Wednesday, October 21, 2015

This day ... two years ago (1)

(Re-posting from 2013)
The liberals have always been suspicious about me, and they have good reasons to--they know well that I will depart from many of their views more often than not.  That I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU doesn't convince them that I am a liberal.  A committed liberal is no different from a committed conservative, and they are often no different from a religious fundamentalist either--because I don't worship their gods, I have to be kept at a distance.

Works well for me.  Except that the decisions they make affect my life and the lives of millions of others too.  So, I blog!

First, food and Monsanto.  To the left, Monsanto is like Voldemort.  Perhaps even worse.  A few weeks ago, I blogged about the graffiti on the bike path:


Of course, that is not the only post where I have wondered about such dogmatic opposition to GM food and Monsanto (like herehere, andhere.)  Now, I have one more in this post, thanks to this piece on argumentum ad monsantum in the Scientific American blog:
It’s fashionable to think that the conservative parties in America are the science deniers. You certainly wouldn’t have trouble supporting that claim. But liberals are not exempt. Though the denial of evolution, climate change, and stem cell research tends to find a home on the right of the aisle, the denial of vaccine, nuclear power, and genetic modification safety have found a home on the left (though the extent to which each side denies the science is debatable). It makes one wonder: Why do liberals like Maher—psychologically considered open to new ideas—deny the science of GM food while accepting the science in other fields?
You can imagine what happens when you point out to the left how dogmatically ideological they are on some issues, and you point out to the right how dogmatically ideological they are on some issues.  Soon, there is nobody to talk with.   So, I blog! ;)

So, what is the deal with the "Monsanto is evil" religion?
We tend to accept information that confirms our prior beliefs and ignore or discredit information that does not. This confirmation bias settles over our eyes like distorting spectacles for everything we look at. Could this be at the root of the argumentum ad monsantum? It isn’t inconsistent with the trend Maher has shown repeatedly on his show. A liberal opposition to corporate power, to capitalistic considerations of human welfare, could be incorrectly coloring the GM discussion. Perhaps GMOs are the latest casualty in a cognitive battle between confirmation bias and reality.
We continue with the confirmation bias with food deserts. 

No, a food desert is not about lack of food in Darfur or one of those places. 
Food deserts can be described as geographic areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance. 
An informed person somewhere in India or Tanzania or anywhere on the planet will have a tough time imagining Americans not having access to food.  Not only because it is the land of plenty, but also because there are plenty of social institutions--public and private--to address food insecurity issues.  Keep in mind that food deserts are not the same as food insecurity--there will be an overlap between the two, yes, but the food desert concept is above and beyond the real and serious food insecurity issues

A simple logic tells me that choices increase with affluence and that the poor have fewer choices.  As in life so is the case with food.  Will it, therefore, surprise us to find that the less affluent have limited access to healthy food options?  Should we worry that Bubba doesn't have access to arugula, and that he eats way too much at the neighboring McDonald's instead, and bypasses the salads there?

Imagine, if you will, how easy politics will be if the liberals and the conservatives alike ditched their dogmatic and ideological passions and, instead, merely looked at how to solve problems.  Oh, wait, I see Ted Cruz coming to attack me with a hardbound edition of the Dr. Seuss collections for merely suggesting this ;)

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