GMO Food

'Extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least but think they know the most'

Title of the Nature Human Behavior article cited above sadly says it all.

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KillerTomatoes
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Every independent scientific and regulatory body in the world that has evaluated current genetically enhanced crops have found them to be safe for consumption and the natural environment. Yet polling data show that a significant portion of the public opposes genetically modified foods.

The researchers behind the new Nature Human Behavior article conducted a survey of more than 2,000 adults in the United States asking respondents objective knowledge true-false questions such as:

1. Yeast for brewing beer or making wine consists of living organisms: True

2. Ordinary tomatoes do not contain genes, while genetically modified tomatoes do: False

4. By eating a genetically modified fruit, a person's genes could also become modified: False

6. Genetically modified animals are always bigger than ordinary ones: False

8. It is not possible to transfer animal genes into plants: False

The researchers find that the folks who were most opposed to genetically modified crops and livestock were the least likely to correctly answer the survey questions. In the abstract, the researchers report:

There is widespread agreement among scientists that genetically modified foods are safe to consume and have the potential to provide substantial benefits to humankind. However, many people still harbour concerns about them or oppose their use. In a nationally representative sample of US adults, we find that as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases. Extreme opponents know the least, but think they know the most. Moreover, the relationship between self-assessed and objective knowledge shifts from positive to negative at high levels of opposition.

That's bad enough, but even more troubling is that the most ignorant are the least likely to be persuaded by efforts to educate them. "The finding has echoes of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the observation from social psychology that incompetence prevents the incompetent from recognising their incompetence," notes The Guardian.

"Those with the strongest anti-consensus views are the most in need of education, but also the least likely to be receptive to learning; overconfidence about one's knowledge is associated with decreased openness to new information," observe the researchers. "This suggests that a prerequisite to changing people's views through education may be getting them to first appreciate the gaps in their knowledge."

Good luck with that especially since the activist shamans who shake their rattles and beads over at groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have a vested interest in keeping their dupes ignorant.

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  1. “This suggests that a prerequisite to changing people’s views through education may be getting them to first appreciate the gaps in their knowledge.”

    Entertaining Twitter > knowledge.

    Duh doy.

    1. “Ignorant and afraid.”

      1. “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise”

  2. Yes, but is it 97% of scientists? That is the magic threshold.

    1. It used to just be 4 out of 5 dentists.

  3. Extreme opponents know the least, but think they know the most. Moreover, the relationship between self-assessed and objective knowledge shifts from positive to negative at high levels of opposition.

    Do you think someone somewhere could find topic about which this doesn’t apply?

    1. Libertarians, duh.

      1. Ummm…

  4. How long will it take for the first luddite to show up and tell us ‘it hasn’t been proven safe!!!!!!’

    1. I believe the EU has that covered

      1. Can’t have cheap food! There’d be no need of welfare.

  5. “Good luck with that especially since the activist shamans who shake their rattles and beads over at groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have a vested interest in keeping their dupes ignorant.”

    But…but…Kirkland assures us that the left is the Party of Science. Is he engaging in skullduggery?

    1. But GMOs are corporate science and corporations are evil, and control the govu. That is why we need to increase the power of the government to control the corporations. And something about all of us being backwards bigots who are just mad we lost the culture wars. And Conservative colleges are the worst or something.
      Did I do a good Kirkland?

      1. You did an excellent Johnny Longtorso.

        1. Not as good as your Cathy though.

        2. If that were a coherent reply I would spend some time countering you Sparky.

          1. I suppose you don’t need to acknowledge answers to your question, but to say you don’t understand it as an answer to your question is a bit odd.

            1. No, I understood it, that still doesn’t make it coherent since your statement has no relationship to reality or logic. Longtbefree is conservative, the statements I made in jest were parodying a leftist. So your statement is non-sequitur and incoherent.

              1. What does Longtobefree have to do with anything? I guess you’re just not familiar with Johnny Longtorso’s anti-corporate screeching which is very close to your “leftist parody”. But I suppose that’s different because he’s not a leftist or something?

                1. I am not familiar with johny longtorso, I thought you were making fun of Longtobefree’s name. I stand corrected on that. No, if he goes on anti-corporate speech, rather he claims it or not, he has leftist tendencies.

      2. Too coherent. Run a drill bit through your frontal lobe and try again.

  6. Deference to mainstream science is only demanded when the science is about the climate, according to the Left.

    1. Not true. Science also confirms the correctness of the progressive / libertarian positions on abortion (because life begins at birth) and gender (because gender is unrelated to chromosomes or anatomy).

      #ILoveScience

      1. It is #I Fucking Love Science.

      2. You forgot to parody your biggest enemy: the theory of evolution.

        1. Clearly the theory of evolution is not correct, because instead of allowing it to function, we continually interfere with the natural evolutionary process with the EPA, endangered species lists, and all that jazz. Natural extinction of a species is not going to happen while a single socialist draws a breath. (except for the species “individualist”)

          1. Considering how many species on the ESA are functionally extinct, I will say the government tries but fails to stave off natural extinction.

      3. “When life begins is a scientific, not a philosophic or theological, question: Life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with those of the ovum, forming a distinctive DNA complex that controls the new organism’s growth. This growth process continues unless a natural accident interrupts it or it is ended by the sort of deliberate violence Planned Parenthood sells.”
        -George Will, Atheist & Political Pundit, 2014

        By George, I think you’ve got it!

  7. Those with the strongest anti-consensus views are the most in need of education

    That’s a pretty scary axiom.

    1. You are not insightful.
      You are not funny.
      You are not caustic.
      You are not mockable.
      Why are you here?

      1. Shameless self promotion is important.

        Buy my pork products!

    2. The link really isn’t about “those people” or what they have read,.so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Your posting name at the top of your comment already is a link to your blog, which is fine. Why do you need another, unless there is some direct relevance to the content of your comment?

    3. Why doesn’t this damned “report spam” button work??

      She’s a bot!!

      1. No she’s not, her comments themselves are relevant to what she comments on, it’s just the links to her blog that aren’t.

        1. Her comments are the minimum effort necessary to differentiate her from the lesser bots.

          She’s bot 2.0

      2. There is no census question “Is any member of this household a bot?”

        1. “Alexa feels like part of the family.”

  8. Markets politics and life are full of stupid people. Most people on this planet are and will always be stupid and willfully stupid at that. So what?

    Since when did advocates of free markets turn into elitist pricks insisting that customers first need to attend re-education camp? Sounds a bit – well – commie to me

    1. About the time that said idiots and their handlers effectively made claims against the rest of us that we (1) indulge their stupidity and then (2) save them from the consequences they could not foresee (but we could).

    2. and where did anyone in this article suggest that elitist pricks are insisting on sending customers to attend re-education camp?

    3. When those idiots have tried to use their and other ignorance to limit our choices in what we grow and eat.

  9. You’re assuming that they’re trying to “understand stuff”, rather than, “believe crazy shit for fun and hobbies.”

  10. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8?

    gonna be all Twilight Zone … gen mod tomatoes will make us Pigmen

    1. Or addict us to nicotine via Italian food, ala “tomacco”.

  11. Good article Bailey. Glad you actually included sample items from the survey. I’m usually insanely skeptical of these types of surveys. A while back (2008? 2009?) a bunch of “studies” came out that “showed” that conservatives were the most ignorant of basic civic and “political” knowledge than all the other groups (especially liberals). The rub? The researchers essentially took statements that conservatives would be more likely to agree with (e.g., “Socialism killed a 100 million people”) and then inflated toward the conservative direction (e.g., “Socialism killed 100 trillion more people”) so it would be incorrect. You could do the same exact thing with liberals if you wanted to and show that liberals are the most ignorant people or libertarians or socialists or lizard people.

  12. Ugh, it seems conservatives are pouncing on a story about a woman using a gun to kill a mugger. As if that’s a GOOD thing. Where is their compassion?

    Conservatives are thrilled a woman with a concealed-carry permit shot and killed a 19-year-old would-be mugger. That’s not how justice works. The penalty for theft is not death, nor do we want it to be.

    It’s safer for everyone if mugging victims just hand over whatever the mugger demands. We cannot have our streets devolve into Wild West gun battles.

    #GunSense
    #DontResistMuggers

    1. I bet she was white and he was African-American. More proof of white privilege.

    2. Hi my name is Bob, I’ll be your robber…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVMTfGQe51g

    3. You’re off today. D-

      1. I thought he was great. But his link didn’t work: So B-

        1. I’m sure the link worked when I posted it. Maybe the tweet was deleted. A shame, because it was a really insightful takedown of American gun fetishism.

    4. The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork legalized theiving and it seemed to work (of course it required licensing).

    5. According to the story, the guilty alleged mugger did not acquire ongoing positive consent, therefore he was a rapist, not a mugger. #everywomantoo

      1. Yeah, but folks like OBL is parodying don’t think women should kill their potential rapists, either.

    6. The mugger also had a gun. Of course she had the right to use deadly force to protect herself from deadly force. The penalty for theft is not death. This wasn’t theft, it was armed robbery. The consequence of pulling a gun on somebody is to possibly be killed. Or do you think that armed robbers should be safe from natural consequences……

      1. “If guns were illegal there’d be no armed robbers” – every gun-grabber ever.

  13. ‘know the least but think they know the most’

    So they are like every other progressive. Seriously, it’s amazing the smug look on their faces when they are talking about thinks they know nothing about. It really is a religion

  14. Good luck with that especially since the activist shamans who shake their rattles and beads over at groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have a vested interest in keeping their dupes ignorant.

    Fortunately for science, non-believers aren’t required to believe in order for GMOs to do their work. They can partake of GMOs in blissful ignorance or avoid GMOs entirely while still enjoying the tangential benefits. Their disbelief is a problem that solves itself.

    1. Except the keep passing laws and regulations (and pushing for more) that limit the use of GMOs.

      1. Well, it’s pretty much been established that you can’t educate them into rightthink and, even if you did, it doesn’t necessarily prevent them from passing stupid legislation maliciously and/or with a full understanding of what they’re doing. So, IDK, that they have a vested interest in ignorance or that we should intrinsically oppose it just because they are assert to have.

        1. It is a problem simply because they are attempting to curb my freedoms. If they had no power or influence, I would agree with you that it is a problem that will cure itself. But as we see with rBST, despite the huge economic and environmental benefits, and the vast amount of science supporting rBST, they pressured via regulation and disinformation to force it’s use out of the market. If it were only market forces at work, rBST would probably still be in use, but market pressure, paired with regulations, made it to costly to use. Well still technically legal, it is rarely used today.

          1. It is a problem simply because they are attempting to curb my freedoms.

            Again. No amount of (re)educating them will make them understand and as you state, the problem isn’t the understanding of genetics.

            Well still technically legal, it is rarely used today.

            If it were that large an economic advantage, there would be producers using it. Just because you believe it to be a trillion dollar breakthrough doesn’t automatically trump their belief that it’s poison. Seek out rBST and buy more of it and/or pay more for it.

  15. They’re trying to make VeggieTales a reality and all of you here are fine with it.

    1. Are you telling me you wouldn’t enjoy gnawing on a sentient vegetable while it dies in agony, screaming as you’re tearing out its guts with your teeth? I sure would.

    2. Are you telling me GMO’s are all part of a Christian extremist plot to make our children disbelieve the theory of evolution? I blame private schools… and Monsanto.

      1. “…and Monsanto.”

        Absolutely!

  16. You know who else knows the least but thinks they know the most?

    1. Jenny McCarthy?

    2. My daughter?

    3. Kirkland? Tony?

  17. wtf is “extreme opponent”?

    1. Someone who doesn’t just hate GMOs, they fucking hate GMOs.

  18. I would like to point out that Guardian quote shows a common misunderstanding about Dunning Kruger. The data doesn’t indicate that incompetent people can’t evaluate their competency properly. Rather, it indicates that nobody evaluates themselves properly. At the lowest levels of competency, people tend to overestimate their abilities a bit. Not substantially, but a little bit. At the highest levels of competency (think >90th percentile), people tend to underestimate their abilities a bit. Note that they still estimate their abilities to be better than everyone else.

    The basic logic is that the more you know, the more you focus on what you don’t know. Expert or not, most people aren’t good at self evaluation.

    1. The data doesn’t indicate that incompetent people can’t evaluate their competency properly.

      Yes it does, and that’s what’s relevant to their point.

      Rather, it indicates that nobody evaluates themselves properly.

      That’s irrelevant to the point they’re making. There’s no need to explain the entirety of the study when the portion they noted will do.

      1. The data indicates that all people cannot evaluate their nominal competency accurately. It also indicates that they can evaluate their relative competency accurately. The least qualified people never estimated themselves to be better than more competent people and the most competent people always rated themselves highest.

        The focus on incompetency is misleading because the statement implies that the conclusion differs for competent people. It doesn’t, so the most accurate conclusion is that people don’t evaluate their nominal competency well and that people on the lower end tend to be less accurate because they have no baseline to compare to.

        The point was that these less educated anti-GMO folks would be harder to convince, which is not supported by the data. The anti-GMO folks certainly know less but the notion that they are overconfident as opposed to uninformed is a common misconception about Dunning Kruger.

        What people think Dunning Kruger is: “ignorant people are arrogant, intelligent people are humble”
        What Dunning Kruger actually states: “it’s hard to assess yourself accurately, but the more you know, the easier it becomes to identify what you don’t know”

        Far too often, Dunning Kruger is misapplied as a rhetorical slight of hand to rationalize “people who disagree with me” as ignorant.

        And that’s just at face value. I haven’t even brought up statistical criticism since the initial publication in 1999.

  19. That’s not just your opinion, you’re just wrong.

  20. “The finding has echoes of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the observation from social psychology that incompetence prevents the incompetent from recognising their incompetence,” notes The Guardian.

    How dares The Guardian say those awful things about our president!

    1. How long did it take you to somehow figure out how to use this article to satisfy your TDS need to insult the President, despite it being completely unrelated to this article? Can you work your open borders zealotry into it to?

  21. Why does Reason have to be so dumb about GMOs? They are not a black and white issue. GMOs are whatever they are modified to be. They could have totally beneficial modifications, they could be modified to contain poison, or whatever.

    “GMOs are safe” is like saying “Cars are safe”. Neither statement is exactly true. Cars can be dangerous, GMOs can be dangerous. All in all the small danger of driving in a car is offset by its usefulness. Probably the same is true of GMOs, but anybody who makes a black and white statement doesn’t understand GMOs, or is lying.

    Most GMO defenders and probably detractors have a stake in the outcome and are not exactly providing unbiased testimony. If a scientist is funded by Monsanto (or whatever it is now called), who can rely on their statements vis a vis GMOs? I wouldn’t. But at the same time, there have been a lot of GMOs around without obvious problems, so I would think they are generally safe.

    Logical people would ask questions like:
    — How often do GMOs have properties that were not anticipated when they were designed?
    — How could malevolent actors possibly modify organisms to make them harmful?
    — Are there people who could be motivated to use GMO technology in a harmful way? If so, how can we protect ourselves?

    Almost nothing is black and white. Don’t dumb down arguments to serve your political ends.

    1. I am an agricultural professor at a land grant university, in my job I receive zero outside funding, except public funding. My main duty is to provide science based education to producers and the public. I support the safety of GMOs based upon the available science.

      As to your questions:

      Question 1: using modern techniques (not irradiation which is not defined as GMO) there are no documented cases of undesirable outcomes, because modern techniques target specific genes, and we understand what properties we are trying to create or inhibit.
      Question 2: This is a non-sequitur boogeyman argument. Of course, Dr. Evil could decide to genetically modify something to be toxic, but how would it enter the food chain and better yet how long could he keep it a secret long enough for it to be a viable threat? And of course Austin Powers would save us anyhow.

      Question 3 is as bad as Question 2 and is basically just a rewording of it. And thus refer to my answer above.

      1. Dude. Good answer.

    2. “Why does Reason have to be so dumb about GMOs?”

      Why are you such an ignorant luddite?

  22. Well of course those who know the least think they know the most and aren’t afraid to advertise this fact every time they open their mouths.
    Where else are the sane going to get their laughs?

  23. Good luck with that especially since the activist shamans who shake their rattles and beads over at groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have a vested interest in keeping their dupes ignorant.

    In the long run, it might be quicker to switch conversations with preservationists to population control and hand them free vouchers for sterilization.

  24. Scientific “consensus” is not a valid argument.

    You quoted “overconfidence about one’s knowledge is associated with decreased openness to new information,” observe the researchers. ”

    “Experts”, including politicians, are the people most likely to be overconfident about their knowledge.

    I don’t accept that genetically modified foods are “safe” because many “scientists” say so. I also don’t fear eating them. I just keep an open mind on the subject so I am always open to new evidence.

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