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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Why The Precautionary Principle is Misguided…

It was some two-thousand years ago Gaius Plinius Cecilius Secundus, also known as Pliny the Elder, in book 35 of his 37-volume encyclopedia, Earth, told of an aspiring young goldsmith who presented a shiny new metal to the Roman emperor Tiberius. The metal? Aluminum. The emperor, an extremely wealthy man with vast holdings of precious metals such as gold and silver, inquired if he had shared this discovery with anyone. The Goldsmith’s answer was no. Tiberius had him instantly killed.

The Emperor’s reasoning went something like this: If a rarer—therefore more valuable—metal than gold and silver had been allowed to spread, the Emperor’s holdings would depreciate. (Why he did not just force the potter to work solely for him befuddles me, but emperoral thought is an enigma unto itself—and I may just have made up a word.) The Emperor’s use of the Precautionary Principle (PP) successfully delayed the re-discovery of aluminium by almost 1700 years, where again it became the most valuable metal on Earth. (That is, until 1886 when the method of electrolysis was adapted for aluminium.) Now it is so cheap that we wrap it around our food only to throw it away when we’re done.

This post concerns itself with similar use-cases of the PP in the modern world to nefarious ends. However, before continuing with my extrapolation of the PP in the present day, some definitions are in order. The Precautionary Principle, at least defined by modern standards, was formulated in the early 1990s by the UN as below:

In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

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The Connection Between Government and Alcohol

Recently, I wrote a post titled Religion, Milk, and Education. In it, I explored the connection between religious belief and the emotional attachment we have to cow’s milk, and briefly iterated how it related to our educational system today. It was my most popular post, and the neurons in my brain, newly tuned and primed (via dopamine) to the connective influences between disparate links in our society, thought up this post. The connection between Government and Alcohol.

In this year of 2012, we have (and had) elections ranging around the world. From France, where they recently elected a socialist by the name of Francois Hollande, and soon in the USA, where they will decide between the aesthetically pleasing and benign Barack Obama, and the sloppy flip-floppy Mitt Romney.

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You Know What, Shut the F#$K Up & Keep Your Opinion to Yourself

I have watched a disturbing trend unfold in the west. I’m sure most of you have noticed too, it is the shouting from the rooftops of opinions that have no goddamn place anywhere except for in your own stupid head, mine included.

Few things deserve to be talked about, but instead of talking about those issues, we end up talking about homosexuals, gay rights, religious tolerance, freedom, so on and so forth and etc etc etc. Why are these things a national issue? Why do people care what other people do with their own lives?

I know the irony in me stating my opinion on it, but the purpose of this blog is to talk about issues in a rational and logical way. I do this for a very simple reason; others take it upon themselves to tell others how to live by intruding into the public sphere and dissecting it ad infinitum, actually distracting from real matters of importance that result in a degradation of the society’s health, and I, as well as many others, dissect these issues, so there is a logical, rational, REAL rebuttal that people can have access too. Our opinionating, and factoid making are only necessary when dumb, ignorant people try to force their wrong opinions on everyone.

This blog, though this post in particular, are concerned with providing the right answer, a rebuttal, and be the voice of reason to a lot of the stupid things we bicker over, and while some are worthy of bickering, most aren’t. So here is a simple and obvious thought, if what is about to come out of your mouth to either, another person or a group of people, and targets something they do, or don’t do, but doesn’t affect your life, or other innocent people, aside from the bruising of your ego, then shut the f#$k up and keep it to yourself.

People that do that, are hurting people, both mentally and physically. Instead of talking about child poverty, we talk about contraception. Instead of talking about the military industrial complex, we talk about patriotism and other examples to many to list. So do yourself a favour, and shut the f#$k up.

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Random Rationality: Outline

Lately, as more and more people find out I’m writing a book, either by me shouting from the rooftops or those closest to me telling others, they have naturally asked me what it’s about, and that is not an easy question to answer succinctly because the book is about almost everything, so I have to blabber on for minutes, boring them in the process. So this post will try to remedy that in an easier fashion that I can verbalize when put on the spot.

The book covers 5 disciplines, with 4 sub-chapters each devoted to a specific topic within that discipline. At its most basic level, the book tries to conveniently, rationally, and simply explain each topic, and instigate deeper questions, and thoughts to the reader, hopefully providing a simple blueprint of the world to counter all the noise emanating from each and every direction in this day and age.

Here is the outline of the book. I would like to know what, if any first reactions anyone has by reading the below contents. Am I biting off more than I can chew? Please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear your opinions.

Random Rationality

Rational Explanations for the Busy Mind

Introduction

Philosophy

Are We Special?
The Meaning of Life
The Simplest Explanation of God
Wouldn’t Heaven Be Boring?

Science

The How of it All
Why We Need Space
An Atomic Dream
Is Free Will Free?

Politics

Are We Responsible?
Why is Politics’ Still Relevant?
How to Fix Politics
The Drug War is Inhumane

Economics

The Fantasy of Infinite Growth
Debt Crisis 101
Crony Capitalism
Europe’s Achilles Heel

Technology

Jobs of the Future
The Automobile and Plane
The Future of Food
Technological Goodness

Conclusion

Random Awesome Quotes

Random Fun Facts

Inspirations

Who Am I?

End

A Rebuttal to Sam Harris

I have just read the latest blog post of Sam Harris, Islam and the Future of Liberalism. While I love Sam’s work, and just finished reading his latest book, Free Will. I find myself for the first time disagreeing with him, particularly the over-simplified version of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict.

I’d love a response from Sam, but I doubt I’d get it.

My Message:

Hi Sam,

 I just read your post “Islam and the Future of Liberalism” and would like to discuss a few points that you made.

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The Fantasy of Infinite Growth

Keynesian economists, whom are the majority of economists, and of whom most government economic policy is based upon, have an illusion of continuous economic growth year upon year, and that without growth, we will have major problems; the latter part of that statement being true, but only within this system we build ourselves into.

We’ll get into the ridiculousness of this perpetual growth fantasy in a bit, but first I want to go over why growth is so vitally important in this Keynesian epoch.

Money, as I’m sure everyone knows, doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. Before we had the printing press, we used gold, silver, and various other tangible goods; such as tea in Siberia or cheese in parts of Italy.

So, once the printing press arrived and we moved to the modern incarnation of the fiat standard at the beginning of last century, we had to have a limit on our ability to create this money. Thus was born the era of debt.

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