Monday, May 12, 2014


It looks like "condensation" eh?  But this post is not about the temp inside the chicken barn (although it is admittedly not as fresh as we had hoped at this point in the year, when we had anticipated having at least the first batch of chickens out on pasture.  As it stands, they will hopefully get out tomorrow and then we can start moving everyone around and spreading them out as they should be, according to The Plan.  The Plan is bound to fail at some point, as plans often do, but so far it is a carefully orchestrated illustration using Excel and colour coding to figure out which batches go where, when.  And with my CSA full (YAY!) it will be important to stick as close to The Plan as possible to ensure harmony at all stages.  I'll keep you abreast of how The Plan works out as the summer goes along.

But, no, this post is about science. Again.  I know one of my last posts was about my distaste for science and how I have an increasingly hard time trusting it, when it used to maintain a very intentional pillar of integrity.  That post was me struggling with the statements from scientists who dismiss anti-GMO commentary as baseless and stupid and lacking in scientific proof.
This post is me identifying exactly what it is about that that really pisses me off.
And it's condescension.

It was while listening to a scientist on CBC last week discussing vaccines. The scientist was, as they all are, frustrated about the lack of vaccination that is happening these days.  I am not anti-vaccine by any means, but the way with which he presented his case, made me want to be contrary to anything he said.  He spoke with an air of being above the rest of the common people, stupid enough to not know better.  He was so patronizing and all-knowing that the host had a difficult time providing a foundation for a decent discussion. 
I've heard a similar rhetoric in scientists on the pro-fracking side of the debate.  It's as if those who are opposed are just too stupid to know how to think critically and are not even worth considering.  It's so frustrating to not be heard, but even more frustrating to be talked down to and then dismissed.

I went to a really interesting talk last week about Genetic Engineering that was touring the country.  The main speaker was a retired Ag Canada scientist who was a genetic engineer and now spends his time spreading his concerns about GMOs.  Well, actually, he's not necessarily anti-GMO, but anti the pesticides that make them work.  Specifically, glyphosate or Round Up as it's known.  It was a fascinating talk and I learned new things that make me even more concerned than ever before.  Mark asked me on the way home what I thought and besides being energized about my convictions, I was kind of saddened by how brow-beaten the scientist seemed. He wasn't the jerky, over-confident scientist I've gotten used to expecting. He presented his information factually and in a way that we could all understand but lacked the enthusiasm and excitement that a well-styled, PR'd, script-reading, shiny, fresh-faced and convincing young lip-service chemical/seed company rep would bring to an ag conference.

I mean, I think I get it.  The scientists I often hear on the radio or read online have been picked as spokespeople for a reason and have been dealing with stupid questions from journalists and the public and are tired of uninformed people making inaccurate assumptions about something they've dedicated their life to.  It's irritating as a farmer to have non-farmers make negative assumptions about how we handle ________(insert farm-related item here), so I kind of get it.
But, I also recognized that people are concerned for a reason, and if I'm going to convince them of my way, I'd better figure out a way to reach them.  If that means spending time on a blog (hahaha!), then so be it.  If it means having time-consuming tours, so be it.  If it means spending more one-on-one time with my customers, so be it.  If it means not talking to people like they're stupid and a waste of my time, that's a pretty simple way to handle it.

I've removed myself from FB because I was noticing a bit of an addiction happening, but I've kept the farm Twitter feed going.  I follow a lot of pro-GMO profiles because it keeps me informed (and keeps my blood pressure alive) and today they were all touting a graphic from the magazine The Economist, in an article criticizing Vermont for taking a stand on requiring labeling of GE foods.
The title "Odd priorities".  Did it need a title?  Would it be less effective without the title?  It would be less negative and annoying to those of us who find it a very misleading factoid.  Without the condescending title, it would just be another lame graphic showing a very narrow and shortsighted view of the whole picture.  But the title gives it a sense of superiority over the people stupid enough, and maybe evil enough to get worked up over what is clearly a miracle for all those malnourished children.

I won't spend any of this post addressing the actual content of that graphic, although that would be good fodder for a separate post.  I just wanted to let it be known that if the scientific community was truly interested in furthering its agenda, it would be better off losing the annoyed, condescending tone and actually listening to the concerns of it's doubters, addressing the questions and talking TO people, not DOWN to people. 

The best conversation I've ever had with a scientist was at a side table at a drunken wedding dance in which we talked for 45 minutes about the Rotavirus vaccine.  Neither one of us convinced the other one that we were right, but we heard each other, shared each other's concerns, presented our opinions and had a great time. 

Maybe I should just have some drinks when I talk about GMO's, glyphosate and labeling laws.  Or at least have some drinks when I am listening to scientists talk about them. 

May this find you perhaps having one as you read this, enjoying the greening up of the grass as spring slowly, slowly creeps her way into our world for another year.



1 comment:

  1. There's an excellent article just posted on the corruption of science that you might enjoy.
    In the end, the author concludes that all authority has to come from within.