Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Terror Fails: Courage and Outrage Ignite

The tragedy at the Boston Marathon was a rookie job.  Sadly it ended in death and injury, so to those it touched it is quite serious and just as horrendous as a jet plane into a skyscraper.  The unexpected instantly changed many lives, and those killed and those surviving feel tragedy forever.

The goal of the perpetrator was to generate fear and terror. Fail. In their place is only anger and courage, and an understanding that we will not tolerate this bullshit and we'll fix it if it happens again.  We will care for those affected.

(Predictions and thoughts ahead)

If the goal of this person, and it was one person, was to generate terror and fear, then it is a major fail. This 34-year-old white male targeted the Boston Marathon.  He wanted to raise fear and terror. Instead he raised anger, resolve and dedication to a bigger ideal.  He picked the wrong event.

The marathon is the ultimate display of human resolve and character, an ability to play through pain, move when you can't move anymore, and do it with remarkable levels of performance.  The athletes lived this, and the crowds knew this.  It is an activity of perseverance.

It is the wrong crowd for a cowardly attack.

I always said that Timothy McVey didn't realize what he could do, or did.  He was a hack, a nut in his patriot cave angry at the world and seeking justice from his own beliefs.   The person that did the Boston bombings is cut from the same cloth, only he didn't have the balls and/or brains to take it further than a couple of low-rent pipe bombs left in a crowded area.

There's no terror here.  No fear.  Sadness, yes, but that only raises anger and action. It won't change us. We'll never go to the finish line of a race through a metal detector and we certainly won't take off our shoes for a marathon.  People are not scared, they're pissed.

They will catch the guy that did this and when they pull him from his loner, suburban Boston apartment he'll be identified as another loser, mad at the world, stoked by fears of the media outlets that tell him of government intrusion and  threats to his crappy "victimized" way of life. If he doesn't go down in a hail of bullets he'll go down with a needle in his arm in 6 years after proudly admitting his indiscretions.

I'm calling the Boston Marathon Bombings a major fail for one dumbass 'patriot'.

Let's watch as my prediction unfolds.

The response will be tempered and measured.  We will not live in fear from this one and there will be no action to adjust the way we do things to accommodate the sickening.  Terrorism fail.




Saturday, April 13, 2013

Moms (well) Mobs Across America- Follow the Money

The recent discussion of the data appearing on the Moms Across America have gone viral.  They have shown up across the interwebs.  Just google "stunning corn comparison" and you can see how the non-discriminating science palate of activist websites have bought the story as the highest scientific evidence of transgenic plant harm.  Even Natural News calls this made up data on a flyer a "paper" insinuating that it is some peer-reviewed work.

The readers of this blog have been wonderful in searching out reality.  Several have posted the original links to a pdf from a fertilizer company in Canada that subscribes to anti-transgenic crop nonsense.

Today I was directed to the Moms Across America again by blog reader Alun Salt.  It was the 'Moms' site that started the whole flap about how transgenic corn has no nutritional value but is loaded with glyphosate and formaldehyde.  The corn is rich in zinc an copper but has no calcium or carbon-- numbers that just don't fit with what we know about plant ion relations and metabolomics.

Now get this:

  • DeDell's Seed sells non-trangenic corn seeds.
  • DeDell's made at least one donation to Moms Across America.
  • The donation was made shortly before the "data" showing that GMO corn was poison with no nutritional value was posted. 



If you'd like your products and agenda spotlighted by an angry mob of non-critical thinkers, make a donation to Mobs Across America and send them some unvetted data to promote.  Make sure they are consistent with their agenda and not from scientists!


Can somebody say "conflict of interest" here?   The company that donates money gets their implausible, misrepresented (or possibly manufactured) data represented as actual science, when the company sells a product that competes with the product being criticized.  In other words, bash the competitor with bad information and pay a disinformation clearinghouse to promote the junk science. 

Bingo.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Gullible "Moms Across America"- A Post Mortem

A friend sent me a link to an alleged scientific report.  The "report", found here, claims to show the "stunning" nutrient content in GMO corn vs. non-GMO corn.  Mom's Across America, a website dedicated to fear mongering and cleansing of scientific input, posted this information and decorated it with a healthy sprinkling of non-critical thinking and logical fallacy. 

Unfortunately for them, the "report" has no source cited, no methods, no anything.  Definitions in the footnotes are wrong.  It appears to be a table of soil data (there is more zinc and copper than carbon present, etc) or is a complete fabrication. 

When corrected by scientists in the comments section, we were ripped apart by aggressive robot-like dogma that discredited us, slandered us and distorted our work. 

When we replied, many of the replies were censored from the website, allowing only the insane comments of bitter non-scientists to be presented.  As usual, if you can't discuss the facts, cleanse the facts so that the lies run unopposed. 

The best part is, Zen Honeycutt, the website administrator and attack dog, is one of the least scientific thinkers I ever have seen.  When you read her comments on her blog you'll see disdain and condescension for science and scientists. These folks are bitter and mean. 

Here is a sample of one of her (his) comments to justify her assault on science and scientists, and her rationale for silencing scientific discussion. You should look here to see all of it

Zen and her ilk stand by these data as legitimate.  She repeatedly bolsters their scientific validity as representing data from corn. Here's a little sample of the kookiness. (her comments in italic, my responses follow)
  
ZH: (GMO nurition) explains a lot…why animals will NOTeat GMO corn even in the dead of winter. 

KF: Cute anecdote.  Again, good at believing anti-scientific junk, not much of a science filter.

ZH:  (this is) Why human allergies have increased 400% since GMOs were introduced…why health issues have skyrocketed. 

KF: Again, someone that has no understanding of correlation vs. causation. 

ZH: Irregardless of this report, I have scores of Moms who have answered our health survey who repeatedly share that going off GMOs reduced, improved or dissappeared their children’s and their own health issues.

KF:  Aside from the use of "irregardless", this is frightening.  First, of course readers of her non-scientific website will fill out a poll saying that there are problems.  Second, her family members have health problems and she blames safe food. It is a lovely anecdote, not scientific, and when 70% of the food in this country contains transgenic ingredients and does not cause health effects, she clearly is barking up the wrong tree. Worse, her family members may have serious underlying medical problems that go untreated because a scapegoat product. 

ZH: Not eating something that has this many toxins in it would for sure be a factor in an improvement in health. 

KF:  Sure, if it had toxins in it.

ZH:  I have also been told that this report looks like a soil report because, yes, this usually is the kind of test done on soil. The people who took it ran this panel of tests because they wanted to test for mineral and toxins usually on found in soil, NOT on food, so that was the closest test to run. 

KF: Somehow she knows the people that did the work, but does not post that information.  That's a red flag to me.  Perhaps someone manufactured the information and used her website as a conduit.

ZH: Chris (a commenter on the website), just because it looks like a soil report, does not mean it is, if it says corn report, at some point, unless you have another agenda, the public needs to take things at face value…juts like I am sure your field would appreciate any study that you do and title it as you see fit, to read it and take it as you say.

KF: Chris posted that it was a soil report.  Again, Zen deflects scientific inquiry to an underlying conspiracy and agenda.  She says, "The public needs to take things at face value".   I have a UFO in Rosewell to sell her.

ZH:  I respectfully ask you Chris to use your intellect to create something useful and please stop posting on this website. We have heard your point, get your stand for honesty, and thank you for please moving on. Thank you.

KF: And then Chris is asked to move along and not comment again

That truth, reason and critical thinking are not allowed on Moms Across America!  If you dare to discuss science, you are asked to not comment.  If you continue to do so (or even if you're not) your comments are expunged.

This whole situation should be extremely meaningful to the anti-GMO movement.  Here a report, with no source in the real literature is distributed as gospel and defended rabidly. Scientists are trashed and science ignored.  It could be fake data from an anti-anti-GMO interest too, and that would be really interesting to see...  

----------------
Post-Mortem

So what is this report?  It comes from a PDF from a company called Profit Pro (ironically, as transgenic technology opponents claim that transgenics are only about profit) and their newsletter. Some good sleuthing by readers of this blog shows that Profit Pro's December 2012 and January 2013  newsletter present this table. They don't even know what Brix is. 

They have a product they want to sell, they show a bogus comparison, and scare the pants off non-critical readers.  

A quick look at the website's "articles" shows a credulous subscription to nonsense, faux scientific articles that fool readers. Same old crap.  

PLUS!!  Natural News has picked up on this garbage, calling it a "breakthrough report" and a "paper".  The best part is that the title starts with "Biotech Lies".


Please think for a minute.  Who is really misrepresenting science here?  If all of this does not demonstrate the clear agenda and lack of scientific thinking in the anti-GMO movement, what does? 




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blocked from Commenting- for Exposing Facts

Last week I pointed out that some data pitched as the dangers of GM corn were actually not from corn, but from soil itself. I found the root of the problem on Moms Across America a website desiring to stoke fear of biotechnology-- even if it means lying to readers and silencing critics that dare to talk science.

Moms Across America- Keeping Children Safe from Critical Thinking Since (at least) 2013

To recap, they posted a table of data allegedly comparing GM to non-GM corn.  The whole story is here. The conclusion from their side is that GM corn contains more zinc and copper than carbon and is loaded with glyphosate and formaldehyde.  My conclusion was that they were fooled with soil data, which is obviously the case.

When I called out the bogus information the followers of the site immediately jumped to diffuse-and-attack mode.  The comments below show this beautifully.  Not only do they try to link me to Big Corporate Ag (predictably), they also move the goalpost--   since they have been caught red handed either lying or spreading bad information unknowingly... the focus changes from the food, to the soil.  Typical.

I'm even reminded hat I'm not a soil scientist.  It is all about tearing me down, not supporting their information and providing a source or additional evidence about this magic GMO high-zinc corn.

In the same passage  I was criticized by others on that site, again connected to  Monsanto (this time because I did a video for Biofortified.org and they were apparently noted by Monsanto as a good source of biotech information (talk about six degrees of Monsanto separation!)).  You can read it all in the comments section of the website, or in a nugget like this one:



Gemma tells me of my close affiliation with Monsanto.  Wow!  I'm almost president of the company! 


Then my comments were removed, censored, because science does not mesh with their delusion.

Unfortunately I didn't get screen caps of my comments, but they all have been removed.  You can tell where they were by reading the comments section.


You can see here in Gemma Starr's comments that she really respects scientists. She was responding to my gentle and kind educational comments meant to guide and teach.  Glad she can "LOL" at the people that speak from science-based evidence.


Censored.  Nice job Moms Across America.  You are absolutely the crappiest moms I can imagine-- insulate people, including children, from the truth you find inconvenient to your cause.  Shame on you.  Teach your children to think critically and understand reality from fantasy.  That's the best gift you can give them.

THE BEST PART is that the woman at Moms Across America was happy to put a lame and rambling (borderline insane) comment on this Illumination blog.  Talk about internet balls!  Distills facts from her website that I present, but then wants her insanity represented on a scientific site!

I'm happy to leave her comments on my site.  She makes my point impeccably.


Here's what you get from Moms Across America: 

--Publication of a bogus report, or at least misrepresentation of real data

-- Discrediting scientific credentials of a helpful scientist

-- Development of tenuous links to try to show conflict of interest, again to discredit good scientific evidence

-- A desire to be heard on a reciprocal platform.  Good Ol' Zen Honeycutt wants to be heard here on Illumination, but my comments are no allowed on Moms Across America!   They want to give the illusion of a debate on my site, but a "no room for other thoughts" approach on theirs.


-- ULTIMATELY, they censor a scientist providing helpful guidance because it does not support their inconvenient interpretations and threatens their religion of "science/scientists=liars"  

To those on the fence on this issue, this behavior should be extremely telling.

The insanity continues.  Soil data are shown as corn nutritional data and the credulous keep on believing it, defending it, and teaching it to a new generation of suckers.  Just more work for me and the world's thousands of independent, academic scientists to clean up later.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

An Anti-Intellectual Attack Against Young Women

A petition has gone viral.   Spawned from an ambitious, maybe eight year old girl Alicia Serratos of Orange County, CA, a petition has been launched on Change.org to persuade the Girl Scouts of America to remove transgenic (GMO) ingredients from girl scout cookies.  Alicia claims (well, her parents claim) that "GMOs studies (sic) (in animals) have linked them to infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system."


The page from Alica's anti-GMO cookie petition.  It is hard to get a hunger for cookies when you have been fed full of deception. 



Of course, there is no real evidence to support her claims of health problems that is accepted by the scientific community.  Scientific consensus is that transgenic crops have an outstanding safety record and have no plausible mechanism of harm.

While her parents should be congratulated about raising a daughter that is inspired to take action and create change, they should be harshly criticized for perpetuating the mis-truths of activists that want to instill fear. Her parents provide a conduit to push the agenda of the deceptive.  It does not teach Alicia critical thinking, how to evaluate science, and how to identify real experts to help her address her concerns. THESE are the processes we should be teaching our daughters!

Instead, little Alicia will be taught to criticize good technology, demonize scientists, and parrot contrived messages of fear. She'll develop the credulity that leaves her vulnerable to those that wish to take advantage of her.  She won't question the reality of a claim, a dangerous place to be as a young woman getting ready to take on life.

Everyone agrees that we need to be teaching young women STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects and developing their interest in these areas.  Here, Alicia is being taught that scientists are unreliable and that technology is dangerous.

It also potentially tarnishes the Girl Scouts of the USA brand, and affects fundraising for an organization that does good things for young women with the money.

To raise a generation of strong and competent women we need to teach them facts, not use them as pawns to reinforce a misguided parental agenda.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Never Agree to Disagree in Science

Every now and then I'll be in a discussion with someone on a scientific topic.  There are three conversation enders that I abhor. 

1.  "You are just a shill for (insert company, political party, etc here), how much are they paying you?"  Read about that one here. 


2.   "What-ever."  Which is code for "I got nuthin'" 


3.  "We'll just have to agree to disagree." 


I just hate that last one, and it is the typical refuge of someone intelligent that has walled off their desire, but not ability, to learn about a given topic. 


For me, I can't "Agree to Disagree" about a scientific topic. If I'm wrong, please show me the evidence-- convince me. If you're wrong, it is important that I show you my evidence and convince you. 



Open hearts and minds can agree to find Truth, 
and discussion of evidence is the first step.  Scientists and
teachers are, by nature, compelled to do this  


Hair combing poster child Albert Einstein once said, "I'm not interested in being right, I am only concerned with whether I am or not.".  


This sentiment encapsulates the approach of most scientists.  Being right is not our job.  Testing a hypothesis and finding support for it, or evidence against it, is our job.  Our goal is to be right or wrong, just not somewhere in between.


As teachers we synthesize the information we have, distill patterns and form interpretations and conclusions.  This is what we teach, it is "right" until someone shows us otherwise. As a teacher, I care too much to let you be wrong, so on subjects where I am an authority I feel a sense of duty to add my thoughts.  In subjects where I am not an authority I feel a need to learn. 


When discussing a topic with a scientist bring real evidence, not bluster, accusations or finger pointing.  Leave anecdotes, hearsay and flimsy evidence at home.  Disagree on leaving the topic open ended.  Agree to civil discussion and learning.  Agree on seeking the truth, as the truth has no agenda. 


We never have to agree to disagree if we both agree on the Truth.





Monday, October 15, 2012

Comments Blocked by the "Right to Know"

Awesome.  For the second time in as many days I have been blocked from providing scientific content to rants on YouTube regarding California Proposition 37.  After all, it is about the Right to Know, as long as it is something they want to hear!

The situation happened on a YouTube video "That Monsanto does not want you to see, Brought to you by Nutiva and Elevate".  It presents Danny DeVito, Bill (don't vaccinate your kids) Maher, and other Hollywood luminaries that I don't recognize.  They tell us that it is a 'right to know' what's in our food, a point I don't organically disagree with, yet maintain that prop37 is an inappropriate, highly flawed, vehicle.

So I begin to comment in the 'comments' section under the name "Swampwaffle".  You can see, my comments are scientific, concise, polite and engaging.  I invite opportunities to share evidence and partake in a scholarly discussion.  With one particularly energetic person who repeatedly called me a "shill", "Nazi" and told me "fuck off and die", I suggested that he come visit me and share the same bravado.  I'd let a little air out of his stupid balloon real quick. Actually, my heart goes out to the little bastard and if he showed up I'd buy him a beer and some deodorant, then talk about how wonderful science really is. That's how I roll.

The best part is, they removed my comments about Bill Maher believing that vaccination was evil.  Later, after several back-n-forths with various posters, the owner of the video has blocked me from posting!  So much for Right to Know!  More like right to know, as long as it is something we agree with.



The poster of a celebrity-studded Prop37 "Right to Know" video has blocked me
from commenting on the video.  Oh cruel irony! 


To me, I'll take this as a badge of honor.  A voice of scientific reason is polluting the retarded sea of contorted belief and fantasy.  This is the absolute perfect example of how this movement reeks of anti-science, anti-intellectualism and flawed logic.  They are little robots, filled with malice and no scientific training, hiding behind anonymous monikers, wielding empty threats and unsubstantiated claims. 

Welcome to the bankrupt logic and reasoning of the anti-GMO movement. 

Maybe you'll be compelled to waste some of your time informing the great throng of the unteachable. The video is here.  Hit mute first before loading.  On second thought, leave it on.  It is all about the Right to Know.