On science, subjectivity and pesticides..

On science, subjectivity and pesticides..
Do I trust or do I question? Am I cynical about government or do I think humans don’t organize in perhaps the best ways to support the greater good of humanity and trend to self-serving ends? Probably by the nature of these questions you can guess where I typically land. 🙂
Recently I was researching pesticides and their impact and came across some amazing nuggets I wanted to share.
The first is an article published in nature magazine a couple years ago detailing what is being called a repeatability crisis. Now I’m not a scientist, but I do believe I understand that one of the basic principles of scientific research is that a study should be able to be repeated. Pop open the pdf link below and prepare to have your mind blown.
How can this be true? Nature magazine published that 70% of recent research can’t be replicated and that 52% scientist think it a crisis but only 31% think it actually an issue and that the rest think the results are ‘probably ok’. Worth a read to see why they say it is happening.. Wild, eh?
I’m a child of technology and have benefited and rode the wave of tech to a comfortable life. I love the scientific method and what it has delivered to humanity. Polio and measles suck. The philosophy and ideology of science is pure.. but when human subjectivity slips in the back door all kinds of bad things can happen. Remember the ‘science’ that justified racial discrimination?
The one thing the Nature article doesn’t really speak about but I think is a contributor to the problem is the speed of human content has been increasing at exponential rates. Fueled by the interconnection via the internet, every corner of discourse is filled and overfilled and human minds were simply not designed by evolution for this information processing. Even if we knew why we should consume, we just can’t keep up! So we augment (topic I’ll address in a future blog), but even with that we now see that our augmentation is learning to give us data/content we like to see and not what will challenge our world view. Call it subjective augmentation syndrome (SAS). Think politics and I think everyone can see how that works.
Government funded research and private research all have elements of subjectivity that are very hard to unwind, BUT we are all impacted by this research as policy and products are shipped that have a direct impact on our lives, ecosystems and the food chain. Anyone that thinks Goverment and money don’t mix.. I find articles like this that pop EVERY single day!
Now let me move on to glyphosate, a compound that many communities are using to stop weeds. We know who patented this (evil mega Corp that starts with an ‘M’). This is the compound that is in roundup and was tested and approved to be safe by the EPA. Look up the EPA position if your interested..
However, others are more concerned..World Health Org release on glyphosate and cancer:
Some other interesting pages that link to research that conflicts with the EPA assessment.
Look at the link above to see the parts and research that is published on Honey.
The USDA quietly dropped a plan to start testing food for residues of glyphosate in 2017. Internal agency documents obtained by U.S. Right to Know show the agency had planned to start testing over 300 samples of corn syrup for glyphosate in April 2017. But the agency killed the project before it started. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began a limited testing program in 2016, but the effort was fraught with controversy and internal difficulties and the program was suspended in September 2016. Both agencies have programs that annually test foods for pesticide residues but both have routinely skipped testing for glyphosate.
Before the suspension, one FDA chemist found alarming levels of glyphosate in many samples of U.S. honey, levels that were technically illegal because there have been no allowable levels established for honey by the EPA.
WTF? Is the government looking after us? Or is self-serving interest running rampant? My own county is selling glyphosate to my neighbors and I trust them about as far as I can throw them! And by the way, we are part of an elegant food chain.. we screw with that and the risk is considerable.
Now take a look at the aap press releases and links on glyphosate recommendations for children. Not sure I buy that everything is ok if they are saying to limit exposure to kids. I’m just a big kid at heart… I hate to think about what it is doing to the ecosystem if they think kids shouldn’t be around the stuff. Kids maybe are a bit more resilient than that bee that is pollinating for us every day, but maybe not.
So where does this leave us? My conclusions..
  1. Scientific research always needs to be questioned. The results, conclusions and the funding. Scientists welcome that inspection and want to engage, we should fund competing research and restrict publication of research not repeated by unaffiliated organizations.
  2. We can’t believe in government to protect us. We are responsible for ourselves. Get involved and be heard. I’ve following the #yanggang recently and it sounds better than others in the public eye, but we need new ideas and systems to organize in the modern world.
  3. Our own knowledge is subjective and should be questioned at every corner. Start by taking a core belief you have today and kick it to the curb and spend a day believing the ‘other’ side. Thoughts are not reality… reality isn’t even reality! Spend the day believing in the unicorn or whatever you want. The world won’t end!
I spent a fair bit of time on this blog on glyphosate but really I’m seeing waves of the same human condition of driving perceived ‘efficiency’ in every aspect of our ‘progress’. Between killer robots, self driving cars and artificial intelligence… is anyone asking ‘is this good for humans’? Either we wake up and slow down to have the right conversations or be prepared to make really bad decisions that cost lives and perhaps the future of humanity.
Ok… so I’ll end on a positive. Take a look at all the communities around the US that are making changes to their approach to invasive weeds and how they are addressing the glyphosate issues. It is good to see that at least in some places are becoming educated in the crimes of industry on the people.. profit over people = bad.
Good luck in the ongoing battle of subjectivity. It is a losing one for the human condition, but that is something that will bind us in the coming years more that ever as the machine/objective world drives to a future that doesn’t need as many inefficient humans to achieve the goal of ‘efficiency’ that they were programmed (by us!) to achieve.
And so it goes..
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