AS221: Tommentary

Haven’t had an opinion episode in a while, so here it is! Lots of interesting stuff discussed today. Peter Hitchens thinks Christopher and the rest of us atheists just didn’t believe in god because we want to have lots of sex. He’s only half right… Also, are Republicans the only party that rejects science? A recent article argued that Democrats might be just as anti science sometimes.

And finally, I unload on what I find to be an incredibly annoying comment I got in response to my calling about body shamers.

19 thoughts on “AS221: Tommentary”

  1. In your Tommentary you framed it as “it’s OK to call people out when they are being sexists or racist”. I agree, and if a friend of mine casually used the “N” word for example, I would. But imagine if a black man just beat my friend up unprovoked, and he calls the guy the “N” word, do I really need to explain to him that word is derogatory? He knows it is, and he’s using it intentionally for that reason.
    Likewise Tommy Robinson feels (or is pretending to feel) he was unjustly labeled a racists, and xenophobe by Martyam. His response is to body shame her. He knows it’s wrong, but his intent is to piss her, and her supporters off. Acting upset by it is exactly the reaction he is trying to evoke. I don’t see how this isn’t obvious to you. The only reaction his shit deserves is to be ignored, or simply pointing out he has no rational response to her characterizations of him.

    1. As you went on you added that you believe Tommy actually thinks that’s a valid argument? How can you possibly believe someone would think that? If he added a comment like “my argument is as valid as Maryams” he might be saying her argument is equally ridiculous, but otherwise I find it impossible to believe anyone would think that was a valid argument for anything. Unless you were arguing someone shouldn’t go into the swimsuit modeling business. Maybe that’s where our primary disagreement lies. If I believed he actually thought he was making a good point I’d agree that someone needs to explain to him why it isn’t.

    2. It’s not obvious to me because it’s not correct. It’s not ok to respond in that way. It’s perfectly ok to call it out. You’re just wrong. If your friend got beaten up by a black person he would call him the n word? There’s your problem right there. I would never do that. I also wouldn’t expect people to ignore that. When you’re not a racist, that’s just not in your vocabulary to call someone.

      1. “When you’re not a racist, that’s just not in your vocabulary to call someone.”
        That makes absolutely no sense to me. If someone is upset, and their intention is to hurt someone’s feelings they will say what they think will hurt the persons feelings.
        When I was in the army there was a guy in our unit who was the biggest asshole, and homophobe I’ve ever known, When people wanted to piss him off they would call him a faggot. Not because people had a problem with gay people, but because they knew he did.

        You seem to think everyone thinks the way you do. Because you apparently have such an aversion to the “N” word, an aversion I share to be honest, that anyone who would use the word must be a racist. It strikes me rather like (not the greatest analogy) someone saying “if you wouldn’t tongue kiss a man you must be a homophobe”.

      2. BTW I didn’t find it awkward at all, you simply exposed your irrational position on this subject to the rational listeners. Feel free to Tomment on my comments whenever you’d like without concern that it will be awkward for me. Unlike the people you sometimes feel need white knighting I have a thick skin. 🙂

  2. I am responding to your thoughts on Mike’s comment–I am unaware of the cartoon you refer to of Maryam Namazie that Richard Dawkins said was done by a good comedian. Are you talking about the video Dawkins retweeted that got him disinvited from the Skeptic Conference?

    I am also a little trouble by your comment that when someone is overtly racist or sexist, those people should be called out. Not so much that they should not be called out, but you lack consistency on the issue. In particular I am talking about show regulars Tom and Cecil from Cognitive Dissonance. Have you ever called them out, or told them something said on their show was really not OK? For example, Tom and Cecil recently joked that Ted Cruz’s Dad sounded like Ricky Ricardo and they would hire him to work on their yard. Just because that’s the nature of their show does not make it any less “disgusting and insulting,” and just because they self-admit it was racist doesn’t make it any less racist. They tell dead baby jokes, abortion jokes, and some pretty obscene anti-Christian jokes so I would think much of their material would fall in the category of “that really is not OK.” On more than one occasion they have told commenters who find their material offense to stop listening. I doubt they are inclined to stop and I would not want them to. I have always seen your show as well thought out serious commentary and I’m not saying Tom and Cecil should be called out. I just think it may me considered a little hypocritical that your are selective in your outrage when it comes to off color material.

    1. Yeah you make some interesting points. I’d like to first point out that even if you were right, my response to Mike still stands, since his argument was I have to ignore trolls since what they want is a reaction or something.
      I’d say the major difference is the arena and specifics of what we’re talking about. The people I’m talking about have repeatedly seen it as an acceptable response to Maryam to ridicule her body. These aren’t comedians doing an entertainment show or something. Also, I don’t mind if people don’t like Tom and Cecil’s particular joke if they think it went too far. Someone has every right to voice their opinion in that case. What I’m saying is that when genuine sexism is being expressed, I think we should call it out. I don’t think anyone must call it out, or is obligated to necessarily, but I also really don’t appreciate people like Mike telling me I have to ignore it and policing my reaction rather than focusing on the actual sexism.
      I think the other part that makes this more insulting is that Maryam has a completely normal body for a person of her age. So it’s an even further slap in the face of women I to draw a caricature in which her body is totally exaggerated and made to look ugly in order to ridicule her views. It’s just not cool, in my mind, and I’m going to call it out.

      1. “his argument was I have to ignore trolls since what they want is a reaction or something.” “Mike telling me I have to ignore it”

        I’ve already ignored this a couple times, but I have a real problem with your characterization of my comments as saying you “have” to do anything. I’m giving my opinion of what I think is the best way to deal with the situation, and yes, contrary to what you said in your Tommentary I am allowed to do that. You are free to disagree. I’m also amazed that my opinion upsets you so much.

        “Mike telling me I have to ignore it and policing my reaction rather than focusing on the actual sexism”

        Also I’m curious, and haven’t followed the situation at all “I don’t twitter” What sexism are you referring to? Or are you conflating body shaming with sexism?

      2. I’m not offering a defense of Mike. Maryam Namazie does nude protests as a challenge to Islam. I think that is a great attention getter, but if you take off your clothes and your picture gets put on the internet there are going to be boorish comments about how you look. OK that’s sexist, but what about the Islamist that want to beat or kill her? I think it is a disservice to her and her effort to focus on the low brow body shamers rather than how oppressive Islam is to women. Back in September several woman were beaten for a topless protest at an islamic conference. So my point is body shaming is not the problem. It’s almost like you are trying to protect Maryam from the male gaze rather than actual violence and in recent shows you seem to be almost avoiding the topic of Islam, whether it is the Dawkins video or your contempt for Rubin report. I would love to see you take on Islam with the same critical approach you successfully use on Christianity. “Thomas and the Koran” so to speak.

        1. “OK that’s sexist”

          Since you agree it’s sexist, and Tommy hasn’t responded to me, perhaps you can explain why that’s the case. Are there relevant factors in this situation I’m unaware of? If not would it be sexists if it was woman body shaming women, or men men, or women men. I honestly don’t understand what makes it sexist? I suspect if some guy who Tommy Robinson didn’t like appeared naked in protests he’d be making fun of his penis size. Do we have reason to believe he’s not an equal opportunity body shamer?

          1. The reason I ask is because I’m wondering if calling him sexists isn’t rather like calling Sam Harris an Islamophobe. In the same way that Islamophobe has become the go to insult used to dismiss critics of Islam, has sexist because the catch all insult used to dismiss critics of women? Tommy Robinson is certainly an ass, but do we know he’s a sexist?

  3. Thomas, I’m glad you raised the question of anti-science bias in at least some progressive thinking as this is something I’ve caught elsewhere in skeptic communities and have wanted to respond to. I feel comfortable posting a comment here because of the openness you tend to demonstrate – a desire to spark conversation rather than to boost a prevailing ‘correctness’. I embrace much that contemporary science promotes and confirms – but not all. I’m decidedly not fully on board with dominant “it’s all good” conclusions re GMOs and nuclear power. To me, GMO and nuclear promoters seem limited in wisdom, they seem to ignore evidence that strongly supports the precautionary principle. Promoters also seem blind – seldom if ever mention or examine – to politics of funding as a very real player in our profit-driven economic models.

    Re progressive ‘anti-science’ bent – here goes:

    I’d like to comment on the general skeptic community’s tendency to accept scientific ‘truths’ often without pausing even briefly to consider a need to question further, or to pursue wider and deeper understanding of impact of some of these ‘truths’. The point of contention as I see it is when research turns to applied technologies – so my thoughts are restricted to applied sciences. As a member of the elder generation (born mid 1940’s), I’ve witnessed a few science based ‘truths’ applied as technological marvels that – in time – turned out to introduce serious and negative ‘knock on’ consequences.

    I suggest resistance to ‘easy capitulation’ to applied science is a valid form of skepticism. Such skepticism is important, and linked to species survival. During the 1950’s, by my experience, deference to emerging technologies and research that accompanied it was common. Even when it maybe should not have been. Perhaps ‘deference’ is the key attitude to separate out and examine. ‘Deference’ is problematic as an automatic generalized response to ‘expert’ opinion or claim. Sometimes deference is appropriate, sometimes not. Skepticism is a healthy anti-deference practice, even when sometimes applied to widely embraced science findings.

    Several specific examples of applied science from post WW2 developments come to mind. One quite positive toward earth care, protection of biodiversity, and human food production; the others not so much. Negatives first: frontal lobotomies, electroshock treatments, X-ray technologies, DDT, and processed ‘enriched’ grains – especially wheat flour used in breads. Economic links to technologically driven improvements were simultaneously underway. Leading national ‘wealth’ indicators became linked through marketing to a fledgling consumer-driven society with attendant developments of planned obsolescence and consumer credit. ‘Citizens’ by late 20th C was an almost non-existent concept of the individual – even in matters of education and health needs, we are now conceptualized as ‘consumers’, and ‘non-expert’ consumers at that, who ought to know our ‘place’ which is to not ask too many questions. (The latter development, of the accepting consumer, is precisely what skepticism hopes to change!)

    Throughout my childhood the above listed were touted as ‘bees knees’ solutions without reservation. Ordinary citizens tended to defer to hierarchical (and patriarchal) authority at home, through religion, and politically. Science was embraced with enthusiasm for good reason, but through a mechanism of deference, the enthusiasm was too often unchecked.

    It took some time for harms of new developments to be noticed. Each of the above listed introduced brutalities (frontal lobotomies and electroshock), or health harm to human or biosphere (X-ray dose, DDT, white bread.)

    We’re often reminded that these harms were overwhelmingly mitigated by tremendous benefit to most – but that’s a different and large conversation that needs analysis of multiple factors. Despite promises of above list, individuals did indeed suffer and certainly earth biosphere and watershed health was generally ignored or treated as irrelevant to ‘progress’. In many cases the harm to individuals or earth bio-related wellness was out of sight, out of mind. Increasing numbers moved to towns and cities to enjoy paved streets, reliable income compared to farming, and time for leisure/holidays. Most suburban and urban multitudes did not witness consequences of forest clear-cutting or of industrial pollution impact on some populations and on rivers, watersheds, and biodiversity. Collateral harm was tolerated, and if noticed, was explained away. Damage, illness, even death, to individuals, distant populations, and the dynamics of earth’s biosphere was ‘unfortunate but necessary’ at best.

    (“Some must be sacrificed for the greater good, so long as it’s you and them not me and mine who are sacrificed” is a mentality that still prevails? Sometimes I think this is the case.)

    I said I’d describe negatives first. That done, now a positive. At the same time I witnessed the above as a child, I also witnessed one strong development rooted in science based research. Post Dust Bowl, contour farming, crop rotation, and other strategies helped preserve soil and watershed and simultaneously supported at least some wildlife needs. Permanent stands of trees and shrubs instead of fence-row to fence-row cultivation supported prairie pheasant and other small critter populations including songbirds. These science-driven soil conservation practices had knock-on benefit to watersheds, creeks, rivers and eventually oceans. (But monoculture was also a ‘thing’, and as produce prices remained or dipped, eventually fence-row to fence-row cultivation with larger and larger fossil fuel machines came to dominate. Watersheds, soil retention, and biodiversity be damned.)

    My own precautionary principle practices put me on guard re developments in particular of GMO and nuclear power. GMO’s first: I’ve read unsubstantiated ‘skeptic community’ claims that Monsanto does not aggressively protect its patents against farmers who find their own seed cross-pollinated by forces of nature. Such profit-driven proprietary ‘values’ are real, and are perhaps a small part of the larger harm to individuals and biodiversity from GMO developments. My post here already too long, but this photo-journalistic based investigation makes points that should cause the skeptic community to be less credulous: multiple concerns here: See also A feature of GMO crop production is monoculture – already an known biodiversity damaging problem. Another feature is creating plants not susceptible to chemical poisons, thus allowing heavy herbicide and pesticide use which has severe impact on all ‘nonrelevant’ life, including it seems farm worker, (debt and suicide for India’s cotton growers entangled with GMO based economy: ).

    The problem with nuclear power – repeated ad infinitum and still not successfully addressed, comes down finally to the problem of waste. It’s a problem that should not be waved away dismissively. Nuclear waste (whether produced ‘normally’ or through disaster) is already wreaking known and unknown harm and havoc: (habitat, human community, contaminated water and solid waste are issues not resolved: )

    In my opinion, which I consider to be informed if also perhaps unavoidably ‘as per personal world view’, no one is immune to assorted preferred mental manipulations to over or under emphasize risk. We need to be skeptics – including when our skepticism offends ‘the in crowd’ by questioning ‘the sacred’ of applied science. Nearly all science research, including on critical issues, is also entangled with need for income and success in research funding. None of it is psychologically or politically free. Cultural enthusiasms can become mob thought, even among skeptics and it’s wise to keep this in mind. No communities , including the communities of skeptics and of scientific research, are immune to missing an Achilles’ heel or the power of mistletoe on Balder.

    1. Maggie, I totally agree with you that we need to question and be skeptical about things, even when it comes from scientists. However, when overwhelming evidence supports something, like GMOs, I go where the evidence points me. To address what you said about GMOs, I will say that they’re not perfect, but the pros outweigh the cons, and they are a boon to us. If you haven’t already, check out Steve Novella’s blog for some good info on GMOs: In a nutshell, he talks about the repercussions of banning GMOs and how most anti-GMO activists focus on hypotheticals instead of actual concerns. Not to mention that many problems associated with GMOs are not inherently GMO problems. He has other articles about GMOs, addressing other aspects of them and can explain it better than I can. Now, I don’t know a ton about nuclear energy, I’ll have to read up on that, but I do know that there are ways to store the waste and things are still in the works to perfect it. Again, I don’t know enough to have a definite view. Also, to address your “anti-science rant”, I have to disagree with you that skeptics don’t question scientific claims. Sure, maybe some don’t, but I think most do. Virtually every time a scientific claim was found to be incorrect, it was from a fellow scientist; science corrects itself. Just as an example, the entire field of psychology has come under fire recently for tons of experiments not having reproducible results. Anyway, I couldn’t agree more with your last bit about questioning everything! 🙂

      1. Crystal, there’s so much in your response that – combined with my assertions – could surely lead to a much larger conversation in which even the skeptic community may be called to task. I’m not sure I know where or how to begin so what follows will surely fall short of key points I’d like to make. In addition to a separating out and focusing on 2 areas of technological development (nuclear, GMO) you happen also to have introduced psychology – a field of study I’ve also long pursued!

        Note on this: I did catch recent reports on problem of reproducibility in social sciences, especially psychology. IMO anyone wanting the field of psychology to provide best insights has long been aware of this problem. Human motivation and action, even within one individual, is almost ‘impossibly’ complex. Once individuals gather themselves into groups complexity is compounded. An already ‘impossible’ puzzle – scaled up to cultures and subcultures – perhaps can be described as infinitely ‘impossible’? But it remains true that across human history, our species hard-wiring has revealed a number of predictable patterns. These are proven by quantity even if tricky to reduce to hard number evidence. One very simple indicator of the social science ‘evidence’ conundrum that also amuses me a bit is re nature/nurture. I’ve yet to learn of any caregivers who intentionally and ‘wisely’ ignore offering the young any nurturing whatsoever! 🙂

        I could go on (and on and on) as the factors influencing ‘world view’ as it develops in the individual and simultaneously is entangled with cultural values has been a study of interest for me. Instead, I’ll pull up ‘world view’ as an unavoidable, ‘learned and shaped’ factor that shows up in all our thoughts and choices – including all of us who identify as skeptics.

        I’ll narrow further to my personal world view as it relates to earth stewardship. Even here there is ‘too much’ to call up! First point – my experience with ‘the living earth’ (and my appreciation and awe for same) is long and deep. ‘Evidence’ for my skeptical view of GMOs and nuclear as ‘close to problem free’ is drawn from research and also from direct, fairly comprehensive, experience – watching, observing the dynamics of entangled life, from soil microorganisms through to whole forests and prairies, with all they offer. It’s automatic for me to extend the reality of these dynamics to environments less familiar – such as oceans.

        Combined with this awareness (entanglement in all directions!) is a strong early formed world view, even intentional childhood commitment, to ‘the reality’ that thriving life, even thriving human life, is dependent on a thriving earth. A handy historical statement that works for me is the wisdom guide attributed to the culture of the Iroquois Confederacy: “In all of your deliberations in the Confederate Council, in your efforts at law making, in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion. Cast not over your shoulder behind you the warnings of the nephews and nieces should they chide you for any error or wrong you may do, but return to the way of the Great Law which is just and right. Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people and have always in view not only the present but also the coming generations, even those whose faces are yet beneath the surface of the ground – the unborn of the future Nation.” (

        The text of the quote recognizes unavoidable psycho-social hard-wiring that becomes political, “in your efforts at law making”. It also recognizes potential for short sighted more immediate gratification as a risk: “in all your official acts, self-interest shall be cast into oblivion.”

        I suggest that ‘self interest’ is not only a practice of individuals. It is a practice of cultures and subcultures that may be excessively motivated by hard-wired wish to experience comforts. And at this point psychology and other social sciences have come back into what I believe we need to understand about ourselves – ‘world view’ formation and involvement in our thinking and action is ‘afoot throughout and always has been’!

        Social sciences are actually quite new relative to ‘hard science’ as systematic studies – late 1800s? Erosion of magical thinking, and conscious awareness of the many ways we opt to confirm biases are important to skepticism but are certainly not eradicated. Each skeptic individually, and in community, is inclined to seek, accept, and even embrace ‘knowledge’ that ‘feels’ reassuring based on underlying beliefs and related values. The urge to ‘pin down certainty’ is among our impulses toward ‘feeling reassured’.

        Skeptics tend to be more aware of these ‘belief traps’ and are in better position to notice and ‘control’ the longings that underlie them. Or – skeptics, if they choose, are also in better position to examine their own bias inclinations and to examine these for sake of formulating a philosophy of life that confirms (for instance) “murder is antisocial”, “earth care is advantageous to species survival”. My point is that examination of ones own biases and values, learning how they developed – from what sources of influence – and choosing which values to drop and which to champion may not only be possible – it may be essential.

        And we can’t do the winnowing without attention to the full range of social sciences – including grasping patterns and motivations that underlie economics and politics. There is ‘deep history’ behind economic and political themes and memes, all arising from species hard-wiring. ‘Social Darwinism’ as championed by Herbert Spencer is a case in point. Our economic practices are heavily rooted in Social Darwinism – a set of beliefs and values hardly compatible with concern for The Seventh Generation.

        Cutting to chase! I don’t know if I’ve successfully laid out what I’d like to share but arriving at Social Darwinism seems a good place tohead toward a close. Social Darwinism is a useful way to label beliefs, values, and actions that dismiss cooperative, mutually supportive, approaches to stewardship of ourselves and all else on earth in favor of “might makes right” and “consolidation of wealth and power is justified – gives evidence of ‘superior’ capacity and achievement”.

        IMO, the general skeptic community does not take social sciences such as economics and politics into sufficient account. If we did – we’d be more observant of role of these in what science research is supported through allocation of resources and enthusiastic press – and what is omitted, neglected, or purposefully ‘dissed’. We’d understand infamous behavior of the tobacco industry is not an aberration or ‘one-off’ but is a well entrenched pattern. We’d recognize motivations for European and British ‘enclosure laws’ have continued and are still operative ‘all over the place’. Furthermore, we’d understand these anti-social, anti-thriving, corruptions as rooted in psychology which thankfully is now available to replace notions of ‘god’s will’ as causal.

        But we’re not there yet! Research exploring money, wealth, and politics that is entangled in promotion of GMOs and nuclear is informative – not as evidence of “conspiracy theory” but as evidence of the perpetual ‘impulse’ to satiating a range of psychologically rooted hungers and therefore motivators. From individual world view to widely shared mutually compatible views of a culture or subculture – psychological influences are woven into any cultural ‘truths’.

        It’s my observation we’ll not escape anti-social, anti-thriving, anti-cooperative and anti-empathic motivators so long as we remain who we are as a species! Yet at the same time, within our psychology is strong impulse to cooperate, to empathize, and to formulate societies that reflect this! Given more clear and honest awareness, we can do more to promote cooperative, empathetic, mutually supportive relationships with ourselves and nature.

        For the time being, I’m sticking to my concern that knock-on impacts of what we call GMO developments and the issue of nuclear waste is not being addressed with clear, diagnostic, future-protecting, mindfulness. (By the way what we label as GMO developments are NOT the same as long practiced ‘selective breeding’, as some skeptics would suggest – may as well plunk that observation in here but won’t further develop it). I am convinced that politics and wealth-accumulating economic thinking and models are significant players in research outcomes, and I don’t find these factors examined in general skeptic discussions on these topics.

        (I don’t accuse individual researchers – they will be a mixed group, but they will each also be a ‘psychologically motivated being’, with more or less mindfulness of their individual biases. And typically their own entanglement with economic/political reality may influence choices oriented toward individual or family thriving – even at expense of thriving elsewhere.)

        Thanks for the nudge! Forces me to try to articulate a package of thoughts so wide in scope that most moments it seems unwieldy! (Especially as my day to day life doesn’t really have room for sorting it out – I’m still much entangled with ‘the earth’, a resource limited and fairly labor involved situation!)

      2. In my long reply to your post I failed to include a response to “… many problems associated with GMOs are not inherently GMO problems.” Major concerns of impact of increased use of poisons (herbicides, pesticides) may not inherently be involved in lab work to develop GMO plant varieties. ‘Proprietary’ protections also are not inherent in the work. But both become firmly attached when new varieties are applied outside the lab in fields and as new stressors on biodiversity. The first (chemicals to support GMOs at cost to biodiversity) is open-ended in impact, including to humans and human communities working and living ‘up close and personal’ with GMO production. The second – patent ownership – is directly linked to world views that emphasize private or corporate competitive gain ‘against all comers’. In both cases, values of mutually supportive societies and practices on behalf of thriving – now and in future – is compromised, perhaps dangerously so. (IMO). (Final confession – I’ve not checked out the link you provided. I really don’t have time these days to involve myself in the questions, and given need to tend to outdoor related tasks may not until winter. But I have explored pro-GMO arguments a fair amount. I’ve found many of them ‘short’ in addressing wider, comprehensive, needs of thriving individuals and communities on a richly thriving earth. I’m ignoring genetic fun and exploration with meat providing species altogether by intention.)

        1. I should have said I have not YET checked the link you share. I’m sure there will be a space of time long before winter when I will check it out!

  4. I also have problems with GMO’s but this is not based on the technology or idea but the implication. If there was a GMO which requires no addiional chemicals or treatment and was fine to cross pollinate I have no problems with it. More blight resistance crop by cross breeding is fine. My problem is with companies having to much control after you have paid for the product and the overall environment. I see no problems with how the Melinda and Bill foundation is doing research into better crops.
    No on nuclear power. There is a cleaner and safer solution and that’s Thorium reactors. The problem here is that no money has been out behind then as yu can’t use the products in the weapons industry.

    1. Thank you Michael for weighing in with reservations about GMOs and nuclear. I’ve not checked in on Thorium for awhile, last I did I decided consensus is that “it’s not ready”? In any case, I’ve got to get to other matters, sort of frustrating, because if I could, I’d get back to my long-abandoned blog and have at the many critical topics now under discussion!

      I’ve spent most of any ‘unscheduled’ time I’ve had in last 6 yrs or so researching more deeply into history, economics, and other social sciences than I’ve ever done. What I learned, and the ‘take away’ I formed once new learning was combined with my already underway ‘individual psychology’ and earth-care understandings – has left me continuing to enthuse about human potential while simultaneously considering we as species may never ‘wise up’ in time to recognize the suffering we cause or why. The time factor is made obvious through global warming, but psychologically we’re still prepared to do “me vs them” both in human/human and human/natural earth relationships. Not necessary given innate impulses to empathy and cooperation but long enduring ‘power over’ structures continue to dominate.

      Anyhow, I’ve spent several days trying to find a way to represent my thinking in brief. Many efforts. What follows is failed in that it’s too long, but it’s pages and pages short of what I came up with, both in text and links! I hope what I’m posting is a coherent portion of my efforts.

      Each wealthy global industrialist is inclined to look out for furthering wealth interests over ‘better nature stewardship responsibilities’. Koch brothers an extreme example but only one of many. (Their upbringing makes their adult values seem a no-brainer, given how childhood development of world view works.) As a cohort, wealthy global industrialists and the political interests that enjoy their favor (Clinton’s among them – and there are many) have, do, and will continue to trade wealth and power opportunities. Rewards of prestige and money will find their way to support positive research, and to passing policy blocks that protect technologically based ‘power niches’.

      Individual researchers who ‘flag’ developments as problematic are not favored. I already cited the tobacco industry as an example – from public relations and advertising to involvement with published research selection, that industry showed what can be done.

      I have no idea why, as skeptics, we’d not apply lessons learned to other mega-financial ventures such as Monsanto’s GMO activities, nuclear, and while we’re at it – international drug trade/global banking entanglement, environmental protection research on fracking, tar sands, oceanic drilling, over-fishing, palm-oil industry deforestation, consumer-debt based societal obliviousness, and so on!

      Research *does* get done and is published that speaks to my original plea for applying the precautionary principle. Below are a few links.

      I’d only first caution us to keep in mind that deeply held beliefs, usually developed before standard school age, are operative everywhere – even the most well-meaning citizen. Even some science research individuals, may succumb to tantalizing promise of material security in our societal “conditional regard” approach to “successful” lives. Those who don’t may be penalized in various ways – overlooked for promotion, loss of tenure, imprisonment (Chelsea Manning), banishment (Julian Assange, Edward Snowden), and limited access to popular public media venue (Chomsky) including when running legitimate political campaign (Sanders).

      These are only highlights – the same ‘sanctions’ apply right through all aspects of culture. My take on real story of Emperor’s New Clothes – the kid’s parents were embarrassed so whisked him home and sent him to his room, the parade continued while general population of watchers continued to ooh and aah.

      Willful Blindness, Heffernan: (review/promotion, offers numerous quotes from book, plus link to Heffernan’s Tedtalk on same.)

      Science studies itself for biases, 1997-98. Note: some technical language may slow down reading, but ‘gist’ is there even with scan style read. ‘Chapter 6’. ‘Biases In Interpretation and Use of Research Results’, (includes entire rationale and program of study) (There are newer studies, this one deep-scope and came up early in search).

      Edward Bernays, (Freud’s nephew). Came to America and became ‘father of public relations industry, i.e. advertising and propoganda). “Study reveals how often America’s politicians do exactly what rich people want them to do.” (This study was widely publicized, the article I link seems a decent summary and includes charts, text quotes, and stats.)

      gmos, increased pesticide uses: see also reader comments, including experiences with chemicalized farming.) (Also see below article for additional pieces critical of Monsanto, Dow, and ag-chem industry) (Dec 2014) (Same theme/evidence covered elsewhere, this captured both Canada and US govts as practitioners.)

      Tar Sands impact on regional environment and indigenous people: and 4th article down at directory, quote: “And although federal scientists have confirmed this, they are prevented from sharing information about their research with the media.”

      Nuclear: One of several ‘buried problems’ re nuclear: WHO and IAEA link controversy: “The agreement states that the WHO recognises the IAEA as having responsibility for peaceful nuclear energy without prejudice to the roles of the WHO of promoting health. However, the following paragraph adds that “whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement”. (WHO ‘subservient’ position relative to IAEA came up a lot in heated discussion re Chernobyl and Fukushima harms, politics underlying Japan’s massive nuclear industry also not ‘clean’ of special interests from the very beginning. ) See also Wikipedia on IAEA.

      Surely more than enough! Thanks again to Tom for hosting excellent thought-generating programs and to you and all who enter conversation!

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