the anti-GMOers to counter this argument with the Big Tobacco gambit. The idea is that tobacco companies do just that (kill their customers) — and look at them, they’re thriving. Big Tobacco, like Big Agra (Big Pharma, whatever), has such deep pockets that even billion-dollar settlements are merely the cost of doing business. Killing their customers is their business. Now, you’re in the uncomfortable position of not just being made to defend Big Tobacco and Big [fillindablank], but of having to explain how the evils and pitfalls of capitalism could possibly have come to exist. What’s sneaky and underhanded about this false analogy (between the tobacco debacle and GMOs or vaccines or whatever), is that it begs the question and affirms the consequent that the GMOs (or vaccines or whatever) and tobacco are equivalent; that GMOs (or vaccines or whatever) are unsafe, dangerous killers. And voila, you’re the a**hole, because you support killing everyone for money.

    This argument, of course, says nothing about the actual safety of anything other than tobacco — it merely implies equivalence. This is a false equivalence, argument from association, poisoning the well, and is essentially the same thing as reductio ad Hitlerum, or as we say here, “going full-Hitler.”

    The one thing that these bogeymen do have in common is that science is in on them. Overwhelming scientific consensus supports the safety of GMOs (current ones, as currently applied). Overwhelming scientific consensus supports the safety (and success) of vaccines. Just as overwhelming scientific consensus supports the dangers/health risks of tobacco use.

    Again and again, we see anti-GMOers conflating business practices with science. Even if Monsanto was also a tobacco company and a gun company and a drug cartel and a league of assassins, it would not change the science — or safety — of GMOs one tiny bit.

  134. jsterritton 30 Jul 2014 at 10:45 pm

    @grabula

    “There are certainly some issues with our system of wealth but to imply it’s organized in any significant way misses the point. With a small percentage of people being wealthy, they will have more influence than others by sheer proximity and so on occasion they get what they want. There’s no grand conspiracy, just a selfish human desire to have all the toys.”

    Amen. You capture very succinctly the distinction between a rigged game (conspiracy) and the fact that the odds always favor the house.

  135. ZooPraxison 30 Jul 2014 at 11:50 pm

    @jsterritt “You capture very succinctly the distinction between a rigged game (conspiracy) and the fact that the odds always favor the house.”
    Whoa, that’s interesting. Would you mind elaborating? I’m not quite sure I understand the distinction. Is that analogous, say, to people born into privilege having an unfair advantage and therefore it’s not necessary for them to actively work against or sabotage the underclass?

  136. jsterritton 31 Jul 2014 at 1:38 am

    @ZooPraxis

    I took @grabula’s point to be that mistaking how wealth and power outcomes favor the wealthy and powerful as evidence of a conspiracy is just that — a mistake. Our system of wealth favors the wealthy; it is a known advantage. I wouldn’t say this is fair or unfair, but certainly it is easier for the advantaged to further their interests than it is for the disadvantaged. There are almost daily examples of the advantaged working directly against the interests of what you call the “underclass.”

    The self-interests of any number of wealthy and powerful people/corporations are necessarily going to overlap, but I agree with @grabula that to call our system of wealth an organized conspiracy is almost insulting to actual conspiracies. Ours is a rules-based society. Those rules are skewed dramatically in favor of the advantaged, are exploited and sometimes violated by the advantaged. They are, of course, usually written by the advantaged. But the advantaged, as a group, are still a disparate medley of individuals and organizations advancing their own interests. I wouldn’t call that a conspiracy, since we have other words for it: society, civilization, capitalism, politics, plutocracy, human nature, etc.

    But maybe we’re playing a semantic game here :)

  137. Bruceon 31 Jul 2014 at 4:34 am

    jsterritt,

    “Our system of wealth favors the wealthy”

    You need money to make money. It is much easier to start with $1,000,000 if you want to make $100 than it is to start with $1 and make $100. It is not impossible, the system just favours whoever has the most money.

    “Those rules are skewed dramatically in favor of the advantaged, are exploited and sometimes violated by the advantaged.”

    Most definitely true, but I would never admit this within earshot of a libertarian as they would jump on it in completely the wrong way.

    Back to the kill-your-customer trope; it is always really funny for me to hear people rabbit on about how Big Whatever is killing us as one of the biggest challenges in the work I do is that people are living longer… well beyond 65 years and retirement. It is not just the pensions that is under strain but the health and social care systems in the UK that are having a huge influx of new service users and not as many leaving (read: dying) on the other side. It is costing the goverment millions and we really are only at the beginning of this trend; projections for 20, 30, 50 years time are scary!

  138. ZooPraxison 31 Jul 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks. I guess it’s a semantic game but language enables understanding, and I am sincerely trying to understand. As a total side note, I read that the commonly used fact that life expectancies were so low in previous generations is actually a misunderstanding of statistics. In actuality, I read, adults live to about the same age but the infant mortality rate is what has changed.

  139. jsterritton 31 Jul 2014 at 1:45 pm

    @Bruce

    “projections for 20, 30, 50 years time are scary!”

    So what you’re saying is that grand conspirators need to step up their game, and fast?

    Or that there exists a grand conspiracy to keep the grand conspirators from killing us quickly and effectively enough?

    [End sarcasm.]

    The people I hear railing against shadowy conspiracies to harm and kill us all with “endocrine disruptors” and GMOs and vaccines, etc also happen to be the most privileged and advantaged people I know; people who will probably live to be 120 (if they don’t murder themselves and their families with raw milk, that is). I used to think that maybe they just had nothing else to complain about, so they invented and magnified threats for entertainment or to give themselves a sense of purpose, no matter how misguided. Now I have to consider that they may just be looking for ways to while away their vast remaining life spans.

  140. jsterritton 31 Jul 2014 at 2:28 pm

    @Mlema

    “That PLOS paper is one of the most twisted pieces of reasoning I’ve seen in a long time. It makes me want to pull my hair out. I see why Kloor didn’t provide a link to that paper.”

    This is an astonishing act of specious jiu-jitsu and (il)logical contortionism. You have done nothing less than make the claim that Keith Kloor chose not to include a link to a paper in his article, because he agrees with you and likewise finds the paper to be BS. Kloor’s article contains no links to any papers or sources, as you yourself lament in your comments above. Rather, this is how Kloor devilishly obscures his sources:

    “A 2013 study in PLOS ONE found that in India “the adoption of GM cotton has significantly improved calorie consumption and dietary quality, resulting from increased family incomes.””

    That’s the quote I provided you with eons ago. Now, here’s you, in chronological order, on tracking down such elusive quarry:

    “I’ve actually spent time trying to locate the papers myself and can’t.”

    “I even tried to find the papers myself.”

    “I can’t find the original sources of his quotes.”

    “Well, I didn’t look for those papers, so I guess you spent more time locating them than I did.”

    I know you’ll wriggle out of this somehow — can’t hardly wait.

  141. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Bruce: “It is costing the government millions and we really are only at the beginning of this trend; projections for 20, 30, 50 years time are scary!”

    in the US it may be that the younger you are, the shorter your life expectancy (according to this study in The New England Journal of Medicine).

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr043743#t=article

    Many factors influence life expectancy. in the US, obesity appears to be a key factor.

  142. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 3:48 pm

    jsterritt, here’s your first comment on this page:

    “The scientific consensus on GMO safety is overwhelming and even the anti-GMOers know it (of course, they still deny it, but that only goes so far). So the tools remaining in the toolbox are the usual suspects: conspiracy, cherry-picking, special pleading, and propaganda. Trumping even the naturalistic fallacy in its appeal is distrust of institutions (in this case, Big Agra). The anti-GMOers have been very successful in conflating the specter of nefarious business practices with food safety. Since the motives of a for-profit corporation are by definition not altruistic and good, they must be selfish and bad. Hop, skip, jump to evil. Monsanto is evil. So evil, in fact, that they are conspiring to force us all to become their customers, in order to kill us (the ultimate business model). Because evil.

    The Indian farmer myth is a perfect example of post-consensus propaganda. This spurious story about Indian farmers reduced to penury and suicide by Big Agra says nothing about food safety. If GMOs are so bad for our health, why not invent stories about negative health consequences of GMOs? Why trade on fears about economic hegemony instead? Because the science is in. Séralini doesn’t fly anymore. Anti-GMOers lost the debate about food safety on the level playing field of science. So anti-GMOers moved the debate and changed its substance, making the fight about consumer rights and bogeymen. After all, fear mongering doesn’t require facts and conspiracy thinking exists in spite of logic and reason. So instead of food or environmental safety, the fight is now over straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks on corporations and their “shills.” This is not a bad strategy as it demoralizes the pro-science, pro-GMO camp: defending for-profit corporations is a far cry from standing up for good science and promising technology. But Adams has so grossly overreached that he has potentially ruined this strategy for the anti-GMOers. He went “full Hitler” and pulled back the curtain on just how crazy the anti-GMO arguments are.”

    It’s a well-written and persuasive opinion on a large number of different topics/issues. But no scientific substance. If you want to pick one topic to reasonably discuss, I’m happy to do that with you. You’ve already linked to a number of sources you feel support your opinion that: “The Indian farmer myth is a perfect example of post-consensus propaganda. This spurious story about Indian farmers reduced to penury and suicide by Big Agra says nothing about food safety.”

    Do you want to reword that at all, or just talk about the Indian farmer suicides and not the safety issues too? Whatever you like. But since my posts explained what I thought about some of these issues I’d like the same from you to begin with. Or of course, if you just want to go with the one I chose, that’s fine too. Also, you’re welcome to address what I said on the issues and show how any links you’ve provided, or wish to provide, refute my statements.

    There is so much here that it would take volumes to really dig into all of it. So, you’ve offered your thoughts/beliefs as to what is true/accurate with regard to a number of things. I’ll offer a more general opinion on GMOs like you did to start things off: The following dichotomy is false: ‘we can’t feed the future without transgenic crops vs. Frankenfoods and Monsanto. The science lies in between and requires thoughtful consideration of all kinds of publications to be sorted out.

    I don’t expect you to respond to my general statement, because it would require too much disussion, just like I haven’t responded to your general statement for the same reason. What I’m asking you to do, if you want to, is pick an issue within this giant issue of GMOs for us to discuss.

    So, if you’re really interested, let me know.

  143. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 3:53 pm

    whoops! left out the “evil” part!

    False dichotomy: we cannot feed the future without transgenic food crops vs. Monsanto is evil and Frankenfoods

  144. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 3:53 pm

    :)

  145. jsterritton 31 Jul 2014 at 4:45 pm

    @Mlema

    You have time and again rejected credentialed, rigorous, peer-reviewed, replicated, high-impact factor research in support of GMO safety, because you didn’t care for the wording, or couldn’t go to the trouble of clicking links — let alone doing your own research. You rejected a list of industry-free, independent research that Dr Novella linked to in his blog post, because you didn’t care for that particular (industry-free, independent) website. You rejected a lengthy list of statements from “organizations that support the scientific consensus on GMOs” — literally the world’s top experts in food and environmental safety doing their jobs as scientists and regulators with mountains of the best science there is. You dismissed the existing scientific consensus on GMOs by rejecting the idea that science can even evaluate safety (“a statement like ‘GMOs are safe’ is not scientific”).

    On all issues, you pretend that you cannot find the material being discussed and excuse yourself from discussing it. You demand sources and links and then simply refuse to accept them. Why would I or anyone expect anything different from you on any topic? And why would anyone wish to revisit the topic of GMO safety with you? Many here have tried already to discuss this with you. They have suffered your prevarication and disingenuousness with tremendous patience and grace, which you repay with further prevarication and disingenuousness. Well, whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.

    You have demonstrated that you are a writer, but that you don’t care to read what others have written. That you have an ideology is clear. That it is impervious to evidence, reasoned debate, and even science itself is also clear. In other words, you have demonstrated either that you are not interested in having an actual discussion, or are incapable of having one. Certainly the latter, maybe both.

  146. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 10:22 pm

    ok. I’ll take that as a no. Thanks and have a good evening, or night or whatever.

  147. grabulaon 31 Jul 2014 at 11:01 pm

    @jsteritt/ZooPraxis

    “Our system of wealth favors the wealthy; it is a known advantage. I wouldn’t say this is fair or unfair, but certainly it is easier for the advantaged to further their interests than it is for the disadvantaged.”

    Exactly. There’s also nothing really stopping you or I from becoming one of those who are rich and powerful, we just need to work hard to get there – as many have done. The implication in some cases is that the rich and powerful are holding us back when in actuality they could care less whether you succeed or not. They’re efforts are firmly entrenched in protecting what they own as any one is prone to do. Some see this is conspiratorial, I see it as human nature.

    “I read, adults live to about the same age but the infant mortality rate is what has changed.”

    This is only partially true. It’s not just about infant mortality but mortality rates in general For example, death from infections related to dental issues used to be way up. These days it’s extremely rare for someone in a modern country to die from dental related issues, thanks to penicillin and other treatments. It’s true a human being could have and probably did live into their 80’s and 90’s but most died in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. We haven’t discovered a fountain of youth allowing us to live beyond our years but we have figured out how to get past many of the hurdles that used to stop us from reaching those ripe old ages.

  148. grabulaon 31 Jul 2014 at 11:12 pm

    @mlema

    “It’s a well-written and persuasive opinion on a large number of different topics/issues. But no scientific substance. If you want to pick one topic to reasonably discuss, I’m happy to do that with you.”

    Stop being so disingenuous mlema, you’re not interested in reasonable discussion – you bailed on mine when I cornered you on your inconsistencies and here you deny scientific consensus as if that’s all that’s needed to win your argument.

    “Do you want to reword that at all, or just talk about the Indian farmer suicides and not the safety issues too?”

    Again mlema, you can’t have your cake and eat it to my friend. IS the indian farmer suicide myth connected to the safety issues of BT cotton or not? Your stubborn refusal to stick to one line of argument is getting ridiculous.

    “ok. I’ll take that as a no. Thanks and have a good evening, or night or whatever.”

    You’re a coward mlema. As soon as the argument moves in a direction you don’t like, you quit. And yet you show up time and time again in these discussions expecting us to take you seriously? Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

  149. ZooPraxison 31 Jul 2014 at 11:17 pm

    @grabula This probably isn’t the place for it but I have to object to the quasi-liberatarian notion that anyone, as long as they pick themselves up by their bootstraps can succeed in the United States. To say this, and to diminish the often times paralyzing effects of poverty, institutionalized racism and sexism, and lack of a support system is not what I would expect from skeptics who weigh all the issues. “Well, Jay-Z was born poor and look how well he did,” does not cut it. The myriad obstacles in the way of underprivileged people as opposed to, say, a suburban white male who went to even a fairly low rent private school and whose parents are middle to upper class–are often insurmountable. Furthermore, the sad fact is that often hard work does not get you there. I was recently listening to an MIT professor talking about a program that was in place to bring in more people of color into the school. The leaders of the program though found that the top kids from urban schools where the majority was black and latino STILL could not compete with the education that had been afforded to white kids from even middle tier private schools. And by all measures, these kids of color were busting their asses. The “Hey, there’s nothing STOPPING YOU though” attitude–just because these kids aren’t chained to farming equipment–is cynical and inhumane.

  150. grabulaon 31 Jul 2014 at 11:47 pm

    @zoopraxis

    “To say this, and to diminish the often times paralyzing effects of poverty, institutionalized racism and sexism, and lack of a support system is not what I would expect from skeptics who weigh all the issues.”

    You’re missing the point, and your Jay-Z reference makes my case. It IS possible for anyone to make it. I don’t disagree there might be hurdles in the way. I don’t agree those hurdles are put there on purpose – I don’t personally believe most people are capable of succeeding and pushing themselves into the top 1%. Dismissing those born into it for obvious reasons, the rest put a lot of hard work, and probably some talent into getting to where they are.

    “And by all measures, these kids of color were busting their asses.”

    I know several who have, and are doing very well for themselves, especially compared to their origins.

  151. Mlemaon 31 Jul 2014 at 11:56 pm

    grabula,
    ‘Are the Indian farmer suicides connected to the safety issues of BT cotton or not?’

    No, they’re not.

    Here’s something I just came across:
    http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/10/1/16

    tell me how you think it reflects on the first Lancet paper and how the info relates to bt cotton farmers in India:
    http://www.cghr.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Suicide-Lancet.pdf

    But, only if you want to and if you think we can talk about it without fighting. I don’t want to fight about the suicides anymore. I know it’s a cop out but it’s starting to feel bad. I’m sorry because I know you still have questions or accusations or whatever. But if you want to fight about GMO safety, we can do that. Here’s an older post from Dr. Novella that scratches the surface a bit. Maybe if you have some time you can read it and the comments and tell me your thoughts:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-gmo-controversy/

    I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed you by not engaging as long as you wanted me to on certain topics/questions. Perhaps if you call me a coward again I’ll be motivated again like I was this time.

  152. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 12:32 am

    @mlema

    “No, they’re not.”

    So you’ve changed your mind?

    “It’s Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh which can’t be ruled out as districts where suicides were affected by the bt cotton phenomenon, according to your 2008 IFPRI paper.”

    “I’m saying that, even as was shown in the 2008 paper, bt cotton may very well have played a role in certain districts.”

    ” I’m sorry because I know you still have questions or accusations or whatever.”

    I’m just trying to get you to settle on one side or another of these issues mlema. If you can’t keep a consistent narrative, how are we supposed to be able to discuss anything?

    I stand by my accusation mlema. The minute we corner you on an issue you bail. If we don’t fall for your goalpost moving or you gish gallop, you bail. It sounds to me like you need to release your dogma for a while and try to get a consistent picture of what you really believe.

  153. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 12:41 am

    I agree with grabula on the issue of “making it”. I would argue that it’s just as difficult for a white male born to abject poverty to push out of it and become successful as it is for, well, anyone else. One could even argue that it’s more difficult for that person considering he doesn’t have the institutional support other groups enjoy. I just don’t buy it that “sexism” and “racism” are institutionalized these days as is claimed. It’s merely a matter of haves and have nots. As it was pointed out earlier, it’s far easier for a person with $100,000 to raise $1,000,000 than it is for a person with $10 to raise $100.

    What makes the top 1% 1% is the fact that most people don’t put in the work, don’t have the necessary resources, or don’t have the talent to make it. It seems that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck. I recall a friend of mine who was an attorney who worked 120 hours weeks. She made a tremendous amount of money and though she was a few years younger than me, was far more successful than I was. It’s because she worked really hard all the time. Me, I did well enough but I just wasn’t willing to put in that kind of work – for me, making money wasn’t worth all that time and stress. It’s not that she was any smarter than me, she was just more willing to put the necessary time into law school and her job.

  154. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 12:45 am

    I’ve been where you guys are with Mlema, around and around. Like with many ideologues, it’s dogma we’re dealing with, not rational discourse based on skeptical inquiry and solid evidence.

    In regards to the Indian suicides, we can comfortably conclude at this point that GMOs had nothing to do with it, nor any business practices of Monsanto. Indian farmers continue to use GE cotton because they work well and provide superior resistance to root worms than their non-GE counterparts, hence greater yields than they would otherwise receive.

  155. Mlemaon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:00 am

    grabula,
    again, my apologies. When you said ‘Are the Indian farmer suicides connected to the safety issues of BT cotton or not?’ I thought you meant did some unsafe aspect of bt cotton cause farmers to kill themselves. There’s no way that any safety issue with bt cotton (which would have to be environmental) would cause a suicide. The situation is very complicated and there’s no one single cause.

    The IFPRI (the paper Dr. Novella linked to in his post on Indian farmer suicides) includes in its report:
    “What we cannot reject, however, is the potential role of Bt cotton varieties in the observed discrete increase in farmer suicides in certain states and years, especially during the peak of 2004 in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.” and also says:
    “To sum up, even if there is no robust quantitative data that links Bt cotton adoption to farmer suicides in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, available evidence shows that, in the face of low rainfall, low output prices, inadequate institutional context, and inadequate information, cotton in general and Bt cotton in particular [and I would add inferior varieties at introduction] could have contributed to lower farm revenues, increasing indebtedness, and therefore indirectly to some possible cases of farmer suicides during the peak suicide years of 2002 and 2004. However, our findings are much more consistent for Andhra Pradesh than for Maharashtra.”
    which would support the conclusions drawn by this paper:
    bt cotton in Andhra Pradesh
    http://ddsindia.com/www/PDF/BT_Cotton_-_A_three_year_report.pdf
    (one of the papers I linked to early on)

    here’s the link to the post from Dr. Novella:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/gmo-and-indian-farmer-suicide/

    Also within that post is the paper from Ian Plewis that you asked me about. I don’t value the Plewis paper because i think the stats it uses on cotton yields are skewed. There are better sources.

  156. Mlemaon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:02 am

    here’s a direct link to the IFPRI paper:

    http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/ifpridp00808.pdf

  157. ZooPraxison 01 Aug 2014 at 1:21 am

    “One could even argue that it’s more difficult for that person [white] considering he doesn’t have the institutional support other groups enjoy.”
    Yeah, and the ‘one’ who argues that would find life very comfortable in the John Birch society, Fox News, The Ku Klux Klan and other places where willful ignorance runs rampant.
    I never thought on Novella’s blog that I would run into what that Skepchick woman and so many others have warned everyone about for so long: Here, as everywhere: white men really don’t get it.

  158. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:41 am

    rezistnzisfutl, I have to disagree. There are significant inequities across every facet of society. Sex and race are, unfortunately, reliable demarcation lines for these inequalities. Class mobility is an important and meaningful measure, but it is inaccurate to characterize any aspect of society as being more or less equal… Or even somehow less equal for whites.

  159. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:42 am

    Here is the context of the first quotation:

    To sum up, based on these simple insights, we can already dismiss the possibility of Bt cotton being a necessary or sufficient condition for farmer suicides (confirming hypothesis 2b). It is evident that a high number of farmer suicides occurred much before Bt cotton was introduced and that the introduction of Bt cotton did not result in a clear leap in farmer suicides in India. 8 What we cannot reject, however, is the potential role of Bt cotton varieties in the observed discrete increase in farmer suicides in certain states and years, especially during the peak of 2004 in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

    When we look at the quote in the proper context, they don’t completely rule it out because they’re being intellectually honest. Reading the following sections elucidates their points further

    In effect, the evidence shows that Bt cotton was not always effective in these two states, particularly during the first few years, for many reasons, including the use of inadequate varieties and the high price of seeds. Institutional factors may have played a role, but it is difficult to conceive that they would have been markedly different in one season compared with other seasons. In contrast, climatic and economic factors, which are naturally more seasonal, could ha ve contributed to lower yields or crop failure and therefore negative net revenues in these particular years.

    It’s known that many of the farmers took it upon themselves to re-engineer seeds for themselves, often creating inferior quality seeds. Currently, there is a thriving black market of GE seeds because they don’t want to pay the relatively high prices, but enjoy the greater yields.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxpypapQeDk

    (I realize this is a YT video, the same that I posted earlier, but it’s from an academic source and he has many primary citations within his presentation. It’s a better explanation of the situation that Mlema is able to give here).

    Further reading down, the authors attribute the most likely scenarios as unfavorable weather conditions for the year, low market prices for crops, and higher levels of resulting indebtedness as the more likely contributors to farmer suicides. This is unfortunately pretty much business as usual. They concede that if Bt cotton had any (subtle) role in suicides, it’s through improper use and the utilization of inferior seeds gained through illicit means.

    The ddsindia article? I skimmed through it and stopped when I noted several misspellings, the phrase “most famous apologists for Genetic Engineering”, and “…not waste its resources on the false dreams of unsustainable GM technology”, it’s easy to dismiss as an ideologically driven opinion piece put together by anti-GMO activists who wholly reject anything GM no matter what.

    This is about as far as I’m willing to go into this discussion. As per usual, we get substandard source material as evidence. This is why we, as skeptics, reject Mlema’s arguments. I’m not sure why it’s not understood why we won’t accept low standards of evidence.

    For me, I’ve gone around enough with Mlema to know exactly what to expect. This latest foray only confirms it with me. Like with Mercola an Natural News, I can comfortably dismiss most of what Mlema says because of the history of bad argumentation and low quality evidence presented, and considering how long we’ve been at this, I don’t see that ever changing, because of the dogma.

  160. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:45 am

    @rez

    “What makes the top 1% 1% is the fact that most people don’t put in the work, don’t have the necessary resources, or don’t have the talent to make it. It seems that sometimes it’s just a matter of luck.”

    I think it’s the hard work many people can’t swallow. Not because it’s not true, I think it’s more true than most want to admit. I don’t know anyone who was born into money, I do however know a handful of people who worked and are now in a much more comfortable place. My grandfather started out working a farm in a poor area of the country, when he dies he was a multi millionaire, because he put work into it. If it matters to anyone, he was not white.

    Ultimately I think it’s easier to believe we just can’t get out of the pit of despair we believe ourselves to be in, that someone is holding us back, than to believe that if we just applied ourselves and busted our butts for a couple of decades we might get somewhere.

  161. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:49 am

    Wow, zoopraxis, that’s pretty sexist/racist language. My gender and skin color really have nothing to do with my argument, and bringing it up as a negative is the very definition of both. How would it be taken if someone here said “Asian women just don’t get it” or “Black men just don’t get it”. Why is “white men just don’t get it” somehow get a pass on the sexist/racist front? We’re all equals, let’s treat each other like equals and keep the epithets non-existent.

    You also assume an awful lot about any affiliations I have. I’m not sure how you can even tease out why my gender or race is from any of my posts. I typically try to keep them ideologically free and stay neutral on such topics.

    TDGB, can’t say I agree with this statement “There are significant inequities across every facet of society. Sex and race are, unfortunately, reliable demarcation lines for these inequalities.” Sorry, but no. What I do agree with is that there are inequities regarding haves and have nots.

  162. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 1:59 am

    @ZooPraxis

    “I never thought on Novella’s blog that I would run into what that Skepchick woman and so many others have warned everyone about for so long: Here, as everywhere: white men really don’t get it.”

    I realize you’re new here, so I’m going to give you a little latitude. First of all, I’m only half white and the dichotomy you’re trying to foist here is rapidly disappearing. In fact, it still a racist attitude to lay societies burdens completely on white men especially in this day and age. If you can’t see that then the conversation has come to end. You can, like a good skeptic, keep an open mind to possibilities, or you can, like you see others doing, come here with your dogmatic view on whatever your sacred cow is (white oppression of everyone else) and blow. You’ve come to a decision point here zoopraxis. You can continue and choose to be taken seriously, or you can go back to whatever hive of scum and villainy keeps you warm when all your anger rises to the top.

  163. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 2:00 am

    @rez

    ” it’s easy to dismiss as an ideologically driven opinion piece put together by anti-GMO activists who wholly reject anything GM no matter what.”

    Yep, again Mlema refers us to a bias news source. I took a look at the ‘about us’ and a few more sections of the web site and was not surprised. I’m not sure why it’s so hard to just stick to scientific sources.

  164. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 2:04 am

    @rez/Zoopraxis

    ” I’m not sure how you can even tease out why my gender or race is from any of my posts.”

    This. Assuming always get’s you in trouble around here.

  165. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 2:29 am

    Grabula,

    I’m not sure if you were around for it then, but in early 2013 there was a big rigamarole about this when PZ Myers accused Dr. Novella of some things (around the same time that A+ became a thing), and there was a big standoff between many members of Free Thought Blogs, et al., and other people. It got pretty ugly as you can imagine. I realize that there are some folks here who run pretty far in the political spectrum, I just hope that we are able to keep actual skeptical inquiry at the forefront. As intense as that got, I’m in no hurry to relive it. Also, personally I like how Neurologica and SBM have stuck so well to the subject matter and have not let ideology creep into it.

  166. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 2:41 am

    @rez

    I missed it then and try to stay out of it now but my take on the whole thing is this, 1 – PZ Myers is a chode, on a lot of levels and has no credibility with me anyway.

    A+ is the ridiculous but inevitable result of some peoples persecution complexes – I think Free Thoughts Blog provides enough evidence for that.

    I stay out of it, it’s mostly a lot of angry bees buzzing and accomplishes nothing but dividing a community. Honestly I think quite a bit of it is just drama by drama kings and queens and has no real substance. If ZooPraxis is part of that crowd he or she can find another place to spout that crap as far as I’m concerned.

  167. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 3:09 am

    I’m with you on all of that. Thing is, I think there are a lot of members here that sympathize more with that crowd than with us. For me, there is a place and time for that kind of conversation and I come here to get away from it. That’s why I usually don’t press the issue when it comes up and try to change the subject. However, I also don’t like being unfairly impugned, or for any group for that matter to be unfairly impugned. Kind of hard to know where to draw the line sometimes.

  168. Mlemaon 01 Aug 2014 at 3:26 am

    Rez: “In regards to the Indian suicides, we can comfortably conclude at this point that GMOs had nothing to do with it, nor any business practices of Monsanto. Indian farmers continue to use GE cotton because they work well and provide superior resistance to root worms than their non-GE counterparts, hence greater yields than they would otherwise receive.”

    I don’t claim to know “the truth” about this situation, and of course it’s wrong to say that bt cotton in India is causing mass suicide. But it’s also wrong to say that GMOs play no role of any kind or that Monsanto didn’t do everything it could to take over the cotton seed market in India. There have been all kinds of problems with bt cotton, and all kinds of expenses farmers were promised they wouldn’t have. The IFPRI paper is an analysis of the situation which leaves out the actual real-world events and what happens in the field. What I’ve attempted to show is that even a paper removed from the events finds evidence that bt cotton came into play. I suggest you read the paper, study the graphic on page 39, and consider what might affect statistics skewed by officials who arbitrarily chose not to report suicides when they decide it might be politically or economically disadvantageous.
    you can flesh out the graphic by adding to the appropriate categories already there:
    the high cost of bt varieties
    inadequate varieties (only a few poor quality hybrids to start)
    high pest pressure (early resistance, failure of trait, or sucking pests)
    high chemical inputs (on top of high cost of seeds)
    no support from manufacturer
    lack of diversified system in moving cash crops
    no bolls, low bolls, dropped bolls
    varieties inappropriate for rain fed areas but sold to farmers in rain fed areas

    It’s important to keep in mind that this smaller sphere of cause and effect was occurring inside a larger sphere of unregulated markets, lending, and entry into competition against product from countries that subsidize their cotton, like the US. If these crops had failed in this way in the US, there would have been insurance and other compensation.

    It’s really crass to use the phrase “we can comfortably conclude that GMOs had nothing to do with it, nor any business practices of Monsanto.” when Monsanto utilized deceptive advertising to promote its products.

    Also, there’s a sort of ethical question here for me. If the Indian farmers had hundred of varieties available at very low to no cost, and Monsanto used that genetic bank to develop all the varieties it now patents, how can it justify restricting use of its seeds? Monsanto didn’t invent cotton, but now it owns almost all the cotton seed in India. And for what? The first generation has failed (it happened early on but wasn’t acknowledged until Monsanto had its next generation ready to sell). Monsanto set out to take over cotton in India. They’ve done it and the farmers are worse off than ever. Yields continue to fall and suicides are still high. The connection isn’t direct (I must repeat that again and again so the people whose eyes only pick up things they can claim are ideological) But even if there were no suicides at all, how has bt cotton been good for India? Older hybrids were stronger and more naturally resistant to disease and therefore infestation. Now the farmers in India are moving even faster on the treadmill of pesticide – resistance – pesticide – resistance, or are leaving agriculture.

    It’s important to deconstruct the argument that bt cotton has caused farmer’s suicides in India. I think that the causes are multifarious, with indebtedness being chief among them. However, you can’t rule out bt cotton as both a symptom of, and contributor to, the context in which farmers found themselves so desperate that suicide seemed the only way out. Namely, money problems due to the increased cost of inputs and lower yields, along with a host of other problems and bigger forces like lack of supportive national policy and entry into global markets without regulation.

    “Indian farmers continue to use GE cotton because they work well and provide superior resistance to root worms than their non-GE counterparts, hence greater yields than they would otherwise receive.”

    The farmers buy the bt because it’s hard to get anything else now. And the yields are falling. Please tell me why you’re saying what you’re saying. I really think it’s not accurate.

    “It’s known that many of the farmers took it upon themselves to re-engineer seeds for themselves, often creating inferior quality seeds.”

    That’s an industry lie – propagated to try to shift the blame from inferior early commercial varieties and put it on the farmers. Monsanto failed to engineer adequate amounts and types of bt toxin to be effective.
    http://fieldquestions.com/2013/02/09/bt-cotton-is-failing-blame-the-farmers/

    If you expect me to swallow the stuff from Ron Herring, a political guy who advises the industry lobby group “Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education”, and whose raison d’etre is to break into India’s food production, then you can put up with some theatrics from the humble Andhra Pradesh paper – from real farmers and the researchers who work with them.

    I’m absolutely sure I don’t know what the whole truth is here. If you’re “comfortable” with dismissing all the doubts that I think any reasonable person should have about whether or not bt cotton has been an unmitigated success in India, bully for you. Some people need absolutes but I don’t think that’s the way life is.

  169. Mlemaon 01 Aug 2014 at 3:27 am

    grabula is now the police force on neurologica. If you can’t keep an open mind then shut your mouth LOL!!!

  170. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 3:41 am

    @mlema

    “grabula is now the police force on neurologica. If you can’t keep an open mind then shut your mouth LOL!!!”

    You’ve got a hard time figuring out what an open mind means don’t you mlema?

  171. grabulaon 01 Aug 2014 at 3:45 am

    @mlema

    ” But it’s also wrong to say that GMOs play no role of any kind or that Monsanto didn’t do everything it could to take over the cotton seed market in India”

    The first is speculation, the second is business.

    “However, you can’t rule out bt cotton as both a symptom of, and contributor to, the context in which farmers found themselves so desperate that suicide seemed the only way ”

    Except that the percentage didn’t go up with the introduction of BT Cotton, but it’d be a stretch to expect you to read anything given to you.

    ” I really think it’s not accurate.”

    That’s where you go wrong Mlema…you ‘think’. Stop feeding your bias and bother reading some unbiased sources for a change.

    “I’m absolutely sure I don’t know what the whole truth is here”

    Seems we can all agree on something.

  172. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 5:12 am

    ” But it’s also wrong to say that GMOs play no role of any kind or that Monsanto didn’t do everything it could to take over the cotton seed market in India”

    Switching the burden of proof and demand proof of a negative. Just like your constant moving the goalposts in your “there are no long term studies of safety” gambit. May as well add “you can’t prove there is no God” or “you can’t prove there wasn’t a second shooter near the grassy knoll”. You can’t prove that there is no invisible pink dragon in my garage. Until there’s evidence, I will not make any conclusion of the sort. What you’re offering is a conspiracy theory.

    Again, the only reason the investigators weren’t willing to rule out any contributing factor was because it would be intellectually dishonest to do so – the possibility exists. ANY use of ANY crop will have its own set of risks, no matter what you do. You can over-irrigate some crops but not others. you can provide too much of certain nutrients to some crops but it would be too little for others. If someone improperly applies methods and techniques to ANY given crop, they will fail, or at best receive mediocre results. Cotton will have its own set of risks. Bananas will have its own set of risks. They’ll each have their particular pests and requirements that will have to be dealt with in their own way. So, it could be just as easily claimed that a banana farmer who has a bad harvest because of improper pest control or nutrient requirements, that the bananas were to blame, bananas are evil, bananas cause financial ruination and suicides of the farmers! (keeping in mind that suicide is a completely willing conscious act and no one or nothing is MAKING the farmer commit suicide, not to belittle what suffering they may be going through).

    Even different cultivars of the same plant can have vastly different requirements. If someone tries to grow Early Girl tomatoes like they do Beef Tomatoes, they’ll likely run into some issues. Is it the tomato’s fault that the farmer didn’t know what they were doing?

    Then you can blame Monsanto for not informing their customers well enough. Hogwash. Monsanto has very explicit instructions regarding their products, just like anyone else – they want the farmer to succeed so that they’ll come back to them year after year. One issue some India farmers have had is that they wanted the capabilities of the GE cotton without having to pay the price for legitimate Monsanto seeds, so they took it upon themselves to try to make their own. THAT may have had some impact on some of the suicides, if their crops failed to live up to expectations because they didn’t know what they were doing.

    It would be like some neophyte trying to make AA batteries in the garage and having them blow up on him. Is it Duracell’s fault for that? No, there is no evidence that Monsanto is somehow complicit in any India farmer suicides.

    So, is is possible that some farmers may have committed suicides due to Bt crops? Sure. The burden of proof is on you, the claimant suggesting that they did. I would concede, like the study authors, that Bt cotton may have been involved in some way, but ultimately they weren’t responsible, nor was Monsanto.

  173. Steven Novellaon 01 Aug 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Mlema – the indian farmer suicide narrative was never based on evidence. It is entirely fabricated for ideological reasons.

    Farmer suicide in India is lower than the general population.
    It was rising in the 1990s, but less than the population, so as a percentage it was not rising.
    Most of the increase occured from 1995-2002. Bt Cotton was introduced in 2002. Since then suicides among Indian farmers have not been increasing.

    Bt cotton has not failed. It is hugely successful and popular. It has increased overall cotton production in India, reduced pesticide use, and increased profits for farmers. That’s why they use it.

    Bt cotton use does not correlate with suicides. Suicides correlate with poor infrastucture, lack of irrigation, lack of subsidies, and predatory lending. Not Bt cotton.

    Crop failures correlate with lack of irrigation and dependence on the Monsoon rains, which are unpredictable. They also have been caused by fake GM cotton, which was not Bt but the farmers were told that it was.

    So there is literally nothing to the GMO-Indian suicide myth. All the evidence is against it.

    The fact that you are trying to cling to this narrative, with some shred of a justification, to me indicates ideology trumping logic and evidence.

    source: http://issues.org/30-2/keith/

  174. ZooPraxison 01 Aug 2014 at 3:17 pm

    LOL. Oh. MY. GOD. I cannot wait to send along the screenshot of these comments.
    “Hey, Newbie. Let us tell you the rules.”
    “Actually, a lot of folks believe the system is skewed to favor people of color!”
    “Hey, while we’re mocking everyone else for using anecdotes to support their beliefs, let me tell you about this one poor black guy I know who made it.”

    So, very, very sad. I wish this forum had real-life avatars so that I could see all the dinosaurs here making comments. Something tells me it would look very, very much like a South Florida golf club.

    Fortunately, there plenty of feminist skeptic groups that have very progressive viewpoints, and they are going to love these comments…

  175. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Hey ZooPraxis, I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape just yet, i.e. I would reserve judgement until some more comments come in. I haven’t had time to catch up in these comments, but I’ve already voiced my dissenting opinion to rez’s. I have much more to say on the matter, as I’ve just finished a research paper in this area (the evidence is in your favor btw).

    Just hang on a tick before going full-skepchick/pharangula-commenter.

  176. SteveAon 01 Aug 2014 at 4:15 pm

    ZooPraxison:
    “LOL. Oh. MY. GOD. I cannot wait to send along the screenshot of these comments.
    “Hey, Newbie. Let us tell you the rules.”
    “Actually, a lot of folks believe the system is skewed to favor people of color!”
    “Hey, while we’re mocking everyone else for using anecdotes to support their beliefs, let me tell you about this one poor black guy I know who made it.””

    When you get around to sending out the screenshots please don’t forget to mention that you wrote these comments yourself.

  177. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 4:58 pm

    gabula said;

    “I stay out of it, it’s mostly a lot of angry bees buzzing and accomplishes nothing but dividing a community. Honestly I think quite a bit of it is just drama by drama kings and queens and has no real substance. If ZooPraxis is part of that crowd he or she can find another place to spout that crap as far as I’m concerned.”

    Speaking as a social issue type liberal in academia (that’s last bit isn’t relevant, but neither is the other stuff before it), the only issue I take with the above is bold-ed…

    I have a pet peeve with fellow commenters discussing atheism or skepticism as some sort of “movement”, or speaking of the supposed “divisive” issues in this “movement”, or of the great dividers creating these “divisions” in “the movement”… Just as you think “A+” is lame, I think discussing herds of cats as a “movement” is lame. Just a pet peeve I have. It gets tiresome. We’re just random people in comments sections, not much of a “movement”… I don’t know why, perhaps It’s the implication of percieved grandioseness of it all, as if we’re components that matter much, you know… In a “movement” that basically doesn’t matter in the world.

    Speaking of “A+” (as an above mentioned academic commie liberal), I think the whole thing is as lame as Dawkin’s attempt to brand the “Brights”. A+, imo, is a brand facepalm. I am a fan of pointing out to people that it is possible to be of two minds on things, and in this case… I don’t know what I’m getting at- personally, I don’t really care one way or the other about incorporating one kind advocacy into other advocacies of different things. But my opinions really don’t matter.

    This is my long-winded way of saying I agree (angry bees, see below) and also disagree with some of the points you’ve made.

    Once upon a time, on Skepchick, someone really went after me, dogged me over a series of days. She cut me pretty deep/burnt me pretty bad because she had misread something I had written… I was actually writing in defence of Watson (something Rebecca had thanked me for in the skeptologist-skepticblog comments back then), but the whole click turned on me because this one person had misread what I had originally said. And even though a few other people pointed out that the other person was mistaken, it was too late. I don’t know why, but that really got under my skin. I’ve never been back since. That really stung. As a result, I go out of my way to stay out of hot button crap, and I stay the F#@k away from clicks. Even when I’m 100% on their page.

    /semi-pointless story

    It is hard to watch right now; PZ walking this Dawkins/rape tight rope… I feel for him.

  178. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Oh, I forgot ^ “community” and “movement” are interchangeable in my above pet peeve rant, as people often speak of a/the community AND a/the movement interchangeably.

  179. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 5:16 pm

    grabula, FTBs is not your cup of tea, and that’s fine. It is and isn’t necessarily my cup of tea… But at the end of the day, I appreciate the pushback against Bertism. FTBs is the only game in town doing the heavy pushing-back, and there’s value in that (if you’re like me, and have grown weary/disgusted of Penn/Dunning/Shermer for all the obvious reasons, and to say nothing of all the liBertian types that push everyone else out of my local skeptic clubs). I make no apologies about being a PZ fan, but I am no apologist for his incredibly terrible book.

  180. Argument from the fifth gradeon 01 Aug 2014 at 7:41 pm

    This thread went off on a slight tangent on the issue of the 1%, etc, but I do find that topic fascinating. (I don’t really have anything to add to the GMO discussion)

    I totally understand why Steve keeps this blog and his show strictly apolitical. I appreciate that. It’s refreshing. I would be very interested though on his thoughts on something like wealth inequality. Maybe this is something that happens after a few rounds of drinks at an SGU dinner ;)

    I find it challenging to apply skeptical principles to my own political thinking. I think I succeed more than some others. But there is a core of political ideology that isn’t based on evidence at all — it’s basically just emotional.

    I agree with ZooPraxis that it’s a tired trope to say that all you need is hard work to succeed in America. In a way that’s blaming poor people for just not working hard enough. Why don’t they get off their lazy asses? But the other side is also correct to say that *specific* people can make it regardless of their past circumstances. But is that the norm in our society? Obviously just relying on anecdotes one way or the other is not the way to go. The hardest working people I’ve met in my life have been poor and the wealthiest have been lazy and spoiled!

  181. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 8:17 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out how we’ve digressed (was it something Zoo brought up, I’m not seeing what precipitated this… I’m not saying I don’t appreciate the discussion, if Zoo’s still around maybe they’ll actually see the nuance and consideration that often occurs in these comments, before flaming off again)

    To put it simply; research doesn’t support rez’s argument above. There are significant demographically defined inequities. No one likes to hear it, but people within a predominant power structure have the luxury of naval gazing.

    I appreciate that NESS publications, and the SGU, are apolitical… I always perk up when I begin picking on the rouge’s political leanings (now and again). Which makes me appreciate the deliberate apoliticalness all the more.

  182. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 8:42 pm

    This is why I’m not currently responding to this incendiary topic, because I saw what it did a year and a half ago and this isn’t that kind of blog, and I myself prefer it that way. If I wanted to start a flame war, FtB is just a couple clicks away. Personally, I’d prefer to stay on topic. I don’t agree with you TDGB, and I don’t particularly care for the provocation though I understand you’re passionate about this, but I’m not really willing to get into it here. More or less most of us get along pretty well here, and I think in large part it has to do with keeping certain ideological discussions out of it.

    I don’t think I’ve really given enough away in order for anyone to form any conclusions about me, my political leanings, or my thoughts on certain social subjects. But again, there are so many outlets like that out there for people to visit to their hearts content that, for me, this is an oasis from that where we can discuss the actual science and not devolve into hateful flame wars.

  183. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I’m not sure I would characterize my “position” as passionate, rezistnzisfutl. The position I’ve put forward is the consensus opinion. If you’re going to openly speculate about societal inequities to research scientists who might be working in this area, rez, expect feedback.

    Personally, I’d prefer to stay on topic.

    That’s fine. However, you did go off with grabula/jsterritt/ZooPraxis on this. Way off (topic), into areas you recognize as “incendiary”. And so, here we are.

    I don’t agree with you TDGB, and I don’t particularly care for the provocation

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are characterizing what I’ve written as “provocation”. I must take exception to this, because if pointing to what the research indicates is “provocation”… Then, here we are.

    …I think in large part it has to do with keeping certain ideological discussions out of it.

    Indeed. At the risk of making offense as I am taking it, perhaps you should refrain from initiating or participating in such ideological discussions.

    this is an oasis from that where we can discuss the actual science and not devolve into hateful flame wars.

    Ideally.

    Okay, @ZooPraxis… You said (waaaay above):

    @grabula This probably isn’t the place for it but I have to object to the quasi-liberatarian notion that anyone…

    Probably isn’t. There are times when the discussion goes there of its own volition. A lot of people here are on your side. As is the literature. And while poverty is a relevant topic in discussing the relevant urban myths/conspiracy theories (above), this thread wasn’t the place to hoist the anti-bert flag (don’t take this wrong way and go all flamey, because I’m all rah-rah with you, but the discussion taking place wasn’t an opportune time for it). I agree with rez (gasp), or I would if FTBs and I guess everything under the sun weren’t already in play (now). And not to go all tone troll (cough cough rez), but we’re all in at this point (cough cough). (that last one wasn’t a sarcastic cough… or was it… OK, it was…) /that’s all

  184. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Screwed up the tags. Nevermind.

  185. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 10:58 pm

    (Then my OCD kicks in… Let me try that again without the blockquotes)

    I’m not sure I would characterize my “position” as passionate, rezistnzisfutl. The position I’ve put forward is the consensus opinion. If you’re going to openly speculate about societal inequities to research scientists who might be working in this area, rez, expect feedback.

    “Personally, I’d prefer to stay on topic.”

    That’s fine. However, you did go off with grabula/jsterritt/ZooPraxis on this. Way off (topic), into areas you recognize as “incendiary”. And so, here we are.

    “I don’t agree with you TDGB, and I don’t particularly care for the provocation

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are characterizing what I’ve written as “provocation”. I must take exception to this, because if pointing to what the research indicates is “provocation”… Then, here we are.

    “…I think in large part it has to do with keeping certain ideological discussions out of it.”

    Indeed. At the risk of making offense as I am taking it, perhaps you should refrain from initiating or participating in such ideological discussions.

    “this is an oasis from that where we can discuss the actual science and not devolve into hateful flame wars.”

    Ideally.

    Okay, @ZooPraxis… You said (waaaay above):

    “@grabula This probably isn’t the place for it but I have to object to the quasi-liberatarian notion that anyone…”

    Probably isn’t. There are times when the discussion goes there of its own volition. A lot of people here are on your side. As is the literature. And while poverty is a relevant topic in discussing the relevant urban myths/conspiracy theories (above), this thread wasn’t the place to hoist the anti-bert flag (don’t take this wrong way and go all flamey, because I’m all rah-rah with you, but the discussion taking place wasn’t an opportune time for it). I agree with rez (gasp), or I would if FTBs and I guess everything under the sun weren’t already in play (now). And not to go all tone troll (cough cough rez), but we’re all in at this point (cough cough). (that last one wasn’t a sarcastic cough… or was it… OK, it was…) /that’s all

  186. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I realize you’re trying hard to start a socio-political conversation here, but I’m telling you I’m not going to participate. I’ve already gone too far with it before and I’m already regretting it. I still don’t agree with you, I don’t agree that the research supports your pretty clear notions, and I do think you’re being provocative, perhaps even a bit antagonistic, plus from my perspective you’re trying to start a fight. If you want a fight, got to FtB where that’s their bread and butter. If you’d like to chime in about Mike Adams or the recent discussion on the Indian suicide myth, then I’m game. This is why I, for one, have been trying hard to steer the conversation back on topic. This is all I care to say about it.

  187. the devils gummy bearon 01 Aug 2014 at 11:31 pm

    I don’t know what to tell you. You’re projecting or something. It really doesn’t matter if you agree with the literature (or me or anyone) or not, but it this is getting obnoxious; being accused of being antagonistic by someone backpedaling HARD out of their own ideological crap, while accusing others of being disagreeably “ideological”. Didn’t pick a “fight”, rez. If you are above “certain ideological discussions”, then rise above them, instead of inserting your opinions into them. No one made you veer off topic. Now you want to get back on topic- fine. Don’t be a dick.

  188. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2014 at 12:33 am

    You’re the one picking a fight and trying everything you can to turn this into a social justice issue, not me. Yes, I fell into the veering off topic, which you were every bit as complicit in, and checked myself from there. You’re the one who wants to keep pressing forward. And yes, you’re being antagonistic, AND ideological. We all have some degree of ideology, and just because some literature agrees with your position doesn’t necessarily make it correct – anyone can find any literature that agrees with their position. So, take your own advice about being a dick, I’m trying to keep to the topic here, you’re the one apparently itching for a fight. I suggest heading back to FtB if you’re so inclined to get into a social justice flame war.

  189. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 12:41 am

    rez, in the comments above, you made a few factually erroneous statements- your own personal opinions on matters where the research-based science is actually very solid (whether you agree with it or not). If, as you say, discussion of science is relevant to your interests, then it should give you pause when a researcher who works in the area you’ve chosen to expose your thoughts on points out to you that you’re not 100%… But you have, oddly, whipped out a broad “ideological” brush as a response. I can’t force you to be interested in actual evidence in the research-based literature, from what you’ve popped back in to say- flame wars, ideology, provocations, antagonism, etc… This is how you’ve response, so this all of that is squarely on you.

    I’m only going to state this one more time and move on: You stated personal opinions which are demonstrably wrong. If science discussion is, in fact, relevant to your interests, then the relevant science should interest you. Unless, that is, you consider things that don’t jive with your existing positions as being some sort of ideology. At this point, this is likewise all I care to say on the matter.

  190. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2014 at 12:51 am

    If you’re referring to the aforementioned dipping into socio-political discussion, then I do disagree that the research is solid on the subject and squarely against me, as well as that there is actually much in the way of science one way or another on it. Sorry, but you’re wrong.

  191. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 12:58 am

    Really? “I know you are but what am I“? Seriously…

  192. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 1:06 am

    Wow. Okay, I rarely get dumbstruck-stunned by something someone says on the internet… Really? -I know you are but what am I- is… Wow. No, you are actually ass backwards on the science, and you’re digging in now and being stupid. Wow, seriously- blinking dumbly at my screen. I’m just going to leave you right there where you’re doubling down.

    A’ight, TDGB out.

  193. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 6:37 am

    Okay, couldn’t sleep. The last thing rez said got particularly lodged under my skin for science reasons.

    I do disagree that the research is solid on the subject and squarely against me

    It doesn’t matter. Science is science whether you agree with it or not (but it would probably help to have at least some amount of familiarity with the science you’ve wandered into before you decide if it is agreeable or not)…

    …as well as that there is actually much in the way of science one way or another on it.

    *This* is the money shot…

    rez, you are unfamiliar with the science- so put a pin in it. You don’t know, you’ve just said as much. Think it through. I’m being serious here, and I’m going to tone down my frustration with you in order to run through some things (for your benefit). First, there are branches of science that specifically study societal stratification and socioeconomics. Let me repeat this; branches of science. Do you understand this? The variety of specialities in these branches is very large and the amount of research that goes into these fields (daily) is formidable (a ludicrous understatement). The number of journals, solid ones, proper ones in these areas is simply mind-boggling. The amount of sociology that gets published in general science publications is likewise tremendous.

    And this is where you are treading on perilously thin ice. You are not familiar with the science, and instead of approaching it with the inclination of a science-minded person (an inclination which includes at least some amount of awareness of one’s own functioning knowledge of the science at hand- and I really can’t believe I’m having to say this out loud on Neurologica…to anyone but a crank), you are asserting your personal reckoning (while accusing me of being an incendiary provocateur). Where you get into trouble, rez, is on the science…plainly on the science- you have literally been painting yourself into a science denial corner on this matter. It is one thing to openly admit you don’t know much about the research, but is a very different matter when you say the science is (variously) here nor there/not good/or favoring your previous statements, when you do not in fact actually know where the science is.

    You say you are trying to get away from what you are characterizing as an ideology-based dissent, when it is in fact not that at all. You are mischaracterizing my position as “passionate” (you are actually half right- but you don’t appreciate why you are only half right). All of this is where I take umbrage btw, for you’ve wandered into where I work, and yes- I do tend to get fussy…about getting science right, and in this intense, I actually have some idea of what I’m talking about. For you (based on everything you’ve said tonight)- this area is a social issues minefield of ideologies for you, which is understandable.

    You did, however, say:

    “…I do disagree that the research is solid on the subject and squarely against me, as well as that there is actually much in the way of science one way or another on it. Sorry, but you’re wrong.”

    Let’s talk about this.

    I don’t know where you’re coming from, so I’ll tell you what I do; I’m in planning, a speciality in integrated geography (there are maps, but not as many as you’d think). The area of research I work in is internal migration (my dissertation is on the economics of gentrification pressures). My particular area is very specific (housing practices and policies in North American cities), but I have something of a passing familiarity with the fields which overlap mine.

    Stepping back for a minute; I initially premised what I was saying to Zoo with my social issues position, explicitly because I think the faux-vulcan attempts at coyness common with “impartial” skeptics is asinine (those air quotes are for you, rez). I prefer disclosure way up front, but that’s just my style. I point this out, because I think you have entirely misunderstood why I am actually “passionate” (your word) about what it is you accuse me of being passionate about. I work here. I did not go into this area of research because social issues were my bag (until fairly recently, I wasn’t even obstinately apolitical- I was politically apathetic)… Let me make this abundantly clear to you, rez, because you have been substituting in your own preconceptions for my actual position- I became concerned about social issue “stuff” because the area I work in led me to that stuff. Not the other way around. I think this is where you are getting me entirely wrong. You have implied that my position is of an ideological origin, but it is the opposite. My personal values and political leanings have been informed (nay impacted) directly by the area of research I work in (in fact, the data I deal in has made me do a 180 on basically everything I thought I knew before I began in my program).

    It is beleaguering; every time I get a student coming through complaining about white-people-inequity. It’s what biology teachers feel when they get a creationist kid coming through yammering on about the science being wrong, or what climate scientists feel when climate “skeptics” accuse them molesting science… It becomes exasperating… Talking about science with people who are refusing to know about the science.

    Now, it is apparent that this is, for you (rez), a hot button area. You’ve said you’ve run into trouble in this area before. I am telling you, as an expert in a field which studies demographic data (specifically underserved and marginalized populations)- you are wrong when you characterize the society we live in as being basically equal- you are not considering the (frankly gigantic) amount of research in this area. Your reckoning is not supported in the literature. What is borne out of it, however, is overwhelmingly the opposite of what you say.

    I’m not wrong about this.

    And I’m not going to play a Fullerton-esque game of nah-hah/yeah-huh with you. You’ve stated that you are unaware of where the science is (if there is any), and I’m telling you there is (in fact) an enormous amount of solid science in on this… On specifically this; gender/race socioeconomic inequalities, and the research overwhelmingly points in the direction I am telling you that it does. It simply doesn’t matter if you disagree with me. We’re not actually having an argument about the science, because half of us hasn’t the foggiest.

    Don’t take my word for it. Buy a social scientist a drink or something, share your idea about white folk being less equal. See what happens.

    But seriously, I can’t even begin to impress upon you the enormity, ENORMITY, of research that goes into (for instance); public health, sociology (holy shit- do you know how vast sociology is???), planning, geography, social psychology and psychology, anthropology (um, that one is HUGE too), and demography… There are colossal fields overlapping these as well, which likewise produce substantial literature on the matter; education, law, health and medicine, economics, and social work (to name but a few). rez, the literature is vast. It’s just so incredibly vast. You’re being an idiot about this. If you’re not familiar with the science, just say, “I’m not familiar with the science,” and be the prototypical Neurologica commenter you claim to be.

    The research you are oblivious to is vast.

    But no, I’m sure you’re right.

  194. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2014 at 7:49 am

    Holy cow! Really, you need to get a grip. My assessment was correct about you being passionate, if some stranger on the internet who (perhaps) disagrees with you (you can’t really know a lot about my positions one way or another) compels you to write a small thesis on the socio-economics of depressed populations. Perhaps if this were another forum I may engage you. I won’t do it here, no matter how much you try to bait me. Furthermore, you’re being patronizing in your assumption about my education on such subjects. While I’ll admit that I don’t have a PhD in any social science, that’s about all you will get from me in this. I, for one, have no desire for this site to become the next Pharyngula, hence my reticence.

    Grabula was certainly correct about one thing – making assumptions only breeds fallacies. I would think someone with your level of education would know this. Where your ideology is bleeding through, aside from the numerous and lengthy posts, is the confrontational attitude. For instance, you used the term “Berts” earlier and have been succinct about your disdain for libertarians (I’m not one, btw). You clearly have an ideological bias, and regardless of the information you say you have, that is popping out of your posts. That was just one example of many.

    Sorry, but social sciences are soft sciences. While it may occasionally borrow from hard sciences and data, they are still soft sciences. You simply cannot quantify human nature, psychology, public opinion, and other nebulous attributes. I’m not saying there is no useful data there, but the social sciences are rife with ideology. That’s just the way it is right now.

    I will give you this: once upon a time I was what one would call pretty extreme left. It’s because of my skepticism and development of critical thinking skills that I’m not so much anymore. Remaining on topic, GMOs is one reason why. I’m also not necessarily against free market capitalism or corporations, if properly monitored and regulated as not to run roughshod. These are things that the far left routinely object to. I try to take a more pragmatic approach to situations, balance the issues with the best information possible, restrict my conclusions if there isn’t enough information, and pay close attention to my own biases (this one you should pay close attention to on yourself). In other words, I’m a skeptic.

    I didn’t mean to respond so much, but I hope it’s clear to you by now that I’m not going to engage you on this topic and will ignore future baiting attempts. I’m by no means a science denier, and that’s another way you flash your ideology, and offer up a strawman – you simply cannot conclude what I know or what my opinions and beliefs are on subjects because I’ve given you very little to make the conclusions you have already made about me.

  195. mumadaddon 02 Aug 2014 at 8:01 am

    Having read through the last few comments I feel safer just admitting right now that I don’t know the science on the sex/race equality issue, but I’ve done a 180 myself over the last year or so, thanks to dating a feminist. I’d previously thought sexism and racism we’re pretty much dead in my generation (I’m in my early 30s) but have come to realise they are still very much present, but operating at a subtler level below my awareness.

    Eg. women wearing engagement rings, changing their name and title when they get married, being ‘given away’ by their fathers and wearing a white dress to symbolise virginity. It’s symobolic ownership and subjugation. Don’t get me wrong, I know that most people get married because they want to commit to each other, and that men don’t consciously think of women as their property, but it’s implied in the tradition, and it’s still a reflection of cultural attitudes.

    As a middle class white man, I used to bristle when any black person expressed any kind of bitterness over the slave trade – after all, I had nothing to do with it and I can’t help being born white any more than they could help being born black, and I’m not guilty just by virtue of my skin colour, right? All true, but racial inequality still exists even though there may be no deliberate discrimination along racial lines (I know this is idealistic). Blacks in the UK, and the US I believe, still earn less on average, perform worse academically, are over represented in the prison population have lower life expectancies than whites. The difference in my opinion demonstrates that there’s still a very real gap in the opportunities available to, and cultural expectations and treatment of people based on race.

  196. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2014 at 8:07 am

    Well, if this thread is going to be hijacked to become a social justice thread, I’m out. I’ll maybe check back in a few days to see if anything relevant to the topic comes about. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually miss Mlema a little bit…

  197. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 11:38 am

    Later Fullerton. science can be a drag I guess, don’t let your “social justice” hit your ass on the way out.

  198. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 1:06 pm

    “Well, if this thread is going to be hijacked to become a social justice thread, I’m out.”

    “Hijacking” is quite a statement, as you were 33.3% of what took this thread in a “social justice” (as you put it) direction. When you venture into an area and say something (or things) which are not close to being accurate, expect feedback.

    My frustration with you (now) is twofold: 1) the double-down on beliefs when research -overwhelmingly- doesn’t support them, and 2) having my points mischaracterized as having (my) “ideology bleeding through”. I didn’t start out being “confrontational”. I actually pointed to something rather delicately. You came back in and took this to an “incendiary” and “provocation” place without hesitation.

    And your response is now; (paraphrasing) “sorry but sociology is soft science*, and soft science is meh and don’t matter to me,” and some more of this, “your-ideological-bias-is-so-and-so.” Good grief, this is Fullerton-esque (his patented accusal of people who disagree with him as being entrenched in some sort of pseudoscience and also an ideology),.

    Your “social justice” hangups are your own problem. You say you want to rise above these hangups and only talk about science in an oasis… Again, you were part of the derailment that took this off topic, and again, research based science does not support what you said during the tangent you were on. Science discussion goes out the window when it doesn’t suit you, eh.

    *I don’t work in sociology, but I will point out that sociology isn’t all mushy-dubious nonsense; “sorry”.

    I’m done.

  199. Ekkoon 02 Aug 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Well, this thread definitely escalated suddenly…
    http://cloud-4.steampowered.com/ugc/36345581364699703/43F30A87540EC04DB9576676597A44686C9AA5C4/

  200. ZooPraxison 02 Aug 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks to everyone who chimed in and took the time to really articulate their points and get involved–it’s very much appreciated, really. I’m going to try to make my response as brief as possible.
    The topic got off-thread due to my questioning of my own vulnerability toward conspiracy-thinking. When I saw Mlema making comments about big pharma, after reading, over the 8 or so years I’ve been reading this blog, she/he making some pretty intelligent comments before–I thought–gee, how AM I NUTS TOO?
    That’s one of things that i’m very grateful to Skepticism for, is for teaching me to question my own emotional biases. So I chose a topic that seemed a pretty clear example of something “like” a conspiracy, meaning the economic decisions and strategies post WWII that underminded social infrastructure, allowed for monopolies to exist again and led to an amazing consolidation of wealth. This to me seemed like an “actual” case of “big money” for lack of a better term and I was asking for someone to educate me on what I was wondering was a real bias on my part. That’s how it got derailed.
    But.
    I don’t think it did get derailed for a very important reason.
    For skeptics or scientists or intellectuals or rationalists to state that the field of logic is apolitical, is problematic in two very big ways. 1) The unwillingness to discuss the social issues and impacts of logic reeks of the same emotional touchiness that skepticism has warned me about for years. What Skepticism has told me, time and time again, is that when something is so important to you that you can’t talk about it without exploding, then you absolutely must approach it with even-handedness and reason and really doubled-down your efforts to question wether or not you are bringing your own biases into your position. 2) Justice depends on logic.
    I can’t stress #2 enough. Justice depends on logic. I’ve glanced a few comments about the social sciences not being sciences at all–okay, someone else can do a better job at addressing that than me, but tell me this: when the natural tendency of primates is to form tribes and alienate the “other” and to subjugate and to dominate then who will speak up for the people being wronged? From Brown VS the Board of Education, to recent studies showing that gay parents are just as good parents as straights–the marginalized groups of the world depend on logic and reason and science to say: “Hey, what you’re doing doesn’t make any sense.” Because if science won’t do that, who will? Are you expecting the Gandhis and Mother Theresas and the MLKs to eradicate injustice? Those political figures were necessary to organize and move people’s hearts, but without logic to back up their cries, they would be lost. That’s why the decision for skeptics to stay out of political discussions is so, so very problematic. I’m sure there’s an Oppenheimer quote that would work very well here. Science is political because it has political implications. That doesn’t mean that scientists should take sides–not at all. But to NOT provide data, to throw up your arms and turn away when issues get “political” and to deprive the public of a logical perspective on an issue that effects the lives of millions of people means is to do a great injustice to not only science, but also to life on our planet.

    That’s why feminists, and people of color and people who are disabled or gay people or trans people–and non-people like diminishing fauna and depleted ecologies–need skepticism and science SO MUCH.
    And that’s why it’s so frustrating to see skeptics and scientists “bristling” at and avoiding political issues.

    YOU may not realize it, but the world needs you and it needs logic. Step up.

  201. ZooPraxison 02 Aug 2014 at 2:07 pm

    A lot of these thoughts and feelings are represented in my film Zoochosis Prep, which I never would have made without being touched and educated by the skeptical movement:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70iBkvQ6Dns

  202. BLAMOon 02 Aug 2014 at 2:24 pm

    rezistnzisfutl, the other night you wrote:

    “I would argue that it’s just as difficult for a white male born to abject poverty to push out of it and become successful as it is for, well, anyone else.”

    This would be an interesting argument to have, but your writing seems to indicate that you may not be open to having these sorts of arguments. I have recently been brought up to speed on JAQing off, and although you are not asking questions per se, you are introducing your statements with the hypothetical “one could argue” device.

    “One could even argue that it’s more difficult for that person considering he doesn’t have the institutional support other groups enjoy. I just don’t buy it that “sexism” and “racism” are institutionalized these days as is claimed.”

    There’s the rub, at least this is where I think it is- the source of DGB’s ire. I’m reluctant to wander into this discussion, but I think the actual point of contention has been lost. I also feel compelled to add that throwing out the social sciences for, as you say, not meriting the same credibility as harder sciences, is a bit dismissive.

    Changing gears- it appears that the FBI is indeed taking Adam’s recent stunt seriously. I am not sure how reliable the possible felony charges are, but have a look:

    http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/07/28/fbi-turns-up-heat-on-mike-adams-as-health-ranger-fiasco-widens-plus-adams-archive/

  203. jsterritton 02 Aug 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks for the update and redirect, @BLAMO!

    This is playing out nicely. I know that, as a skeptic, I shouldn’t align myself emotionally or ideologically along yada yada yada…, but I find the anti-GMO propaganda machine to be particularly antithetical to my happiness for some reason. Adams has struck a blow against that machine and capsized some of the anti-GMOer’s most virulent tactics. I’m not saying that science-ignoring and consensus-denying activists will stop conflating business practices with food science or that the rumor and disinformation campaigns will be squashed forever. But a nut like Adams going “full-Hitler” has already forced some to distance themselves from “the cause” in a way that science never seemed to be able to. I would have preferred it happen due to science and reason, but seeing Vandana Shiva recoil from the fruits of her own favorite, gruesome lies (the Indian farmer suicide myth) is nonetheless gratifying. Maybe Adams’ “call-to-kill” will make it harder for other “celebrity” GMO critics (Prince Charles and Jane Goodall spring to mind) to so thoughtlessly align themselves with flawed-yet-popular anti-GMO thinking. If nothing else, people are talking and that is an opportunity for people to learn.

    And maybe, just maybe, Adams’ deep-end, nutbag shenanigans will damage his own stock — although I have never understood how such a thing is valuated.

  204. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Humans are primates. How does studying humans differ from studying, say other primates or other vertebrates? I argue (and I actually do, and am arguing) that there are less meaningless differences than there are meaningful similarities (there are meaningful distinctions nevertheless, but none of them invalidate the supposed softer sciences). We are humans, and we have biases, and it is important to identify where these biases are when we study messy human “stuff”. And what is society? There are crazy-many answers to that question; but my field considers society a system. And what is systems science? If you know the answer to this, then you’re current with a whole lot-a “hard” sciences of today (and softer ones too).

    Crap, am I JAQing off? D’OH!. Yeah… If I put in some effort, I could find a less-dolty way to broach the subject.

    Catagorizing *ALL* social sciences as being *somehow* deficient to the standards and rigors of the “hard” natural sciences is always an unproductive argument. An interesting conversation, but a pointless goal-post-schtick in an argument. There are not two categories; one soft, one hard (that’s what she said). It’s more of a continuum or a quadrant, depending on what we’re talking about. rez invoked the argument version because he’s mostly trying to get out of it. And that’s fine, and I’m getting off of his case.

    @ZooPraxis;

    Justice depends on logic.

    My very first philosophy professor maintained that justice is the will of the strong. It doesn’t seem like a profound statement on the face of it, but every single day I end up stumbling into a new dimension of that brutally simple statement; Justice is the will of the strong (nothing more, nothing less, nothing else).

    But philosophers are prone to making such statements.

    I appreciate your thoughts on skepticism, Zoo. In the past decade, what I consider to be skepticism (the unceasing exercise of critical thinking ESPECIALLY when it goes up against internal grain), has led to (what is now) a many-times-daily inventory of why I think what I think and why I feel a certain way about something (or anything). Sometimes it’s solid, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I feel manic in overthinking everything. At times my reasoning is shit (oftentimes, actually); I’m just a person with a standard issue (malfunctioning) brain after all. I’m wrong a lot, and have been corrected pretty relentlessly over the years (and daily)- occupational hazard. Science is a humbling pursuit. I’m meandering- a decade of healthy skepticism has altered me enough to where I now appreciate challenge, instead of resisting it. It has left me gut-weary, and my default reaction to the world is; I’m likely wrong. Admitting error is commendable in science. I’m likely going to be wrong about several dozen things I have to deal with today. I’ve been wrong several times already, and I haven’t had lunch yet.

    This sounds pedantic, but it’s actually a very common position that a lot of undergrads have; in my first and second year, I pretty much maintained the basically equal now in this year of our lord, and the people of color get better breaks ideas… Then I got into upper division courses, and there was an actual moment where my head slammed into my desk.

    /nice story

    @ZooPraxis;

    …clear example of something “like” a conspiracy, meaning the economic decisions and strategies post WWII that undermined socialinfrastructure, allowed for monopolies to exist again and led to an amazing consolidation of wealth.

    Speaking of challenges, if you really want to wrinkle your brain, pick up a copy of Alex Marshall’s The Surprising Design of Market Economies. Liberals who can’t maintain nuance beware- it is going to hurt (but in a good way, in Strangelove-esque subtitle kind of way- in a how-I-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-appreciate-the-history-of-post-war-market-architecture way).

  205. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Putting a bow on my decade in and around skepticism; I went from specifically alt. medicine believing and medical science rejecting, and the fearing of GMOs, to the opposite of all of that. Excelsior!

  206. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Oh forgot, putting Zoo through the wringer here;

    Because if science won’t do that, who will? Are you expecting the Gandhis and Mother Theresas and the MLKs to eradicate injustice? Those political figures were necessary to organize and move people’s hearts, but without logic to back up their cries, they would be lost.

    Mother Teresa isn’t going to get much play in the Hitchens-sphere of skepticism. And I guess I should say I can’t entirely get behind some of your points, but if I start typing on about it, I’ll end up with more of these TDGB/Mlema lengthed comments. Short version; I think science and critical thinking are extremely valuable (read necessary) in evaluating our own value systems and how we arrive at them, but the more I think about it (yesterday and today), the more I come to realize that I don’t really have an opinion about the conflation of skepticism and social issues (my rants last notwithstanding).

  207. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 5:27 pm

    (D’oh! Gandhi isn’t gonna go very far either, see above link… TDGB has had one pot of coffee too many today)

  208. the devils gummy bearon 02 Aug 2014 at 5:44 pm

    @BLAMO

    …the source of DGB’s ire.

    Yeah… I flew off the handle there last night. There are infinitely less ravingly-abrasive ways in getting down to the brass tacks of what the research indicates.

    This does happen

  209. BillyJoe7on 02 Aug 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Censorship within the sceptical movement sounds like a contradiction, but it’s there all the same.

    Some won’t discuss religion.
    Some won’t discuss politics.
    They are the big two, but it includes evasion of topics such as social justice (because it connects with politics), and morality/ethics (because it connects with religion).

    There is clearly discrimination against women, blacks, and gays in our society.
    There is no question about that. It’s not as overt as it has been in the past, which is progress, but the undertones unmistakably remain. And they are actually harder to eradicate because of the very fact that they are not recognised or are denied by those who harbour them.

    A clear example of sex discrimination was the antagonism and vitriol that surfaced after Rebecca Watson gave a personal example several years ago. She just wanted to be treated as a person. Not as a sex object. Many within the sceptical movement still don’t get this. Her experience was not atypical for women who attend events organised by sceptics, which is the reason she spoke out. Fix this problem or lose half your audience.
    A rhetorical question to illustrate this: how many posters here are female?

    (Personal note: I’ve never had a problem with women or blacks. This is probably because of the circumstances of my youth where women figured prominently, and the fact that I grew up in a multicultural society. In high school, my group of five friends were from China, Italy, Poland, Holland, and Australia. But I had a real problem with gays. I am pleased to have overcome this and I have my own emerging scepticism to thank for this.)

  210. Steven Novellaon 03 Aug 2014 at 8:12 am

    BJ – I agree that no subject should be taboo or off limits. My own rule of thumb is that, within my scientific skepticism promotion, I will deal with any issue as long as there is a scientific or critical thinking aspect to it.

    But further, I try to keep my personal ideology separate. I try not to have a personal ideology, but I know this is not possible. I have subjective values like everyone else. I will promote values that I believe can be supported on valid philosophical grounds (fraud is bad, for example), but even within this framework there are differences among well-meaning skeptics based upon relative values.

    This is where I disagree with some skeptics who do not make any attempt to make such distinctions. They promote their personal politics as if they are objective morality, and it seems to me they confuse the two. This makes for a very narrow and exclusive approach to skepticism.

  211. tmac57on 03 Aug 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I like to imagine that I have a really good handle on the world,and how it works,but the truth is that I can only process what I can perceive,and still I have to filter out a huge amount of noise (as determined by my infallible brain ;) ).
    So here I am observing a tiny sliver of reality,looking through a soda straw,some of which is either misperceived by me,or deliberately manipulated by others,or just totally inaccessible to my brain,and then I have to seriously think “Do I even have half a clue as to what I think I know?”
    Just doing the best that I can with what I have,but boy that thought can be humbling,almost to the point of paralysis.

  212. jsterritton 03 Aug 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Dr Novella writes:

    “This is where I disagree with some skeptics who do not make any attempt to make such distinctions. They promote their personal politics as if they are objective morality, and it seems to me they confuse the two.”

    I think that a person necessarily ceases to be a skeptic when they do this (they certainly aren’t practising skepticism as they are doing so). There’s nothing quite as dangerous to logic as a moral imperative informed by political expedience. It is the stuff that sectarian division and violence is made of. We can look to Hitchens for a good look at how well that generally works out (hint: he argues that it poisons everything).

    tmac57 writes:

    “Do I even have half a clue as to what I think I know?”

    Maybe this should be the skeptical thinker’s mantra. It is the precise opposite of the dogmatist’s troubling moral certainty (“I know what I think I know to be unshakably true”). Sigh.

  213. the devils gummy bearon 03 Aug 2014 at 8:06 pm

    @BJ7

    Many within the sceptical movement still don’t get this. Her experience was not atypical for women who attend events organised by sceptics, which is the reason she spoke out. Fix this problem or lose half your audience.
    A rhetorical question to illustrate this: how many posters here are female?

    This is indeed an ongoing issue, which is invisible or flatly denied by the people causing it. My local skeptic club, there are zero women. There’s a reason.

    On weekends, this particular skeptics club used to rent the events space of a local brewpub for brunch/drinks. My brother is (now) the president of this brewery/pub/restaurant company (and not too long ago, the manager of this particular location). Every week, in advance, he had to schedule hetero/male servers to work the events space when the skeptics were there, due to serious harassment problems and technically/legally sexual assault complaints from female waitstaff, and additional harassment complaints from gay waitstaff. One of my brother’s first orders of business after promotion was banning this skeptics club and its members from all of their establishments.

    There are no females in our local skeptics club. I left it about 6 years for various reasons, including issues indicated above. Which sucks. We’re (brother and I) both SGU fans and skeptics. Or were. The brand might be beyond repair.

  214. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Aug 2014 at 2:23 am

    Dr. Novella,

    That’s what I’m trying to do, keep personal ideology separate. We all have it. I’ll grant I stepped into it a bit in this thread but quickly jumped out because, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s too much ideology and emotion mixed in with many political topics.

    Granted, it is pretty much impossible to completely avoid, especially in defense of the science. Creationism in public schools, denialism of evolution/Big Bang cosmology/abiogenesis, climate change denialism, denial of equal rights for same sex marriage and other non-traditional gender relations, religious and other pseudoscientific claims about when human life forms at and what point a zygote or fetus is actually fully human regarding a woman’s right to an abortion and all forms of contraception. (I’m sure I missed a few). I’m a climate scientist myself and have to deal with denialism all the time. I was interestingly called a science denier earlier in the thread, and I think it was unwarranted because I just didn’t give enough away for anyone to form such a conclusion. No, I wasn’t back peddling, I was just trying to get out of a conversation that was going a certain direction that was not only off topic, but inflammatory and divisive for everyone here and I have no interest in that. I remember how it was a couple years ago, and one thing I love about Dr. Novella’s blog is how relatively apolitical and on topic it is, where those of us who may have slightly differing opinions on less than scientific subjects can have conversations on fairly solid science. There are countless numbers of political and opinion forums of every stripe out there that I don’t understand why it MUST be here, too. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    BJ7, choosing not to engage in a topic isn’t censorship. Refusing to speak about something is a form of free speech. If someone were preventing you from speaking because they didn’t like what you had to say, that would be censorship. I’m not stopping anyone from saying anything they want, I’m just using my own freedom of speech not to say anything myself.

  215. the devils gummy bearon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:06 am

    From the top:

    I would argue that it’s just as difficult for a white male born to abject poverty to push out of it and become successful as it is for, well, anyone else. One could even argue that it’s more difficult for that person considering he doesn’t have the institutional support other groups enjoy. I just don’t buy it that “sexism” and “racism” are institutionalized these days as is claimed.

    All of this is empirically untrue. Having this pointed out to you was apparently the end of the republic (in your head).

    Regarding the research-based science per your opinions:

    I do disagree that the research is solid on the subject and squarely against me, as well as that there is actually much in the way of science one way or another on it. Sorry, but you’re wrong.

    The research (concerning your original statements) is prodigious. You had the opportunity to discuss (civilly and professionally) the findings, which are extensive. You instead got fast and loose with accusations of “ideology”, “political bias”, “fight”, “social justice”, “flame war”, etc. You went on to declare that the science (unbeknownst to you) was illegitimate regardless (rife with ideology, eh).

    Now:

    I was interestingly called a science denier earlier in the thread, and I think it was unwarranted because I just didn’t give enough away for anyone to form such a conclusion.

    It wasn’t that interesting, actually, but it was warranted. You just flat out denied the science (a/o its existence, then its inconsequentiality). You doubled down pretty hard on this. Repeatedly. Hence: denial. Such a “conclusion” was based on ONLY on your writing; your arguments and nothing else, unlike the accusations you apparently felt were appropriate to make at me (in lieu of addressing my argument).

    If you choose to reply to me (“bait”, was it???), focus on my argument, and for for the love of peat; don’t go off the reservation with this social justice/ideology business again… Or don’t reply at all; your previous statements aren’t going anywhere. This was and remains my argument (nothing more, nothing else):

    There are significant inequities across every facet of society along gender and racial lines, which are measurable. Your statements are not supported by the research.

  216. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:27 am

    TDGB,

    You’re relentless in your desire to crack this topic wide open is fascinating – seems like passion to me. Sorry, but your conclusions are wrong. Sorry, but social sciences is a soft science (some argue it’s not even a science). No, I’m not a denier. You, et al., have allowed your ideology to infiltrate your conclusions. Yes, you have ideology that you’ve made clear:

    Speaking as a social issue type liberal in academia…”

    I’m trying to dodge the ideological trap by not making firm conclusions one way or another. What I disagree with you is that you can make a firm conclusion that it’s easier for a white person living in abject poverty to reach success than it is for a minority, all other things being equal, just based on skin color. I don’t think it’s true – I used to, but my skepticism led me to question it. I’m sure I’ll get roundly flamed for this, but I’m just not convinced of your proposition and believe, in my own opinion, that it’s likely equally difficult, on the aggregate. Perhaps harder considering there aren’t as many social programs for indigents of that population.

    See, you got me to broach the topic.

    What I saw you do is use a personal anecdote (the story about your local skeptical club) to imply a generalization that has in no way been actually demonstrated. I’m not saying outright what you’re saying is untrue, but we only have your word for the conclusions you’ve drawn about it. And you doubt my “skepticalness”?

    There is lots of research in the field of social sciences, and a lot of it is quite useful. A lot of it isn’t for the specific conclusions you try to glean from it. The thing about social sciences is, just about anyone can go out and find a study or report that supports their particular position.

    Statistics can show, with some reliability, that population X makes Y less than population Z. Social sciences can borrow from this information, but to reliably indicate a repeatable, and more to the point, predictive model. Human nature is just too complicated. Social sciences can use a lot of the tools of science, but it just doesn’t have the same predictive power.

    Sorry, not buying it, and I think you’re wrong about much of what you have been saying. I have no doubt there is a lot of research, but on the greater social issues, it’s too difficult to glean a lot of the conclusions many people (on the left or right) have made by it.

    Go ahead, let’s see how incredulous you are at my astounding denialism. ;)

  217. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:30 am

    Having this pointed out to you was apparently the end of the republic…

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. What, because I chose not to participate in the discussion it’s suddenly a world ending event for me? It would seem that you have entirely missed the point of why I wanted to veer away from that train wreck. I’ve already delved too much.

  218. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:46 am

    Dr. Novella,
    If when you refer to the Indian farmer suicide myth you mean something like “100′s of thousands of Indian farmers have killed themselves due to Monsanto’s GM seeds” – of course it’s fabricated. What I’m suggesting is that you can’t take suicide statistics, try to determine who a “farmer” is, and then dismiss the various problems caused by bt cotton because correlations don’t surface at the national level – or dismiss the many factors that may have contributed to correlations that do show up in spite of the lack of resolution. So, I would say that deconstructing the suicide myth does not the bt success story make.
    I explain myself more in my comment to rezistnzisfutl here:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/mike-adams-is-a-dangerous-loon/comment-page-5/#comment-84206

    you say:
    “Bt cotton has not failed. It is hugely successful and popular. It has increased overall cotton production in India, reduced pesticide use, and increased profits for farmers. That’s why they use it.”

    But yield increase data doesn’t support bt seeds as causative. Most recent yields are up due to a productive monsoon season. But overall it appears that the adoption of bt cotton has been associated with a drop in yield. What reports are you using for income increase? the Universtiy of Gottingen study? There are a number of studies that point to a more complicated situation than you portray with regards to yield, income, use of pesticides, etc..

    “They [crop failures] also have been caused by fake GM cotton, which was not Bt but the farmers were told that it was.”

    There were illegal seeds, which had a higher level of the bt toxin and may have performed better than Monsanto’s earliest commercial versions. Those seeds were likely responsible for some of the early success in Warangal District. What evidence do you have that any crop failures were caused by “fake gm cotton”? Why would fake bt cotton seed have failed if other non-bt cotton seeds didn’t fail? I thought you said there weren’t any bt cotton crop failures except due to lack of water?

    I would say the one thing that can be concluded overall without much debate is: Monsanto now has patented genes in more than 90% of India’s cotton seeds. So, yield variance at this point will depend on the same kind of factors it did pre-bt – like weather and acreage planted. Until newer non-gm varieties re-enter the seed market (which is happening in response to bt cotton’s susceptibility to other pests)

  219. the devils gummy bearon 04 Aug 2014 at 5:36 am

    Fascinating. Sure.

    Sorry, but your conclusions are wrong. Sorry, but social sciences is a soft science (some argue it’s not even a science). No, I’m not a denier. You, et al., have allowed your ideology to infiltrate your conclusions. Yes, you have ideology that you’ve made clear

    What was this about science denial? Aaaaaaaand more ideology BS.

    Fullerton-esque stuff, rezistnzisfutl… Fullerton-esque.

    Per this quote of mine, which you’ve taken out of context from an exchange you were not involved in; get over it. I make no apologies, I don’t have to; your social issue hangups do not change the evidence based research or my argument. I told you to address my argument, which stands however you try to spin around it or otherwise shadowbox this “ideology” you keep accusing me of. For the sake of argument, lets say I do have an ideology that makes me batshit blinkered. The mountain of evidence which undermines your unlettered reckoning remains. Your opinions do not affect the science or reality. Science is science, even when rezistnzisfutl finds it disagreeable.

    You’re really just gonna keep digging deeper into these hangups of yours; these accusations of “ideologies” and “flame wars” and all this loaded BS language. Your reading compression is strange. What does my comment to BJ7 have to do with you, or my argument?

    Also, I’m not in sociology you loon. And unlike you, I defer to experts in their respective fields. Instead of declaring them suspect.

    Don’t apologize; it doesn’t matter what your “buying”. No one really cares what you think. You’ve disqualified yourself from having an opinion. There’s no excuse for science denial. Your stock has tanked. I’m done with you.

  220. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Aug 2014 at 6:07 am

    I’m wasn’t actually apologizing, was using “sorry” as a rhetorical device. Also, I know you’re not a social scientist, you said you were in planning. You seem to put a lot of stock into the social sciences that, IMO, aren’t warranted, or at more accurately, aren’t appropriate.

    As much as you try to gloss it over, you do form ideological opinions and you have done so here. I don’t deny there is evidence out there, I just don’t agree with your conclusions about them. I also think a lot of the evidence is fairly inconclusive and most social scientists don’t intend for anyone to use them to form solid conclusions.

    It’s like meteorology – there is much science that goes into it, and weather is in fact an artifact of physics, but making weather predictions is tenuous, especially the further into the future you try to predict it. That’s because weather is so complex that being able to make solid predictions about it is virtually impossible. Is it useful? Sure. We can hedge our bets and make somewhat informed decisions.

    Social sciences is similar in the regard that it can explain many constituent elements, but human nature is far too complex to quantify at this time, and far more complex than weather. Perhaps in the future we’ll have a better grasp of it, but for now social sciences doesn’t approach anywhere near a firm understanding of human behavior, especially of that on a societal level. But you seem to want to accept it all as firm science, and that is where you’re getting tripped up.

    I have no hangups as to how you’re suggestion. It’s you who seems to be the passionate one writing several posts in a row and letting it eat at you to where you can’t sleep about it. I’m not judging you on that because we all have times like that, but you seem to be denying that you’re passionate about it. You are also denying that ideology is at least in part forming your conclusions. I don’t deny there is evidence for some of the things that have come up, but I don’t agree with you on some of the conclusions.

    You’ve disqualified yourself from having an opinion.

    See, it’s this sentiment that makes places like FtB intolerable, and places like this, IMO, so valuable. I’m now disqualified from having an opinion, according to you. Nope, I’m not. Anyone can have an opinion. They may be ultimately correct or incorrect, but they can still have an opinion. At places like FtB, where people routinely “get the ban hammer right between the eyes” for very civilly and courteously expressing dissenting opinions, it’s because of that sentiment. IMO, one form of diversity is the diversity of opinions. Yes, science isn’t about opinions, but look at my statements above about it.

  221. BillyJoe7on 04 Aug 2014 at 9:13 am

    Steven,

    “BJ – I agree that no subject should be taboo or off limits. My own rule of thumb is that, within my scientific skepticism promotion, I will deal with any issue as long as there is a scientific or critical thinking aspect to it.”

    Thanks for the response.
    That’s what makes your blog worth reading and thanks for that.

    “This is where I disagree with some skeptics who do not make any attempt to make such distinctions. They promote their personal politics as if they are objective morality, and it seems to me they confuse the two. This makes for a very narrow and exclusive approach to skepticism”

    Not mentioning any names, but I have been there and voted with my feet.
    Unfortunately, such scepticism seems to attract a big crowd.

  222. BillyJoe7on 04 Aug 2014 at 9:24 am

    TDGB,

    “This is indeed an ongoing issue, which is invisible or flatly denied by the people causing it. My local skeptic club, there are zero women. There’s a reason”

    The tragedy is that the women who are trying to point this out are being pilloried and persecuted by the very people who think there is not a problem and, in the process, clearly demonstrating that there is a problem and where it lies. It’s bizzarre.

  223. BillyJoe7on 04 Aug 2014 at 9:34 am

    RIF,

    “BJ7, choosing not to engage in a topic isn’t censorship”

    But when an organisation or blog owner does it, it’s nothing short of censorship.
    Again, not naming names, but some time ago on a certain website of a certain organisation, all comments on climate change topics were moderated. It pretty well killed all discussion on that topic. On another sceptic blog, all comments seen as inappropriate by the blog owner are simply not posted, or they posted and dissected without the poster having any right of reply.

  224. rezistnzisfutlon 04 Aug 2014 at 9:57 am

    You’re right, when an org does it, it’s censorship, totally agree.

  225. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 10:22 am

    @Mlema…

    “So, I would say that deconstructing the suicide myth does not the bt success story make.”

    Your next-level disingenuousness and tenacity are staggering (not a compliment). That you can peer into the noise of all the vast and varied factors affecting no less complex a system than cotton farming across India and still see the clear signal of this loathsome propaganda is breathtaking (also not a compliment).

    Continuing to make hay using the Indian farmer suicide myth for your own ideological purposes in this way is very little different from using it as a cudgel the way Shiva does (or as a Howitzer the way Adams does). As long as you invoke this falsehood to further your argument, you are using and spreading propaganda and lies. That’s because the Indian farmer suicide myth was invented from whole cloth as propaganda, as a lie. You are in bad company: you might not be as crazy and malicious as Mike Adams, but your ideology and tactics put you squarely in the same camp. Do you really aspire to be “a dangerous loon?”

  226. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 2:39 pm

    jsterritt, I see all kinds of ideology in the world. Do you have anything to say about the issue at hand? Or do you feel you’ve proven your case that bt cotton has improved income, yields, etc. by referencing Keith Kloor? And are you secure in your belief that bt cotton didn’t fit into a complicated equation which shows a correlation between cash crop farmers and suicide rates?
    http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/10/1/16

    This is about money. I’ve already explained how bt cotton fits in – not causing, but caused by and contributing a complicated situation which instigated financial problems for cotton farmers. In case your devotion to a simpler narrative is inspired by a need to defend all things transgenic – I can assure you that the GM aspect of bt cotton isn’t as important as the fact that it was a patented seed product from a global biotech company with a track record of tempting legality around the world.

    This is a very complicated situation working on a number of levels. If you want to sort it out, you’ve got to look at it on a number of levels. You can’t expect me to try to simplify this just because you want to put me in a box with Mike Adams

  227. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 3:25 pm

    @Mlema…

    It is no great secret who the ideologue is here. The “issue at hand” is Mike Adams’ loathsome use of lies and logic in support of his particularly hateful breed of crazy. Adams’ use of the Indian farmer “genocide” myth to advance his interests is among the most heinous and egregious of his misdeeds (right up there with his “call-to-kill” so-called “collaborators”). As Dr Novella already said to you:

    “The fact that you are trying to cling to this narrative, with some shred of a justification, to me indicates ideology trumping logic and evidence.”

    I would go further and say it indicates a dumbfounding disregard for the very humanity of the Indian farmers whose fates you insist on turning to your ideological advantage. Nobody put you “in a box” with Mike Adams. You’re in a bed with him, a bed that you made.

  228. Steven Novellaon 04 Aug 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Mlema – that study you cite does not support your position. Even if we assume that the findings of this one study are correct, they show only that farmer suicide is contributed to by marginal farming, cash crops, and indebtedness. You will notice that use of BtCotton is not a variable that is associated with suicides. They also note that the increase occurred after liberalization of the agricultural business in the 1990s, before BtCotton was introduced in 2002.

    This supports Kloor’s summary (and that of many others) – there are a host of variables that have to do with lack of infrastructure, dependence of monsoon rains, being financially marginal to being with, and predatory lending practices. There is no evidence that GMO cotton contributed at all.

    The only mention of it in the paper is to say that “Some observers have suggested” with a link to Shiva Vandana (and around it goes).

    If that is the best you have, then you have nothing.

  229. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 3:57 pm

    jsterritt,
    Mike Adams is an asshole. So what you’ve said about that, and everything else you’re saying to me boils down to nothing more than some kind of personal hatred you’ve developed for me. Since I don’t hate you, I have no reply.

    If you want to defend what Dr. Novella is saying, which you’ve quoted:
    ““The fact that you are trying to cling to this narrative, with some shred of a justification, to me indicates ideology trumping logic and evidence.”

    Then reply to my reply to him. Give me the evidence that:
    “Bt cotton has not failed. It is hugely successful and popular. It has increased overall cotton production in India, reduced pesticide use, and increased profits for farmers. That’s why they use it.”

  230. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Dr. Novella,
    This is about money and bt cotton. I’ve already explained how bt cotton fits in – not causing, but caused by and contributing a complicated situation which instigated financial problems for cotton farmers. (if you read my comment to Rez, you’ll understand why I’m saying that) We’ve now deconstructed the Indian farmer suicide myth. What I’m asking is how do you get from this deconstruction the following assertion:

    “Bt cotton has not failed. It is hugely successful and popular. It has increased overall cotton production in India, reduced pesticide use, and increased profits for farmers. That’s why they use it.”

  231. Steven Novellaon 04 Aug 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Regarding yields.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X10001737
    http://www.nature.com/news/genetically-modified-cotton-gets-high-marks-in-india-1.10927

    Obviously no study is perfect, and this is a complex web of factors. But the majority of the evidence shows that when you try to isolate BtCotton as a variable, if anything it seems to have increase yields and profits for farmers.

    The first reference above tries to correct for the weaknesses in earlier studies, and still shows increased yield.

    But as I have written before, environmental effects and sustainability of GM varieties designed for pest control are complex issues. It is as much to do with overall implementation, then a GM variety as one strategy. Indian farming has lots of structural problems, and Bt cotton did not fix them.

    But the evidence shows that at least over the last decade, Bt cotton was a net postive, and there is no evidence it increased suicides (unless you choose only to believe ideologically anti-GMO sources).

  232. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Mlema…

    You’ve been using every possible maneuver — from denial to dodgeball — to sanitize this shameful legend while continuing to wield it for ideological reasons. It is no wonder that we have arrived at this point: where you have merely, helpfully “deconstructed” it for all to enjoy. And only “hatred” in repayment. The world is cruel.

    If you don’t understand how propaganda works (and how pernicious it is), I suggest educating yourself on the subject (it is after all what this blog post is about).

    You can’t have your zombie meme and kill it too.

  233. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Dr Novella…

    “…they show only that farmer suicide is contributed to by marginal farming, cash crops, and indebtedness. . You will notice that use of BtCotton is not a variable that is associated with suicides.”

    This is the crux of the anti-GMOers’ guilt-by-association crusade: By conflating everything — from the unhappy realities of marginal farming to the executive compensation structures of corporations to “what they do in Europe” — with the safety of GMOs. It’s an endless succession of off-topic stories — sometimes plausible, sometimes salacious, sometimes outright lies. Address any one with evidence and they flip the script. Ugh: ‘teach the controversy’… I hate ‘teach the controversy.’

    It’s maddening. Thanks for all the helpful links!

  234. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Dr. Novella,
    This paper, also from Stone, post-dates his paper at science direct and incorporates what he’s saying there as part of a comprehensive assessment. Stone also provides a graphic showing the relationship between the adoption of bt cotton and overall cotton yield.
    http://www.academia.edu/2167700/Constructing_Facts_Bt_Cotton_Narratives_in_India
    He explains in a more informal way here:
    http://fieldquestions.com/2012/02/12/bt-cotton-remarkable-success-and-four-ugly-facts/

    The second article you link to references the Goettingen paper I mentioned earlier (I had assumed that was where you’d drawn your conclusions on income).
    http://www.pnas.org/content/109/29/11652
    The debate on findings of the Goettingen paper is discussed here with further references which disagree or qualify the conclusions:
    http://www.scidev.net/global/biotechnology/feature/farmers-income-study-stirs-up-gm-cotton-debate.html

    It’s difficult to tease out what, if any, role bt cotton has had in increasing farmer’s income. Certainly it’s impossible to say unequivocally that bt cotton has increased cotton farmers’ income. As with aspects of these bt statistics, there are too many other variables.

    It seems we’re both able to support whichever narrative we chose. In the end we either have to back away into a more ideological assessment, or focus in on exactly what we want to learn. At the level of the science, my question would finally come back to: what is the wisdom of genetically engineering bt toxin into crops? it harms non-target beneficial insects and encourages resistance – finally removing any effectiveness of the toxin as a long-term judiciously applied pesticide. Does it increase yield? And if it does, for how long? Can it be utilized in the same way everywhere in the world? If refuges are important for maintaining effectiveness, how do we ensure that they’re employed?

    And to the end of defending the beneficial role of GM in medicine and agriculture and bringing the question full circle, I have to ask: is Monsanto good for biotech?

  235. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 5:21 pm

    oops – comment awaiting moderation

  236. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 5:28 pm

    jsterritt, deconstructing the Indian farmer suicide myth doesn’t remove bt from the equation.

  237. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I’ve provided indicators of it’s influence, at least at the resolution of the studies you’ve referenced in order to absolve it.

  238. BLAMOon 04 Aug 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Out of curiosity, rezistnzisfutl, now that you have made your position quite clear- how do you think this discussion about inequality went? I am asking in all seriousness- if you could start again, would you approach this topic differently? Is there anything you would have done differently?

    Personally speaking, what concerns me are the views you have expressed concerning social science. I noticed some further problems with your arguments while watching this exchange play out, but I would prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps now cooler heads will prevail?

  239. Bill Openthalton 04 Aug 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Zoopraxis –

    Yeah, and the ‘one’ who argues that would find life very comfortable in the John Birch society, Fox News, The Ku Klux Klan and other places where willful ignorance runs rampant.[emphasis mine]

    I cannot look in people’s minds, but in my opinion these folk honestly believe what they say. I think it is hard to argue they would privately admit to being wrong, but publicly pursue a course of action they know to be morally wrong or factually incorrect.

    My observation is that people at either side of a moral or political divide are equally convinced of the evil intent of the other side. They seem incapable of understanding it is possible to hold a different opinion than their own (maybe because it is so obviously true anyone not accepting it must be malicious.)

    rezistnzisfutl –

    I would argue that it’s just as difficult for a white male born to abject poverty to push out of it and become successful as it is for, well, anyone else.

    The real problem with inherently statistical concepts like “male privilege” or “gender-based discrimination” is that they do not say anything about the experiences of a specific human. It is quite possible Andrew Neville Other, a white male caucasian born to middle-income parents in Sunnyview, CA, is the most discriminated against individual on this planet. If you are concerned with individuals, it doesn’t matter what category they can/have been placed in. If you are concerned with statistics, this matters quite a lot. It is also quite easy to dismiss individual experiences with statistics, but realistically speaking, it is probably inevitable in the huge societies we live in.

    The difficulty of any specific individual attaining specific goals should be seen separately from the statistical averages of the arbitrary groups researchers and/or ideologues happen to place that individual in. While it is sociologically interesting to know what the gender balance is in a specific profession, this information does not relate to individual experiences. Population statistics simply do not provide information on individuals.

    Continuing with the profession example, the only individuals who are guaranteed to feel better when the gender ratio in, say, the computer programming profession moves from 27/73 to 50/50 are politicians (if that was their goal) and gender ratio activists. As far as the individuals in that profession are concerned, unless the change in gender ratio has a measurable effect on their work environment (I am genuinely interested in quality studies that prove 50/50 workplaces are most fulfilling for most people, because that would be a good reason to strive for parity), it is irrelevant. For those who aspired to work in the programming profession, but were not successful, the knowledge that there are as many male as female programmers doesn’t make their failure to get a position less of a disappointment, independent of their own gender (just like knowing their profession has the appropriate ratio of older workers doesn’t make out-of-work 55 year olds any less unhappy — we need to get these people into work, not into the appropriate statistics). The reasons why certain people are more or less attracted to certain professions are interesting subjects for study, but be they innate or acquired, forcing a person into a profession they do not like, or blocking their access to one they like causes as much unhappiness to a male as to a female (or any arbitrary category these individuals have been placed, be it age, race, gender, marital status etc.).

  240. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Mlema…

    I don’t hate you. I love you. This sh!t is priceless. You’ve whittled the zombie meme down to a nub, but refuse to let it go; from a Monsanto plot to commit genocide on Indian farmers to “indicators of it’s influence (sic)” and ‘well, that “doesn’t remove bt from the equation.”‘ Dr Novella has knocked down your arguement with authority and gold-standard scientific research. I (and others) have attempted to reason against your persistence in using thoroughly discredited, noxious propaganda as a gambit on every conceivable level — from evidence to simple decency. And yet, as long as there was Bt in the same country at (not even) the same time as farmer suicide(s), you insist on the legitimacy of the Indian farmer suicide myth, because it cannot be ruled out as possibly having caused all of them. So genocide. Just like Mike Adams says (or “some observers” or Shiva Vandana…and as Dr Novella has said: “and around it goes”).

    As I’ve said before, you are making ideological hay out of human misery. And you are doing so to trick other people into aligning themselves with you ideologically (but not logically). You’re playing at politics, not science. You should stop.

  241. the devils gummy bearon 04 Aug 2014 at 9:56 pm

    BLAMO/Bill O, I don’t think there’s any productive purpose to be had. rezistnzisfutl has bludgeoned their beliefs to death here. Anti-science nutjob with a “social justice” grudge the size of the moon. I know I’m not helping, but after dozens/hundreds of ad homs between declarative statements of science denial, TDGB is… Appalled? I dunno. What an odd way to hoist their crank flag. Dead wrong. Through and through. And that’s before the science denial. What more is there to say?

  242. grabulaon 04 Aug 2014 at 10:02 pm

    @DGB

    Sorry, been out enjoying my weekend

    “I have a pet peeve with fellow commenters discussing atheism or skepticism as some sort of “movement”, or speaking of the supposed “divisive” issues in this “movement”, or of the great dividers creating these “divisions” in “the movement”… Just as you think “A+” is lame, I think discussing herds of cats as a “movement” is lame. Just a pet peeve I have. It gets tiresome. We’re just random people in comments sections, not much of a “movement”… I don’t know why, perhaps It’s the implication of percieved grandioseness of it all, as if we’re components that matter much, you know… In a “movement” that basically doesn’t matter in the world. ”

    I think movements are fine, and cab of some importance. I like the ‘skeptical movement’ as it is helping to provide better critical thinking skills to the masses. However, as often happens, ‘movements’ can go horribly wrong. Typically when someone wants to make it their personal soapbox. I get that things happen and there are other things worth fighting for, however, sometimes you need to keep your chocolate out of my peanut butter. In the case of the A+/FTB I see a lot of anger dividing a community and nothing of value being generated. Maybe I’m being horribly white middleclass male but there are more constructive ways then spending your time spitting vitriol. FTB reminds me of all the terrible college campus protests I’ve seen.

    I think we are free to discuss anything, however it’s also entirely possible to show some decorum and not instantly go from 1to 11 on a subject, specifically when you’re a second or third source on a matter.

  243. grabulaon 04 Aug 2014 at 10:05 pm

    @zoopraxis

    “So, very, very sad. I wish this forum had real-life avatars so that I could see all the dinosaurs here making comments. Something tells me it would look very, very much like a South Florida golf club.

    Fortunately, there plenty of feminist skeptic groups that have very progressive viewpoints, and they are going to love these comments…”

    So you didn’t so much show up here for honest discussion but to fuel your rage fires? Thanks. Hope it keeps you warm. I’m sure pigeonholing random people on the internet based on a couple of statements will get you far.

  244. the devils gummy bearon 04 Aug 2014 at 10:12 pm

    I accept that cats can’t be herded. They can, however, work as teams when they’re hungry. Wouldn’t it be grand to form an electoral block? Never gonna happen, but a gummy can dream.

  245. grabulaon 04 Aug 2014 at 10:16 pm

    “jsterritt, deconstructing the Indian farmer suicide myth doesn’t remove bt from the equation.”

    This has got so over the top stupid I’m out. Good luck jsterritt

  246. the devils gummy bearon 04 Aug 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I think we are free to discuss anything, however it’s also entirely possible to show some decorum and not instantly go from 1to 11 on a subject, specifically when you’re a second or third source on a matter.

    I speak how I am spoken to. And although I started at 1, 11 came from someone else. Secondary source? Sure.

    Who do you call when you have a busted pipe? If the answer is anything than a plumber, then things are going to go from bad to worse. If the answer is a climatologist, because he maintains that plumbing is rife with ideology, then canoes are in your immediate future.

    Analogies are like a thought with another thought’s hat on.

    (I will post a bag of gummy bears to the first person who can name the reference. No cheating)

  247. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 10:30 pm

    @Mlema

    “Certainly it’s impossible to say unequivocally that bt cotton has increased cotton farmers’ income.”

    All the farmers in the aggregate? Or every single farmer? It is certainly uncertain.

    “It seems we’re both able to support whichever narrative we chose.”

    No. Yours is in no way the equal of Dr Novella’s. The preponderance of evidence and information available supports Dr Novella’s “narrative.” Call it what you will and try to make it valid by sheer force of will, but your “narrative” has flunked out of narrative school and is now waiting narrative tables and talking a big game about maybe someday opening a narrative restaurant of its own in the old part of narrative town.

    Good luck with that.

  248. jsterritton 04 Aug 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Mlema…

    I don’t want you — or anybody — to think I’m just lashing out at you (I am, but I don’t want that to get in the way of our friendship. I can’t help how exasperating your tortured logic is). So to be clear:

    There is no equivalence between what you choose to believe and what is. I know you’re looking for a face-saving way out of the bed you made, but “let’s agree to disagree” isn’t an option. The “wisdom” of GMOs is not yours to decide; nor is it the topic at hand. You cannot dodge and weave throughout a week of free-of-charge education to arrive at idle, naive speculation.

    The science is in. GMO safety is established. You do not like it. Tough.

    I called the Indian farmer suicide myth an example of “post-consensus propaganda.” You are an example — bar none — of post-consensus (e.g., cherry-picking, conspiracy-minded, propaganda-wielding, special pleading) anti-GMO thinking. First, you insist that your “narrative” is empirically, objectively correct (and who could blame you for an opening show of force?). But then, in the face of evidence, you prevaricate and dissemble all the way down until there’s nothing left but Russell’s teapot. Do you play this weary trope? Of course you do (and who could blame you for going out with a bang instead of a whimper?).

    I know you think we’ve been debating about obscure data points and nuanced observations, but that’s just you. Against all reason and better judgement, the rest of us have been trying to impress on you the weight that expert analysis and scientific consensus bring to bear on this or any subject. In fairness, accepting expert analysis and scientific consensus is not entirely unlike accepting any other abridged summary or ‘chunk’ of encapsulated knowledge. In this way, scientific consensus is something like your ugly piece of propaganda (but only in this way). In accepting either, we have to ask: “is this true (has some or all of it been shown to be untrue)?” “Of what is this comprised (are any of the component parts invalid)?” “Can this be supported (without cherry-picking or otherwise denying evidence)?” “Is this BS (am I the only one credulous enough to buy it)?” Your mean fairy tale does not pass any of these simple tests. It should be needless to say: scientific consensus does, with flying colors.

  249. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Aug 2014 at 1:44 am

    Blamo,

    Out of curiosity, rezistnzisfutl, now that you have made your position quite clear- how do you think this discussion about inequality went?

    I don’t think it went at all. It never really lifted off the ground. Personally, I didn’t want it to and it seemed I was to be the sounding board for others opinions about it (yes, opinions). Also, I don’t think I’ve made my position quite clear other than my position on the social sciences. No one here knows much at all about my positions on their favorite particular social issue beyond the notion of how I feel about indigent white people comparing to indigent non-white people, and I was even rather reticent about that. I also tipped my hand a bit regarding same sex marriage, religious belief, abortion, and contraception. I’ve intentionally kept from saying too much exactly because of how Grabula describes above, and personally I don’t want this place to degenerate into another FtB.

    I appreciate being given the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think I’ve had problems with my arguments. But that’s the thing about arguments in that not everyone agrees, and the exasperation apparently felt by some that we may not be in total lockstep about certain things is one reason why I don’t discuss things like that here. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t fleshed out anything in my arguments is causing you to believe that, who knows.

    I don’t know how to make it more clear. I personally don’t want to get into it about social justice issues here. How many times must I repeat myself?

  250. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Aug 2014 at 2:16 am

    TDGB,

    Not sure how I have managed to get under your skin so much. Mostly, I’ve chosen not to further engage you. Is that it? Or you just don’t like that I said that I thought you were passionate? Because that’s how it seems if you can’t sleep because of it and go on to write many verbose posts (and to remind you, I wasn’t chastising you because I’ve done that, too, in the past).

    As far as anti-science “crank” denier? No, I’m not. I also didn’t commit any ad homs, perhaps you could review what an ad hominem is. In other words, no where did I indicate that your arguments are wrong because of some personal characteristic of yours. I may have called you “passionate”, I may have said that you’re forming conclusions based in part on ideology (that’s pretty much it as far as I can remember), but nothing was used as an actual logical premise that concluded you were wrong about something.

  251. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Aug 2014 at 2:58 am

    Bill Openhalt,

    You pretty much reflect what I’ve been getting at here, but with better specific examples I’ve been trying to avoid It’s hard to deny that, for example, a certain profession like computer science has more men than women. I certainly don’t. The real question is, why? That’s where it gets fuzzy. The ideologues and politicians immediately jump on “institutional sexism”. I just don’t think anyone can form that kind of conclusion from the data. I’m also not saying that it doesn’t exist, either. I happen to think that there are many factors, many pertaining to human nature, that are difficult to quantify but may not have anything to do with outright sexism. Furthermore, it doesn’t make sense to me that professions that are overwhelmingly women aren’t on the ideologue’s radar. If 50/50 is what they desire so much, why not in those professions, too? Why isn’t sexism an explanation in their eyes when it comes to that?

    It’s easy to give curt answers to highly complex problems, especially if it strokes cognitive bias. I, on the other hand, would rather know what the actual answer is. I also value the freedom of ALL individuals to choose what destiny they want without having obstacles based on arbitrary physical characteristics one is born with, whether it’s the woman who wants to be a computer scientist or the man who wants to be a nurse.

    I do think further study is warranted. We are also having a lot of policy decisions being made based on a field of study that simply doesn’t have solid answers yet regarding certain questions, and will unlikely for a while. THAT is why I’m getting to. Anyone who thinks they have the answers are likely ideologues. As a skeptic, I’m forced to withhold firm conclusions, and my personal inclination is to let people do what they want and not limit people based on their physical innate characteristics. IMO, there is no justification to force parity for the sake of parity.

  252. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 3:16 am

    http://www.npr.org/2013/01/20/169847199/former-anti-gmo-activist-says-science-changed-his-mind

    Doesn’t sound like anyone I know…

  253. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 3:24 am

    @DGB

    “I speak how I am spoken to. And although I started at 1, 11 came from someone else. Secondary source? Sure.”

    I was referring here to the voice of FTB, and many other leaders of movements. It’s a trap that many hide their extreme attitudes behind so-called attempted social change. You can reason like a human being, in which case you should find yourself easily approachable and your message being easily heard, OR you can lash out like an animal. Most of what I’ve seen from the movements inside the skeptical community is a lot of lashing out, and attention grabbing, for all the wrong reasons. Take ZooPraxis as an example. Starts by asking a seemingly ‘innocent’ question but as soon as he or she doesn’t get a response they are looking for (in line with their way of thinking that is) then it’s jump to extreme mode. I believe these people do more damage for their causes than good. On the subject of equality look at the ridiculous response to extreme behavior from one side in the men’s right movement.

    I won’t discuss this anymore here, it’s not important to me as a topic anyway, I just wanted to make sure you understood I wasn’t referring to you specifically.

    I’m not a huge fan of analogies and try to avoid them whenever possible but occasionally even I slip.

  254. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 3:35 am

    @jsterritt

    ” Their default position is: “show me” — as in replicate before our eyes billions of years of evolution. ”

    This is the conversation I’m having with my creationist boss. Basically, since we aren’t SEEING evolution, it couldn’t have happened. Nevermind we ARE observing evolution in action all the time, with some pretty glaring examples in the last couple of decades.

  255. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 3:37 am

    hmmmm, somehow I was posting on the creationism thread and it jumped to this one, sorry, not trying to derail this any further lol.

  256. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Aug 2014 at 4:24 am

    Grabula, Mark Lynas is a new devil of the environmental groups. Since he came out with this it’s been a bizarre circus. If I only had a nickle for every time he was called a “shill”…

  257. BLAMOon 05 Aug 2014 at 4:24 am

    @grabula, ah. Got it. I’m a little irritable as of late, frayed nerves and such. It happens when someone comes out of the blue and says, “yeah, your work and your entire field and everything else and science is bullshit too so suck it ideologue”. . Yeah, I never frequent the comments at FTBs. Basically everywhere is YouTube comments now. Or I’m just getting old and what Douglas Adams said about one’s 35th year has come to pass (get off my lawn… why do i have to update Skype? what’s a vine? I was in software not too many years ago, but something turned over in my brain this year, and it’s not that things don’t make sense anymore, I’m just find malevolent to new crap or old crap I used to be into. get off my lawn).

    The analogy ref is this

    What always disturbs me is this; you can never discern if someone not too dissimilar from ZooPraxis is 12 or 52. That actually keeps me up at night. To the point where I’ve installed browser extensions to complete block all comments everywhere (Neurologica is whitelisted), so I never have to stare into the time vortex of humanity’s darker musings in the comments. In this day and age, reactionary knee jerk types are like free money, compared to (shivers) CNN or YouTube or the The Mail on Sunday or something.

  258. BLAMOon 05 Aug 2014 at 4:39 am

    Full disclosure; BLAMO and I are married. This is actually TDGB, I’m on her laptop tonight at work because mine has been acting up. Probably going to be in the dog house. I’m much too bleary eyed. I guess I should also say that BoringKittens and I grew up together, but that one doesn’t need an explanation. We live in different states.

  259. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 5:16 am

    mmmmm, I love Britta

    “This is actually TDGB”

    I fingered.

    “so I never have to stare into the time vortex of humanity’s darker musings”

    That’s the other edge to the internet, it also gives those who aren’t worth listening to a voice – some might be more rational people until they put their anonymous armor on and go to war.

    I’m pretty good about ignoring those but even here I’m becoming a little jaded. It’s why I show little patience these days for some of the people who comment here – particularly the anti-science and/or credulous types. I don’t mind when it’s just innocent ignorance – someone honestly trying to learn, but some of those who frequent here play themselves off as such.

    I got sucked straight into ZooPraxis BS. That first post was a gem and a classic I should have caught right away (hey guys, what do you think of this…I’m not really sure yet) then BAM!

    As a human being I’m all for equal rights for everyone. I was raised by a pack of strong southern women and married a strong northern woman. I have no illusions that women are as fully capable as men – we’re all human. As a soldier in the US Army recently and the changes coming introducing women into combat roles I think it’s great. In fact, an argument against it is ridiculous since women have effectively filled combat roles for sometime now. I think I brought this up on the SGU forums but MP’s, engineers, medics a few more roles all see combat whether they signed up for it or not, and some of those roles are filled by men and women.

    As for race, it’s never really mattered to me from the perspective of seeing people differently. I have friends and loved ones from all walks of life. I don’t care what color you are, what sex you are or who you go home to at night. Certainly some people have to continue fighting to get that equality and I’m all for it, I just can’t stand extreme forms of activism, it almost never accomplishes anything. In the case of skepticism the apropos subject above has divided a community and frankly as I said I think it stems mostly from those who thrive on drama so I for the most part ignore it. I tried approaching FTB with an open mind but a couple of childish rants later and I’d had enough.

    Anyway, I said I wouldn’t comment on this anymore and I won’t. I don’t like being accused essentially at random of being something I’m not, my hate filled hate mongers looking to stir up trouble. ZooPraxis showed their true colors and I won’t be bothering to engage that individual again.

  260. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 5:21 am

    @rez

    “Grabula, Mark Lynas is a new devil of the environmental groups. Since he came out with this it’s been a bizarre circus. If I only had a nickle for every time he was called a “shill”…”

    Of course he’s a shill, obviously since he ‘suddenly’ changed his mind, Big Money has to be involved. These kinds of stories are real wins though, not because they’re on any one side but because after genuinely considering the science and evidence he moved past his beliefs and re-adjusted his world view. You don’t really see that much, and I’ve never seen it here. Hit the dogmatic types with evidence and they’ll shoot you links to bias friendly newspaper articles I guess.

    One of the reasons I enjoy being skeptical is because I enjoy learning and discovering new knowledge from a personal perspective. I also like to occasionally see myself change my views on something because it shows I can continue to grow and expand my horizons instead of allowing my world to get smaller and smaller.

  261. rezistnzisfutlon 05 Aug 2014 at 6:27 am

    You hit on an excellent point that we should perhaps be most skeptical regarding ourselves. I try to be, and I understand that we’re all subject to biases and I’m no exception.

    “Shill” is an easy way out in order to not address arguments. In essence, it’s truly an ad hominem in that “he’s wrong because he’s been paid off by x”.

    Also, I don’t know how often I’ve been called a shill, so the same applies, if I only had a nickle… In fact, it’s been insinuated on this thread.

    I vacillate between win and loss. I think that, for the most part, the pleas to emotion win. The anti’s are winning the PR battle, because most people are swayed by appeals to emotion more than they are logic, rationality, and critical thinking. Ultimately, I think that GMOs will be banned, or at least severely restricted. Although they are wrong, the anti’s will probably win. I really hope I’m wrong, but that’s how the public sentiment is swaying, and politics will follow suit.

  262. grabulaon 05 Aug 2014 at 4:11 pm

    @rez

    ““Shill” is an easy way out in order to not address arguments.”

    That’s exactly what it is, a weak ad hominem that allows the accuser to get away with fighting back without having to cogently on the topic at hand. Once I accuse you of being a shill, I’ll get a lot of atta boys from my biased crowd and I’ve won!

    ” Ultimately, I think that GMOs will be banned, or at least severely restricted”

    I don’t think so. Banning GMO’s would mean destroying the current supply of foods that go in most peoples refrigerators and pantries. Not to mention continuing to allow people around the world to starve and suffer from malnutrition. I believe there will always be an opposition but I can’t see it being banned.

  263. ZooPraxison 06 Aug 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I’m not sure if anyone saw it, but the Neil Degrasse Tyson video take-down of the anti-GMO argument is wonderful. And wonderful that it’s getting around as well.
    @grabula, I was being very sincere in my first questions about class–and still am. And am certainly not anti-science. I do appreciate your stance though and, as a born and bred Northerner am very happy that your mother and her sister found a place that they could get married and raise a kid in the progressive atmosphere of the Old South.

  264. grabulaon 06 Aug 2014 at 9:25 pm

    @ZooPraxis

    We here and elsewhere occasionally get someone who pops in to ask an ‘innocent’ question. The minute the conversation goes in a direction they don’t like – almost inevitable in most cases – then they go from innocently asking questions to blasting away with accusations and name calling. You can see where some of us might get the impression from the thread above.

    I can appreciate someone being passionate about what they believe in, however I also believe a human being has a choice. They can act like an animal and lash out at everything that doesn’t appear to agree with them, or they can act like a human being and use that big brain to reason through a discussion. A human being doesn’t immediately jump to conclusions about people they are conversing with and with whom they are also unfamiliar with.

    It’s my experience that many skeptics have fairly liberal or enlightened views on racism, sexism and all the other isms out there, but as with any group of people, we’re still human, and some of us are still a little lost in the woods. Getting those people to understand where they have gone wrong can be challenging, attacking them, lashing out, and causing a general uncomfortable environment can in no way help a discussion on any of these sensitive topics. It’s exactly why I called the A+/FTB movement detrimental. I sympathize with anyone who wants to make social change, but bitterness and anger is not the way to do it, and leads to nothing but unproductive drama.

    What I personally can’t stand is being accused of any of these things, particularly when it comes from someone who has no idea who I am or what I’m about. I’ve spent a lot of time in some diverse and sometimes challenging environments and the one thing I’ve learned is we’re all human. I’m as guilty as anyone else of making assumptions based on appearance on occasion but I work very hard to stay conscious of it and if there’s anything I’m intolerant of, it’s certainly intolerance.

  265. tmac57on 06 Aug 2014 at 9:26 pm

    grabula- You appear to be a shill for Big Shill!

    ;)

  266. tmac57on 06 Aug 2014 at 9:47 pm

    To be more serious,I cringe at either side of an argument/debate resulting to “BIG” or “SHILL”,or any ideological shorthand to shut down an opponent. It works…undeniably,but it should not be an acceptable,logical form of an argument. Essentially,it is a rhetorical trick that derails the opposition by ignoring the facts of the debate,and appealing to visceral (and very potent) reactions to the word hand grenades.
    There is the problem of response though. My sense is that a well reasoned,fact based response is often not effective enough to counter emotionally laden language. It is the logical response,but also is hamstrung by the all too human inability to sort out what is real from what ‘feels’ real.

  267. tmac57on 06 Aug 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Change “resulting to “BIG” or “SHILL”
    to “resorting to…”

    Don’t do anything ‘blogging’ after whiskey… :)
    K. Loggins

  268. grabulaon 06 Aug 2014 at 10:20 pm

    @tmac57

    “grabula- You appear to be a shill for Big Shill!”

    It’s only for the money!

    “My sense is that a well reasoned,fact based response is often not effective enough to counter emotionally laden language.”

    I’d take it one step further and say that most likely if you’re using emotional rhetoric to argue your point, no amount of reason will get through to you. It’s a generalization but one that seems to hold.

  269. tmac57on 06 Aug 2014 at 10:46 pm

    grabula- It’s a narrow ‘needle’s eye’ to thread for sure. In the heat of the moment the brain will most likely be in defense mode. Taking some time for emotions to cool can provide a space for reason,but it takes a deft touch to navigate those waters.

  270. grabulaon 06 Aug 2014 at 10:52 pm

    @tmac

    “It’s a narrow ‘needle’s eye’ to thread for sure”

    Certainly, and I don’t blame anyone for getting heated, it happens. However in some cases, for example GMO’s, the anti-argument tends to be emotionally based and they tend to go from 1 to 11 in no time flat. It’s those people I’m mostly referring to.

  271. BillyJoe7on 07 Aug 2014 at 8:03 am

    “Don’t do anything ‘blogging’ after whiskey…”

    I’m just about to try some Raki 47% proof (my son just bought it home from Albania where he attended the birth of his son, Leo). It’s other name is Albanian Whiskey (the Raki, not my grandson). From the glint in my son’s eye, I think he’s joking about the whiskey bit. In any case (actually there’s only one bottle), perhaps I’ll just read tonight and save any posting till tomorrow.

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