This is an article about an Analysis(1) of a web article (“The anti-GMO campaign’s dangerous war on science”) that is a hyporisy drenched assault on Informed Consent, Food Safety proponents, and the possibility of harm from Genetically Modified (GMO) food.
It shows admittedly “mad scientist” and genetic researcher Michael Eisen’s impressive use of fallacious reasoning(2) while ironically brandishing the banner of “Science.” (And No, contrary to his claims, Eisen did not provide any evidence of a war or attack on science by Food Safety proponents; nor did he show GMOs can be proven harmless.)
An article on Genetically modified (GMO) food entitled “The anti-GMO campaign’s dangerous war on science“(4) is written by an admittedly “infuriated” genetic researcher in California named Michael Eisen claiming to support Open Science.
Eisen’s article initially attracted me because I’ve been helping to inspire people with the wonders of science and promote science-based governmental decisions for a few decades, I’m aware of real attacks on science philosophy and its credibility, and I’m a bit familiar with environmental impacts — so sounds good right ?
Wow, was I ever in for a disturbing surprise. With deeply profound irony the admittedly angry Eisen claims he’s fighting to defend science (“My vested interest here is science, and what I write here, I write to defend it”). Instead his article pummels and batters science reasoning and logic so relentlessly I had to set it aside for a few days to recover from my shocked dismay.
The article’s overarching theme is based on attacking GMO Food Safety proponents for not meeting a set of standards (presumably “science reasoning”) – and to do so Eisen violates those same standards. In short — well . . . hypocrisy.
His article attacks Informed Consent, GMO Food Harm, and Food Safety proponents themselves, with a non-stop blast of logical fallacies (meaning they prove nothing) and demonstrably misleading and false science “facts.” My analysis turned up more than two dozen fallacies that mortify rational discourse and science reasoning – including a single sentence that commits six (6) logical fallacies !(5)
Commentary: What disturbs me most is how his article ignites a wildfire of false claims about GMO harm using numerous serious logical and factual errors – while fiercely and falsely proclaiming he is doing so in the name of Science with a capital “S”. — Ouch.
Eisen never mentions (or realizes?) that he and Food Safety proponents might each embrace science philosophy but have different values. Not a different view of science methods, reasoning or facts, but different judgments on how to apply scientifically generated facts to potential harm from GMOs to the real world, to real people, to real farmers who don’t want GMOs, and to actual living animals and ecosystems.
That’s not a conflict with science methodology or facts, its just another political dispute between different values for harm and benefit. Eisen apparently sees all benefits and no possible harm from GMO food, and Food Safety people presumably find serious potential harm and little to no benefits.
- Contrary to the article’s inflammatory title, it provides zero evidence of war or attack on science by Food Safety proponents
- Monsanto and other Seed makers have threatened Researchers investigating GMO harms with lawsuits if they merely publish their findings(6)
- GMOs cannot be proven harmless
- The article provided no fallacy-free pro-GMO arguments, and
- Eisen should support labeling foods as GMOs so he can avoid GMO-free food.
What really makes me uncomfortable is when Eisen claims high authority as spokesperson for “Science,” then he’s purporting to speak for me and anyone else who cares about science based research and reasoning. In that case he darn well better have his logical ducks in a row. But, he doesn’t. Not even close.
If you enjoy a logical puzzle – before you read my analysis, see if you can identify the sentence with the six logical fallacies in Eisen’s article “The anti-GMO campaign’s dangerous war on science“. Warning note: Eisen’s article contains two other sentences with at least three logical fallacies each – this guy’s work is a marvel.
Here is the entire analysis in PDF format: “Michael Eisen’s Angry, Hypocrisy Drenched Assault on Informed Consent using Massive Fallacious Reasoning while Ironically Brandishing the Banner of ‘Science’“
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Next, lets have a Contest to see who can find the most logical fallacies in any single sentence that was intended as a public statement.
The best answers will get a copy of Darrell Huff’s book “How to Lie with Statistics.” To enter – just write up your findings in a reply.
1. Click here for the full Analysis (in PDF) “Michael Eisen’s Angry, Hypocrisy Drenched Assault on Informed Consent using Massive Fallacious Reasoning while Ironically Brandishing the Banner of “Science””
2. Logic Fallacy Resources: Logically Fallacious, by Bo Bennett, Wikipedia’s list of logical fallacies, a
“Master List of Logical Fallacies” courtesy of the University of Texas, and a (sometimes hilarious) list of wonderfully ironic examples of fallacies.
3. Susan in “Patrick’s Love Cupboard” episode
4. Michael Eisen’s article “The anti-GMO campaign’s dangerous war on science”
5. Full (Award Nominated) quote of sentence with six logical fallacies —
“For the backers of the initiative to claim otherwise as a finding of fact is an outright lie, and an outlandish attack on science.”
“… when scientists are prevented from examining the raw ingredients in our nation’s food supply or from testing the plant material that covers a large portion of the country’s agricultural land, the restrictions on free inquiry become dangerous.“
Update Oct 2013: It appears I have been duped by a standard PR technique of the GM industry. Here’s an exerpt from expose by Peter Melchett –
“Monsanto’s pro-GMO propaganda efforts take the same form:
1. Choose an “objective” scientist who is not directly associated with the company but is beholden to the industry;
2. Start with the standard fear-mongering about world population growth and food supply;
3. Grab a few convenient supporting facts and misrepresent their true weight with confident bravado;
4. Claim that only GMO has chance of providing food for a growing world if only opponents would get out of the way;
5. Suggest that anyone who has a contrary fact or opinion just isn’t smart enough to understand.”