Thursday, March 11, 2010

Anti-Science and Fear-Mongering Infomercials

Watch and laugh:
It would have been amazing if Billy Mays had lived to sell this tale.

This video is absurd in many, many ways, such as the laughably transparent way the spokesman tries to spin irrational fear (politicians, bankers, end of the world) into a sale. I'm not even going to address the supposed catastrophe that makes these seeds so goddamn valuable. That's just boilerplate fear mongering - no big deal. What bothers me is the odd emphasis he places on the fact that these are non-hybrid seeds.

I can't imagine a world where that is of any value. Suppose there is some sort of apocalypse; suppose the bankers and politicians and possibly the Mayans finally succeed in bringing the machinery of our society to a grinding halt and we are glad that we bought seeds back when times were good. Just suppose. Why on earth would you want non-hybrid seeds? And by non-hybrid I assume he means genetically modified. Suppose you have a neighbor who has genetically modified crops. Would you laugh at him because his tomatoes were fatter and his grain produced more each harvest?

Now, not every kind of genetic modification results in practical benefit. Some may even be dangerous. But it is just foolishness (not to mention arrogance) to abandon the entire idea of genetic modification. This kind of product makes perfect sense, however, because the people who would be worried that the world will end in chaos (and that seeds are the key to survival) will be the exact same people who regard scientific progress with skepticism.

It reminds me of the [spoiler alert] tragically terrible series finale of Battlestar Galactica. It may be true that technology can cause harm, but abandoning it altogether is certainly the wrong attitude.

Read Amelie Gillette's article here.

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