8-2-14 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Double Dishonesty from Anti-GMO Activists

Amanda Maxham of the Ayn Rand Institute writes a post that deserves to go viral -- unlike a scaremongering graphic some anti-GMO activists posted to the Internet with that intent, only to abruptly remove it:

[Although] insulin resistance or "double diabetes" is a real condition that some do develop, this has nothing to do with the technology used to create human insulin as the meme implies... GMO Free USA is not using the term to helpfully educate people about managing and treating diabetes, but to scare people out of taking their medication because of how it is created.
This reminds me of a Charles Babbage quote I posted yesterday, except that I am able to "rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke" someone to raise such a proposition.

Aside from out-and-out lying, there is also a kind of confusion one can induce in himself when one has decided that reality should conform to one's ideas rather than vice versa. (Perhaps we should call it "reality resistance".) I doubt that, after pulling this image, GMO-Free USA disbanded or even issued a retraction.

The only reason the graphic was removed was because it wouldn't take too many questions to discover how mendacious it was.

Weekend Reading

"If we take this approach to its logical endpoint, 'public health' merely reduces to public policy in general, rendering the term 'public health' nearly meaningless." -- Paul Hsieh, in "No, Gun Violence Is Not a 'Public Health' Issue" at Forbes

"The threat of being found out is like an emotional time bomb -- maybe it will go off; maybe it won't." -- Michael Hurd, in "The Folly of Deceit" at The Delaware Coast Press

"[W]ith some quiet self-reflection, the needy person can retrain him- or herself to respond differently to situations that spark these anxieties." -- Michael Hurd , in "Why 'Needy' People Cling" at The Delaware Wave

"No one ever admits that they want to silence others, so they invoke this magic concept [the 'public interest' -- ed] to do that dirty work for them." -- Steve Simpson, in "Gutting the First Amendment" at The American Spectator

"In fact, the labels won't convey any actual information at all - just an intimidating warning that the product contains GMOs." -- Amanda Maxham, in "What GMO Labels Really Tell Us" at Politix

In More Detail

Paul Hsieh's column could serve as a template to debunk almost any current leftist cause (as well as a few conservative ones). This is because the unstated premise that too often passes as an argument is an intentional attempt to shame anyone who might disagree via a non-sequitur, like, "If you really care about [fill in the issue here (e.g., public health)], you will [support/oppose] [fill in the pet cause here (e.g., gun control)]."

In Defense of Clutter

An article defending clutter from Life Hacker reminds me of an old post of mine on minimalism, and of a recent episode in which keeping an old computer around saved me money and time. Before recounting that episode, let me bring up an interesting point that people often miss when evaluating notions like minimalism.
In his zeal to minimize distractions, the geek's mistake isn't that he consistently applies a principle, but that he misapplies it. To take full advantage of working without distractions, one must first understand when a laser-like focus is called for, and when, say, letting one's mind explore things that strike its fancy is called for. (I don't use it myself, but I have even run across a task management system that attempts to put mental wandering to some use.)
So keeping some junk doesn't make one a hoarder any more than it violates an intelligent application of the idea of keeping only what you need around and generally streamlining your life. Here's how keeping something I couldn't readily use around helped me in a pinch:

A tiny screw on the very laptop I use for writing on most days had worked its way loose and became lost. Unfortunately, the screw held one of the screen hinges to a couple of the components of the base, meaning that my screen became hard to adjust and unstable. Worse, the hinge threatened to break parts of the base almost every time the screen moved. I knew exactly what the problem was, and called a computer repair shop in hopes of being able to stop by for a quick fix. The representative, apparently unable to comprehend my description of the problem or taking me for a fool, told me I'd have to leave my laptop there for 48 hours for "diagnostics".

I demurred and decided to call a few other places -- until I remembered the old laptop, which I'd partially disassembled in the process of determining that a repair was beyond my expertise. I kept it in case I might decide to cannibalize any components later on. Good call: it just happened to have the same kind of screw in its screen hinge. My repair cost went to zero and I didn't even have to spend time looking for a decent repair shop.


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