Our society is woefully illiterate on scientific matters. Yet instead of taking the opportunity to educate customers about the benefits of food science, some companies have chosen to cash in on public ignorance.
How profound. This concept, from the preeminent Harvard scientist and noted optimist, is worth examining in the context of biotechnology.
For a continent that (bizarrely) prides itself on turning away from religion, Europe has ironically replaced it with all manner of postmodern nonsense and pseudoscience. Welcome to the New Dark Age.
"Follow the money!" activists shout. The money trail, according to this logic, always leads to lies and deception. This puerile fallacy, argumentum ad aurum, is just a thinly disguised ad hominem attack commonly used against scientists. Instead of criticizing the quality or conclusions of the research, activists instead assault the integrity of the scientist.
Several years ago, a survey of professional toxicologists revealed that 79% of them believed that the Environmental Working Group and two other organizations overstate the health risks of chemicals. That's why EWG is beloved by activists but detested by scientists.
We are being confronted with very important questions about the anti-GMO movement and Mr. Ruskin, an anti-GMO activist who operates the website U.S. Right to Know. Are anti-GMOers also anti-vaxxers?2 If not, then why do they take money from anti-vaxxers?
Taking advantage of today's toxic, confrontational mindset are outlets like SourceWatch. The website is like a politicized, unscientific version of Wikipedia. Volunteers – rather than qualified experts – write smear articles about people and groups they don't like (one of them being us).
Since nobody really knows what postmodernism is, it's becomes a nebulous concept that poses an existential threat to science and technology. How so? Because it's largely characterized by a rejection of objective truth. This is antithetical to scientific inquiry.
When our readers get upset, we hear it. The insults fly: Liar. Jerk. Sock puppet. Propagandist. Criminal. Corporate slut, to name just a few. And in a recent Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun we explained why Wi-Fi is safe. That's when the pitchforks came out.
"Lying" is considered one of those words civilized people should never say. That's why politicians never use it. Instead, their opponents are "misinformed" or "misspeaking" or "using alternative facts." Well, the time for civility is over. Journalist -- if we can actually call him that -- Danny Hakim is lying to you. And it's not his first rodeo, either. He's built quite a track record for himself at the New York Times, publishing distorted information about GMOs and comparing agricultural pesticides to "Nazi-made sarin gas."
The guidelines were born of good intentions; created to make Americans healthier. However, they were not inscribed on stone tablets and handed to mankind. Instead, the guidelines are the result of a bureaucratic process and, as such, are susceptible to dubious conclusions and adverse influence by activist groups.
Junk science is everywhere. This is why our mission is so important. If journalists and advocates don't speak up for good science, cranks and quacks will take over. As part of our ongoing effort to eradicate nonsense, here's our list of the top junk science stories we debunked this year.