The pandemic changed a lot of political landscaping when it comes to science. The anti-vaccine movement was once squarely centered inside the left but now lots of right-wing people have done their best to make Republicans look just as stupid. 

Prior to 2021, environmental activists were not only comfortable with anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists under their umbrella, they embraced them, because they were overwhelmingly their wealthy donors. Now even Brooklyn hipsters and their shoulder cats say they are on Team Science again but the kookier members of the progressive movement remain opposed to nearly all applied science. They are even turning on vegetarians.

1970s relic and 84 percent corporate-funded nonprofit magazine Mother Jones is again attacking cattle substitutes, and leading the charge, as usual, is Organic Industry A-Team member Tom Philpott. 

But this time he invokes something that is unusual for the political demographic that gets their science from Mother Jones; capitalism. He says fetal bovine serum, used to create lab-grown meat, isn't ethical, which appeals to the vegetarian sympathies of those who think meat is cruel, but also that it isn't economically viable.

Economics is an odd argument for a nonprofit heavily funded by the organic industry and solar and wind power companies, none of which are economically viable, to make. Not only are those industries not viable, Mother Jones itself is not viable. If they stopped taking corporate money, they'd spend down their annual budget in two months.(1) You'd think if it meant fewer dead animals and was economically irresponsible, they'd be all for it. 

His real reason is not money nor ethics, those are just a dog whistles to drum up support in his war against the science community. Mother Jones has grudgingly come around a little but the Old Guard remain set in their ways.

Yet he is not really wrong in his argument. Yes, he gets criticized a lot due to his controversial relationships with the corporate advertisers of his employer, a no-no if he were in real journalism, but on this issue he is right. He is just making valid points for the wrong reasons. 

His real reason for opposing this science is not ethics or fiscal responsibility, it is that if this process becomes the New New, it will replace the Old New of 2000 - the "organic" seal which, like being anti-vaccine, was embraced by his tribe and made his allies rich and is now a $130 billion-a-year Big Food juggernaut. 

Science is their enemy and therefore his, and they are in a war of extinction. Which means any weapon at their disposal will be used, including bizarre paeans to free market thinking.


(1) They do actually launder it smartly. They created another nonprofit which pleads for corporate funding. Then that nonprofit gives the corporate money to its only grant recipient - Mother Jones. Whose journalists get to say they get no corporate money. If corporations ever want to give us money I suppose we should do the same thing. Mother Jones has pulled off this scam since the 1970s.