Re: Pseudoscience

1

I shop at Whole Foods a fair amount, though I'd like to think I've internalized the lesson that you don't turn off skepticism about marketing just because the marketing is accompanied by friendly cultural signifiers.

On a somewhat tangential point about homeopathy -- how many of you knew that there's actually an exemption for homeopathic medicine written into some of the core protections of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act? Wikipedia has a brief summary. I was pretty shocked to learn that a few years ago.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
2

So, why do many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently?

Because Whole Foods does a lot other than just peddle homeopathy and anti-GMO nonsense?

A better comparison would be between, say, the Creation Museum and Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy's autism organization. I don't think most liberals do perceive those as being quite so different. Both sell nonsense, full stop. (Except, they are different in the scale of harm actually being caused by the respective movements, which, let's agree, is significant. When the homeopaths and the anti-vaccinators start lobbying for equal time in our science classrooms--and winning!--then we'll talk. Until then, false equivalence.)

That said, obviously Whole Foods is terrible and no one should shop there.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:07 PM
horizontal rule
3

Walgreens has a stunning amount of homeopathic water for sale. The "baby" section has, in addition to diapers and food jars and so on, a bunch of "pain reliever" and "colic medicine" water. If you want actual medicine you have to go to a different part of the store.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:09 PM
horizontal rule
4

It's sad to see that the article has a ridiculously stupid definition of the paleo diet. Oh my God do you mean that people who practice the paleo diet aren't eating exactly what their paleolithic ancestors ate? That refutes the whole hypothesis, hot diggity are you smart Mr. Author.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:10 PM
horizontal rule
5

Or put differently this guy may also be kind of a moron.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:11 PM
horizontal rule
6

Without making Jenny McCarthy, Creationists, the writers of marketing copy for the vendors of nutritional supplements sold at Whole Foods, or anyone else non-morons.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:12 PM
horizontal rule
7

Also: Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods.

Is this even remotely true? Who are these Americans? I assume he just means liberals? Because I'd be shocked if the percentage of Americans who buy homepathic products at Whole Foods is significantly higher than the percentage that supports creationism or denies climate change. Something like a third of the population supports creationism or denies climate change.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
8

The author has a B.A. in Religious Studies from Yale, so you know he has to be a smart non-moron.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:14 PM
horizontal rule
9

I think 2 has it. The Creation Museum is a propaganda outlet, and Whole Foods is a grocery store. They may sell all sorts of bullshit quack medicines, but the store isn't primarily devoted to teaching anyone anything. I mean, the article is bitching about Dr. Bronner's Soap as meaning something about Whole Foods? It's soap. With a wacky label, but it's perfectly pleasant soap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
10

Honestly, I think this article is just an online application for a gig at Slate.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
11

Tangential: I've never understood why anyone would buy meat from whole foods - the butcher counter always looks and smells about how I would expect it to given company founded and run by a vegan. Eew.

2: I'd call actual illnesses and deaths attributable to lack if vaccination a real harm. IOW I'll see your sullied science classroom and raise you dead children.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:17 PM
horizontal rule
12

you don't turn off skepticism about marketing just because the marketing is accompanied by friendly cultural signifiers

Can't be said enough.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
13

"of" not "if"


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:19 PM
horizontal rule
14

Is Dr. Bronner's Soap meant to be taken seriously or ironically? I could never tell. Or maybe the answer is that the makers are perfectly happy to sell to both demographics, or that they are now even if they weren't originally.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:20 PM
horizontal rule
15

2: I'd call actual illnesses and deaths attributable to lack if vaccination a real harm. IOW I'll see your sullied science classroom and raise you dead children.

And as this has actually started to become a problem in recent years, the amount of vocal ire directed toward the anti-vaccinators has increased appropriately, don't you think?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:21 PM
horizontal rule
16

Does Whole Foods have anything to do with anti-vaxxers? I mean, it might, I wouldn't know. I didn't notice a mention of an actual connection in the article.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:21 PM
horizontal rule
17

14: I actually buy it (the bar soap) because I like the scents. When I was growing up, friends with hippie-ish parents tended to have it -- I don't think the label was taken either seriously or really what I would call ironically. Sort of regarded as sympathetic and appealing craziness?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:25 PM
horizontal rule
18

14: it was meant seriously by Dr. Browner but is meant essentially kitschily by his descendants.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:26 PM
horizontal rule
19

16: no, I think that came just from my comment 2. Although, it's affluent conservatives who are most likely buy into the anti-vax hysteria. Not liberals.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
20

I think something around 40% of Americans believe in creationism. I agree that belief in creationism probably matters less than some people think, but it's a much higher percentage than people who are anti-vaxxers, not to say that the anti-vaxxers aren't despicable. I mean I personally know more anti-vaxxers than creationists but that's because I know some rich stupid assholes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
21

The article does bring them both up, but in a sort of guilt by association kind of way -- not alleging any real connection.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
22

I'm aware that some editor likely came up with the subhead, but I couldn't get past it. "Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods." Um, no. Now fuck off. To the extent that Whole Foods aggressively supports bullshit quasi-medicine, it's fully in keeping with John Mackey's bullshit libertarianism.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:31 PM
horizontal rule
23

Politically, Whole Foods may literally be the most despicable company in America. I'd rather buy my groceries from the Koch brothers.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
24

15, 16, 19, 21: my 11 was in reaction to "false equivalence" remark in 2.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:38 PM
horizontal rule
25

22 exactly right.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
26

Aaargh, 2, 23 & 24 all me, don't know why coming up blank.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:40 PM
horizontal rule
27

Your name was diluted according to homeopathic principles.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
28

Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods.

Is this even remotely true? Who are these Americans?

Oh jesus christ, I know tons of people who fit this.

Actually, a lot of them probably aren't that riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but go head over heels for the WF strain of pseudo-science. I'm thinking of the women in the mothers group in my town.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:45 PM
horizontal rule
29

And is all the more POTENT because of it!!!!! Mwah ha ha!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:47 PM
horizontal rule
30

28: sure, I know plenty of them to. My point was that those people cannot in any fair sense be thought to be representative Americans. They're well out of the mainstream.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:49 PM
horizontal rule
31

Also: being anti-GE is different to being anti-vax is different to being a climate change denier, given that the first is arguable and at least somewhat defensible and not really that morally culpable, the second is unarguable and very culpable but reasonably limited in scope and the third is unarguable, quite culpable, and poses a massive civilisational crisis for humanity. Of course they get treated differently --- they are different.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:50 PM
horizontal rule
32

28: its the pseudo part that is the most aggravating. If they just wanted to believe in woo qua woo that would be different.

Another reason I assiduously avoid "mothers' groups".


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
33

My point was that those people cannot in any fair sense be thought to be representative Americans. They're well out of the mainstream.

Oh, this is true.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
34

Personally I would send every member of a mother's group to a reeducation camp along with the libertarians. I guess probably separate reeducation camps. Also 23 gets it right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:53 PM
horizontal rule
35

Although...I think hocus-pocus-science is probably fairly mainstream. Just not the shopping at WF.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:53 PM
horizontal rule
36

The number of scourges that can't be blamed on either organized moms or libertarians is pretty slim. If we started with those two groups we'd achieve a lot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:54 PM
horizontal rule
37

Posted to the Flickr pool: super-hydrating water at Whole Foods.

I mostly hate Whole Foods but shop there a lot now because it's by far the closest grocery store to our apartment.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
38

Here's who the author means by "Americans":

. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites.

Those who live within 15 minutes of a Whole Foods.

I live 45 minutes away, so I think I'm super-real.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:55 PM
horizontal rule
39

I had a mom call me today for me to be a reference for one of my baby-sitters. Great.

She ended up lecturing me for about ten minutes on why she was planning to ask the baby-sitter to get re-certified in CPR because it didn't appear that she'd been updated since she was a counselor at summer camp and on and on and on. I got kind of furious because I kept trying to get off the phone and was getting talked over.

Aside from her, quit shitting on moms, Halford.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
40

Hah. I'm just about as far away from a Whole Foods as you are. Maybe 40 minutes. Admittedly, in NYC that's only eight miles.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
41

Whole Foods is the closest non-shitty store to me and the only one in the same complex as a liquor store.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:02 PM
horizontal rule
42

17-18: That makes sense. "Kitschily" is a better way to say what I meant than ironically.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:03 PM
horizontal rule
43

The poo pooing of probiotics irked me. I mean maybe there were specific claims on certain products that actually are "bullshit," but it's thrown into the article as if all probiotics are fundamentally quackery. When, in fact, there are indeed scientific studies validating the efficacy of certain strains for certain purposes. (I don't buy them from WF.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:09 PM
horizontal rule
44

40: Huh, I didn't realize you were that far from Columbus Circle. I have no sense of distance in miles in NYC.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:10 PM
horizontal rule
45

The poo pooing of probiotics irked me.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:11 PM
horizontal rule
46

I was going to say "pissed me off," but I didn't want to mix metaphors.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:16 PM
horizontal rule
47

Hey, we lived 140 miles from Whole Foods, and still did our grocery shopping there. Also, in my possession: one tube of Traumeel. Totally works! Bacon will still kill you, though.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
48

It does make me sad that Trader Joe's, which supplies about 95% of my caloric intake, also sells homeopathic bullshit, Airborne, and probably a lot of other nonsense "health" stuff. Haven't noticed any "this slicer touches impure bread!" nonsense, but then, I haven't really looked.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
49

31: anti vax impacts "reasonably limited in scope" was that a joke???


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
50

To be clear, I didn't read the article, and I don't think that probiotics are bullshit. I had in mind the "supplements" that are clearly sold for their putative medical benefit but escape regulatory control because of the anti-regulation politics and protection of people like Orrin Hatch. Who doesn't match the caricature of the average Whole Foods shopper, but who is the ideological pal of John Mackey.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:23 PM
horizontal rule
51

IT'S A COOKBOOK CAPITALISM!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
52

A lot of conservative Mormons really get into various vitamin/supplement crazes, including various multi-level marketing scams. Probably a significant donor constituency in Utah. Nu-skin is the big one in Provo.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
53

31 --- not really. Anti-vaxxers are of course utterly despicable but the damage done by them pales in comparison to that done by climate-change deniers.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
54

41: Whole Foods is the closest non-shitty store to me

This used to be true around here 10-15 years ago, which is why one sometimes shopped there, but Whole Foods has long since been matched in many things by other stores in the vicinity. Organic if desired? check. Actually whole foods, like whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, and so on? check. Bulk section with nuts and dried fruits and beans and grains? check. Low-sodium, low or zero preservatives? yes.

Whole Foods is just the upscale (expensive) model now. That's chiefly what I associated it with, and hadn't really considered it a woo-woo place particularly. You can go to the local health food store / natural foods store for that: that's where you'll find homeopathy fans if you're looking for them (and the health food store has a better assortment of nuts and beans and grains and dried fruit and herbs and spices and honey and tea and on and on, in any case). Whole Foods caters to yuppies.

Such is my impression, anyway.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
55

Helpfully to my personal political instincts, the biggest anti-vax dummy I knew among my friends in California has moved to Utah and gotten all libertarian-ish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
56

It does make me sad that Trader Joe's, which supplies about 95% of my caloric intake, also sells homeopathic bullshit

Is the homeopathic bullshit actually doing harm at a societal level? It's not, that I'm aware of, so it doesn't bother me if people want to dabble in that sort of thing. (I have not read the article either.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
57

50 Oh, I wasn't snipping at you at all -- all irk article-directed. I never question Jesus on healing.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
58

Whole Foods is the only place nearby that I can get grade B maple syrup, the least homeopathic of syrups.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:41 PM
horizontal rule
59

57: I'll touch you anytime you want.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:44 PM
horizontal rule
60

48: what store is there that has a "health and wellness" section or whatever that doesn't sell homeopathic bullshit? Is there one? As I alluded to above, Walgreens has all kinds of homeopathic crap dispersed among the real medicine with no real differentiation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
61

Or you can just touch the hem of my garment, whatever heals you.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
62

I'll touch you anytime you want.

The humor and subtlety is what YOU GROSS OLD MAN.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
63

53: the only way the hierarchy of harm you advocate makes any sense to me is if you equate climate change denial with causing end of civilization as we know it at some point in the future, in comparison to which like EVERYTHING else is "reasonable limited in scope."


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
64

I've come across a bunch of claims that the US political left doesn't use the `purity' axis in its moral judgements, and this is one of the reasons I think that's a nutty claim. Whole Foods sells the purity of what one consumes, mostly w.r.t maintaining the purity of one's fluids, less and less w.r.t. the purity of the places it was produced. I'm pretty sure the ex-neighbor who explained that poor people chose their lot by their previous lives' karma shops at Whole Foods.

I don't think purity of consumption is coherent in larger political aims with, say, a desire to raise the minimum wage, but it does seem to be interpreted as left by most USians. (The `crunchy conservatives' and their family cloth are amused and annoyed by this.)



Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
65

It would be great if someone could do for websites what Aereo has done for TV, which is, give you a mediated way to look at them, so that the publishers couldn't reliably count pageviews. Maybe it would curb clickbait just a little bit.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
66

63 seems totally reasonable as a metric for the harm caused by climate change denialists. Was it not meant to seem totally reasonable?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
67

We don't have WF, but a locally owned analogue that's not bad. The wife recently bought me a homeopathic remedy -- an oral spray designed to alleviate sciatica symptoms. I explained that it was bullshit, and she refused to believe my explanation of homeopathy (because it's obviously pure bullshit). I think this is actually pretty common among WF customers and others.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
68

64 reflects my impression of the whole thing. There's most definitely a purity axis component to the whole GMO/organic thing.

That said, I'd rather steer clear of GMOs just because there's something a little frankenstein about them. It's not that I think they'll hurt me directly so much as a concern that fucking with them could lead to kudzu tomatoes or TEXAS CRAZY ANTS potatoes. Who wants to live in an ecosphere dominated by genetically modified wheat and nothing else?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
69

31 to me uses "reasonably limited in scope" to put anti vax in a category of "nothing to get excited about" in comparison to climate change denial.

The hierarchy of harm in 63 is basically an invitation to ignore everything BUT climate change. And this distorted IMO viewpoint facilitates the relative tolerance of anti vaxers in UMC circles. When obvs they should be strenuously shunned and shamed.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:08 PM
horizontal rule
70

TEXAS CRAZY ANTS potatoes

You bake them with a magnifying glass.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:09 PM
horizontal rule
71

just because there's something a little frankenstein about them.

People always say this, but you know what? Frankenstein was delicious.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
72

I'd rather steer clear of GMOs just because there's something a little frankenstein about them personally, the idea that multinational corporations will own patents on our fucking food, which will be designed for things like yield and pesticide resistance, instead of real nutrition or flavor, is horrifying. I'm not worried about my health.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
73

It's always fun to see an osteopath and when you get a prescription ask how many times you should dilute it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
74

Well yeah I don't actually think anti-vax is a thing to get hugely worked up over in comparison to climate change. Obviously I think it's wrong and harmful but in practice the vaccines-cause-autism belief is limited to a small group of people (anglophone westerners) and primarily harms family members of that group.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
75

It is actually sort of interesting that there's any ideological angle to pseudoscience at all, right? If you go back to Gardner's Fads and Fallacies there's maybe a hint of organization man against the loonies but fundamentally there is no real allegiance of political parties with anybody pushing quackery. The only reason it has become surprising at all that the embrace of pseudoscience crosses ideological lines is that the Republican party has decided to make it a core part of their identity. That shit is weird!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
76

64: Once again we get into the problem of what constitutes a "left" in the US nowadays. I have absolutely no fear of running into anyone I know from the activist scene when I (rarely) shop at Whole Paycheck. People I would consider "left" either shop at the co-ops or at the huge discount supermarkets. Older vaguely left people seem to shop at Costco a lot.

The people one does see at WF are "left" in the sense that they probably mostly vote Democratic, and have a couple of gay friends, but they are also driving in their Landrovers to dog yoga after a trip to the baby Pilates studio. They're the people who spend $10,000 to go on eco-tourism vacations. If that's "left" I'm a Tea Partier.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
77

40, 44: 40: Huh, I didn't realize you were that far from Columbus Circle. I have no sense of distance in miles in NYC.

Another bit of my annoying NYC geography trivia has to do with distances. For instance, from Inwood to Battery Park as the seagull flies, is fairly close to the distance from there to the Tappan Zee Bridge. I know this because a relative lives across the way in Spuyten Duyvil, not because I'm a stalker.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:22 PM
horizontal rule
78

but they are also driving in their Landrovers to dog yoga after a trip to the baby Pilates studio

Shit, you follow them around?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
79

72 gets it right, and makes me wonder how many of these skeptics who are so above it all are actually secretly shills for Big Ag.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:24 PM
horizontal rule
80

The anti-vaxxers I know best sent their kids to a expat school that had a superb science program -- they tracked local urban wetlands carefully enough to catch actual (bad!) changes in waste management upstream. Of course, that was the kids, and the actual anti-vaxxers are the parents. What made me truly wiggy about it was that, since it was an expat school, it was a cohort of kids who went on international flights a couple times a year, which seems like a giant risk factor.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:26 PM
horizontal rule
81

I would argue, in retort, that the people one sees at Whole Foods tend to be high SES and generally ideologically similar to the high SES people in the community in which that Whole Foods is located which is probably an urban area -- that's where the high SES people cluster -- and thus skews more "left" all up and down the socioeconomic spectrum. How's that for a bold stance?!@#


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:26 PM
horizontal rule
82

This indicates that there have been 1336 preventable deaths attributable to the anti-vaccine movement. I didn't bother to review their methodology, but let's just take that number as a given. That seems pretty insignificant in comparison to the damage done by climate change deniers.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
83

You can't teach an old dog new poses. Unless you have a trained, certified dog yoga instructor rabbi.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
84

81 something of a continuation of 78, and in response to 76, if for some reason my rambling commenting style is not crystal clear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
85

75: I do wonder if they really seized full control if you would have some things tending towards Lysenkoism. US has much stronger independent scientific institutions, but I wonder about how far it would go. (I guess things like Texas schoolbook committees are an indication.)

And here we are with almost all of the nukes and shit.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:28 PM
horizontal rule
86

78: I'm trying to start a business selling dog yoga mats and baby-sized Pilates reformers, so I make a lot of sales calls in the neighborhood of Whole Foods.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:31 PM
horizontal rule
87

Where are the nuke deniers, that's what I want to know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
88

1336 preventable deaths

Just one more for elite status.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:33 PM
horizontal rule
89

I have the horrible feeling that gradschool is the equivalent of an ecotourism vacation, except less enjoyable and more expensive. No wonder I'm a downer.

The GMO system internalizes profits and externalizes risks, which makes me expect horrible unintended consequences before I know anything about GMOs. For instance, there is a policy claim, I think successful in the EU?, that widespread Bt resistance couldn't harm ecosystems because harm isn't a concept ecologists apply to ecosystems as long as there are still living things. In the sense that's that true among the ecologists I know, `and all the humans die' would also be a non-harm, a mere change. And yet...


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:34 PM
horizontal rule
90

less and less w.r.t. the purity of the places it was produced
Maybe this isn't true elsewhere, but our Whole Foods (which yes, we shop at because the goddamn Safeway doesn't reliably stock exotic ingredients such as garlic) has all these signs about where the produce was grown with pictures of the nice grey-haired lady farmer who must pick it with her own hands. Their tagline is "Good Stuff from Around Here." They have photos all over of farmers and crop fields. I understand that this is entirely propaganda, but I think there is a big emphasis on purity of places.

Their woo section doesn't seem extra weird compared to any other store except for the $30 box of NADPH I saw a few months ago. That's some extremely expensive urine. I have no idea what lots of those supplements are supposed to do, but I'm pretty well convinced that they should be regulated at least enough that they have to contain what they say on the label.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:37 PM
horizontal rule
91

I feel like all supplements should be mixed with colloidal silver because then you could just steer clear of the blue people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:38 PM
horizontal rule
92

72: the idea that multinational corporations will do own patents on our fucking food, which will be designed for things like yield and pesticide resistance, instead of real nutrition or flavor, is horrifying.

Fixed that for you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
93

The impact of falling vaccination rates isn't limited to just immediate family members, that is just false. But CLEARLY falls below destruction of all civilization so nothing to see here people just move along...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
94

92: Right, I believe many, many non-GMO hybrid strains are patented. But I might be wrong.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
95

My local QFC has pictures of the local farm owners, too. Eh, wevs. Pictures of the local farm *drainages* would be a damn sight more relevant. Also pictures of the people who did the picking and hoeing, who are frequently not the actual farmers. Sometimes, of course.

It's another sibboleth I've been wondering about. I get all warm feelings towards nth-generation family enterprises, farming or manufacturing. But in general, I don't approve of inherited wealth, and a farm or a factory is a big ol' lump of capital. I am not consistent.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
96

Vaccinations are just particularly annoying because it is such an unforced error.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
97

96: +Anti-


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
98

any known measles cases from the recent BART exposure? (Which I found odd, as I couldn't enroll at UW or UCB without evidence of inoculation. )


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
99

95 would be funnier if K got subbed for Q.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
100

95.2: Fixed capital is different in many ways that might be relevant as the incentives can differ from what you have with financial or other mobile capital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:49 PM
horizontal rule
101

Oh come on. There's some damage done to people who lose out on herd immunity but realistically we're talking low three figures there if we're generous. Most people who die of a failure to vaccinate are the kids of the people who made that decision. We're maybe talking low four figure fatalities all up for the entire MMR-causes-autism theory.

It's absurd and stupid and harmful, but it's really not a major cause of death.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
102

94: I don't know either: non-GMO strains? It seems plausible.

I was thinking principally of Monsanto. I encourage people to watch Food, Inc.: it's lefty for sure, but sobering. Poking around just now on the GMO/non-GMO patent thing: I hadn't realized that the Supreme Court recently ruled in Monsanto's favor in its ability to sue farmers. This is bad news.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
103

100: Meaning that it's less advantage to the inheriting farmer than a lump of cash would be? Okay, but does that do any good to the person who wants to farm and didn't inherit either?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
104

Re: GMOs, it's hard to say what a good food production system would really look like. I mean, in general, fertilizer is bad, monoculture is bad, GMO crops (RoundUp Ready especially) are bad, even large scale organic is bad (although you could argue it's less bad). Runoff is bad, using migrant labor is bad, people starving because of inequity is bad, subsidies are bad, at some point I throw up my hands and surrender because it's a series of purity tests nobody except back to the land types will pass.

94 is right. Did someone link the articles about how a Big Ag (Monsanto?) has a division that has a high-tech rapid screen system to generate hybrids that aren't technically GMO?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
105

Grafting stock is often licensed with propagation restrictions, if not patented; see yer current orchard catalog for the latest from Cornell.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:55 PM
horizontal rule
106

103: I was thinking it would be more advantageous to the land (or the environment) to be owned by a series of people in the same family than a financial services company or joint stock corporation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:59 PM
horizontal rule
107

But most of those "family" farms are just small-to-medium businesses at this point -- guys who farm 8,000 acres with the help of GPS-guided $200,000 tractors and what not. Sure, there are little boutique growers, but most of them are not multi-generation/same acreage farmers anymore.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 7:59 PM
horizontal rule
108

104.last: Did someone link the articles about how a Big Ag (Monsanto?) has a division that has a high-tech rapid screen system to generate hybrids that aren't technically GMO?

I haven't heard about this, and am interested if anyone has links. First I've heard of it. I'm off shortly, but I'll check back tomorrow to see if anyone has anything.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
109

108: "Molecular Breeding" is the technique. The linked article is pretty good, I think at explaining the process but pretty weak at the bigger picture.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
110

95.1: Algae blooms are pretty. Maybe CAFOs instead?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
111

I'm starting to read the linked article and I'm a little annoyed that some snootster from fucking North Carolina is talking about how you don't have to schlep all the way to KY to see slack-jawed yokels. Indeed, dude, look at your legislature, etc.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:13 PM
horizontal rule
112

109: Hm. Thanks for the link, ydnew. I'll poke around about it more tomorrow.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
113

Okay, but does that do any good to the person who wants to farm and didn't inherit either?

No, but expensive farmer's markets do, and the general enthusiasm for local food does. One of the new venders at the market this year was a pair of women who had leased maybe 10 acres of land and were farming it. I don't know what the exact arrangement was, and obviously that sort of thing doesn't scale easily, but it sounded like it had worked out well for them to begin small scale farming.

(And, actually, one of my favorite vendors is somebody who started from a similarly small plot five or six years ago and has expanded from being micro to merely a small farmer).

I think there's a lot of unwarranted enthusiasm for local food and reducing "food miles" but, anecdotally, it does seem to create an environment in which more people can chose to farm if they want to, and that's a good thing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
114

Wow, you all really dug into this topic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
115

It was something in the water.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
116

Re: GMOs, it's hard to say what a good food production system would really look like. I mean, in general, fertilizer is bad, monoculture is bad, GMO crops (RoundUp Ready especially) are bad, even large scale organic is bad (although you could argue it's less bad). Runoff is bad, using migrant labor is bad, people starving because of inequity is bad, subsidies are bad, at some point I throw up my hands and surrender because it's a series of purity tests nobody except back to the land types will pass.

Yes, exactly, except that I'm not convinced even the back-to-the-land system would work out well in the long run. (Traditional small-scale agriculture doesn't actually have a great track record on many criteria.) This is why I get so annoyed at the self-righteousness that tends to dominate on all sides in conversations on these topics, though not in this thread specifically so far.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
117

106: We assume that families, with everything about them that has made literature and psychotherapy and monarchial history fascinating, will be better forward planners than rationally managed and potentially immortal firms? Plausible, and morbidly funny. Still doesn't explain why I feel amiable toward `family farm' independently of feeling amiable toward `pachic vermustoll'.

113: Works best if you're good-looking and nonthreatening to the weekending rich, of course; Valley of the Moon. Not specifically mentioned by current pros, though.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
118

116: I haz a plan, then: we go gangbusters on mining the soil, while building cryogenic chambers for everyone who has to wait out the time it takes topsoil to rebuild. What could go wrong?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
119

Yup, humans are hard on a planet, no matter how you farm them.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
120

I'm not convinced even the back-to-the-land system would work out well in the long run. (Traditional small-scale agriculture doesn't actually have a great track record on many criteria.)

Preach.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 9:23 PM
horizontal rule
121

The thing about anti-vax versus climate denial is we're all complicit in climate change whether we deny it or not, whereas anti-vaxers have fairly definite concrete deaths on their hands. I think they're worse, to the extent that climate denial is arguably not what's stopping us from doing anything about climate change.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 9:25 PM
horizontal rule
122

As I remember Montgomery's Dirt, small-scale traditional agriculture wasn't as responsible for collapses as marketized agriculture was. (Though if you say trad ag is vulnerable to priestcraft and kingcraft and will therefore be on the erosive slope to hell, that would be consistent.) But even if we accept heavy labor for a lot of people, I don't know if anyone's added up whether it could run a civilization that could (say) keep developing new antibiotics.

Maybe Patzek and Pimentel have, or the Transition Towns.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 9:45 PM
horizontal rule
123

Gevalt, this article. There are like two dumb woo-filled little racks of homeopathy in a section of stuff you'd find at a lot of Duane Reads these days, and then some other stuff, and then basically a kind of expensive grocery store. I like Whole Foods only a little apologetically. The produce is good, they have better cheese and wine and stuff than a grocery, some of their prepared food is good, and also, while this is perhaps not universally true for everyone in the world, it is a block away. Now I will read the comments and everyone will have said everything.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 9:55 PM
horizontal rule
124

I feel like the drunkenness I encounter on public transit out here is qualitatively different from any I see at home.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 9:56 PM
horizontal rule
125

As I remember Montgomery's Dirt, small-scale traditional agriculture wasn't as responsible for collapses as marketized agriculture was.

Depends what you mean by "collapse," I guess. Large-scale degradation of ecosystems, sure, but that might be more a matter of scale than organization. I think all the societies Diamond used as case studies were of small-scale traditional farmers, although he seems to have been wrong about most of them in various ways. "Small-scale traditional agriculture" is also a slippery concept, of course, and covers a huge variety of actual production systems.

Though if you say trad ag is vulnerable to priestcraft and kingcraft and will therefore be on the erosive slope to hell, that would be consistent.

This is certainly true as well. It's actually pretty striking how similar the cultural trajectories of farming societies are throughout world history.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 10:01 PM
horizontal rule
126

119: Yup, humans are hard on a planet, no matter how you farm them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
127

I read the little book A Case for Climate Engineering by David Keith today. It's well worth reading--short and thought-provoking--and among other things it talks a bit about the tension between technocratic environmentalism and more traditional nature-loving feel-good environmentalism. He's sympathetic to the latter, but points out that we have real success stories from the former (like the Montreal Protocol and the development of alternatives to CFCs).

Actually, there's a bunch of interesting stuff in there about agriculture and how it will be affected by climate change and what we could or maybe even should do about climate engineering in relation to the food supply.

I think I'm going to go to sleep now, but I should try to remember to bring this up again sometime, maybe quoting some bits of the book.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 10:41 PM
horizontal rule
128

Small scale agriculture is bullshit. We need large scale animal herds, for example bison in the depopulated Great Plains or reindeer in Canada, to kill and eat.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 10:55 PM
horizontal rule
129

Montgomery is reasonably specific about `collapse', since he starts with deep silty alluvial fans. Loam all washed into the ocean, agriculture collapses. There have tended to be knock-on cultural effects.

I think `technocratic environmentalism' should not be elided into geoengineering. The Montreal Protocol didn't say `Oh, we'll spray some other stuff up into the stratosphere if the market doesn't do it automatically', we agreed to stop emitting it. It's nice that there were alternatives our engineers could find, but we didn't know that in 1987, did we? And I recall a lot of touchy-feely leafletting beforehand. THere may have been bake sales or even sidewalk painting, if not puppets.

Nb: Slashdot comments on environmental or even geophysical questions is f'n terrifying.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 10:57 PM
horizontal rule
130

The big successes of environmentalism are all extremely technocratic, eg the Clean Air Act, but Ew is right that it's almost entirely been aggressive regulators leading and engineers coming up with adaptations by necessity, rather than engineers leading the regulators.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:04 PM
horizontal rule
131

Ew s/b clew, that was the phone talking and not intentional.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:05 PM
horizontal rule
132

Anyhow, "organic" "local" "grass fed" etc all stop being socially and morally confusing and make sense if you think of them as luxury products that are basically marketed (as are most luxury products) as artisanal. I mean let's not kid ourselves, that's what they are, luxury products more or less full stop. Whole Foods is obviously a niche luxury store but basically so is your nice local farmers market. Food is so cheap now that for basically the first time ever luxury food doesn't seem like that much of a luxury, but that's what Whole Foods style food is.

Dont get me wrong, Big Ag is horrible an the food system sucks and is responsible for the weakening of America. I'm just saying lets recognize the market for expensive luxury food for what it is. I have some hope if the food system getting better but it ain't gonna happen unless food gets a lot more expensive, and the only way that gets socially tolerable is massive wealth distribution.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:18 PM
horizontal rule
133

Not as drunk or crackpotty as that comment implies.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:20 PM
horizontal rule
134

Montgomery is reasonably specific about `collapse', since he starts with deep silty alluvial fans. Loam all washed into the ocean, agriculture collapses. There have tended to be knock-on cultural effects.

And yet, there seems to be rather a lot of agriculture going on right now, and the general trend has been in the direction of more of it rather than less. I dunno; I feel like whenever I tangle with you over this we're coming from such different starting points that it's impossible to even start to understand each other's positions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:21 PM
horizontal rule
135

Small scale agriculture is bullshit. We need large scale animal herds, for example bison in the depopulated Great Plains or reindeer in Canada, to kill and eat.

Plus adequate regulation to ensure people don't just kill them all the way they did last time, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:24 PM
horizontal rule
136

Listen, I don't know if I've made this clear, but regulation under the new order won't just be adequate, it's going to be fucking onerous with a capital O.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:37 PM
horizontal rule
137

131: I was admiring the Halfordismo, but it's kind of you to walk it back.

134: ?? More agriculture now is perfectly consistent with our being on the up-slope of using everydamnthing. In all the empires, there was more more more until there was much less, for centuries. What part doesn't make sense to you?

(related question; has the Fertile Crescent regained its original productivity? With what fertilizer regime? We have a new cleverness with fixing N from atmo, but unless we get magic energy unicorns that will stop eventually too. With limitless energy we could do anything, including desalinating soil. That would be nice.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:38 PM
horizontal rule
138

That last wasn't clear to me, which is disturbing as I need to be actually writing real arguments. Hah.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:39 PM
horizontal rule
139

More agriculture now is perfectly consistent with our being on the up-slope of using everydamnthing. In all the empires, there was more more more until there was much less, for centuries. What part doesn't make sense to you?

Well, the "much less" has pretty much always still been agriculture, right? Just at a less intensive level, supporting fewer people.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:46 PM
horizontal rule
140

And sometimes in completely different places, for long enough for oak forests to grow back. Braudel sure implies that the total ag productivity of the world dropped for generations more than once. His New World data is weak, and I know that's an old book, but my atmo and nutrient cycling class a few years ago agreed.

Also, the trip from more people to fewer people sounds a bit rough.

I still don't get what we're disagreeing over.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:57 PM
horizontal rule
141

I don't know that we're actually disagreeing; see 134.last.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-24-14 11:59 PM
horizontal rule
142

World ag production, or world ag productivity? There's a big difference, eg the fall of the Roman Empire probably saw production fall but (moldboard plow!) productivity rise.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:01 AM
horizontal rule
143

I guess I see clew as romanticizing (small scale, traditional) agriculture to an extent that seems unwarranted to me, much as I see Halford's anti-agriculturalism unwarranted. In my view, agriculture is a very efficient way of feeding a lot of people; no more, no less.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:06 AM
horizontal rule
144

143.last: Teo tries on ahistoricity for size.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:46 AM
horizontal rule
145

It doesn't fit very well, admittedly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:54 AM
horizontal rule
146

I do? I am really interested in nutrient-recycling, low-input ag, and that's mostly been trad ag (and not all trad ag is high-recycling). I don't assume it's going to be *pleasant*, I just think it might continue to, as you say, feed a lot of people.

I have mentioned that my first soil science class visited the Palouse, the amazing soil that's tied with China's loess for soil loss in the last century -- and most of those fields are still laft bare in winter. Heck, they don't all contour-plow, although they're supposed to. We pretended we were from the local ag college so they wouldn't suspect us of being environmentalists.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:03 AM
horizontal rule
147

I do?

Well, at times you certainly seem to, at least. See 95.2 for an example, admittedly ambivalent.

I am really interested in nutrient-recycling, low-input ag, and that's mostly been trad ag (and not all trad ag is high-recycling). I don't assume it's going to be *pleasant*, I just think it might continue to, as you say, feed a lot of people.

I mean, I hope this right, and it may well be (you would certainly be in a better position to tell than I am). But I tend to focus on economies of scale as important to supporting modern industrial societies. Industrial agriculture as it currently exists may not bebe able to sustain that type of society in the long term, but I'm not convinced that any sort of traditional agriculture can do so either. And maybe it can't, and we're in for a rocky ride to a harsh landing at a much lower standard of living. It's certainly happened before, as you say.

I have mentioned that my first soil science class visited the Palouse, the amazing soil that's tied with China's loess for soil loss in the last century -- and most of those fields are still laft bare in winter.

So why is anyone farming the Palouse at all? No one was farming there a thousand years ago. (I hope that helps restore some of my historicity cred with JP.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:22 AM
horizontal rule
148

Because we haven't used up the grain productivity that the plough gives us and trains made profitable. ?? We really are talking past each other.

When the Palouse topsoil is gone, it might not support the herds it had a thousand years ago, either. And it was developed from blown-in glacial-retreat material, won't neccesarily reconstitute in place.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:39 AM
horizontal rule
149

Because we haven't used up the grain productivity that the plough gives us and trains made profitable. ??

Because white people showed up a couple hundred years ago with guns and decided they wanted to farm there.

We really are talking past each other.

Clearly.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:43 AM
horizontal rule
150

There is nothing in 95.2 about traditional agriculture -- it even specifically mentions general businesses, not just farms. 95.2 is a perplexity about what kinds of inheritance bother me less than others, underpinned by knowing people who actively want to become farmers and can't afford the startup costs.

Industrial agriculture as it currently exists may not bebe able to sustain that type of society in the long term, but I'm not convinced that any sort of traditional agriculture can do so either.

I think this is where we always end up; I'm just more dubious about the medium-term prospects of industrial ag (a hundred years, two, I hope) than you seem to be. Also, I am pretty sure that the soil destruction caused by industrial ag on the way down is even worse than the soil destruction caused by traditional ag, though `as bad' would be bad enough.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:45 AM
horizontal rule
151

I'm not a fan of Whole Foods, mainly because of the quasi-religious stuff. There's a Whole Foods wannabe at the end of my road and I've shopped there maybe twice in my time in Kentish Town. I used to go to the Whole Foods in Camden very occasionally, becaue they used to carry artichokes and they can be hard to find. I haven't been since they stopped carrying them. But I can't get as worked up at Whole Foods's woo, given that it's open and mostly harmless, as I do about Boots carrying homeopathic "remedies". For fuck's sake Boots, you're a pharmacy and you're selling people water and pretending its medicine.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:46 AM
horizontal rule
152

149 doesn't sound like you're against traditional sustenance there, though it supports even fewer people than traditional ag. (Even if taller healthier ones with better hair and, like, rock-hard abs.) I give up, though amiably. Good night.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:47 AM
horizontal rule
153

Oh come on. There's some damage done to people who lose out on herd immunity but realistically we're talking low three figures there if we're generous. Most people who die of a failure to vaccinate are the kids of the people who made that decision. We're maybe talking low four figure fatalities all up for the entire MMR-causes-autism theory.

But that's only because, unlike the climate deniers*, they've never been powerful enough to affect policy at the national or regional level. If anti-vaxx ideology was as politically powerful and as well funded as climate denialism, many, many more people would have died. Measles alone was a scourge on humanity before vaccination, killing millions of people every year.

*I realise denialism isn't the only cause of inaction or worse at the policy level.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:49 AM
horizontal rule
154

I'm not really for or against anything in this context. All I know is that the type of urban, industrialized society I prefer to live in, and would hate to see disappear, is completely dependent on agriculture, and currently dependent on industrial agriculture. I doubt industrial agriculture as it's practiced now is sustainable in the long run (two hundred years sounds generous to me), so I hope some other system comes along that can maintain this sort of society. Maybe it will and maybe it won't, and I probably won't live long enough to find out anyway, but if our civilization does collapse I hope someone remembers to print out the Unfogged archives before the power plants shut down. Good night.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 2:00 AM
horizontal rule
155

The Asimov solution seems more and more appealling. Everyone lives in vast nuclear-powered underground cities, develops agoraphobia, hangs out with slightly metro robots and eats processed yeast. The rest of the world (I presume) rewilds.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 2:40 AM
horizontal rule
156

153 --- oh yeah, it's in large part the lack of policy pull that makes anti-vaxers so different from climate change denial.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 3:17 AM
horizontal rule
157

Everyone...eats processed yeast.

Another one for Team Marmite I see.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:06 AM
horizontal rule
158

Wish I'd been here earlier to shop my theory that food & alt medicine is where liberals/lefties channel their purity/disgust reactions, which conservatives are more comfortable imposing on their politics.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/10/disgust-and-politics/

I love good, natural food (and share some of teo's concerns about industrialization of food production) but the level of concern about "natural" among a certain class of parents/mothers is intensely religious. Early descriptions of the left/right split on Haidt's values said that liberals don't show concern with disgust/purity. I think Whole Foods, the community share farm, the naturopath healer is where you find it.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:16 AM
horizontal rule
159

I remember one of those political scientists from back in my undergraduate days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:21 AM
horizontal rule
160

my theory that food & alt medicine is where liberals/lefties channel their purity/disgust reactions

I would add language policing to the list. I don't mean the standard practice of avoiding slurs and other insensitive/asshole-ish remarks, but the more extreme stuff.

At certain progressive websites I used to read, there was a downright obsession with devising ever more sophisticated lists of words and phrases to avoid. It's hard not to see that as a purity ritual.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:30 AM
horizontal rule
161

obsession with devising ever more sophisticated lists of words and phrases to avoid

Interesting - I guess I haven't been activist enough since my undergrad days to see that in action. I like 'purity rituals'. I find mapping the purity rituals of bobo's an interesting exercise in self-diagnosis.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:37 AM
horizontal rule
162

Whole Foods is obviously a niche luxury store but basically so is your nice local farmers market.

Is this true for everyone here? The farmers market we go to most often is the big one downtown, that's a covered market open all week with the farmers in on weekends, and it's also where Nia's grandmother and plenty of other working-poor locals like her do their shopping. I think there's more trading up than down, since I don't really see hipsters shopping from the meat shop that prominently features hog maws (though I also doubt Nia's grandma has ever gotten gelato, but she'd buy Nia a honey treat from the bee guy). People of all backgrounds shop from the meat spot with a hundred different fresh sausages and halal camel steaks as well as more everyday midwestern cuts. The market is one of my favorite things about the city and one of the best places for us as a family, and I'd hope other places would have similar setups but keep hearing this isn't the case.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
163

At our market, the camel steaks aren't halal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
164

A farmer's market patronized by a diverse working-class clientele is certainly not something I'm familiar with.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
165

65: TiVo in the cloud!


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:02 AM
horizontal rule
166

I once patronized a farmer's market in both senses of the term.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:03 AM
horizontal rule
167

Our local farmer's market has mostly been a source (for us) of donuts, popovers, and overpriced coffee, so far. I don't have any idea what that says about it, but I have a sneaking feeling I know what it says about me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:04 AM
horizontal rule
168

National Geographic just made a big deal about it, so I guess it's fairly unique. This is what I'm talking about, and it's great. Definitely a lot of people with a lot of money but also a lot who are using SNAP or WIC for their purchases too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:10 AM
horizontal rule
169

I don't know what's wrong with your local hipsters that they're not shopping at the hog maw place. Meat parts are all the rage around here. Observe the hipster butcher in his indie rock-scored natural environment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:12 AM
horizontal rule
170

169: They would totally buy hog maws from someone who looked like him, I'm sure. It's just in the meat counters (and I think there are four, plus two fish) where the class/race divide is really apparent. But we've bought from the hog maw place and I'm sure other SWPL types have too.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:17 AM
horizontal rule
171

The hipster butcher place here had a whole hog head on the counter. I was going to suggest putting it on a stick ala Lord of the Flies, but it was too crowded.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:20 AM
horizontal rule
172

yes thorn, watch out - the hipsters are coming.

certainly carrboro's farmers market was excellent but often seemed more expensive than whole foods.

here in italy, the truck markets - which are generally one day a week in different locations on different days - are a great deal for truly top notch produce. a few stands are actual farmers, lots of the stands are selling produce from wholesalers. you can still spend a lot once you become a regular for the salame, cheese, yogurt.

I used to go to the fashionista butcher, crazy expensive, but now I go to an ordinary but excellent alternative. Meat is just very expensive here.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:21 AM
horizontal rule
173

I used to go to the fashionista butcher, crazy expensive

Especially considering how little meat there is on the average fashionista.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:28 AM
horizontal rule
174

Oh, the place is crawling with hipsters every weekend, but there are homeless activists and hippies and well-off white ladies with perfect accessories and families of all different makeups. There are several stalls where I can buy cheap shea butter as well as the place I get almost all my plants, the family-friendly beer garden with live music on summer weekends, awesome pho, both artisanal HFCS-and-dye-in-a-bag popsicles. It's the one place all our social groups (neighbors, knitting, church, multiracial potluck group, kids' birth families) overlap, and I wish there were more places like that.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
175

173: I dunno, the butcher seems to be getting enough:

https://www.facebook.com/Faravelli.Milano/photos/a.10151415983983697.1073741827.71494798696/10151415984118697/?type=3&theater


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:37 AM
horizontal rule
176

artisanal HFCS-and-dye-in-a-bag popsicles

What's that?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:43 AM
horizontal rule
177

Damnit, it's a typo. Both high-end and those ones that are frozen neon syrup water in a bag.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:45 AM
horizontal rule
178

Thanks. I'm actually waiting for the hipster who starts making his or her own HFCS in small batches. It's my sign for when to run to the cabin the mountains.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:48 AM
horizontal rule
179

178: better get moving.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:50 AM
horizontal rule
180

Nobody involved had unusual facial hair. Doesn't count.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:52 AM
horizontal rule
181

I figured you'd jump on it since running away to the mountains is just the excuse you need to build a cob house. I suppose you did say "cabin," but you're really not fooling anyone.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:53 AM
horizontal rule
182

Do they hang the camel's heads out in the shop window?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
183

129 The Montreal Protocol didn't say `Oh, we'll spray some other stuff up into the stratosphere if the market doesn't do it automatically', we agreed to stop emitting it.

The book doesn't say that either -- it's much more nuanced, in interesting ways.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:08 AM
horizontal rule
184

A farmer's market patronized by a diverse working-class clientele is certainly not something I'm familiar with.

My local farmer's market clientele was pretty diverse when it originally opened - somewhat whiter and more upscale than the average for the neighbourhood, but not by much. It was also much less expensive, or at least less consistently so. Some of the stands sold veggies and meat at only slightly above local supermarket costs. That has changed and so has the 'hood.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:21 AM
horizontal rule
185

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152061574409807&set=a.137458029806.111105.11455644806&type=1


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
186

The political writer Henry Fairlie, who died sometime in the 80s I think, was alert in the 70s to the emergence of a deep cultural divide in the country. He unpacked this in a number of places, but his book about the Carter campaign in '76 was the first place I saw it. He told a little story about two couples, David and Rachel versus John and Mary. All sincere, decent intelligent people, but seeing the world very differently. It was the first and for me still not superseded description of the divide we've been talking about.

One thing that struck me then, because I hadn't noticed it but began to as soon as he pointed it out, was that the liberal people had an obsession with purity. Already in the 70s it was manifesting itself with the kinds of consumer choices talked about here. WF was old hat to me when I first encountered it.


Posted by: Idp | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
187

Is 185 spam?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:43 AM
horizontal rule
188

||
This cracks me up every time I look at it.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:46 AM
horizontal rule
189

The Palouse has been one of the most intensely farmed regions in the world since 1890 or so and it is still one of absolutely the most productive, with ludicrously high yields. If there are predictions that it's going to give out soon on massive agricultural productivity (as opposed to maybe just needing some relatively not that big a deal adjustments to maintain sustainability) I haven't seem them, though obviously clew knows way more about soil than I do. But it seems likely that you're going to get some kinds of minor technique modifications to sustain productivity rather than a gigantic Malthusian collapse caused by loss of topsoil. In any case that seems like maybe the 30th most likely cause of Malthusian collapse in the future.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
190

163: This is the most perplexing statement in this entire thread. How the hell do they make money? That would be about the worst possible business plan imaginable around here. Maybe after bacon-wrapped goat chitlins or something.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
191

I wasn't serious.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:06 AM
horizontal rule
192

Oh you trickster!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
193

Is it fair to say that while liberals may react to things along a purity axis, they're less likely than conservatives to treat purity as a major political motivator? I mean, there isn't a significant leftwing movement to ban vaccination, there are idiots who don't get their own kids vaccinated. The legislative efforts I can think of relating to GMOs are the laws prohibiting producers from identifying their products as GMO-free (which I do think are bullshit, even though I have no particular interest in avoiding GMOs for health reasons.) Is there any really purity driven political effort from the left?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:07 AM
horizontal rule
194

Our local farmer's market has mostly been a source (for us) of donuts, popovers, and overpriced coffee, so far. I don't have any idea what that says about it, but I have a sneaking feeling I know what it says about me.

To be fair, it's a winter farmer's market, in Massachusetts. At least part of what it says about me is "doesn't love parsnips or rutabegas."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:11 AM
horizontal rule
195

It occurs to me that free market absolutism is a form of purity axis politics. Originally I'd only thought about purity politics in the sexual and national/cultural sense, but there's clearly more to it than that. Thinking here of the right, obvs. On the left the purity politics seems to center around environmentalism, and weakly so at that. It seems like fairness is to the left what purity is to the right.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
196

No one gives rutabagas enough credit. Mashed, with a lot of butter and pepper, they're delicious.

Parsnips, admittedly, I've never seen the point of much. Inoffensive, but why bother.

Our farmer's market seems to be mostly apple driven through the winter -- they've got the autumn apples in storage and just keep bringing them out. Which is good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
197

Metadiscussions about purity discourses are the purity politics of the left.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
198

I was mostly too tired to comment on this thread yesterday, and reading it this morning made me depressed (mostly due to teo and clew agreeing that modern agriculture is going to collapse in the intermediate term), but there are a couple of things I wanted to follow up on:

Also, in my possession: one tube of Traumeel. Totally works!

I have a different brand of arnica gel, but I also think it works. There are a variety of plant-based medicinals which are labeled as homeopathic, but aren't based on the idea of homeopathic dilution. For example, looking in my medicine cabinet last night I noticed the capsaicin nasal spray. Definitely not water!

I'm not really for or against anything in this context.

I'm actually a little unclear what clew is for in this thread -- other than better agriculture. Clew, it sounds like industrial agriculture, as it is currently practiced, is clearly unsustainable, but do you think that it's possible to conduct more sustainable agriculture on a large industrial scale, or would it require overhauling the way in which ag is organized?

I have mentioned that my first soil science class visited the Palouse, the amazing soil that's tied with China's loess for soil loss in the last century -- and most of those fields are still laft bare in winter. Heck, they don't all contour-plow, although they're supposed to. We pretended we were from the local ag college so they wouldn't suspect us of being environmentalists.

That raises an interesting question -- if you go into an area knowing that there's a problem (topsoil loss, in this case). Is it good or bad to see that there are simple steps which aren't being taken? On one hand, good news, low hanging fruit! On the other hand, bad news, because it suggests a culture which isn't valuing the natural resources.

Also, I noticed this morning that one of my breakfast cereals specifically uses the word "purity" in their cereal-box verbiage.



Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:25 AM
horizontal rule
199

Aside from the part about being unsustainable, an unsustainable solution is usually the better solution.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
200

Vertical farming FTW.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:37 AM
horizontal rule
201

I can't imagine how farming could possibly be an efficient use of skyscrapers, being incredibly expensive and having very little interior sunlight.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:40 AM
horizontal rule
202

I mean, there isn't a significant leftwing movement to ban vaccination, there are idiots who don't get their own kids vaccinated. The legislative efforts I can think of relating to GMOs are the laws prohibiting producers from identifying their products as GMO-free (which I do think are bullshit, even though I have no particular interest in avoiding GMOs for health reasons.) Is there any really purity driven political effort from the left?

Some words may be doing a lot of work in this passage. There definitely is a movement to ban (or thereabouts) vaccination. The question is whether it's "significant" (I would say so, but not especially powerful compared to the pharma industry) or specifically left-wing (not exclusively by any stretch, but more so than most anti-science campaigns). The movement has led, among other things, to the Omnibus Autism Proceedings, to people pulling their children out of public schools, and contributed to the anti-HPV drive in many parts.

On the GMO front, the anti-lobby (and I'm somewhat ambivalent on GM food myself, for corporate-control-of-the-food-supply reasons more than health) is very politically powerful in Europe and is mostly of the left, although some opposition comes from the religious right and traditionally conservative small farmers. For years, many EU countries banned commercial or even scientific growing of GM crops and no new GMOs were approved at the EU level. Labelling is mandatory at a fairly low threshold level.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:50 AM
horizontal rule
203

Parsnips, admittedly, I've never seen the point of much. Inoffensive, but why bother.

Honey glazed parsnips are lovely. Then again, most things are nice when glazed with honey.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:51 AM
horizontal rule
204

193: Is it fair to say that while liberals
I say yes...


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
205

I don't like either parsnips or rutabagas, and it's not a matter of them having been prepared improperly. It's that ol' gusty bus again.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:14 AM
horizontal rule
206

199: But, of course, that aphoristically elides the key question of being sustainable over what time scale? Also what metric to use for "better."

Measured in terms of population or biomass, being the cleverest species in the ecosystem has worked out OK for us so far (our ranking has really shot up over the past 800 years or so!). Brain power adequate to manipulate symbol systems to creatively mold our environment was a neat little trick to evolve into. Finding out if it has staying power is all the fun.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:15 AM
horizontal rule
207

There definitely is a movement to ban (or thereabouts) vaccination. The question is whether it's "significant" (I would say so, but not especially powerful compared to the pharma industry) or specifically left-wing (not exclusively by any stretch, but more so than most anti-science campaigns).

Seriously? I'd swear there isn't in the US, but in the UK there are people lobbying to prevent people who want their kids vaccinated from getting their kids vaccinated? That is all the way messed up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:30 AM
horizontal rule
208

198: Count me as another vote for Arnica gel. It certainly works for me where other remedies have failed. Doesn't seem to last very long, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:32 AM
horizontal rule
209

Try mixing Arnica gel and desensitizing cream.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 10:34 AM
horizontal rule
210

Seriously? I'd swear there isn't in the US, but in the UK there are people lobbying to prevent people who want their kids vaccinated from getting their kids vaccinated? That is all the way messed up.

It's generally more indirect than that, hence "thereabouts". Things like increasing liability for vaccine manufacturers (which nearly drove them out of business in the 80s), or lobbying to remove the vaccine requirement in public schools. But the anti-HPV vaccine campaign (which draws on antipathy outside the anti-vax movement, of course) is pretty direct. It's mostly not a strict ban they're seeking, but a ban on government funding/provision thereof, which is basically a class-based ban. And in the UK, there was a very strong campaign to ban the MMR triple shot, though thankfully it's died down a bit since Wakefield's fraud was brought to light.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:05 AM
horizontal rule
211

But the anti-HPV vaccine campaign (which draws on antipathy outside the anti-vax movement, of course) is pretty direct.

Here, that'd be straightforward rightwing anti-sex purity, not the arguably at least sometimes leftwing healthbased anti-vax purity -- that is, it seems entirely distinct to me from opposition to infant/child vaccination.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:08 AM
horizontal rule
212

Like I say, there's a lot coming from outside the usual anti-vax movement on HPV, but it's also part of it - McCarthy and co were all over it. We also had ostensibly safety based pushback in the UK despite no real religious right.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:20 AM
horizontal rule
213

Re 172, in Cleveland, there is both an overpriced local farmer's market -- featuring a lot of Amish farmers, in addition to hippie-back-to-the-land types (the hipsters seem to be more focussed on meat) -- but there is also the West Side Market, where the produce is more along the lines of greengrocer-type stuff (and attracts a more economically diverse crowd).


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:26 AM
horizontal rule
214

in Cleveland, there is both an overpriced local farmer's market -- featuring a lot of Amish farmers, in addition to hippie-back-to-the-land types

I used to go there every weekend back when I lived in Cleveland. Mainly because I lived a few blocks away. There was a delicious breakfast burrito truck. And a stand that sold ramp pesto for about 2 weeks each year.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
215

I'll bet the smallness of the anti-vaccine and anti-GMO movements compared to the anti-belief-in-global-warming movement is entirely due to the existence of huge, powerful corporations which benefit from climate change denialism and says nothing about relative liberal unwillingness to impose purity on politics.

Signed, a liberal who if in office would impose sin taxes on McDonald's, Cheetos, soda, etc. the likes of which the world has never seen, and doesn't deny the possibility that this would be motivated by some kind of purity thing.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:49 AM
horizontal rule
216

Who's making money out of opposition to gay marriage? That's voter-driven (or, astroturfed but appealing to voters) purity politics without a money motive behind it, and there's nothing I can think of to match it on the left.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:51 AM
horizontal rule
217

Is opposition to gay marriage really about purity though? In my mental model it's about repressed homosexual urges.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:55 AM
horizontal rule
218

Although the concept of "purity" is big enough that almost anything can be made to be about it (cf people claiming that libertarianism is about the purity of the free market). Limit free trade: maintain the purity of our nation's economy. Limit pollution: preserve the purity of our air.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 11:59 AM
horizontal rule
219

But what's the problem with repressed homosexual urges other than purity? It's purity all the way down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:03 PM
horizontal rule
220

Purity Of Essence.


Posted by: Opinionated General Jack D. Ripper | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
221

Those urges are best interpreted as a "natural" cilice, devised by God to test us. However, truly manly men like Antonin Scalia don't have such urges and find the need to resort to artificial means.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
222

Who's making money out of opposition to gay marriage?

The organized religious right. Televangelists. Merchants of hate. Rush Limbaugh. Digital pamphleteers. Etc.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:11 PM
horizontal rule
223

222: Not to be naively confused with the Essence of Purity.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:12 PM
horizontal rule
224

But what's the problem with repressed homosexual urges other than purity? It's purity all the way down.

Wrong. I was convinced by Corey Robin that there's a grand theory of conservatism which explains absolutely 100% of conservatism, without fail. Conservatism means exactly one thing: love for traditional structures of authority and hatred of those who oppose it, though conservatives differ with regards to which sphere of authority they reify. For social conservatives, it's not that homosexuals challenge "purity" per se (many conservatives are just fine with sexy impurity as long as it's stuffed deep into a dark closet) it's the challenge to traditional authority. Gay people can be as icky as they like as long as they don't actually threaten the power of (mostly) fathers within the home or the idea of marriage as something that enshrines that authority.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:14 PM
horizontal rule
225

222: But they're making money in the way they could off any issue they got behind -- there's no value to the particular topic other than that voters will get excited about it. They don't make a profit off winning, they make a steady income off fighting about it.

It's fundamentally different from climate change denial, where political victory on the specific topic is financially profitable to the backers.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
226

I don't mind going after sugared soda, but if Democrats tax Cheetos, I'll vote Republican.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
227

I can only answer the questions that are asked. If you wanted to know who was making a money off of the absence of gay marriage, that's a different question.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:20 PM
horizontal rule
228

222: I see Rush Limbaugh et al as opportunists exploiting people's natural repression and fear, whereas Big Oil is willing to spend tons of money to create confusion. Rush Limbaugh won't be hurt at all when gay marriage is legalized - he'll just switch to complaining about the next step forward for human rights. Whereas Big Oil would be genuinely harmed by carbon regulation in a way they couldn't easily sidestep.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
229

225: Yep, gay marriage is what you put on Fox to appeal to the viewers to get them help stifle effective response to climate change. It doesn't work as well the other way around.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:23 PM
horizontal rule
230

225 is even a structural pwning of 228, which is pretty cool.


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
231

228: Why would Rush have to stop complaining about gay marriage just because it is legalized?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
232

love for traditional structures of authority and hatred of those who oppose it
The definition of traditional here would seem important. They seem pretty flexible about defending fairly new structures of authority. I still think it's mostly about defining ingroups and outgroups. The authority worship just comes from feeling besieged and not wanting to be left out.
Reading Mark Kleiman has convinced me that the conservative belief in the totalitarian heart of nanny-state liberalism isn't wholly without merit.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:26 PM
horizontal rule
233

Somewhat on-topic, pretty much everything I've read about Jonathan Haidt leads me to believe that I would find his books incredibly annoying. Anyone who's actually read him care to chime in?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:29 PM
horizontal rule
234

I see Rush Limbaugh et al as opportunists exploiting people's natural repression and fear, whereas Big Oil is willing to spend tons of money to create confusion.

Well, I don't disagree with the general thrust of your comment, but this is exactly what I was pushing back against, because I don't think this distinction is quite as clear as you make out. There is actually quite a bit of persuasive effort on the conservative right, and especially the religious right, that has been made over decades to convince people of the "harm" and "dangers" of gay marriage. (Since that harm may not be readily apparent otherwise.) So how much opposition to gay marriage can be said to be "natural" vs. a manufacturered result of these persuasive efforts? Also, note that these persuasive efforts are made in large part by people who are currently dressed with significant moral authority, whose moral authority, influence and overall credibility stand to be damaged by societal acceptance of gay marriage. (It wouldn't have, necessarily, if they hadn't staked themselves in opposition to gay marriage, but--now that they have--acceptance of gay marriage exposes their powerlessness and, in doing so, further diminishes their power.) I'm thinking more of conservative religious leaders than of Limbaugh, but him too.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
235

I agree that the situation is a little bit chicken and eggy and that some members of the religious right might lose some moral authority if they lose on gay marriage, which gives them a little bit of incentive to actually care about the issue, but isn't the milennia-long nonlegality of gay marriage pretty good evidence that people have some natural anti-gay marriage instincts?


Posted by: dz | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
236

Paging Dr Foucault, paging Dr Foucault...


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
237

Define "natural."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
238

Florida.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
239

238 to the ether.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 12:51 PM
horizontal rule
240

232 -- They seem pretty flexible about defending fairly new structures of authority.

Sure, that's why conservatism survives and is a perpetually regenerating movement -- it is pretty flexible about adopting the newly powerful into its ranks and the tactical advances and retreats involved in shoring up authority can get pretty complicated. Modern libertarianism, for example, reifies the entrepreneur in a way that would have been totally foreign to some aristocrat circa 1810.

But at the end of the day the goal is always the same, protecting those who feel they have at least a moderate amount of power and authority from an enemy who is always basically the same, the previously repressed people who (conservatives fear) will take power and authority away from the locally powerful.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:02 PM
horizontal rule
241

I'll cross post here the comment which was meant to go here but was posted to the asshole thread instead:

Rutabagas, which we called turnips when I was growing up, were important in my family and my wife, who didn't grow up with them has taken preparation of them to another level. Every guest of ours at dinner where they're served 1)loves them, and 2) has hardly ever eaten them in any form.

My mother used root vegetables like parsnips a lot in stews, and occasionally as the vegetable on a plate. She made them palatable to children with sugar; my wife would use butter, garlic etc.

The revolutionary-era firebrand William Cobbett was a ferocious advocate of Rutabagas, which he called Swedes, and believed they would be a great aid to the liberation of poor rural people. His classic Rural Rides goes on and on about them.

You may be surprised to learn that neither of these is the vegetable I've chosen as an icon/handle at my local food blog; that's reserved for something else.


Posted by: Idp | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
242

Everybody in Britain and Ireland calls them Swedes to this day. It was originally (mid .18) Swedish Turnip. Rutabaga is a non-English derivation, no idea where from.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:36 PM
horizontal rule
243

241 - An eggplant that looks like Richard Nixon?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
244

Jonathan Haidt leads me to believe that I would find his books incredibly annoying. Anyone who's actually read him care to chime in?

I've read a lot of his stuff because I think he is basically right, but he is a really crappy spokesman for the views we share.

He is explicitly humean about ethics, which is correct.

He believes that reason mostly plays a social role. Reasoning convinces others--often third parties to a conversation. People rarely reason directly about their own decisions. This is also all correct.

His important original insight is that the current range of moral emotions philosophers and psychologists look at is far too limited. If you really want to understand people, especially in a modern political context, you need to look at emotions like disgust, admiration, and loyalty. This is not only correct, it is an important new voice that needs to be heard.

That said, his actual arguments are slipshod. The psychological model he endorses keeps changing. And he is far to interested in pleasing all sides in the current political climate.

One of my goals, if I ever got to do publications and research again, would be to become a better version of Haidt.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 2:40 PM
horizontal rule
245

Rutabagas, which we called turnips when I was growing up, were important in my family

My mother used to mash with carrots, and a bit of cream and butter, and then salt and pepper to finish the dish. So simple, so delicious.

I've read a lot of his stuff because I think he is basically right, but he is a really crappy spokesman for the views we share.
He is explicitly humean about ethics, which is correct.

Interesting. I've been a little bit surprised by the hostility to Haidt that I've encountered on the USian left. I guess his version of Humean ethics doesn't always translate well to the American left-right divide? But he claims to offer a way out of the impasse, I think? on which promise he (predictably enough) cannot deliver, so.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 02-25-14 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
246

One of my goals, if I ever got to do publications and research again, would be to become a better version of Haidt.

Good luck helpy-chalk - we could use this. I found your comment on Haidt useful since my own understanding is glib and superficial but I basically like the core idea.


Posted by: simulated annealing | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 3:50 AM
horizontal rule
247

re: 245.1

This would basically be 'neeps', i.e. the traditional Scottish accompaniment to Haggis.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:20 AM
horizontal rule
248

MASHED? WICKED CHILD! MASHING IS ALSO THE WORK OF BEELZEBUB!


Posted by: Opinionated Lady Whiteadder | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:24 AM
horizontal rule
249

re: 242

Scots call them turnips, and the small white and purple turnip, 'Swede'. It's one of those famous divided-by-a-common-language things.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 4:39 AM
horizontal rule
250

My mother mashed boiled potatoes and turnips, that is rutabagas together, with a small amount of butter or margarine. Starch and vegetable in one, it was often accompanied at supper by bacon and eggs. Either strip or Canadian, which we of course called back bacon

Could have been good, usually wasn't. Potatoes often over- and turnips often under-cooked. From childhood I'd have been responsible for washing pots and pans, and I remember the many times they'd stuck. I'd make short work of it now, but then my heart wasn't in it.

I realize I've done dishes and cookware cleanup pretty much my whole life, as the principal designee in whatever arrangement I had, family, marriage, group.


Posted by: Idp | Link to this comment | 02-26-14 11:46 AM
horizontal rule
251

GMO opponents block projects that could save lives in the developing world

yellow card on this one. No such projects, or at the most charitable, total vapourware. Even MIRACLE! GOLDEN! RICE! is an obvious bunco - if someone has a diet so inadequate and lacking in variety that they are regularly suffering from vitamin A deficiency, what kind of advanced system-blindness do you have to have to say "I know the solution! Let's get vitamin A supplements in the rice!"


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 5:18 PM
horizontal rule
252

251: this is completely right, esp re blindness, although interesting choice of figure of speech given subject.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 02-27-14 5:27 PM
horizontal rule