Being in science media for any length of time, you will discover what Martin Robbins, a self-proclaimed liberal, called The Big White Elephant In The Room - partisan framing of science issues through a cultural and political world view. He referred to it as liberal bias, and he is a liberal, but not a self-loathing kind. He doesn't recognize it is not liberal bias that is the problem, it is progressives. Liberals can write articles talking about The Big White Elephant In The Room and worry that the lack of diversity in science media and science academia is harmful to those endeavors. Progressives instead say it is a 'choice' greedy conservatives make because they are all too corpotation-y and too stupid to be in science and then shriek 'false equivalence!' when the numerous anti-science positions of left wing people are noted.
Progressives in media can accept the nuance of anti-science people against GMOs and anti-science people against animal testing as being distinct anti-science agendas but not representative of the whole - it's a little harder for rational people but at least some groups are finally showing some rationality.
PETA does not like animal testing, they do not like animals dying for food. 'Natural' progressives, on the other hand, eat meat but do not like any food unless it has been randomly mutated by cosmic rays from space or contains dozens of inorganic ingredients allowed in organic food or sprayed with 'natural' toxic pesticides like strychnine - basically, they hate genetically modified foods the same way dumber conservatives dislike stem cells because they think it means a baby about to happen and don't realize stem cell research, like bone marrow transplants, have nothing to do with human embryos.
Mmmm, nummy! Meat in a petri jar. Credit: Maastricht University via The Telegraph
A real schism has been brewing between the anti-science fringes over food. It's a topic in my upcoming book and has been covered at various times here; we may soon be able to make meat in a laboratory using a tiny fraction of the materials and space needed now, and with a tiny fraction of the emissions. This puts the food progressive community into a panic. If laboratory meat is accepted, they loses their allies among the animal activist and global warming communities, and people might accept all kinds of rational science about genetic modification rather than being driven to fear with marketing campaigns using the precautionary principle. They might not believe that a laboratory is anything more than a place where scientists go to commit eeeeevil.
Basically, if science makes its way into discussions of science, progressives might not view scientists the way conservatives view government; as one-dimensional caricatures not composed of real people who want to solve human problems.
Prof. Mark Post Maastricht University said the world's first test tube hamburger will be served up this October, grown in a lab from a cow's stem cells. Cost: around $300,000 so it isn't going into McDonald's any time soon but it is another proof of concept.
Bring on the "Frankenburger" terminology! Too late, journalist Matthew Holehouse does that in his Telegraph article. If he knew his science history, he would know GM hysteria was basically invented from whole cloth by a discredited British researcher in an interview; it was not based on any peer-reviewed work or even any work at all that his employer could find. All that was needed to create a 'Frankenfood' myth was to claim a genetically modified potato damaged a rodent immune system and it became sensationalized news and thus fact.
"PETA has no objection to the eating of meat. Peta objects to the killing of animals and their exploitation. I personally don't fancy eating this, but if other people do that's fine," Alistair Currie, spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), told him.
Sure, that invalidates 100% of medicine, so PETA is not out of the anti-science crackpottery woods just yet, but it is at least a sign they can be reasonable rather than circling the wagons around all crank positions. Four years ago, they even offered a $1 million prize for the first group to sell laboratory-grown meat in commercial quantities, commercial quantities being 2,000 lbs. across ten US states over three months at the same price as 'real' chicken.
Obviously, if 'at the same price' were necessary for every science endeavor progressives endorse, none of them would ever happen; no solar, no wind, no organic food, no homeopathy, no astrology, no alternative medicine for diseases vaccines prevent - but it's only 2,000 lbs. so it could just be subsidized, the way we do a lot of that other stuff now.
Please join me in welcoming PETA to their first pro-science position ever. Here is hoping they find a lot more of them.
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