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posted by martyb on Friday January 23 2015, @01:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the DNA->SNA->SLA->TLA->TBA->NBA->NBC->NEC->SEC->SEO->SCO->TCO->TMO->GMO dept.

The Washington Post contains an article on a recent survey by Oklahoma State University where over 80 percent of Americans support “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA,”

The Oklahoma State survey result is probably an example of the intersection between scientific ignorance and political ignorance, both of which are widespread.The most obvious explanation for the data is that most of these people don’t really understand what DNA is, and don’t realize that it is contained in almost all food. When they read that a strange substance called “DNA” might be included in their food, they might suspect that this is some dangerous chemical inserted by greedy corporations for their own nefarious purposes.

The article discusses the wider issue of scientific ignorance driving policy decisions, and there is some further comment at io9. A summary of the full survey results is available (PDF).

 
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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @05:15PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @05:15PM (#137320)

    Knowing about DNA is not something that 99% of the population needs in order to go about their daily life. Just like there are millions of things that you don't need to know about to live your life. The stupid people here aren't the ones answering the question, it's the people asking the question without better defining it first. Compare it to an article summary submitted here full of acronyms without definitions - when that happens it is considered poor form.

    The people answering this question were basically subjected to a vocabulary test in disguise, except they also relied on the fact that food labelling goes through a process mediated by experts. So they were happy to express support for more stringent labelling requirements, even if - not being food scientists themselves - they couldn't express it with precise terminology.

    All you smug people going on about dihydrogen monoxide and the like are really just showing off your ignorance of the human condition.

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  • (Score: 0) by t-3 on Friday January 23 2015, @05:50PM

    by t-3 (4907) on Friday January 23 2015, @05:50PM (#137340) Journal

    Excellent point!

  • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Friday January 23 2015, @06:51PM

    by hemocyanin (186) on Friday January 23 2015, @06:51PM (#137373) Journal

    This should be +5 already.

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Friday January 23 2015, @06:58PM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Friday January 23 2015, @06:58PM (#137377) Homepage Journal

    Consider that many mental illnesses are demonstrably genetic. Were the public to understand genetics in more detail, it would go a long ways towards reversing the stigma against mental illness, which to this very day is commonly regarded as a character defect on the part of the one who suffers.

    The concern about GMO foods isn't just hippies being politically correct. Monsanto developed a species of corn that produces its own insecticide. While they claim that humans don't digest the insecticide, it's found in the breast milk of nursing mothers.

    My main gripe about GMO foods is that they are primarily not used to promote human health - as is the case with Golden Rice, which contains Beta Carotene - but that GMO crops are commonly used to enable pesticide resistance. What that means is that we are breeding insects that are increasingly resistant to pesticides themselves.

    Humans have had agriculture for roughly 8,000 years. We've had chemical pesticides for roughly eighty years. Are chemical pesticides really necessary?

    I would argue that they were, for a few decades. However the developed world now has a huge surplus of food. The problems of hunger could largely be solved through more equitable distribution of the food we already have as well as enabling the developing world to take advantage of agricultural technologies other than pesticides. For example I myself used to write image processing code for an agricultural consulting firm that used multispectral aerial imaging to diagnose crop diseases as well as to predict yields.

    That would be cheap as dirt to do with a quadcopter.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @09:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @09:25PM (#137430)

    The idea here seems to be the capacity of people to make stupid misinformed decisions. Poor understanding of biology 101 may not have much impact on society, but these same people are subject to being manipulated by bullshit like "national security" and "think of the children" in order to legitimize government overreach through popular support.

    Democracy and culture of ignorance is a terrible combination.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24 2015, @12:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24 2015, @12:23AM (#137486)

      > but these same people are subject to being manipulated by bullshit

      Like the way the study's authors did in choosing to ask a question practically designed to get the results it did?

      This should be a lesson in how easily someone running a survey can gin up the results they want simply by leaving out important context and letting both the people answering the questions project their context and letting the people like you and me who read the results project a different context onto the question.

      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday January 24 2015, @08:16AM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday January 24 2015, @08:16AM (#137575) Homepage Journal

        In general one can use the same trademark as someone else uses, provided one's own use of the market is not "confusingly similar" to that of the other holder's use.

        I met a psychology graduate student who once worked for a legal firm that pressed trademark infringement suits. What they would do is survey a randomly-selected set of volunteers who would answer questions as to whether the St. Louis Arch (single arch, silver in color) was confusingly similar to McD's Golden arches.

        Based on the results of the first survey, they would revise the questions so as to yield the desired response, but also in such a way that the questions aren't transparently obviously biased.

        Lather, rinse, repeated and a St. Louis engineering firm had to come up with a new logo, as well as to reprint all of its marketing materials.

        But to my great joy, a distant cousin of mine threatened to throw the McDonald's Corporation COMPLETELY OUT OF SCOTLAND when some jackass attorney sent a cease and desist letter to the Donald Clan Chieftan, telling my cousing he had to change the name of his pub!

        Roughly ten years ago - I don't clearly recall when - the Supreme Court of Canada rules that any business may call itself "McDonalds" provided it not sell hamburgers.

        I myself am contemplating setting up some manner of employment agency that will in all seriousness help applicants get McJobs.

        Provided I am not directly across the street from a McDonalds, and that I avoid certain specific practices - such as the precise shades of red and yellow - while McDonalds is used to getting its way, in reality the law is on my side.

        I have some gripes with McDonalds myself. Don't even get me started.

        The great thing about being busted flat broke while at the same time living near some of the world's finest law libraries, is that I am uncollectable as well as don't have a whole lot better to do than hang out in courtrooms.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @09:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 23 2015, @09:54PM (#137440)

    Bullshit. People know about DNA so it is not a vocabulary test in disguise.
    I understand your point though. This is more of a failing in scientific literacy since people do not connect the dots necessary to know why DNA would be in their food if it was not GMO.

    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Saturday January 24 2015, @10:52PM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 24 2015, @10:52PM (#137713) Journal

      Quoth the AC:

      This is more of a failing in scientific literacy since people do not connect the dots necessary to know why DNA would be in their food if it was not GMO.

      What do you mean "not connect the dots"? It's as plain as day in the story's "dept" line!

      from the DNA->SNA->SLA->TLA->TBA->NBA->NBC->NEC->SEC->SEO->SCO->TCO->TMO->GMO dept.

      But in all seriousness, I had great fun creating that! One, and only one, letter is changed per step. Do you recognize all the TLAs?

      --
      Wit is intellect, dancing.