Friday, February 24, 2017

Musings: Confusion and Deceit

I learned a new word the other day: agnotology, the study of ignorance. Or more specifically, “willful acts to spread confusion and deceit,” often through false or misleading scientific studies.

It's certainly relevant in these days of “alternative facts,” when beliefs and feelings are given the same credence as facts, and misinformed citizens (and their elected officials) gain equal standing with experts.
But what's really disturbing is seeing 10 politicians — Kauai Councilman Mason Chock, Maui Councilmembers Elle Cochran, Alika Atay, Kelly King and Don Guzman; and Hawaii Councilmembers Jennifer Ruggles, Maile David, Karen Eoff, Valerie Poindexter and Eileen O'Hara — engage in this intentional, willful deceit of the people they are pledged to represent.

These 10 elected officials today used the commentary section of Civil Beat to outright lie, claiming Hawaii's “most vulnerable” citizens are being exposed to agricultural pesticide drift and that the state has ignored Joint Fact Finding recommendations on soil and water sampling. Neither is true. There is no evidence anyone is being exposed to drift, and the state has launched environmental studies to monitor for pesticides.

Then they intentionally sought to confuse by saying that air sampling has consistently detected the pesticide chlorpyrifos at Waimea Middle Canyon School, without mentioning the levels were "well below health concern exposure limits or applicable screening levels" and the chemicals present in stinkweed were found, too. They went on to claim that chlorpyrifos caused the hospitalization of 10 farmworkers last year, without also noting that not one of the workers was actually injured. Instead, they were taken to the hospital solely for observation.

They further sought to deliberately confuse by saying “27 schools in Hawaii are within 1 mile of open agrochemical research fields where large amounts of RUPs are sprayed,” while conveniently failing to note that these fields haven't caused one school evacuation, or a single case of student pesticide exposure.

But these 10 politicians saved their biggest lie to bolster their call for statewide buffer zones and mandatory pesticide disclosure:

This can be done without burdening small farmers or food producers, because most food farmers do not use high levels of RUPs.”

Wrong. These demands burden small farmers most of all. Though the seed companies and other large operators may have the land, personnel and revenue to comply with such requirements, small farmers do not. These measures, which are totally unwarranted, will seriously harm Island agriculture, which is already struggling to survive.
These 10 politicians know the facts. They also know they are intentionally distorting the facts. Their willful deceit is a page taken straight from the playbook of anti-GMO groups that worked to secure their election.

We all know it's wrong to lie and deceive, and it's especially disturbing to see it in public servants. It's really quite shocking to see these 10 elected officials actively seeking to perpetuate ignorance in order to satisfy a special interest group.

It's telling that only Mason Chock, whose very entry into politics was accomplished through dirty dealings, was the only one who signed on from Kauai. Voters there have finally gotten wise to these despicable tactics and largely rejected the politicians who embraced them. Mason barely squeaked into office last November, and he is extremely vulnerable in the 2018 race.

Now it's up to voters in the rest of the state to throw off the cloak of ignorance that has been so carefully woven by well-funded, mainland-based anti-GMO groups. Unless, of course, they like being fooled and duped.

So why do people believe what they do? Even in the face of facts that point otherwise?

Well, as I learned listening to researchers at the recent AAAS confence, young people are largely unable to discern the credibility of information they encounter in media. Activists work this naivete by making extensive use of deceptive memes and social media to spread false messages.
And as explained by Yale law professor Dan Kahan, a specialist in cultural cognition, taking a certain position on an issue is a badge of loyalty to a group. It invests the person strongly in maintaining that view, and the investment is cemented through the use of argumentative, polarizing memes.

We've certainly seen that play out in Hawaii, where newcomers and others eager to achieve a sense of belonging have aligned themselves with special interest groups that use appealing phrases like “aloha aina warriors” and “aina protectors” to attract followers.
But ultimately, they remain ostracized by a community that has been appalled at the negativity, polarization and hate perpetuated by the anti-ag/anti-GMO activists. Secure in their little echo chambers, and fed a relentless diet of propaganda, they start to believe they're the majority, when in fact they're the lunatic fringe.

To counter the polarization, Kahan said, one must find ways to disentangle people’s identities from the issues, or use their alignment with the group to shift them toward the scientific consensus, such as getting knowledgeable people from the groups they identify with to share the truth.
In the meantime, those in the know must keep speaking out. The future of Hawaii agriculture hangs in the balance.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eileen O’Hara not Eileen Eoff

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks. Correction made.

Anonymous said...

Good post Joan! These antis will keep you fully employed for a long time to come. So glad we have you there fighting for us. It's like that hamster game where the head pops up, and you pound it down. Keep pounding Joan! Eventually these guys will learn and they will keep their heads down, cause they know otherwise you will be there to pound them.

Anonymous said...

When one does not have an argument but still wants control then propaganda, lies, and brainwashing are the next best thing...

Anonymous said...

Wow Joan. You nailed it. As usual.

I didn't laugh while reading your blog today, as I normally do, because this is serious business and not a bit funny when our elected officials are purposefully lying their heads off to pander to their activist puppeteers and followers.

Anonymous said...

Hate hate hate hate hate hate hate. Joan is a shoe in for player hater of the year!

Joan Conrow said...

@8:44 Please don't project your own hatefulness onto me. It's not hateful to expose and condemn wrong actions, especially those committed by elected officials.

Anonymous said...

@8:44am...oh my gosh....that was so lame!!! I laughed out loud! Keep it up ms. joan!

Anonymous said...

8:44 must be an "agnotoligist" himself.

Anonymous said...

neil degrasse Tyson and Ricky gervaise oh now I'm completely in Love with you!❤️

Anonymous said...

Ah.... 8:44, are you hearing the drum roll of the red shirts as they goose step their blind way down Rice Street? Are we to have more of this horseshit? I suppose, in addition to the great quotes Joan has provided, it's time for one from Edmund Burke: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." To which we could add the motto of Yale- Lux et Veritas or light and truth. Keep shining the light and continue to show these ingnorati for uninformed,useless, carping, obstructive boils on the ass of the commonweal they are.

Anonymous said...

Re: 8:32 a.m. Hamsters are getting a bad rep here - I believe you are referring to the Whack-A-Mole game. Not the same animal....

Dave Smith said...

Doncha love it when the only defense someone has against information they don't like is to call the source a hater? Thanks again, Joan, for spreading light on another important matter. Very sorry to see so many Big Island council members in this campaign of disinformation -- a majority, no less -- and appreciate those who chose not to take part.

Bradley Choquette said...

Meh.... March Against Monsanto is dying. GMO Free USA is almost gone.... "GMO Labeling" is a done deal.... Keep hitting a gangster in the knees (figurative speaking of course) and eventually they quit getting up. Keep up the fight Joan and truth will ultimately prevail. Integrity is a precious commodity and it's 10 times easier to lose than regain.... Gary Hooser is gone and the special 10 can tread water doggy paddling is a sea of deceit for only a finite period of time. Voters are interested in other issues (homelessness, drugs, street repairs) and they'll find different candidates to pursue those hot button issues.

Anonymous said...

Keep dreaming Bradley. You think Costco, Walmart, and every other supermarket chain in the country is expanding their organic section for nothing? Your way of farming is what's almost done.

Joan Conrow said...

Wake up to the real world, 1:55. Some 90 percent of the corn grown in the US is GM, and the soy is equally high. Yes, there is a growing market for organic, but it remains a tiny sector of the industry. GM ag ain't going anywhere soon.

Anonymous said...

Joan you are talking cattle feed, high fructose corn syrup and ethanol. I am talking food. People don't want to buy or eat GMO food if given the choice. Admit it, the antis have won the war of narratives. IF given the choice people will always choose nongmo

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, the corn and soy are used for those products, but also for food. The antis have certainly skewed the narrative, but they haven't won it. Every single day people have a choice, and the majority of them still choose GMO. All you have to do is look at sales and market share.

Anonymous said...

"Every single day people have a choice, and the majority of them still choose GMO."

That's funny. Then why are you and the chemical companies so opposed to labeling GMO as GMO. Seems like they'd sell even more, right? I mean with the majority choosing GMO...

Anonymous said...

Get real Joan. If two ears of corn are side by side and one is clearly marked organic or non GMO, a consumer will PREFER to choose the organic/nongmo product. No shortage of focus groups that confirm this as fact.

Anonymous said...

You're wrong 2:56 PM.

Wrong about what genetic engineering is and can be used for, if the antis stop poisoning the public's perception.

And wrong about what people will choose if given a choice. My friends and I all purposefully choose GMO, if given the choice. We support science, modern agriculture and its benefits to farmers and to the environment. We don't believe in lies and fear-mongering and we don't believe in organic, which is based on a marketing program that has nothing to do with not using pesticides.

Anonymous said...

@5:43 that's about the dumbest thing I've read on this blog and a prime example why our country is in the present state it is in.

Bradley Choquette said...

I agree with @5:43. I don't waste my money on over priced non-gmo and organic. I avoid chipotle too. More people have died of food poisoning eating organic food (than eating conventional food). That's a remarkable fact since organic/non-gmo comprises less than 10% of the total market share. I'm boycotting Subway too...

Bradley Choquette said...

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2011/07/organic_food_deaths_in_europe_could_have_been_prevented.html

Anonymous said...

The nuts are making progress via The Garden Island. Had one tell me dairies were density. He comes from a dairy State. I said when I was a child Kauai had 7 dairies. No less than 3 had the evil processing plants.
We have all lost our minds.

Anonymous said...

February 24, 2017 at 4:21 PM said:
"Get real Joan. If two ears of corn are side by side and one is clearly marked organic or non GMO, a consumer will PREFER to choose the organic/nongmo product. No shortage of focus groups that confirm this as fact."

REALLY? Is that you, Kellyanne? Well, focus all- whose groups, whose studies, what consumers? Whole Foods shoppers? Most of us would choose the fresher, less expensive ear; and we wouldn't be shopping at Whole Foods which is a haunt for people with excess disposable income and idle minds.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Bradley didn't have a long winde type about his corn that is going to feed the world being characterized as "cattle feed, high fructose corn syrup and ethanol." Those uses aint saving anyone, just creating more problems that we are going to have to deal with sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

7:52 American Thinker? Went there and couldn't decide if I should puke or laugh. At least you didn't cite Alex Jones or Rush Limbaugh.

Bradley Choquette said...

Ummm....food grade white corn and popcorn are not used for cattle feed (usually). Also, rangeland isn't suitable for farming, so cattle still have a viable place in the food system. In addition, the ethanol co-product is a nutrient dense, high protein feed source that increases feed efficiency by a factor of 25%, and ethanal uses 1/5 the energy to produce than gasoline. For now, we have the resources to raise produce, nuts, dairy, eggs, feed, fuel, fiber, and meat. In the future, maybe not so much fuel and less meat.

Go ahead @8:12, create a better system. IF it's better than mine, I'll copy it to make a living... Until then, keep dreaming that you're fixing "problems".

Anonymous said...

"REALLY? Is that you, Kellyanne? Well, focus all- whose groups, whose studies, what consumers? Whole Foods shoppers? Most of us would choose the fresher, less expensive ear; and we wouldn't be shopping at Whole Foods which is a haunt for people with excess disposable income and idle minds."

I agree with Joan on the absurdity of the antis and their fear mongering. But this comment thread is a classic example of how the far left and the far right are two sides of the same coin. Why would anyone be pro-GMO or pro-pesticide? We can agree that the level of risk posed by GMOs and pesticides as used in farming under current regulations is sufficiently low that we tolerate the risk of harm. But there is most definitely a risk of harm. So if you are given the option to eat organic, pesticide-free produce at the same price as GMO produce grown using pesticides, why the hell would you choose the latter? You're just as much of a hack as the antis -- just a big ag hack.

You are anti-science if you cannot accept 4:21 p.m.'s hypothetical. So let me add the what should have been obvious qualification. ASSUMING THE SAME PRICE POINT, if two ears of corn are side-by-side and one is clearly marked organic and non-GMO, a consumer will PREFER to choose the organic, non-GMO product, AS HE SHOULD. If the pro-GMO contingent cannot accept this basic FACT, they are equally anti-science and anti-fact.

Anonymous said...

11:07 your argument is full of common fallacies and shouting in ALL CAPS will not make it stronger.

1) there is no risk of harm associated with eating GMOs.

2) organic produce is not pesticide-free.

3) organic is almost always more expensive than conventional and/or GMO.

4) since organic production is associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions , purposefully choosing GMO/conventional produce is ethically defensible

5) the organic industry's marketing is based on lies and fear-mongering, so rejecting it is ethically defensible

6) 4:21's hypothetical should be rejected because the price point will not be the same, and many consumers don't care one way or the other.


Bradley Choquette said...

@9:05 ya, I hear you...Articles with 7 credible citations can be hard for those with closed minds to stomach... Hope you were able to keep your organic tofu down, or didn't laugh so hard that you blew kale juice out your nose. Of course, E coli poisoning for 3,800 people means some people were not so lucky. In fact, 40 people died from eating over priced organic food in just one outbreak. I don't think that's funny at all, but I can agree that it makes me sick to my stomach too.

Anonymous said...

Hey, February 25, 2017 at 11:07 AM. Why would anyone assume the same price point for the products? You are obviously accustomed to either assuming too much or constructing fallacious analogies, but I haven't encountered any standard grade non-GMO organic produce at the same price point as non organic produce. 4:21's hypothetical is fakery and contrary to the marketplace most people shop in. Buy what you like and stuff it down your throat, but leave the rest of us in peace while you do it.

John Kauai said...

I recall the sandwich I bought in Minneapolis year ago that caused me to boycott Subway. I can still taste the phoniness about it and it brings on a psychosomatic illness that I am feeling even at this moment.

I also recall the first Subway I ever had in Boulder sometime around 1987. That was the best sandwich ever.

Anonymous said...

Da Hoos is just keeping his jowls in. There will be a wide open election next year and Da Hoos may be a shoe-in.
There are not many contenders and the voters are purty shtupid.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, the organic fear factory almost convinced me to buy the higher priced frozen blueberries at Costco. Fortunately, I didn't. The berries caused an outbreak of Hep A. Sadly, a google of "organic berries hepatitis" shows a more recent outbreak in Canada. Check out organic pomegranate as well. There is nothing healthier or safer about food labeled organic.

Anonymous said...

Yes, organic foods have caused outbreaks. But if you're basing safeness on that alone, there is nothing safer about nonorganic food. Google it.

Bradley Choquette said...

@ 7:23 I took your advice and "GOOGLED IT". "Cherry pick studies, many funded by the organic industry; have the data analyzed by scientists funded by the organic industry; then spin the interpretation to turn neutral or even negative data to support your predetermined perspective." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jon-entine/what-you-get-when-activis_b_9287434.html

"Studies show conventional foods may contain more pesticide residue than organic, but organic foods should not be considered to be pesticide free. Most health professionals consider the risks from pesticide residues in the diet to be negligible and consuming organic foods is unlikely to result in health benefits." https://www.bestfoodfacts.org/organicbetterthannonorganic/

Google is designed to find the results you are looking for.. I could've put a dozen Genetic literacy project links that you wouldn't bother reading. The point is, you GOOGLED organic is more healthy and found that result. I googled organic food claims are overstated and I found the results for what I wanted to find. Congratulations, you're a scholar of Google University. You've learned how to obtain confirmation bias to confirm your echo chamber's findings. In the end, you failed to make your point, but provided proof of how big organic is scamming people into paying more for food... Myself, I don't like being scammed and avoid organic food. To each their own

Anonymous said...

Exactly, 7:23. The big differance between conventionally grown food and organic is that the organic label on a food creates an illusion of safety, for which one pays a higher price.

Anonymous said...

The trick is gmos are actually so,good for you. Remember those rats they fed the gmo diet to. Their muscles got huge. Some say they were tumors. Looks like muscles to me.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks for referencing the discredited Seralini study, 1:45, (even though you intended it as snark). That study is a perfect example of agnotology.

Anonymous said...

"Emails reveal role of Monsanto in Seralini study retraction"

http://www.gmoseralini.org/emails-reveal-role-of-monsanto-in-seralini-study-retraction/

Anonymous said...

The Garden Island and the dairy nonsense is making an impact. It is like people don't know that Kauai once had seven dairies. One right in the middle of Waimea town.
Now a dairy is like a superfund site to normal people who I have known for years. They talk about cattle density etc. Were they concerned about the cattle density at the denser farm at Moloaa? And who knew that milk processing is like mercury mining or a nuclear waste dump in its environmental effect on the land? I am shocked they allow houses, a hotel even, on the old Waimea lands. Shocked!
We have lost our minds.

Anonymous said...

10:42 are you reading challenged? The article was about manure on lettuce, which caused an E coli outbreak. E. coli outbreaks occur with nonorganic food. The article wasn't really about pesticides and didn't discuss E.coli outbreaks with nonorganic food. Kind of selective, don't you think?

Joan Conrow said...

@3:02 It's telling that the only refutation you can find comes from Seralini's own site. No one has been able to replicate his studies. They're bogus. But he, like anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield, is now trying to spin their lack of credibility into a conspiracy tale: they've been silenced and persecuted in trying to share "the truth." Again, this is a perfect example of agnotology.

John Kauai said...

A Radio broadcaster in CA reported last week that two of his friends were still in the hospital (2 weeks) after a Honeymoon on Maui. They picked up Rat Lungworm apparently from lettuce. Today's TGI has an article about the disease.

http://thegardenisland.com/news/state-and-regional/hawaii-bill-could-boost-funding-for-rat-lungworm-battle/article_7e758dd3-c562-5cc5-a0e5-b08b7f7ed252.html

Anonymous said...

2/26 @ 10:42 AM: Yes, E. coli can occur on any food no matter how it is grown, and it is notable that E. coli outbreaks occur at a much higher rate in organic produce vs. conventional produce, and has caused deaths to consumers whereas consumers don't die from pesticide residues on conventional produce. Plus, actual lab analyses of organic food often shows the presence of pesticides that are not permitted in organic production. Not too mention, credible research shows that over 99% of the pesticides you consume were naturally produced by the actual plants that you consume.

Thank you for reminding us all to be non-selective in reviewing the facts and credible science when we compare the benefits and risks of organic and non-organic food.

Anonymous said...

Rat lung worm is also popping up on the Big Island. Slugs and snails eating rat droppings then ending up in leafy greens, probably organic, is the cause. Many organic food eaters in rural big island. Wash your leafy vegetables.

Anonymous said...

Here's a university level course we can all benefit from- some more (2/26 @ 10:42) than others. Videotaped proceedings will be available online http://callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html#Big :

Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data
Logistics
Course: INFO 198 / BIOL 106B. University of Washington
To be offered: Spring Quarter 2017
Credit: 1 credit, C/NC
Time and Location: Wednesday 3:30-4:20 MGH 389
Enrollment: 160 students
Instructors: Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin West
Synopsis: Our world is saturated with bullshit. Learn to detect and defuse it.

The syllabus online and the course was filled in one day which says something about the demand for something like this (without going into Trump's White House operation.).

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Chem Companies will have a secret cure in a few days to cure that rat lung just like they did the zika that was going to kill us last summer.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous today at 6:40 AM who said...Wash your leafy vegetables....to avoid becoming infected with rat lungworm disease. My understanding is that it is currently unknown whether one can get infected from the snail/semi-slug slime alone and whether washing produce is effective. Also, there is a possibility that water catchment systems may be a source of the infection. We need more information to protect ourselves. The recent legislative informational briefing at the Capitol (Feb. 22) was frightening. Here is a transcript from UH; it's a word document:
pharmacy.uhh.hawaii.edu/rlw/documents/rat_lungworm_transcription.doc

Every other week for over 4 years, I bought a local CSA box of produce from a small, but well-advertised upcountry Maui farm that claims to be organic (they're not certified). It took me hours to clean everything before putting it away. I always found slugs and snails within the greens but I justified dealing with them by thinking I was helping my family stay healthy by eating more fresh produce. I finally stopped buying the produce because it's just not worth the risk of getting rat lungworm, even though so far, it doesn't seem prevalent on Maui.

If farms don't control pests that carry diseases like this, they are risking the health of the public. Looking back, I think it was stupid of me to feed my family that stuff and irresponsible of the farm to sell it.

Bradley Choquette said...

@10:42 "But if you're basing safeness on that alone..." You asked for an answer that wasn't based on safeness alone and that's what I gave you. Organic isn't anymore nutritious and it isn't more healthy than conventionally grown vegetables.

You also have greater chance of getting sick eating organic vegetables. For me, the risk isn't worth the extra money.

Locally grown organic produce maybe more fresh than conventionally imported from other parts of the world. Fresher foods have higher nutritional values (sometimes). I can give you that much. IN the end, the choice is yours. Eat whatever you want.

In regards to the article's discussion of pesticides, here is what it had to say:

"Several recent peer-reviewed studies have been published demonstrating that organic foods contain lower levels of pesticide residues than do conventional (non-organic) foods and that some organic foods may also possess higher levels of potentially beneficial antioxidant chemicals than their conventional counterparts. It seems reasonable, therefore, to conclude that organic foods may be healthier to consume than conventional foods. In my opinion as a food toxicologist, however, this fairly simplistic conclusion is misguided as it ignores the complexities and tradeoffs associated with different food production systems. Organic foods are clearly different than conventional foods but such differences, when viewed comprehensively, do not support the conclusion that organic foods are healthier.
Several pesticide monitoring studies have consistently shown that conventional foods contain more pesticide residues than do organic foods. Organic foods should not be considered to be “pesticide-free” foods, however, since some U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved pesticides are allowed for use in organic production while other pesticides not approved for organic production have nonetheless been commonly detected on organic foods.
Consumer risks from pesticide residues in foods are most directly related to the amounts of pesticides on foods rather than the presence or absence of pesticide residues. Using our best available data, typical consumer exposures to pesticides in the diet are at levels of 10,000 to 100,000 times lower than levels that have been fed to laboratory animals on a daily basis throughout the animals’ lifetimes that have shown no effects in the animals. Thus, the present risks posed from pesticide residues in the diet are considered by most health professionals to be negligible and further reduction in pesticide residue exposure through increased consumption of organic foods is unlikely to result in any additional health benefit for consumers."

You have to answer the survey to read the rest of the article. Yet, I'd like to thank you for actually looking at the link... I think it's the third time it's happened since I started "trolling" for GMO's.

Anonymous said...

Labeling most certainly helps..........Costco has Organic Ketchup. It comes in a 2 pack. It used to be a 3 pack without the "Organic" label. What a great idea in Marketing. It tastes the same...after eating the "organic" ketchup my mouth is the same as when I ate non-organic version. Heinz must of found a shit load of Organic tomato farmers...take that back because you only get two for the price of three. My honey is "organic" and I love her........