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The Chipotle Smackdown: A Growing Rejection of Fearmongering that Denies the Evidence
Harsh criticism of Chipotle's marketing ploy to eliminate some genetically modified ingredients is part of a growing movement to stand up to advocates on many issues who promote fear that flies in the face of the evidence.
It was really interesting, and heartening, to see how hard the thinking world came down on Chipotle for its disingenuous claim that in the interest of "food integrity" the company was eliminating genetically modified ingredients from its menus. You know, the menus with drinks that will still be sweetened with sugars from genetically modified corn or beets, with cheeses that will still be made using an enzyme produced with genetic engineering, with pork and beef that have been fed genetically engineered crops. When Chipotle claims it is “G-M-Over It” and “When it comes to our food, GMO ingredients don’t make the cut”, it's basically lying, getting rid of only the GMOs that were easy to get rid of. Integrity? Well, not so much.
But while many took Chipotle to task for hypocrisy and dishonest marketing (Dan Charles of NPR: Why We Can’t Take Chipotle’s GMO Announcement All That Seriously) the majority of the critics attacked the company for its anti-science pandering to fear. The Washington Post wrote Chipotle’s GMO gimmick is hard to swallow, noting that the company is joining other food firms interested more in profits than integrity by targeting GM products as though they are some sort of bogeyman, despite overwhelming scientific evidence (akin to the overwhelming consensus on climate change), that these products carry no risk to humans and cause no more change to the environment than any hybrid, no matter how it’s created. The Post wrote:
"... no one should confuse any of these companies’ behavior with real corporate responsibility. That would require companies to push back against the orchestrated fear of GMOs instead of validating it."
The Chicago Tribune editorialized Chipotle’s GMO message is muddled, noting;
"What troubles us is that Chipotle has embraced the fearmongering of some food, environmental and health activists who have turned 'GMO' into a dirty word."
New York magazine put it right in the headline: Chipotle is Promoting Opportunistic Anti-Science Hysteria
That is what made the Chipotle backlash really noteworthy, and heartening. Thoughtful voices, with no vested interest in the issue but a deep interest in society making thoughtful choices, are calling out the fearmongers for their opportunistic, emotion-based denial of scientific evidence. The Chipotle example is just one such instance of this wider backlash against GMO fearmongering.
Consider what the Vatican recently declared. (Vatican panel backs GMOs) The leaders of the Catholic church basically called blanket opposition to genetic modification of crops by advocacy groups and governments not only scientifically baseless, but also immoral, saying:
"There is nothing intrinsic about the use of GE technologies for crop improvement that would cause the plants themselves or the resulting food products to be unsafe."
"... there is a moral imperative to make the benefits of GE technology available on a larger scale to poor and vulnerable populations who want them and on terms that will enable them to raise their standards of living, improve their health and protect their environments."
"Governments, learned societies, NGOs, charities, civil society organizations, and religions ... bear the responsibility for ensuring that these communities are not denied access to the benefits of modern science, to prevent them from being condemned to poverty, ill health, and food insecurity."
The church repudiated GMO opposition that denies scientific evidence just because agricultural biotechnology is not natural;
"... new human forms of intervention in the natural world should not be seen as contrary to the natural law that God has given to the Creation."
And the church even argued against applying the Precautionary Principle without due respect for scientific evidence and a weighing of risks and benefits, suggesting to European leaders that they
"Re-evaluate the application of the precautionary principle to agriculture, reframing it scientifically and practically and making the regulatory requirements and procedures proportional to the risk, and considering the risks associated with lack of action."
The Church position in favor of science rather than fear, and the Chipotle smackdown, should hearten anyone who wants society to make decisions and policies based not only on what our emotions and values tell us, but also what the facts say. And the GMO issue is just one area where this call is growing louder.
More and more people are demanding evidence-based decision-making about vaccines, rejecting the scientifically baseless fearmongering of a small but loud group of advocates. More and more people, including many leading environmentalists, are rejecting fearmongering about nuclear energy, noting that it emits no greenhouse gasses and no particulate pollution either. There are even a growing number of cities and towns willing to reject the excessive scientifically baseless fearmongering about fluoride.
The study of the psychology of risk perception has made clear that we instinctively do what feels safe more than carefully, slowly, methodically analyzing all the evidence. That works most of the time, but it can also produce a Risk Perception Gap, where our fears don’t match the evidence and we make choices and policies that feel safe, but actually create new risks all by themselves. So it should be heartening when thoughtful voices say, “No. Wait a second. Let’s really think this through and respect what the facts tell us.” And we should support those voices, and add our own, to the growing call for more objective decision-making, and stand up to the fearmongering advocates who pursue their own values, and profits, at our expense.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.
- The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
- Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
- The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Bradley Rivera via twitter.com<p>In 1963, the concave dish was built into a natural sinkhole on the northern coast of Puerto Rico. The location was <a href="https://www.space.com/20984-arecibo-observatory.html" target="_blank">picked because it was near the equator,</a> providing scientists a clear view of planets passing overhead, and also of the ionosphere, which is the uniquely reactive layer of Earth's upper atmosphere where the northern lights form.</p><p>Since its construction, scientists have used the Arecibo telescope to map near-Earth asteroids, detect gravitational waves, study pulsars, detect exoplanets and <a href="https://www.seti.org/goodbye-arecibo" target="_blank">search for alien civilizations</a>, among other projects. Here's a brief look at some of the discoveries and accomplishments made using the Arecibo telescope:</p><ul><li>1964: Astronomer <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Pettengill" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gordon Pettengill</a> discovers that Mercury's rotation period is 59 days, significantly shorter than the previous prediction of 88 days.</li><li>1974: Physicists Russell Alan Hulse and Joseph Hooton Taylor Jr. discovers the first binary pulsar, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics.</li><li>1974: Scientists use the telescope to transmit the "Arecibo message" to <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Globular_Cluster_in_Hercules" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">globular star cluster M13</a>. The message, when translated into image form, contains basic information about humanity and human knowledge: the numbers one to 10, a map of our solar system, an illustration of a human being, and the atomic numbers of certain elements.</li><li>1989: Scientists use the telescope to image an asteroid for the first time.</li><li>1992: Astronomers Alex Wolszczan and Dale Frail become the first to discover exoplanets.</li></ul>
The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.