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BBC Video how's it going with your Blackberry and your Apple

The new issue of Nature contains "Faith in Science," a three-page article on the Templeton Foundation by M. Mitchell Waldrop (access is free). It's pretty good, and lays out the problems that many of us have with the Foundation's insidious blending of science and woo. Templeton, of course, defends its mission via spokesman and vice-president Barnaby Marsh, who once tried to persuade me to apply for their grants. But there is significant dissent.



Your Fox faking link seems broken, here's the linkto the latest Fox propaganda output.

RE: Nature on Templeton

I recently had a bit of a debate with some friends about something I see as being kind of tangentially related to this: Karen Armstrong's Charter for Compassion

Basically it's set up as being something that EVERYONE can support, and though for the life of me I can't really come up with a knockout argument against it, there's something about it that bothers me. Maybe it's just that as an athiest I don't like seeing religion get all up in my humanitarianism...I don't know.

I'd be interested in hearing what you all have to say about it.

Dunno, it seems like your typical bullshit platitudes from faitheists.

The very first sentence, the premise of the whole thing, "the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions" is just plain wrong. Therefore you don't "restore" compassion to religion.

What follows is a No True Scotsman fallacy, acknowledging that evil has been done "in the name of religion" but of course, that is not TRUE religion! Those people are misguided.

Also, all those feel-good things they said, can be perfectly done without religion. Or are they saying atheists cannot have compassion?

BTW I'm not the pedant here, but "athiest" is a spelling usually creationists use.

Whoops. That will teach me not to read what I type.

By the way, that weasel phrase, "in the name of religion". I despise it.

An alternative view about "The Great State of Wisconsin"

'Eat the Future' "In a better world, politicians would talk to voters as if they were adults." Just as Parents should talk to chldren as adults - but children don't have the power to fire their parents by a vote. Parents take 'hard' decisions about the future for their, and their family's benefit, but politicians can't afford to do that. All political decisions, when it comes down to it, are made on the basis that "we need to stay in power".

Anti-organic arguments like the one in the Biofortified link rely on a false premise, which is that increased yield is required in order to feed the growing human population. Steve Savage wraps up his article by saying, "As we enter into a new round of rising global food prices, the idea of a production system that effectively eliminates decades of of productivity gain is not attractive." But as I have noted repeatedly in these pages, the majority of corn and soybean is used for cattle feed. And in corn's case, a significant portion is also used for corn syrup. Ignoring, for now, that these crops are also subsidized by the government, which essentially amounts to corporate welfare, I will point out once again that if the true concern of these yield freaks were feeding the growing human population, they would be advocating less meat production.

Less meat production = less need for corn and soybeans, which in turn means more land availability for other crops. The thing that really irritates me about this anti-organic movement is that it disguises profit motive as concern for the growing human population. More bushels per acre means increased profit for ConAgra or whoever, not increased food for the poor.

I'm not sure that even if we didn't eat any meat at all that it would provide enough additional land for other crops to feed growing populations. That said, the premise is only false if you live in a fantasy world where you believe there is any practical chance that people will quit eating meat in the near future. More bushels per acre may mean increased profits for conagra, but that is primarily in the western world. Increased production in Africa, Asia, and other poor areas is more likely to keep people from starvation and under nourishment than provide profits for conagra, and remember it's not an either or question. There is no doubt that the Bourland's Green Revolution saved lives. Was there another way to accomplish that, only in the fantasy world the anti-gm anti conventional farming crowd lives in. You know who you are, you spend double for your food compared to the rest of the world. Let them eat cake is misattributed to Marie Antoinette, but those who say let them eat organic are just as oblivious to the nature of the problem. We live in the world we have and while some wait for their perfect world people will starve unless we increase production using all possible methods, that includes encouraging a more prudent use of our resources, but also acknowledging that is not enough.

But is there not an argument that as long as our food system is driven primarily by huge multinational corporations they will keep trying to put higher yields into profitable endeavors and not the bellies of poor people? (I.E. Cheap meat, Soda, sweetened everything, ethanol, corn based plastics, Etc, etc)

And aren't there probably many techniques that organic farmers could use to see increased yields without becoming mega-corps.

You're right that as long as our food system is driven primarily by multinationals they will seek profits, but as Bill Gates has demonstrated corporations can be encouraged to give technology away in those less profitable venues, individual farmers in Africa, India, and the Philippines for example. It isn't an either or question, though it gets painted that way over and over again.

There are techniques poor farmers could use to see increased yields without becoming mega-corps, and they include the best from everywhere not just organic. GM and other modern farmer techniques have a place.

Our food system will be drive by multinationals, for the foreseeable future the idea is to work around it since as a practical matter we aren't going to defeat it anytime soon as much as I'd like to see that happen. I'm a pragmatist, working for an ideal world but realizing that refusing to use the tools we have on some principle is a losing proposition. If there had not been a green revolution, millions would have starved. If we wait until people quit eating meat millions will starve.

So, I guess my point would be this.

You have 2 types of food producers that are not feeding the masses in the way we need them to, corporations and organics.

Did you know that 98% of all soy seed sold in the USA is GM? Round up ready no less.

So, I guess my question would be, what the hell is the point of criticizing 2% of a market if you actually want to do something about this?

Unless organic food hits a real boom, it will never really be the reason lots of people starve and because its customers proabably actually already eat a reduced meat diet as big daddy suggests, it seems plausable that it won't stave a single soul.

Unless someone is proposing a bill that would mke our entire system organic this is all sort of talking into our armpits.

If we wait until people quit eating meat

Less meat production = less need for corn and soybeans, which in turn means more land availability for other crops.

Big Daddy's proposal for less meat production doesn't have to mean everyone goes vegetarian, or that anyone goes vegetarian, just that people consume less meat in their diets. This would be a healthy thing overall. There are plenty of other ways to consume protein, and cattle farming can take a huge toll on the land if there is no balance with other types of fertilizer (ex: chickens and their roles picking through the cow manure as well as their poop), vegetable crops, and crop rotation. As mentioned above, too much grain is used as cattle feed not human feed, when cows at least can graze and not upset there evolved digestive system.

I'll admit that I took a step back from reading the exchanges between you and BigD mainly because they tend to be the same thing in different threads, so I might've missed the crucial moment of saying that less meat production = more/all vegetarian diets.

Where did I say anything about either-or? Is that just your knee-jerk response to everything I write now? In other words, are you incapable of debating the topic?

If anyone was taking an either-or position, it was Steve Savage by accusing organics of "eliminat(ing) decades of of productivity gain." Furthermore, I am not living in a "fantasy world where (I) believe there is any practical chance that people will quit eating meat." I'm beginning to think you have a reading comprehension problem, Norm. It's some sort of affliction that causes you to see things in my comments that aren't there, but which mesh nicely with the arguments you've already formulated. Hey, here's an idea: Why not try responding to what I've actually written instead of some, well, fantasy of what you wish I'd written?

I didn't say that people will or should "quit eating meat." I merely pointed out that eating less meat would have a greater potential impact on our ability to feed the growing human population than Savage's either-or proposition. Moreover, any responsible scientist should take this position regardless of the likely outcome. It's kind of like how Orac continually ridicules anti-vaxxers despite the fact that it's unlikely to result in them abandoning that position on a significant level. It's the scientist's (and the citizen's) responsibility to at least acknowledge the correct position regardless of the likelihood of swaying public opinion.

According to "Livestock's Long Shadow," a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization, grazing lands take up 26% of the ice-free land on this planet and feedcrop production is 33% of all arable land on Earth. Liberating just a fraction of that land would easily make up the yield disparities referenced in Savage's article.

It isn't either-or, Norm. It isn't either-or. It isn't either-or. It's simply less meat consumption and more responsible land usage. If Savage and his ilk need a simplistic boogey man to blame for our inability to feed the planet, he should be looking at the cattle industry, not organics.

humans are not actually vegetarians (check their teeth!) OR carnivores- they're cannibals. :)

my pointless, unfunny, completely serious in a philosophical (if not biological) sense 2 cents.

re: Great State of Wisconsin:

Frank has a blog entry about yesterday's protests at


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