The ‘Right to Know’ is an Imposition

Over at the Genetic Literacy Project, there was a delightful article recently written by Jane Palmer on the GMO labelling campaign. As many know, it was recently defeated in Colorado 55% to 45%. In this article, Jane writes what may be the most lucid, at least to my eyes, sentences that aptly sums up the implications of the Right to Know movement. For context, Jane was once for labeling, and over the course of the article, she shares how she started to doubt the proposition, and eventually change her mind. Here it is:

“I realize that my ‘right to know’ might affect someone else’s ‘right to choose’, or even worse their ‘right to eat.’”

That is a wonderful distillation of the potential consequences of what might occur if a Right to Know campaign actually wins. There are precedents too: in Europe, when legislation required GM food to be labelled, Europeans subsequently disavowed their purchase. Consequence: food companies simply swapped their GM ingredients for more-expensive non-GM ingredients. Those who cheer such a change are invariably of the 1% of the food movement for, as usual, those who bore the brunt were the poor. Suzy do-gooder could afford the increase in foodstuffs (if she wasn’t already shopping organic to begin with), the average Jane on the street suddenly has less money for her children’s daycare, transport, insurance etc.. This is a serious concern those higher up the social ladder are often oblivious too.

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Objections to the Food Babe’s Objections

Yesterday, Vani Hari (the Food Babe) wrote a long reply concerning detractors explaining why and how they got her all wrong to her readers. (I encourage you to read it here.) She does so mainly by doing in reverse what she accuses them of doing to her, and mistaking her subjectivity for objective truths. I haven’t really got that involved with the Food Babe and her subjective meanderings into the food industry, but I thought that now is as good a time as any.

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What the Anti-GMO Brigade Wont Admit…

Last night, I got into a back-and-forth with GMKnow over on Twitter (you can read the exchange here). As is obvious from one look at their website, they’re vehemently opposed to GMOs. However, the point of this post was because the exchange was funny for one particular reason, at least to me. Namely, that the one point I wanted them to at least address, they wouldn’t. So, they’re anti-GMO, and, therefore, have a problem with inserting genes into a crop for our consumption. Yet, strangely, won’t even address mutagenesis organic crops that have thousands of induced mutations as you can see from my first tweet:

Her/his/their response was to deflect on how the GMO-biotech ag science (oddly reminiscent of pre-WW2 language: “German science!” “British science!” as if the two were mutually exclusive) claims of GMO DNA being the same as that of normal food:

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Holistic Health and Wikipedia

I just came across a Change.org petition directed at Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, to more favourably feature holistic (read: alternative) health and medicine. The statement claims that Wikipedia’s current entries on many alternative practices are biased and misleading. The petition was stupid; Jimmy Wales answer, however, is brilliant. Check it out below:


Question:

Wikipedia is widely used and trusted. Unfortunately, much of the information related to holistic approaches to healing is biased, misleading, out-of-date, or just plain wrong. For five years, repeated efforts to correct this misinformation have been blocked and the Wikipedia organization has not addressed these issues. As a result, people who are interested in the benefits of Energy Medicine, Energy Psychology, and specific approaches such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy and the Tapas Acupressure Technique, turn to your pages, trust what they read, and do not pursue getting help from these approaches which research has, in fact, proven to be of great benefit to many. This has serious implications, as people continue to suffer with physical and emotional problems that might well be alleviated by these approaches.

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A Simple Comparison

Several huge things have happened in the last 2 week in respect to science. Cosmos, the re-imagining of Carl Sagan’s science vehicle to jumpstart the public’s imagination debuted; gravity radiation (often called gravity waves) has been detected with a 5-sigma threshold from the Big Bang, which, if true, empirically extends our understanding of creation from one second to one billion-billion-billion-millionth of a second after the Big Bang; and, finally, not to mention rather depressingly, Mike Adams the Health Douche issued a public call to the host of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson to admit that mercury in vaccines is poisoning the population.

One of the above three things made me laugh: can you guess which? I implore you to read Mike Adams full screed on the mercury in vaccines that is making the population cognitively deficient, even though there is no mercury in vaccines, and keep a straight face. Seriously, I’ll wait here—and this post will make more sense if you’ve read it.

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Why Google Glass Shouldn’t Lose the Camera

Over at Cult of Android, Mike Elgan has made the case that Google Glass should lose the camera due to the some of the public’s discomfort with its big brotherly implications. (Read his post here.) It is obvious from the title of this post that I disagree with him, but let me first summarize his position, starting with what he and I both agree on, followed by what we disagree on, and finally, my conclusion on how to fix it.

We both love Glass. We both love the camera that comes with it. I’ve done things on Glass that, while possible on a mobile phone, make it so simple, so effortless, and so much more fun, both for myself and those around me. Elgan makes the point that all the fuss over the camera is distracting from what Glass really is: “The problem is that the existence of Glass’s camera is distracting everyone, and causing the public to completely miss what this technology is all about.” Yep!

He also correctly points out that glasses with camera functionality have been around for yonks; devices in which mostly the camera is practically invisible—unlike with Glass. Still, Mike’s point is correct: the fact that Glass has a camera coupled with the fact that a person not familiar with Glass will not know when it is recording makes people nervous. But, it is not the camera itself; it is rather that the camera is pointing where ever the wearer is looking, and in almost every case, in that direction will be a person—potentially—unaware.

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My Books of 2013

It’s the end of the year again. Maybe it’s just me, but each year seems to go by quicker than the year before (perhaps I’m getting old). Anyway, it only seemed like last week that I signed up to Goodreads.com and was presented with the challenge of setting a goal of reading X books this year; I just had to–eerily reminiscent of school–find (choose, rather) X. The Kindle fiend that I am (as well as my lack of employment in the opening months of the year) conspired to set the target of books to read during 2013 at fifty. And two days ago, I finished my 50th book and got this nice screenshot to show off with.

You’ll notice a few books haloed by a coloured border. The green bordered one with the larger star is my favourite fiction book, while its smaller starred cousin is the runner-up. Same for red which indicates non-fiction. Blue-bordered books deserve honourable mentions.

My 50 books of 2013 - with favourites

How many books did you read?