Monday, November 16, 2015
For example, many attacks on GMOs are a variant of the "natural is good" fallacy that permeates advertising. (That may be what she means when she says they aren't based on science.) If so, one way to attack that argument is to build on the fact that the highly dangerous poison ricin is completely natural, coming from the castor oil plant. Tobacco would be another example.
So how to attack them if you don't want to use an appeal to nature? Study a half dozen other logical fallacies and put them to good use. The first one that comes to my mind is a false equivalency to Thalidomide, but there must be dozens of more recent examples where something thought to be good turned out to be really bad. (And it might not be a false equivalency. I've lost track of how many drug ads have been replaced by class-action lawyer ads looking for plaintiffs affected by the same drug that was massively advertised just a few years ago, usually minimizing the fact that one minor side effect was "death".) This is also a result of science: statistics on small samples that might not be representative of the entire population just can't find a side effect that is significant in a small part of the population.
Finally, there is the bottom line question about whether she would rather win or lose. You win a debate by being just as convincing on both sides of an issue, and the ability to make an argument with a totally straight face is a useful skill in adult life. (Like when buying a car.) It is perfectly OK to make a totally bogus argument in a debate. No one is under oath. It is up to your opponent to detect it and respond, so don't concede before you start.
One argument _with_ some science that I've heard against GMOs is the potential for allergies to a protein of species A to be transferred to GMO species B when some genes of A are transplanted. It seems like a reasonable scientific possibility to me, though I have not looked into the literature to see if it holds up.
@DD - Nice adaptation of the current situations to our corresponding on-campus discussions. Comparisons across fields certainly bring up a lot of ground rules discussions. (I've recently had the first of many science vs humanities discussions about what it really means when a student writes / co-writes their research for publication.)
the allergen one is good (there was a plan to transfer a protein from Brazil nuts, but it turned out to be the allergenic one).
Most GMOs are being created just to be herbicide resistant, increasing farmer dependence on herbicides, and enriching Monsanto, with little benefit to the farmers or to consumers.
The herbicide resistance genes are beginning to spread through weeds due to horizontal transfer.
Some of the insect-resistant crops are poisoning beneficial insects, not just pests.
Basically, most of the anti-GMO science-based arguments come down to unintended side-effects. We simply don't understand biology well enough to know all the effects of our interventions. The more powerful the intervention technique, the greater the risk of unintended consequences.
Our goal in all these videos is to help develop what we call "Science Senses"--the ways that scientists in a wide range of disciplines approach problems and questions--the critical thinking skills that they all use.
After an exhaustive study, it has been conclusively shown that attackers were exclusively *muslim* fundamentalists. There were no Christian fundamentalists involved, no Hindu fundamentalists, and no Jewish fundamentalists. Only muslims. Out and proud muslims.
I knew that you'd appreciate the clarification, given that specificity is beginning of academic wisdom.