I wrote stuff like: “What do I know? On one hand, my Pleistocene mind and my kind of body evolved by natural selection and cooking over fire has been around for a relatively long while, but microwaves not. I also know that I too often think I know although I do not. I could write a series of posts listing all the facts I deemed obvious in the light of basic scientific understanding and that I had to personally give up because some stupid, ugly tidbit of data hit me over the head. ”
So what am I saying; that I do not know nothing but spread panic like the worst anti-vaccine crackpots? To be honest, I have added the following only to suck up to the political correctness dominating mainstream science blogging: “I do not want to present a toehold to esoteric pseudoscience. I do not fear “big pharma” conspiring with some evil microwave oven military complex conglomerates trying to shut me up, but I do fear being quoted in support of the “teach the controversy” strategy of creationists, global warming denialists, and suchlike.”
Many science bloggers bash anything that slightly tastes like being critical of genetically modified organisms (GMO) and GM food or nanotech. Such harsh reactions are seldom based on data from double blind trials. Rather, it is grounded in a belief into the harmlessness from the outset: Evolution has been modifying genes for gazillions of years and biology is self-assembled nanotechnology anyway. These arguments are similar to why the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) cannot produce dangerous black holes: Much higher energy cosmic radiation has been always present naturally anyway. And this point is indeed true! Am I just as bad as an anti-LHC campaigner by pointing out potential dangers of nanotechnology that we just do not know about?
Call me whatever you want, but I feel it is good science to point out that there are also “natural GMO”s that are very dangerous, as the HIV and H5N1 viruses prove. It is irresponsible scientism cheerleading to claim perfect harmlessness is 100% guarantied. Ironic also how this "it is natural, don't worry" argument comes from the very corner that usually ridicules such. Anyway - GMO isn't all that natural. There is the possibility that more natural genetic modifications* may have barriers that GMO technology can jump over without even realizing it, and the same definitively holds for nanotechnology! We nowadays put stuff together that evolution did not come up with, totally blurring the organic with the inorganic in ways protein based life forms cannot do. Natural evolution is fast, but not faster than it happens to be, and we as a species have usually many years of co-evolution to adapt to more "natural" evolutionary changes. Technology can jump huge leaps without caring about co-evolution, leaving no time to adapt. We humans are caught again and again by unforeseen effects of our oh-so-well thought out plans of messing with complex systems. Seldom that what we knew is what will be blamed; it is what never crossed our minds which always bites us in the rear. There is a lot more that we do not know than there is knowledge; the amount of unknown is only matched by our hubris.
When entering unknown terrain, stepping somewhat on the brakes does not make you turn backwards, but it gets you ahead more safely. Sure, in order to take on this advice, we need to stop making a rat-race out of everything.
(* including usual mutation, say by radiation damage, but also large steps with viral genomes that are taken on via the exogen to endogen virus route)