Consistantly Inconsistant

In The Righteous Mind, the conscious mind is sometimes depicted as a kind of “Press secretary” for the unconscious. His or her job is not to make decisions, but rather to rationalize and put a positive spin on choices already made.

Often, the spokesman is confronted with contradiction between new decisions and previously expressed rationalizations. Usually, these can be waved away without engendering too much cognitive dissonance. For example, setting up someone or something as an “authority” is fine, as long as you agree with them; but when you disagree, their authority suddenly seems less compelling. For example, Sean Hannity is a well known Catholic who is happy to opine that homosexuality is immoral , but somehow parts ways with the Church on issues of war, capital punishment, and with the current pope, income inequality.

On the other side of the political spectrum, many liberals have no hesitation to paint their opponents as backward and “anti-science” for opposing the scientific consensus on a wide range of issues, including:

  • Evolution
  • The age of the Earth
  • Climate Change
  • Vaccination

But no one has a monopoly on pseudoscience. When it comes to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), the actual research is rather strong in favor of safety: “After 14 years of cultivation and a cumulative total of 2 billion acres planted, no adverse health or environmental effects have resulted from commercialization of genetically engineered crops.”

The question: “Are GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left?” is apt. It is easy for well-fed and healthy Westerners – like patrons of Chipotle –  to indulge in some psdueoscience. But when people are starving or going blind from vitamin A deficiency, the cost-benefit balance is greatly shifted.

In a New York Times piece, a former GMO opponent talks about his change of heart:

“I, too, was once in that activist camp. A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind. After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.”


Author: lnemzer

Assistant Professor Nova Southeastern University

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