Why People Oppose GMOs Even Though Science Says They Are Safe

I used to be part of the anti-GMO thing until it was pointed out how without GMO foods we would lose a billion or two people to starvation.  As of today we have 7.363 billion people on this planet and are headed towards a massive population crash like a runaway train.

Loss of several billion people to starvation is inevitable unless we stop the population bomb now with one child only policies.

From Scientific American:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-people-oppose-gmos-even-though-science-says-they-are-safe/

Intuition can encourage opinions that are contrary to the facts

By Stefaan Blancke
August 18, 2015

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have met with enormous public opposition over the past two decades. Many people believe that GMOs are bad for their health – even poisonous – and that they damage the environment. This is in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence that proves that GMOs are safe to eat, and that they bring environmental benefits by making agriculture more sustainable. Why is there such a discrepancy between what the science tells us about GMOs, and what people think? To be sure, some concerns, such as herbicide resistance in weeds and the involvement of multinationals, are not without basis, but they are not specific to GMOs. Hence, another question we need to answer is why these arguments become more salient in the context of GMOs.

I recently published a paper, with a group of Belgian biotechnologists and philosophers from Ghent University, arguing that negative representations of GMOs are widespread and compelling because they are intuitively appealing. By tapping into intuitions and emotions that mostly work under the radar of conscious awareness, but are constituent of any normally functioning human mind, such representations become easy to think. They capture our attention, they are easily processed and remembered and thus stand a greater chance of being transmitted and becoming popular, even if they are untrue. Thus, many people oppose GMOs, in part, because it just makes sense that they would pose a threat.

In the paper, we identify several intuitions that may affect people’s perception of GMOs. Psychological essentialism, for instance, makes us think of DNA as an organism’s “essence” – an unobservable and immutable core that causes the organism’s behaviour and development and determines its identity. As such, when a gene is transferred between two distantly related species, people are likely to believe that this process will cause characteristics typical of the source organism to emerge in the recipient. For example, in an opinion survey in the United States, more than half of respondents said that a tomato modified with fish DNA would taste like fish (of course, it would not).

Essentialism clearly plays a role in public attitudes towards GMOs. People are typically more opposed to GM applications that involve the transfer of DNA between two different species (“transgenic”) than within the same species (“cisgenic”). Anti-GMO organizations, such as NGOs, exploit these intuitions by publishing images of tomatoes with fish tails or by telling the public that companies modify corn with scorpion DNA to make crispier cereals.

Intuitions about purposes and intentions also have an impact on people’s thinking about GMOs. They render us vulnerable to the idea that purely natural phenomena exist or happen for a purpose that is intended by some agent. These assumptions are part and parcel of religious beliefs, but in secular environments they lead people to regard nature as a beneficial process or entity that secures our wellbeing and that humans shouldn’t meddle with. In the context of opposition to GMOs, genetic modification is deemed “unnatural” and biotechnologists are accused of “playing God”. The popular term “Frankenfood” captures what is at stake: by going against the will of nature in an act of hubris, we are bound to bring enormous disaster upon ourselves.

Continue reading at:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-people-oppose-gmos-even-though-science-says-they-are-safe/

Navy SEALs set to open to women, top admiral says

From Navy Times:  http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2015/08/18/women-seals-greenert-losey-buds/31943243/

By David Larter and Meghann Myers, Staff writers
August 19, 2015

he Navy is planning to open its elite SEAL teams to women who can pass the grueling training regimen, the service’s top officer said Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

Adm. Jon Greenert said he and the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Brian Losey, believe that if women can pass the legendary six-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, they should be allowed to serve.

“Why shouldn’t anybody who can meet these [standards] be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason,” Greenert said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Navy Times and its sister publication Defense News. “So we’re on a track to say, ‘Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.'”

Greenert’s full interview is set to air Sunday morning on “Defense News with Vago Muradian.”

The push to integrate the storied SEAL brotherhood is coming on the heels of a comprehensive review led by Losey, the head of Naval Special Warfare Command, that recommended women be allowed under the same exacting standards required of male candidates. Final approval is still pending. The Army and Air Force are also moving to open all combat jobs to women, according to officials who spoke to the Associated Press. It’s believed the Marine Corps may seek to keep its ground combat jobs, including the infantry, male-only.

Continue reading at:  http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2015/08/18/women-seals-greenert-losey-buds/31943243/

The Politics of Being a Woman in a “Christian Nation”

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-messinadysert/the-politics-of-being-a-w_b_7995976.html


08/17/2015

The far right is pitting God against women. Mike Huckabee’s support for the decision to deny a 10-year-old rape victim an abortion is just another example in a long history that continues this election season.

At Fox News’ Republican Presidential debate in Cleveland, Jeb Bush boasted that, informed by his faith, he “defunded planned parenthood and created a culture of life in my state.” When Megyn Kelly asked Scott Walker if he would “really let a mother die rather than have an abortion,” he refused to temper his position that there should be no exceptions to his “pro-life” position.

Ted Cruz professed “God speaks to me every day through the scriptures and this informs my position on religious liberty, life, and marriage.” And Marco Rubio argued that even in the case of rape, women should not have the ability to make choices about their pregnancies. Sadly, such proclamations ignore individual rights, freedom of religion, and the fact that faith as a guiding principle can be dangerous when the foundational teachings of social justice are ignored.

In an effort to create a “moral” society, women’s health and welfare are nothing more than political pawns for too many Republicans. The supposed secular nature of the nation aside, the parameters of the pro-life conversation are severely limited in scope. Claiming they are focused on protecting life in the name of God, such views ignore the interconnection between such legislation and poverty rates. Politicians who brag about defunding Planned Parenthood ignore that nearly all federal funding received by the organization goes to contraception and other essential health services. Under Jeb Bush’s “culture of life,” Florida became one of the worst states for women’s health and wellbeing in the nation. Sr. Joan Chittister has explained these political notions are pro-birth; little attention is given to what becomes of children once they are born or to the women who have given birth.

Even Joe Biden, who acknowledged that his Catholic values – particularly in relation to reproductive health — should not be forced upon other Americans, fails to recognize that Catholicism supports the wellbeing of women. Reproductive health is a social justice issue and refusal to grant access perpetuates the oppression of women.

Perhaps Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best: “Reproductive freedom is in a sorry situation in the United States. Poor women don’t have choice.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gina-messinadysert/the-politics-of-being-a-w_b_7995976.html

I was a civil rights activist in the 1960s. But it’s hard for me to get behind Black Lives Matter.

From The Washington Post:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/24/i-was-a-civil-rights-activist-in-the-1960s-but-its-hard-for-me-to-get-behind-black-lives-matter/

I support BLM’s cause, but not its approach.


August 24, 2015

As the rapper Tef Poe sharply pointed out at a St. Louis rally in October protesting the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.: “This ain’t your grandparents’ civil rights movement.”

He’s right. It looks, sounds and feels different. Black Lives Matter is a motley-looking group to this septuagenarian grandmother, an activist in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Many in my crowd admire the cause and courage of these young activists but fundamentally disagree with their approach.  Trained in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., we were nonviolent activists who won hearts by conveying respectability and changed laws by delivering a message of love and unity. BLM seems intent on rejecting our proven methods. This movement is ignoring what our history has taught.

The baby boomers who drove the success of the civil rights movement want to get behind Black Lives Matter, but the group’s confrontational and divisive tactics make it difficult. In the 1960s, activists confronted white mobs and police with dignity and decorum, sometimes dressing in church clothes and kneeling in prayer during protests to make a clear distinction between who was evil and who was good.

But at protests today, it is difficult to distinguish legitimate activists from the mob actors who burn and loot. The demonstrations are peppered with hate speech, profanity, and guys with sagging pants that show their underwear. Even if the BLM activists aren’t the ones participating in the boorish language and dress, neither are they condemning it.

The 1960s movement also had an innate respectability because our leaders often were heads of the black church, as well. Unfortunately, church and spirituality are not high priorities for Black Lives Matter, and the ethics of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that empowered black leaders such as King and Nelson Mandela in their successful quests to win over their oppressors are missing from this movement. The power of the spiritual approach was evident recently in the way relatives of the nine victims in the Charleston church shooting responded at the bond hearing for Dylann Roof, the young white man who reportedly confessed to killing the church members “to start a race war.” One by one, the relatives stood in the courtroom, forgave the accused racist killer and prayed for mercy on his soul. As a result, in the wake of that horrific tragedy, not a single building was burned down. There was no riot or looting.

“Their response was solidly spiritual, one of forgiveness and mercy for the perpetrator,” the Rev. Andrew Young, a top King aide, told me in a recent telephone interview.

“White supremacy is a sickness,” said Young, who also has served as a U.S. congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, and mayor of Atlanta. “You don’t get angry with sick people; you work to heal the system. If you get angry, it is contagious, and you end up acting as bad as the perpetrators.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/24/i-was-a-civil-rights-activist-in-the-1960s-but-its-hard-for-me-to-get-behind-black-lives-matter/

Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Cray – Sweet Home Chicago 25 Years Ago Today

Stevie Ray Vauhan’s Very last song Alpine Valley 8/26/1990

How ‘Rock Star’ Became a Business Buzzword

From New York Times Magazine:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/how-rock-star-became-a-business-buzzword.html?_r=2

By Carina Chocano
Aug. 11, 2015

Once, a long time ago, a rock star was a free-spirited, convention-flouting artist/rebel/hero/Dionysian fertility god who fronted a world-famous band, sold millions of records and headlined stadium concerts where people were trampled in frenzies of cultlike fervor. Someone who smashed guitars, trashed hotel rooms, developed Byzantine drug problems and tried to mask evidence of his infidelity with the strategically applied scent of breakfast burritos. Despite what his ‘‘Behind the Music’’ episode would invariably reveal, a ‘‘rock star’’ — or the Platonic ideal of a rock star — was not just a powder keg of charisma and unresolved childhood issues, but a revolutionary driven by a need to assert the primacy of the self in an increasingly alienating commercial world.

Now, 60 years, give or take, since the phrase came into existence, ‘‘rock star’’ has made a complete about-face. In its new incarnation, it is more likely to refer to a programmer, salesperson, social-media strategist, business-to-business telemarketer, recruiter, management consultant or celebrity pastry chef than to a person in a band. The term has become shorthand for a virtuosity so exalted it borders on genius — only for some repetitive, detail-oriented task. It flatters the person being spoken about by shrouding him in mystique while also conferring a Svengali-like power on the person speaking. Posting a listing for a job for which only ‘‘rock stars’’ need apply casts an H.R. manager as a kind of corporate Malcolm McLaren; that nobody is looking for a front-end developer who is addicted to heroin or who bites the heads off doves in conference rooms goes without saying. Pretty much anyone can be a ‘‘rock star’’ these days — except actual rock stars, who are encouraged to think of themselves as brands.

This bizarre transposition goes back to the turn of the millennium, when the idea of a ‘‘creative class’’ was popularized in books like Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson’s ‘‘The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World’’ and Richard Florida’s ‘‘The Rise of the Creative Class,’’ which argued that innovation would drive growth in the 21st century. The creative class, according to these thinkers, valued the cool things in life. More than money and status, they cared about authenticity, activism, ecology and the interconnectedness of all things. They were more egalitarian, more into personal growth. Whereas the popular business literature of the 1980s urged managers to imagine themselves as fierce, merciless warriors (Sun Tzu’s ancient treatise ‘‘The Art of War’’ was required reading for many American executives and business students), by the end of the century, consultants at McKinsey had declared a ‘‘war for talent.’’ Business writers in the new millennium reconceptualized men in suits (or hoodies) as social revolutionaries.

According to a 2013 study in The Human Resource Management Review, ‘‘talent,’’ in its new usage, could refer to qualities, like natural ability and technical mastery, or it could refer to talented people, as in a subset of elite, superskilled workers, or it could mean all people, no matter how untalented. On the HBO show ‘‘Silicon Valley’’ (in which, in a recent episode, a pretty event manager introduced the benightedly dorky programmers Dinesh and Gilfoyle as ‘‘rock stars’’ to her sexy, unimpressed stunt man boyfriend), Nelson Bighetti, known as Big Head, is a prime example of this last category. Big Head is an inept app developer whose swift rise through the ranks of his company, Hooli, makes no sense to his colleagues — which of course it shouldn’t, because it’s all just part of a cynical legal strategy. But Hooli, a very loose spoof of Google, is a faith-driven ‘‘culture’’ led by a ‘‘visionary,’’ Gavin Belson. To doubt his talent for spotting ‘‘talent’’ would border on apostasy. Belson is a ‘‘rock star,’’ and Big Head becomes a rock star by association. ‘‘Silicon Valley’’ nails this particular lexical puffery: the way that language can create power in the most ridiculous, illogical ways. Rock star ad absurdum.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/how-rock-star-became-a-business-buzzword.html?_r=2

 

Banned TED Talk: Nick Hanauer “Rich people don’t create jobs”

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