Category Archives: Science/Technology

Hothouse Earth

An interesting new study:1 lays out the pathway for Earth entering a Hothouse Climate State.

Our planet is still in danger of becoming a ‘Hothouse’ Earth despite our current efforts to manage global warming.

Counter-intuitively, that sounds like a breath of fresh air, meaning, get the bad news out of the way ahead of time so people can brace for it, no surprises. Assuming the Hothouse Planet happens, certain areas would be uninhabitable as global temps crank up to 4C-to-5C beyond pre-industrial. The planet would be gnarled and unattractive, a nasty place to live, no more Goldilocks climate. And, all kinds of warfare would breakout as mobs vie for tillable land.

The article’s general thesis is that, as of today, the planet retains its Goldilocks “not too hot, not too cold” swagger because of a series of natural mechanisms that “maintain a balance,” for example, carbon sinks, like the ocean or like the Amazon Rain Forest keep the balance in place. In fact, the study identifies ten tipping elements that maintain a balance for the planet, any one of which, once out of whack, would cascade into all the others, bringing on the onset of a hothouse planet.

Assuming the world exceeds the 2C pre-industrial marker set by the Paris Agreement, the study envisions a dangerous out of control spiral downwards, as planetary mechanisms crash in domino fashion, resulting in a planetary climate hothouse. Maybe that’s what happened to Venus (865F, CO2 950,000 ppm) millennia ago.

According to the PNAS article, hothouse prevention is reducing carbon emissions ASAP with countries working together towards a common goal, including decarbonization, enhancement of carbon sinks, blah-blah-blah. Stop right there! The U.S. is already out of the “deal” and furthermore it’s a pipe dream to assume countries will come together globally to save the planet. Since the dawn of civilization, tribes, then empires, then nation/states have been fighting like cats and dogs locked together in a crowded teeny-weeny room.

Here’s the issue as outlined by the study: It only takes one of the mechanisms to break down and topple all of the others. Ipso facto, that presents a problem today. The “tipping elements,” of which there are ten, include: (1) thawing permafrost (2) loss of coral reefs (3) loss of Arctic summer sea ice. Those three mechanisms alone, according to some pretty smart scientists, are already goners, or very, very close to goners.

What if the “tipping elements” mentioned in the study have already “tipped” or tip way ahead of plan? Then what happens, as the world grinds away towards reduction of carbon emissions whilst on the pathway to 2C? After all, scientific models have been pretty shabby now for decades, missing nasty climate events by a country mile. Time and again, the science is behind the climatic events, not ahead, not by a long shot.

Therefore, the Planet Hothouse study poses an interesting supposition: What if climate scientists have been way too optimistic, too sanguine, too upbeat and not scaring people nearly enough?

In point of fact, there’s a strong rationale for questioning the validity of climate models. For example, frequently scientists say how “surprised” they are at “how much faster things are happening than models predicted.” This happens way too often to find comfort in science models.

After several years of repeatedly hearing apologetic scientists claim the climate system is not following their models, meaning, bad stuff is happening much faster than models predicted, it becomes increasingly obvious that climate change could be closer to an out of control beast than anybody realizes. After all, the track record is all about “surprised scientists.”

The “science is late to the party” phenomena is not necessarily the fault of scientists as climate change (crisis) is on an unprecedented pathway, not following any playbooks. Come to find out, there’s no script, only models.

For example, when questioned about collapsing ice in West Antarctica, Adrian Jenkins, glaciologist, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge said: “It was just beyond our concept that a glacier would melt that fast.”

Really! “Beyond our concept that a glacier would melt that fast!”

Helen Amanda Fricker, glaciologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and her team found that from 1994 to 2012, the amount of ice disappearing from all Antarctic ice shelves, not just the ones in the Amundsen Sea, increased 12-fold, from six cubic miles to 74 cubic miles per year. That was six years ago; it’s only gotten worse. Increased 12-fold… you’ve gotta be kidding…. that’s like comparing the performance of the Wright brothers to the Apollo moon landing!

“I think it’s time for us scientists to stop being so cautious about communicating the risks.” (Helen Amanda Fricker) Oh, finally, reality hits home!

The “Mass Balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017,”2 shows the rate of ice loss from West Antarctica increasing from 53B to 159B tonnes per year. Nobody came close to predicting that in 1992, in 2002, or in 2012. No models said that would happen at that rate.

In fact, similar to the stock market, West Antarctic ice loss is in a bull market that just won’t quit, exceeding all expectations, blowing away all predictions.  Not only, but two recent studies found Antarctic melt, similar to the stock market, at a “record-breaking rate.” Therefore, warning that sea level rises could have catastrophic consequences for cities. Duh!

Consider: Antarctic ice loss has accelerated threefold in the last five years; that’s a faster rate than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which increased from 15,000 to 25,000 over the past five years or a powerhouse 67% in a raging bull market. Still, stocks look like wimps compared to Antarctica’s 5xs faster rate of ice loss. Curiously, and maybe not so coincidentally, the faster stock markets rise, the faster ice melts.

Greenland’s surface melt doubled from 1992-2011. According to Isabella Velicogna, University of California:

Nobody expected the ice sheet to lose so much mass so quickly… Things are happening a lot faster than we expected.

“Happening a lot faster than we expected” has become the motto of climate science. “Nobody expected it to lose mass so quickly.” These expressions, or rather exasperation retorts, are indicative of a climate crisis that is rapidly galloping ahead of the science.

Maybe the Hothouse Earth study in PNAS is on-track but too late to the party.

Which begs the million-dollar question: What if 2C hits much sooner than the models expect?

Then what?

The answer is straightforward: The world turns into a hellhole much faster than the models predicted.

  1. “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene,” Will Steffen, Johan Rockström et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), August 6, 2018.
  2. Nature, 219-222 (2018).

Trillion Dollar Companies: The Apple Empire and Concentrated Markets

It seems a distant reality, or nightmare now: a company that was near defunct in 1996, now finding itself at the imperial pinnacle of the corporate ladder.  Then, publications were mournful and reflective about the corporation that gave us the Apple Computer.  An icon had fallen into disrepair.  Then came the renovations, the Steve Jobs retooling and sexed-up products of convenience.

Apple’s valuation last Thursday came in at $1 trillion and may well make it the first trillion dollar company on the planet.  That its assets are worth more than a slew of countries is surely something to be questioned rather than cheered.  This un-elected entity, with employees versed in evading, as far as possible, the burdens of public accountability, poses a troubling minder about how concentrated financial power rarely squares with democratic governance.

Chalking up such a mark is only impressive for those keeping an eye on the trillion dollar line.  China’s state-owned PetroChina is another muscular contender for getting there first, while the Saudi Arabian energy company Aramco, which produces a far from negligible 10 percent of the world’s oil, could well scoot past Apple should it go public.

Cheering was exactly what was demanded by James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute, whose piece in The Week suggests that Apple reached that mark “the right way”.  The critics of such concentrated power, technology company or otherwise, were simply wrong.  “For them, superbig is automatically superbad.”

Praise for Apple, an abstract being, is warranted in the way that its ally, modern capitalism, should be. “The story of Apple is really the story of modern capitalism doing what it does best: turning imagination into reality.”  The author prefers to see Apple, and Amazon, as products of US genius in the capitalist context.

The New York Times is similarly impressed, linking individual gargantuan successes to the broader American effort in the economy.  A small gaggle of US companies commanding “a larger share of total corporate profits” than at any time since the 1970s, is not necessarily something to snort at. The nine-year bull market has, essentially, been powered by the four technology giants. “Their successes are also propelling the broader economy, which is on track for its fastest growth rate in a decade.”

To its credit, the paper does pay lip service to concerns that such “superstar firms” are doing their bit to stifle wage growth, shrink an already struggling, barely breathing middle class, while jolting income inequality.

This is where the trouble lies: a seemingly blind understanding of capitalism’s inner quirks and unstable manifestations. The paradox behind the tech giant phenomenon does not lie in the wisdom that innovation comes from competition. The converse is claimed to be true: that concentration, oligopolistic power, and strings pulled by a few players is the way to keep innovation alive.  This was Microsoft’s vain argument during the 1990s, something that did not sit well with the antitrust denizens.

The fraternity of economists, rarely capable in agreeing on broader trends, has become abuzz with literature focused on one unsettling topic: the continuing, and accelerating concentration of US industry.  Gustavo Grullon, Yelena Larkin and Roni Michaely noted in April last year that government policies encouraging competition in industry had been “drastically reversed in the US” with a 75 percent increase in the Herfindahl-Hirschman index (HHI) measuring market concentration.  (Antitrust regulators beware.)  The authors observe how, “Lax enforcement of antitrust regulations and increasingly technological barriers to entry appear to be important factors behind this trend.”

Marketing professor from NYU, Scott Galloway, is one who has supped from the cup of the tech giants. He has written about their exploits (The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google), his addresses having become something of a viral phenomenon with analyses of the companies at the DLD Conference in Munich.  Initially seduced by the bling and the product, he enjoyed the magic mushroom inducements the tech giants supplied, relished in their success and stock options, extolled their alteration of human behaviour. “This started as a love affair.  I want to be clear.  I love these companies.”

This year, a change of heart took place.  Galloway, after spending “the majority of the last two years” of his life “really trying to understand them and the relationship with the ecosystem” is convinced that these behemoths must be broken up.  The big four, striving all powerful deities, sources of mass adoration, have become “our consumptive gods”.  “And as a result of their ability to tap into these very basic instincts, they’ve aggregated more market cap than the majority of nation’s GDP”.

Power and influence has shifted.  Political leaders have little of these relatively speaking, certainly over the behavioural consistency and content of subjects and citizens.  Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, distinctly outside a political process he can still control, does.  “He can turn off or on your mood. He can take any product up or down. He can pretty much kill any company in the tech space.”  And that’s just Facebook.

What Galloway points out with a forceful relevance is that liberties and freedoms are not the preserve of estranged markets and their bullish actors. Regulation and oversight are required.  A return to competition would only be possible through some form of intervention and coaxing, perhaps even economic violence.  The memory of the great financial crisis initially stimulated an appetite for regulation.  In recent years, such urgings have been satiated.  The tech giants, fully aware of this, continue to burgeon.

UFO’s: Proven “Beyond Reasonable Doubt”

In December 2017 the New York Times (NYT) revealed details of a hitherto secret defense program set up to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was funded ($22m) by Congress and led by Luis Elizondo, a senior military intelligence officer. It ran from 2007 to 2012 when, the Pentagon claim it was closed down, but Mr. Elizondo, who resigned in 2007 said the program “carried on for another five years.”

Photographs and video recordings were studied, including one released in August 2017, “of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.” Commander David Fravor, a pilot with 18 years experience, described seeing a “Tic Tac [shaped object], about 40ft long with no wings” which was “defying the laws of physics”. He told Fox News that he believed, “as do the other folks who saw it, that it was something not from this world.” Luis Elizondo seems to agree with the him; in an interview with The Telegraph he said, “I hate to use the term UFO but that’s what were looking at…we have highly educated pilots here and they’re seeing something they can’t understand…I think it’s pretty clear this is not us, and it’s not anyone else, so one has to ask the question where they’re from.”

Is Earth Unique?

For decades western governments have suppressed data and publicly denied the existence of UFOs, mainstream media approaches the subject with cynicism and modern science asserts that no other planets within the solar system can sustain life, certainly nothing as complex as a human being. Earth is unique we are told. Such statements seem implausible to many of us, even illogical.

One man who had no doubt about the existence of UFOs was George Adamski (b. 1891, Poland, d. Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, aged 74). A fascinating, controversial figure, he claimed to have had long discussions with highly evolved beings from other planets. He chronicled these encounters in two extraordinary books: Flying Saucers Have Landed (co-written with Desmond Leslie), published in 1953, and Inside the Space Ships, from 1955.

In the last chapter of Flying Saucers, Adamski records his first encounter with one of the ‘space people’. The meeting  (witnessed remotely by six people who were with Adamski) took place on the 20th November 1952 in the Colorado Desert: “He took four steps toward me, bringing us within arm’s length of each other. Now, for the first time I fully realized that I was in the presence of a man from space, A HUMAN BEING FROM ANOTHER WORLD…The beauty of his form surpassed anything I had ever seen. And the pleasantness of his face freed me of all thought of my personal self.”

In the follow-up book Adamski describes travelling in a scout ship to the ‘Venusian mother ship’, a huge craft, “about one hundred and fifty feet in diameter and close to two thousand feet in length”, and records a series of fascinating conversations, of particular interest are the dialogues between Adamski and two highly evolved men described as Venusian ‘Masters’. “The first fact your people must realize is that the inhabitants of other worlds are not fundamentally different from Earth men,” said the ‘Great Master’. On all the other planets there is peace but “Man [mankind], in his lack of understanding, has destroyed the harmony of his being on your Earth. He dwells in enmity with his neighbor, his mind divided in confusion. Peace he has never known…We have learned that life is all-inclusive and that we are that life, we know that we can hurt nothing without hurting ourselves…We are not on guard against one another, nor do we covet anything belonging to others. For we are all equal participants of the goods of our planets.”

The space people’s close interest in Earth is revealed: “we are as much concerned with your world and your life as we are with our own, for we are all in the same kingdom.” He relates that throughout the solar system, “the people’s of all planets except your Earth are travelling space freely…We would gladly give you this [scientific] knowledge except that you have not yet learned to live with one another in peace and brotherhood ….as we have on other worlds.”

There are two long interviews with the ‘Great Master,’ whom everyone on the spaceships looked up to. Detailed information is shared on a wide range of subjects from death to human development, the spiritual nature of life, space travel and the dangers of atmospheric pollution. Radiation and other toxic elements are not only poisoning Earth but are a threat to outer space. Concerning the UFOs themselves, the Master revealed that, “we have many kinds, many sizes, for many purposes.”

At one point Adamski wondered, “if our world was the lowest in development throughout the Universe…Reading my thought this great teacher said, ‘No, my son, your world is not the lowest in development in the Universe. Yours is the least developed of those in our own system…your understanding of life in the Universe is very limited. As a result you have many false concepts about other worlds and the composition of the Universe; and so little knowledge of yourselves!”

Adamski’s accounts are, of course, contentious and, as one would expect, have been dismissed by skeptics, but his work was of tremendous value to other ufologists, and the information recorded in the interviews remains illuminating.

Inhabited Planets

The late British artist and author Benjamin Creme has also spoken in detail about UFOs and the ‘Space Brothers’. In Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two he confirms Adamski’s information, stating that, “all the planets [within the solar system], without exception, are inhabited.” He also discusses why UFOs are not always visible, explaining that the spaceships exist “on the higher etheric [planes], not solid physical levels.” Although contemporary science recognizes the existence of only three levels of physical matter, solid, liquid and gaseous, esoteric literature understands that there are four higher, more subtle levels. These are known as the etheric planes, and remain to be discovered by science.

All dense physical forms (including human beings) have an etheric body formed of lines of energy from one or other of the etheric planes, and space itself is also composed of etheric energy. Where these currents overlap centers of force, known as chakras, are created. Unless one has etheric vision, however, the vast etheric world, including UFOs and the people in them, remains unseen. The spaceships become visible when those flying the UFOs “lower the [vibrational] rate of the vehicles to come within our field of vision.” They “are there all the time in their thousands and even millions,” we just can’t see them, unless they want to be seen. Creme states that the majority of UFOs come from Mars and Venus, and that all are manufactured on Mars.

Humanity’s essential unity is not restricted to the confines of Earth, but exists throughout the solar system and beyond; the space people are our brothers and sisters, and, as Adamski’s account shows they are not only peaceful and benevolent but are deeply concerned about our well-being and the health of the planet. “They help us in many ways, they help within karmic law to maintain the stability of the planet ecologically” Creme relates,….“They mop up a great deal of the nuclear radiation which we release into the atmosphere through nuclear experimentation.” This would explain the findings of AATIP that nuclear facilities and power plants were, as Elizondo put it, geographical ‘hot spots’ for UFO sightings. “We began to see trends and similarities in incidents…. extreme manoeuvrability, hypersonic velocity without a sonic boom, speeds of 7-8,000mph, no flight surfaces on the objects. A lot of this is backed with radar signal data, gun camera footage from aircraft, multiple witnesses,” and, “there was never any display of hostility.”

Signs of the World Teacher

Since the 1970s unexplained phenomena have been occurring in unprecedented numbers globally: Crosses of light, weeping icons, milk drinking Hindu deities, patterns of light on buildings, UFO sightings and crop circles among other miraculous happenings.

According to Benjamin Creme the patterns of light and the crop circles are both made by UFOs. Crop circles are a sign of the presence of the space people and are part of their work to recreate “to a certain degree the ‘grid’ of our earth’s magnetic field on the physical plane. Each of these crop circles is a chakra – a vortex of energy.” The beautiful, often complex forms are usually made at night, and in the case of ‘genuine’ formations, none of the crop is damaged.

Whilst crop circles have been seen all over the world, more have appeared in southern England than anywhere else. The concentration of crop circles here is an attempt to draw attention to the fact that Maitreya the World Teacher, is in England, his ‘point of focus’, as He calls it, being London. Another major sign of Maitreya’s presence is the star-like objects that have been seen day and night since January 2009; luminous shapes, witnessed by hundreds of people throughout the world that move across the heavens, changing shape and colour. Interestingly the first crop circle seen in 2009 (23rd April) was also a star design.

Some months after the first ‘Star’ was seen in the skies over Norway, Benjamin Creme explained that they are not stars at all, but four huge UFOs each the size of eight football pitches. The sightings of these radiant forms constitute yet more evidence of the presence of UFOs, evidence that is now overwhelming; as Luis Elizondo said, “if this was a court of law, we have reached the point ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. The pervasive materialistic ideology dismisses such logic, denies wonder and pours scorn on the unexplained. A fog of ignorance and cynicism has blinded humanity to their true nature and the reality of life; it is time to reject such narrow definitions and look with an open, attentive mind, at oneself and the mysteries of life.

Lysenkoism Today and the Return of Ideological Warfare

This month, Current Biology published an article about the revival of Lysenkoism, a pseudo-scientific concept developed by Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (1898– 1976), the Ukrainian-born Soviet agronomist. His theory was that environmental changes to crop plants like wheat, rye, potatoes, and beets, are heritable through the organism’s cells, dismissing entirely the role of genetics.  Developed in the 1920s, Lysenko’s theories were fully adopted under Stalin and had disastrous consequences for the people of the Soviet Union when v_e_r_n_a_l_i_s a_t_i_o_n (the chilling of seeds to stimulate germination) combined with his complete rejection of modern genetics contributed to the disaster for the people of the Soviet Union who were to starve during the Great Famine of 1932-1933 and the 1946-1947 drought.

Although Stalin holds the brunt of the responsibility for these famines which killed at least 7 million people, Lysenko’s anti-science practices greatly contributed to these deaths. Lysenko, Stalin’s Director of Biology, headed the group of animal and plant breeders who rejected the work of botanist, Gregor Mendel, and American evolutionary biologist, Thomas Hunt Morgan. Instead, the Soviets of this era promoted the work of Ivan V. Michurin who espoused the ideas of the Lamarckian evolution which held, for instance, that giraffes stretched their necks to such extensive lengths that this trait was necessarily passed to their direct offspring. Of course, there was no scientific merit for this any more than vernalisation would effect future generations of seeds, but these ideas stuck largely because Joseph Stalin launched an aggressive campaign to effectively destroy any work in genetics.

Lysenkoism is a fitting example of how social and political idealism can be imposed on society and even the sciences—despite having absolutely no merit. Where Lysenkoism appealed to the masses who survived poverty made a revolutionary force happen in their environment, they wrongfully applied political changes of revolution to that of science.  Yet, today we are not light years away from Lysenkoism where there is now an initiative in the United States to allow for Creationism to be taught as a scientific theory in schools. There is also pressure from lobby groups, like Heartland, which have heavily invested in debunking climate change science to encourage climate denial be taught.  With a new wave of bills aimed at changing what school children are learning in the US and the fact that Creationism is still taught in faith schools in the UK despite their being publicly funded, scientific debates can be the most ferocious on the political front. Why is it that scientific disagreements turn into battlegrounds when, ostensibly, science is supposed to be clear cut?

The answer to this question dates back to when Nicolaus Copernicus published his manuscript, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (1543), which states that the earth orbits the sun. Although not formally banned, this work was removed from circulation marking the moment when religious belief and science have been perpetually at odds. Then in 1616, when Galileo was issued an injunction not to “hold, defend, or teach” heliocentrism, who would have imagined that just over 500 years later the same passionate urge to silence what is taught or practiced would have such ideological echoes to the present. With the waning of religious presence within western institutions and government over the past fifty years, religious belief has been largely replaced with the politics of selfhood where the neoliberal belief in the individual or in a specific ideology results today in ferocious debate.

We are living in an era of “post-truth” where not only media is proliferated with bogus news stories, but where there seems to be an upsurge of individuals who believe in pseudoscience: the anti-vaxxers, those who use homeopathy for cancer treatments, climate change deniers, those who live their lives guided by horoscopes, clean coal advocates, and myriad other anti-science beliefs. Yet, many of these science skeptics still believe in certain areas of science such that some are even making ecologically-sound purchases based on scientific reports they read informing them which green vehicle, insurance, or solar panel will be the most ethical.  And this is the contradiction: many of the very same people who are aware that science is vital to our collective growth, health and social adhesion, have one specific area where they flat-out disbelieve the science and that leans towards a neoliberal, individualist approach to the problem.  Similar to Lysenkoism, these beliefs do not emerge in a vacuum but have their roots in culture, political ideology, and even personality.

For instance, a very recent study spearheaded by the Annenberg Public Policy Center examines the Dunning-Kruger effect in the endorsement of anti-vaccine policy attitudes.  In psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a “cognitive bias whereby people who are incompetent at something are unable to recognise their own incompetence.” So Motta and his team hypothesised that those with little understanding of autism would be the most likely to think they are the best informed on the subject. And the results were shocking: they found that 35% of the respondents thought they knew as much as more than doctors and 34% knew more than scientists on the causes of autism. Moreover, the research has linked this uninformed overconfidence to the endorsement of misinformation to include the “increased support for the role that non-experts (e.g., celebrities) play in the policymaking process.”

While this study only applies to one specific paradigm, it is important to keep in mind the reasons why people might be quick to attack science to underscore their belief system.  Anyone who has seen Donald Trump’s opinions on climate change as a conspiracy, might have a laugh at some of his claims, but it is important that we face myths with facts, to include being ready to expand our own views when new facts come to light. After all, we are living in an era where car choices and politics are directly related to each other such that we invest into our political ideals the scientific knowledge which has convinced us to buy a certain vehicle, and not another.  In essence, we need to stop cherry-picking our science. And this also means that we need to take Russia’s recently rekindled love affair with Lysenkoism seriously and understand how nationalism can breed a blind faith in tradition. With the growing love affair for epigenetics in Russia, we have a scientific cold war beginning where genetics are being dismissed in parallel with Putin’s renewed nationalist project.

While belief systems which challenge science will likely always exist, it is important that we can separate our individualist notions of the self that seem to be overwhelming our society today. As Lysenkoism is in full revival mode today due to anti-American sentiment in Russia, it is important that we learn from this desire to ally ourselves with an ideology simply to counter our enemy.  While much of science is in evolution, it is important that we value what it has to show us through evidence and not for what it represents politically or emotionally.

Corporate Spin: Genetically Modifying the Way to Food Security?

Those familiar with the debate around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may be forgiven for thinking that science alone can solve the world’s food problems. The industry asserts that GMOs are vital if the world is to increase agricultural productivity and we are going to feed a growing global population. There is also the distinct impression that the GMO issue is all about ‘science’ and little else.

People who question the need for and efficacy of GM have been labelled anti-science elitists who are responsible for crimes against humanity as they supposedly deny GM food to the hungry. Critics stand accused of waging a campaign of fear about the dangers of GM. In doing so, the argument goes that, due to ideology, they are somehow denying a technological innovation to farmers.

Critics have valid concerns about GMOs and have put forward credible evidence to support their views. But instead of engaging in open and honest debate, we see some scientists hardening their positions, lashing out at critics and forwarding personal opinions (unrelated to their specific discipline) based on their perceived authority as scientists. There’s a fine line between science and industry-inspired lobbying and spin. Unfortunately, a number of scientists have difficulty locating it.

The problem: global food regime or GM technology itself

An accusation sometimes levelled at critics of GM is that they have trouble when it comes to differentiating between the technology and the companies who have come to dominate GM: they are thus overly concerned with waging an assault on big business and capitalism, losing sight of the potential benefits of GM.

For sure, GM technology has become associated with large conglomerates that have rolled it out as a tool to further consolidate their dominant market position. These corporations are embedded in a system of capitalism that facilitates corporatisation of the global food regime and all that entails; for instance, a push towards seed monopolies, the roll-out of highly profitable proprietary inputs and chemical/biotech treadmills, leverage over legislation, trade deals and treaties and the general boosting and amalgamation of corporate power (as seen by recent mergers and acquisitions).

However, it is unfair to accuse critics of being unable to differentiate between the food regime and GM itself. Both scientists and non-scientists have concluded that genetic engineering poses unique scientific risks and has political, cultural, ethical and economic ramifications.

There are good reasons why in Europe robust regulatory mechanisms are in place for GM. GM food/crops are not substantially equivalent to their non-GM counterparts. More and more studies are highlighting the flawed premise of substantial equivalence. Given the risks, the precautionary principle is recognised as a sensible approach.

International consensus exists that the products of genetic engineering are not equivalent to their conventional counterparts. Many of the potential hazards are inherent in the GE process itself, and “are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection” (Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, on page 7 of this document, where the example of GM maize and the amino acid lysine is also discussed; in addition, see references 5-10 at the bottom this page here).

There is sufficient reason to hold back on commercialising GM and subject each GMO to independent, transparent environmental, social and health impact evaluations: there can be no blanket statement that all GMO crops/foods are safe or somehow ‘good’. The claim of substantial equivalence is an industry get-out tactic to avoid the inconvenience of proper assessment and regulation. And any claim that there is consensus on the safety/efficacy of GM within the ‘scientific community’ is based on spin rather than reality. This, along with the claims that ‘the science is decided’ on GM is mere rhetoric designed to close down debate.

There are major uncertainties concerning the technology (not least regarding its precision and health safety aspects), which are brushed aside by claims of ‘the science’ is decided and the ‘facts’ about GM are indisputable. Such claims – alongside the attempt to sideline non-scientists from the debate – are merely political posturing and part of the agenda to tip the policy agenda in favour of GM.

We must consider too that many things that scientists are trying to achieve with GMOs have already been surpassed by means of conventional breeding. We should not accept the premise that only GM can solve problems in agriculture. Non-GMO options and innovations have out-performed GM. So why press ahead with a technology that changes the genetic basis of food with all that entails for human health and the environment?

Despite critics’ concerns, they continue to be attacked for supposedly being anti-science and anti-choice. For instance, the pro-GMO line of blaming people in richer countries for denying the benefits of GM to others elsewhere has become part of industry rhetoric. The case of Golden Rice is often used as an example. UK politician Owen Patterson is on record as saying that wicked activists are denying food to little children.

Glenn Stone and Dominic Glover (Washington University and the University of Sussex) have noted that this claim just does not stack up. Golden Rice has not come to market because ongoing tests show it has failed to deliver as a technology. Meanwhile, Vitamin A deficiency is falling dramatically in the Philippines, while the claims about Golden Rice remain wishful thinking.

It is convenient and misleading to accuse ‘privileged activists’ in affluent countries of denying choice to poor people by preventing the commercialisation and cultivation of GM crops across the globe. In  South America and Africa, for example, it is not some affluent bunch of activists in rich countries who are against GM. It is local farmers and it is because corporations with US govt help and philanthropic colonialists like Bill Gates are moving in to assert their leverage in agriculture and over indigenous farming.

According to the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (ASFA):

White male European so-called experts are channelling the message of the biotech industry, heavily controlled by US-European seed and chemical giants Monsanto/Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer. The message once again is that failure of African farmers to adopt GMO technology is the root cause of hunger and poverty on the continent. It is ironic that GMO foods are banned by law as unsafe in the European home countries of those giving the advice. Meanwhile the African biotech scientists seem more concerned that the strict liability measures will chase away donor funding and investment for their costly and “prestigious” research.

They blame the anti-GMO activists, rather than their own technological failure, for the impasse. They claim that if only the activists would shut up and go away, the industry backed researchers could fix the food insecurity problem once and for all!  Once again Africa is being compelled to adopt others’ views, others’ technologies, others’ interests. Have we not seen this before? They claim to have ‘sound science’ on their side but what kind of science resolutely ignores the evidence? What has actually happened in those African countries where GMOs have been rolled out? Let’s take a look at the facts.

ASFA then goes on to highlight the false promises and failures of GM in Africa. Clearly, it is not just the politics of GM that ASFA has concerns about: it is the technology itself.

It is misleading when supporters of GM call people’s attention to apparent public sector funding of GM and the apparent altruism that is claimed to underpin the GM project. Even when not directly pushing GM to boost the bottom line, big business (and US state interests) is certainly present in the not too distant background. As with the current push for GM mustard (also misleadingly portrayed as a public service endeavour ) in India, ‘pioneering’ crops have a role in opening the GM floodgates in a region or country (there are sound reasons for rejecting GM mustard as described by Aruna Rodrigues in her submitted court documents).

But is this type of ‘activism’ denying choice to farmers? Not at all, as I have outlined elsewhere. If anything, large corporations do their best to break traditional practices and environmental learning pathways developed over time with the aim of getting farmers on technological treadmills. These same companies also exert their leverage on a wider level via the WTO, Codex and various international agreements.

But you never see supporters of GM campaigning against any of this. Perhaps they are too busy helping the process along via the right-wing neoliberal think tanks they are associated with. Instead, they fixate on Greenpeace or ‘activists’ whose leverage is dwarfed by the power of these corporations.

Pro-GMO activists make great play about ‘potential’ benefits of GM and roll out examples to ‘prove’ the point. Fine, if these benefits really do stack up in reality; but we need to look at this objectively because plenty of evidence indicates that GM is not beneficial and that non-GM alternatives are a better option. Most of all, we need to put commercial interests and the career/funding interests of scientists to one side when determining the need for and the efficacy of GM.

Solution based on food sovereignty

Banning GMOs will not solve the problems associated with lobbying and corruption, the adverse impacts of pesticide use, corporate monopolies, monocultures, food commodity speculation, the denial of peasant’s land rights or any other problems associated with the capitalist food regime. But neither will GM lead to ensuring global food security.

We must look away from the industrial yield-output paradigm and adopt a more integrated systems approach to food and agriculture that accounts for many different factors, including local food security and sovereignty, local calorific production, cropping patterns and diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability, climate resilience, good soil structure and the ability to cope with evolving pests and disease pressures. This is precisely why, from Africa to India, locally owned, grass-root agroecology and zero budget farming are gaining traction.

Scaling up agroecology offers potential solutions to many of the world’s most pressing problems, whether, for instance, climate change and carbon storage, soil degradation, water shortages, unemployment or food security. Working with the natural environment (as Bhaskar Save notes) involves a different mindset from that which wants to genetically engineer it and all the risks and unforeseen consequences that it inevitably entails. If readers take time to click on the previous link for Bhaskar Save, it becomes patently clear that undermining or eradicating one system of farming by imposing another has serious ethical, environmental, social and political ramifications. Something that scientific research does not concern itself with.

The consequences of GM do not just relate to unpredictable changes in the DNA, proteins and biochemical composition of the resulting GM crop. Introducing GM can involve disrupting cultures and knowledge systems and farmers’ relationships with their environments. Who is to say that GM is somehow ‘better’ or should take precedence over these traditional systems?

Corporate boardroom executives or well-funded microbiologists each with their own agendas and looking at things from their own blinkered perspectives? Once those systems are disrupted, the knowledge and practices that underpin them become lost forever. For instance, in terms of an integrated pest management strategy, Devinder Sharma talks of women who can identify 110 non-vegetarian insects and 60 vegetarian insects. Can such knowledge survive? To be wiped out for corporate profit and a flawed GM experiment?

As described in this paper, for thousands of years farmers experimented with different plant and animal specimens acquired through migration, trading networks, gift exchanges or accidental diffusion. By learning and doing, trial and error, new knowledge was blended with older, traditional knowledge systems. The farmer therefore possessed acute observation and has traditionally engaged in risk minimising strategies. Farmers took measures to manage drought, grow cereals with long stalks that can be used as fodder, engage in cropping practices that promote biodiversity, ethno-engineer soil and water conservation, use self-provisioning systems on farm recycling and use collective sharing systems such as managing common resource properties.

Farmers know their micro-environment, so they can plant crops that mature at different times, thereby facilitating more rapid crop rotation without exhausting the soil. Today, however, large-scale industrial-based agricultural production erodes biodiversity by depleting the organisms that live in soil and by making adverse changes to the structure of the soil and the kind of plants that can be grown in such artificially-created environments.

Many of the practices of small farmers are now recognised as sophisticated and appropriate. It is no surprise therefore that various high-level reports have called for agroecology and smallholder farmers to be prioritised and invested in to achieve global sustainable food security. Instead, what we see is the marginalisation traditional organic agriculture by corporate interests.

Traditional food production systems depend on using the knowledge and expertise of village communities and cultures in contrast to prioritising imported ‘solutions’. The widespread but artificial conditions created by the latter work against the survival of traditional knowledge, which creates and sustains unique indigenous farming practices and food culture.

None of this is based on a romantic yearning for the past or ‘the peasantry’. It is for good reason that the reports referred to call for investment in this type of agriculture centred on small farms: despite the pressures (including the fact that industrial agriculture grabs 80%of subsidies and 90% of research funds), it continues to feed most of the world.

Cultural, ethical, political and environmental considerations matter just as much – even more – than the science of GM. And that’s even before we consider how the ill thought out introduction (or imposition) of GM can have dire financial impacts for communities, as has been the case with Bt cotton in many areas where it has been adopted.

In acknowledging the type of food regime that exists and the risks, motives and implications of GM, pushing back against the large corporations that hold sway over the global food system, food sovereignty based on localisation and (political) agroecology is necessary. This involves reclaiming the food system and challenging the leverage that private capital has over all our lives.

In the meantime, we are not talking about ‘banning’ anything. Where GMOs, gene editing, synthetic biology or other similar technologies are concerned, we require a responsible approach based on transparent social, health and environmental impact assessments. In the absence of this, there should be a moratorium because the potential for a responsible approach is most definitely lacking: Rosemary, Mason, Carol van Strum, the late Shiv Chopra, Evaggelos Vallianatos and others have described how high-level institutions responsible for food and environmental safety have been subverted and corrupted over the years by commercial interests.

Decades on from Rachel Carson, have we learned nothing? If the people listed above tell us anything, it is that the ‘pesticide revolution’ was based on widespread fraud. We are now trying to deal with the health and environmental impacts of dousing the land with agrotoxins year in, year out.  They also tell us that commercial interests should not determine regulatory regimes. We need transparency, democratic accountability, science untainted by corporate interests and robust public institutions which guard against commercial interests that undermine regulatory decisions.

While the pro-GM lobby rushes to experiment with the genetic core of the world’s food and leave a potentially detrimental legacy for future generations, the question remains:

How is it possible that in the 21st century the world has the capacity to feed every single human being on the planet, yet the majority of people in Africa and the rest of the Global South, who are poor – whilst obesity soars in the West – go rampantly hungry?

Walden Bello, Structural Adjustment Programmes dictated by the IMF and World Bank destroyed African Agriculture, September 22, 2009

It is because food and agriculture have become wedded to power structures that have created food surplus and food deficit areas and which have restructured indigenous agriculture across the world and tied it to an international system of trade based on export-oriented mono-cropping, commodity production for a manipulated and volatile international market and indebtedness to international financial institutions.

Once you understand how global capitalism and its corporate food regime operates and how private capital shapes and benefits from a food regime based on an exploitative ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy, you realise that genuine political and economic solutions are required if we are to feed the world and ensure equitable food security.

We must not be deterred by the “haughty imperialism” that exists in scientific circles that aggressively pushes for a GMO techno-fix. We must not be distracted from the root causes of poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

Conferencing, Extortion and IPSA 2018: The Meat Market of the World Congress

It may well go down as one of the most appalling conferences in the history of the International Political Science Association.  The World Congress is one of those hot air events that ventilates academic views in limited circles while shutting them off from actual discussion in the broader community.  In this setting, academics with the oxymoronic title of “political scientists” can give the false impression that what they do is both of a political order and scientific.  (True politics, more appropriately, is either high art or lowly muck.) Models are exchanged and poured over with pedantry; theories are pondered, number crunching pursued.

The Sunday began poorly.  A dear trip from Brisbane’s domestic airport yanked at purse with a certain savagery.  Held in the sterile monster that is the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, a string of yellow clad volunteers resembling the youth wing of a fascist movement awaited guests for registration.  “That will be $30,” snarled one of the attendees at the desk, keen to impress with her distinct lack of interest in assisting the newcomers.

That amount, it should be said, was for the conference program, which, for the first time in living memory, had to be paid for.  This, despite the hefty sum of $400 as a registration fee.  Another attendant was indifferent, suggesting that, in a world of the smart phone, there was hardly any need for a gratis program on paper. “Download the app on your smart phone and then read the program from there.”

This proved to be merely the start. There are numerous stands placed through the Convention centre, but there is no tea and coffee.  Delegates and participants are soon stunned to realise that two places in the building offer coffee, tea and juice at some price.  The rest is water.  There are queues reminiscent of the dying days of the Soviet Union, and many of the offerings at the café are on the lean side.  Pre-purchased lunch is a humble sandwich, or a wrap and some fruit, at the princely sum of $20.  Participants are warned that the food outside the centre, along South Bank, is expensive.

The opening ceremony is characterised by a formal, if tired, resignation, and its setting is a reminder of a Party Congress of gouty officials who clap wearily at the waffle knowing that they must do so.  Two aboriginal ladies are retained to do the “Welcome to Country”, Australia’s excuse for an emotional cleansing.  School grade descriptions are offered of an indigenous background deemed continuous and living for sixty thousand years.  There is talk about ancestry.  The presenters hope to capitalise on the expansive guilt drawn from colonisation and describe how their “welcome to ceremony” events are all part of an extensive circuit.  These women are for hire.

An Indian delegate starts to yawn noisily.  His wife prods him and chuckles noisily.  The dance ceremony begins, men half naked covered in strips of paint.  This offers conference attendees the anthropological musings that give a false credence to confected songs and rituals.  But the ensemble is certainly catchy in its enthusiasm.

What follows, in contrast, is pompous: string music, adjusted accordingly, with a background montage of images ranging from atrocity to President Barack Obama in the situation room the day Osama bin Laden was gunned down.  All in all, the organisers are keen to stifle the life of the participants.  There are too many speakers, and the platitudes seem endless.

The actual sessions of the conference – all too many and running in the hundreds –  are held in facilities of varying quality, veering between plush rooms of high standard to an open area more akin to those used for detaining refugees.  Cheap makeshift partitions mean that noise can be heard from neighbouring panels and sessions.  Participants risk pushing these over in leaning on them.  Clapping moves with disruptive menace across the spaces. Voices are drowned, and questions cannot be heard.  Only realising how such an arrangement would effectively kill any engagement between the participants, organisers decided to scold those who had dared be noisy on the day. On Monday, “Jazz clapping” was suggested as a remedy.  The order was not abided by.

Such conferences tend to be acts of phenomenal irrelevance, vacuums of time wasting and motions.  The big wigs who change history rarely turn up, and the plenary sessions tend to be vague pokes in the ether of knowledge. The only politician to turn up to the event was a state minister from Queensland who shared a portfolio with multiculturalism, local government and racing, a certain Stirling Hinchliffe. “What’s this racing about?” came a quizzical Glaswegian academic currently working in Canada.  Racing, as he found out, was a source of revenue and electoral interest to Queensland politicians.

What matters at such gatherings is its slave, meat market concept, fashioned by years of academic goosing, obsequiousness and envy. Such an international conference as IPSA is self-referential and circular; there is nothing beyond it and not much within it. But the people who do venture to such a gig are in search of solid patronage, and some senior academic figures who feel honoured enough to be chased might condescend to give out their details.

IPSA 2018 in Brisbane was, however, extortionate, dull and indifferent to the actual global chaos that is proving far more interesting.  Political scientists lack the science, or the means, to understand the Trump phenomenon.  For them, tenuous models of analysis come before evidence; theory before history.  They are incapable of understanding the intrusions of radical contingency, and the panels, however diverse, failed in one fundamental respect: accepting the discomforts of reality.

Trump Kills Science: Nature Strikes Back

The Trump administration’s every move is marked with a strange creepiness as well as confusing messages that can only mean: They don’t get it. Their nefarious “destroy science” mentality promotes insane irreversible carbon emissions in good ole America, ultimately threatening the abilities of farmers to cope with ruinous global heat.

As scientists duck for cover from mean-spirited Orange Trumpeters, nature strikes back, emitting 220M tons of carbon from melting permafrost in Alaska. In response, Trumpeters, fighting back, have already taken the first steps towards drilling Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, thus setting the stage for oil and gas leases on 19-million-acres of “public land.” All of America owns it.

Alaskan permafrost is melting so fast that it has already hit a “tipping point,” meaning it emits carbon into the atmosphere in competition with human-caused carbon, hands-free, no more anthropogenic assistance required, self-perpetuating, a prelude to Runaway Global Warming (“RGW”), a major, very serious threat to life, especially as Trumpeters focus on making America More Drillable than ever before, feeding more, and more, and more force into gigantic arcs of methane CH4, a molecule that is 100xs more powerful at entrapping heat in the atmosphere than is CO2 during its initial stages.

Aforesaid news couldn’t be worse even if Stephen King were commissioned to write a creepy, horrifying climate change disaster film, as the horrors associated with collapsing permafrost ecosystems go far beyond the rich imagination of Stephen King.

What then are the compelling issues between Trump and science?

First and foremost, Trump distrusts, dislikes, disrespects scientists. He has a problem with well-educated people. They make him uncomfortable, fidgety, high-strung. This is only too obvious by observing his obtuse imperceptive uncultivated cabinet members, like deers in the headlights.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (“UCS”) including 6,000 scientists, the Trump administration has failed to embrace basic normal standards of acceptable science. Further to the point, and terrifyingly true, the administration is “attempting to decimate the scientific process.”

Is this the Middle Ages redux? That behavior is eerily similar to lowly punishment that the Church imposed on scientists that claimed the earth was not the center of the universe. All of which begs the question of how far back in time will Trumpeters go in pursuit of broad-based destruction of generally accepted norms of society.

Further to the point of killing science, newly appointed Trumpeters for science-based federal agencies are (1) unqualified, (2) conflicted, and (3) openly hostile to the mission of the agencies they lead. Not a joke, this is really happening.

Furthermore, the scientific foundation for acts and laws that have stood tests of time, like the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, are undercut and mutilated. As, for example, well beyond the pale, the 115th Congress (all Trumpeters) introduced 63 separate pieces of legislation to undermine the Endangered Species Act.

Federal agency scientists have been personally attacked and censored and reassigned to meaningless tasks not affiliated with their expertise and prevented from attending crucial conferences. Funding for science has been slashed.

Meanwhile, America’s scientists are migrating to France under French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again program, which sponsors solutions for the climate. An initial group of 18 scientists have already joined Macron’s program. Thereby, America inadvertently, probably intentionally, exports science brainpower but keeps anti-science dumb heads to run critical governmental agencies based upon science. Oxymoronic, yes!

Meantime, the critical analysis that only scientists can provide has never been more crucial to sustainability of life. Going forward, either the world community accepts leadership from science to help resolve the climate crisis or it’ll be lights out, assuming it’s not already too late.

Speaking of too late, Alaskan permafrost is coming apart at the seams, same in Siberia, where the ground has already collapsed up to 280 feet in some regions. Imagine a 280-foot gaping chasm appearing out of nowhere. That’s deep.1

As of today, nobody knows what to expect from the prodigious permafrost melt off because no one has ever experienced such a rapid rate. According to the Earth Institute, permafrost is melting at a whopping 73% rate over 40 years ago. Something’s gotta give (collapse) at that rate of increase, and in point of fact, collapses are happening throughout the northern latitudes, but there’s nobody there to see it, which is why climate change is difficult to accept. It’s most obvious where nobody lives.

Nevertheless, somewhat surprisingly, the lauded Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate models fail to acknowledge permafrost emissions as a factor in climate change, thereby warranting a big fat duh!

Meanwhile, a 2-year flyover aircraft measurement of Alaska’s permafrost registered 220M tons of carbon emitting into the atmosphere. That is comparable to all emissions from U.S. commercial sectors in a single year.2

That’s the kind of info that should hit the president’s desk marked, “Urgent – Do Something”

Global warming is impacting permafrost so dynamically that nature is now competing with humans in a race to fill up the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. There’s no gainsaying that’s horrible news, unless you’re a proponent of uncontrolled runaway global warming and sizzling temperatures, speaking of which, by all appearances, Trump is a strong advocate of impending global warming dystopianism.

In that regard, Earth has three major carbon sinks that serve to help prevent dystopia (1) permafrost, (2) forests, and (3) the ocean, meaning these three big time sinks absorb and retain carbon, but as clearly demonstrated by actual permafrost measurements in Alaska, the planet’s carbon sinks (they’re all starting to reverse) are starting to reverse course in what could be an unmitigated disaster for all of humanity. Where will people go? There’s only one Earth.

Still, nobody really knows for sure how quickly or how damaging it’ll play out. Still, put out the yellow caution flag because it’s happening way too fast for comfort.

The early warning signals of outright impending annihilation are as clear as day outrageously threatening and horribly menacing. What to do?

Answer: Find leadership.

  1. Earth Institute, Columbia University.
  2. Chris Mooney. “We All Knew This Was Coming: Alaska’s Thawing Soils Are Now Pouring Carbon Dioxide Into The Air”, Washington Post, May 8, 2017.

GMO Agriculture and the Narrative of Choice

The pro-GMO lobby claim critics of the technology ‘deny farmers choice’. They say that farmers should have access to a range of tools and technologies. It is all about maximising choice and options. Taken at face value, who would want to deny choice?

At the same time, however, we do not want to end up offering a false choice (rolling out technologies that have little value and only serve to benefit those who control the technology), to unleash an innovation that has an adverse impact on those who do not use it or to manipulate a situation whereby only one option is available because other options have been deliberately made unavailable or less attractive. And we would certainly not wish to roll out a technology that traps farmers on a treadmill that they find difficult to get off.

When discussing choice, it is can be very convenient to focus on end processes (choices made available – or denied – to farmers at the farm level), while ignoring the procedures and decisions that were made in corporate boardrooms, by government agencies and by regulatory bodies which result in the shaping and roll-out of options.

Where GMOs are concerned, Steven Druker argues that the decision to commercialise GM seeds and food in the US was based on regulatory delinquency. Druker indicates that if the US Food and Drug Administration had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings about risk, the GM venture would have imploded and would have never gained traction

It is fine to talk about choice while ignoring what amounts to a subversion of democratic processes, which could result in (and arguably is resulting in) changing the genetic core of the world’s food. Whose ‘choice’ was it to do this? Was the choice given to the US public, the consumers of GM food? Did ordinary people choose for GM food to appear on their supermarket shelves?

No, that choice was denied. The decision was carried out above their heads, ultimately to benefit Monsanto’s bottom line and to gain strategic leverage over global agriculture. And, now that GM food is on the market, can they choose whether to buy it? Again, the answer is no. The massive lobbying firepower of GMO agritech and food corporations have ensured this food is unlabelled and the public has been denied the right to choose.

Of course, let’s not also forget that the GMO venture, like the original Green Revolution, often works with bio-pirated germplasm: little more than theft from the Global South to be tweaked and sold back as hybrid or patented GM seeds to the Global South (read The Great Seed Piracy)

But any serious discussion about the corporate capture of agriculture, seed patenting, the role of the WTO or World Bank, or issues concerning dependency, development and ensuring genuine food security by addressing the dynamics of neoliberal capitalism (globalisation), are often shouted down by pro-GMO scientists and their supporters with accusations of ‘conspiracy theory’. Based on my own personal experience, this even occurs when referring to the work of respected academics who are sneered at as non-scientists and whose PhDs and the peer-reviewed journals their work appear in are somehow unworthy of recognition.

Yet, aside from the issues mentioned above which need to be addressed if we are to achieve equitable global food security (issues the pro-GMO lobby and its prominent scientists in academia seem to not want to discuss – for them, the ‘conspiracy’ slur will suffice), the fact is that the industry has placed GM on the market fraudulently, is complicit in seed piracy and has fought hard to deny consumer choice by using its political and financial clout along the way to undermine democratic processes. Issues that are highly relevant to any discussion about ‘choice’.

(For the sake of brevity, Monsanto’s subversion of science and issues emerging from the ‘Monsanto Papers’ will be put to one side, as this has been presented on numerous occasions elsewhere.)

What are critics denying?

So, just what is it that critics are said to be denying farmers when it comes to the right to choose?

Pro-GMO activists say that GM crops can increase yields, reduce the use of agrochemicals and are required if we are to feed the world. To date, however, the track record of GMOs is unimpressive.

In India and Burkina Faso, for example, Bt cotton has hardly been a success. And although critics are blamed for Golden Rice not being on the market, this is a convenient smokescreen that attempts to hide the reality that after two decades problems remain with the technology.

Moreover, a largely non-GMO Europe tends to outperform the US, which largely relies on GM crops. In general, “GM crops have not consistently increased yields or farmer incomes, or reduced pesticide use in North America or in the Global South (Benbrook, 2012; Gurian-Sherman, 2009)” (from the report ‘Persistent narratives, persistent failure’).

GM agriculture is not ‘feeding the world’, nor has it been designed to do so: the companies that push GM are located firmly within the paradigm of industrial agriculture and associated power relations that shape a ‘stuffed and starved’ strategy resulting in strategic surpluses and scarcities across the globe. The choice for farmers between a technology that is so often based on broken promises and non-GMO agriculture offers little more than a false choice.

“Currently available GM crops would not lead to major yield gains in Europe,” says Matin Qaim, a researcher at Georg-August-University of Göttingen, Germany.

Consider too that once the genetic genie is out of the bottle, there may be no way of going back. For instance, Roger Levett, specialist in sustainable development, argues:

If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GMO foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GMOs. It’s a one-way choice… once it’s made, it can’t be reversed. ((Choice: Less can be more, in Food Ethics, Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 2008.)

There is much evidence showing that GM and non-GM crops cannot co-exist. Indeed, contamination seems to be part of a cynical industry strategy. For instance, GM food crops are already illegally growing in India.

And if we turn our attention to India, recent reports indicate that herbicide tolerant (HT) cotton seeds are now available in certain states. Bt cotton (designed to be pest resistant) is the only legally sanctioned GM crop in India. HT crops are not only illegal in India but have led to serious problems in countries where they are used. The Supreme Court-appointed TEC Committee said that such crops are wholly inappropriate for India.

It seems that, however, according to reports, many farmers are ‘choosing’ to buy these seeds.  And this is where the pro-GMO activists jump in and yell their mantra about offering choice to farmers.

Regardless of the laws of the country being violated, things are not that simple.

Manufacturing ‘choice’

Professor Glenn Stone has conducted extensive field research concerning India’s cotton farmers. By employing the concept of technology treadmills as well as environmental, social and didactic learning, he can help us understand the ‘choices’ that farmers make.

Stone has noted where Bt cotton has been concerned, any decision by farmers to plant GM seeds was not necessarily based on objective decision-making.  There was no experimentation or the testing of seeds within agroecological contexts by farmers as has been the case traditionally.

On the back of a national media campaign about the miracle wonder seeds and a push by Monsanto to get Bt cotton into India in the 1990s, farmers eventually found themselves at the mercy of seed vendors who sold whatever seed they had in stock, regardless of what the farmers wanted. Without agricultural support services from trusted non-governmental organisations, farmers had to depend on local shopkeepers. They believed they were buying the latest and best seeds and created a rush on whatever supplies were available.

The upshot is that traditional knowledge, testing and evaluations by farmers in the field was undermined or broke down and, in many respects, gave way to an unregulated industry-orchestrated free for all. ‘Environmental learning’ gave way to ‘social learning’ (farmers merely emulated one another).

However, in agriculture, environmental learning has gone on for thousands of years. Farmers experimented with different plant and animal specimens acquired through migration, trading networks, gift exchanges or accidental diffusion. By learning and doing, trial and error, new knowledge was blended with older, traditional knowledge systems.

Farmers took measures to manage drought, grow cereals with long stalks that can be used as fodder, engage in cropping practices that promote biodiversity, ethno-engineer soil and water conservation, use self-provisioning systems on farm recycling and use collective sharing systems such as managing common resource properties. In short, farmers knew their micro-environment.

To get farmers onto a corporate technology treadmill, environmental learning pathways have to be broken, and Stone offers good insight into how this occurred with Bt cotton and is now happening with HT cotton. He describes how traditional ‘double-lining’ ox ploughing is breaking down due to ‘didactic learning’ under the promise of increased productivity. After having adopted ‘single-lining’ ploughing (as advocated by didactic ‘teachers’), this promise does not seem to have materialised. However, the farmer is now faced with more weeds.

So, who could blame the farmer for being attracted towards HT cotton and the purchasing of herbicides as a perceived easy fix when faced with an increase in weeds and government policies that have inadvertently increased farm labour costs?

The breaking with traditional practices (or pathways) to implement fresh approaches (which fail to deliver much benefit) can be regarded as part of the process of nudging farmers towards seeking out alternative options to deal with the new problems that arise (the beginning of the treadmill).

It is highly convenient that illegal HT seeds now seem widely available. It dovetails with Monsanto’s stated plan to boost herbicide sales in India (which it regards as a potentially massive growth market). And if farmers demand these seeds, (farmers are a huge vote bank for politicians), Monsanto (now Bayer) might eventually achieve what is has been pushing for all along: India embracing GM agriculture.

In effect, Stone (with his colleague Andrew Flachs) helps us to understand how ‘didactic learning’ (which Monsanto has been undertaking with Indian farmers since the 1990s) can result in driving farmers towards the very option and very choice Monsanto wants them to make. Stone and Flachs also make it clear that once farmers are on an agrochemical/agritech treadmill, it is very difficult for them to get off, even when they are aware it is failing.

A question of power

When the pro-GMO lobby uses ‘choice’ as a stick to hit critics with, it fails to acknowledge these processes, which powerful agritech players are cynically manipulating for their own ends. In other words, ‘choices’ or options must be understood within the broader context of power.

Choice is also about the options that could be made available, but which have been closed off or are not even considered. Take the case of Andhra Pradesh in India. The state government is committed to scaling up zero budget natural farming to six million farmers by 2024. In Ethiopia, agroecology has been scaled up across the entire Tigray region. These types of initiatives are succeeding because of enlightened political leaders and the commitment of key institutions.

However, in places where global agribusiness/agritech corporations have levered themselves into strategic positions, their interests prevail. From the overall narrative that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world to providing lavish research grants and the capture of important policy-making institutions, these firms have secured a perceived thick legitimacy within policymakers’ mindsets and mainstream discourse. As a result, agroecological approaches are marginalised and receive scant attention and support.

This perceived legitimacy allows these corporations to devise and implement policies on national and international levels. For example, it was Monsanto that had a leading role in drafting the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to create seed monopolies. The global food processing industry wrote the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Whether it involves Codex or the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture aimed at restructuring Indian agriculture, the powerful agribusiness/food lobby has secured privileged access to policy makers.

So how can the pro-GMO lobby assert with any degree of credibility that it is a bunch of activists curtailing or defining choice when it has been powerless to prevent any of this, either at ‘field level’ in places like India or within governments and international bodies?

As Stone and Flachs describe, it is Monsanto – a Fortune 500 company with all its influence and wealth (not ‘anti-GMO activists’) – that has taken its brand of corporate activism (imperialism) to farmers to expand its influence and boost its bottom line:

“Beginning with 500 farmer programs in 2007, Monsanto India targeted a range of farmers through an herbicide research program… They also conducted more than 10,000 farm demonstrations directed at small and large farmers in 2012 to raise awareness of Roundup® and discourage knockoff products.. These efforts build on Monsanto’s didactic activities since the late 1990s. For instance, in Andhra Pradesh the Meekosam Project placed Monsanto employees in villages to demonstrate products and promote hybrid seeds and chemical inputs…”

From the World Bank’s ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ to the Gates Foundation’s role in opening up African agriculture to the global food and agribusiness oligopolies, democratic procedures at sovereign state levels are being bypassed to impose seed monopolies and proprietary inputs on farmers and to incorporate them into a global supply chain dominated by powerful corporations.

Whether it involves the destruction of indigenous agriculture in Africa or the ongoing dismantling of Indian agriculture at the behest of transnational agribusiness, where is the democratic ‘choice’?

Ukraine’s agriculture sector is being opened up to Monsanto. Iraq’s seed laws were changed to facilitate the entry of Monsanto. India’s edible oils sector was undermined to facilitate the entry of Cargill. And Bayer’s hand is possibly behind the ongoing strategy behind GM mustard in India. Through secretive trade deals, strings-attached loans and outright duplicity, the global food and agribusiness conglomerates have scant regard for democracy, let alone choice.

As Michel Chossudovsky outlines in his book The Globalization of Poverty (2003), the ongoing aim is to displace localised, indigenous methods of food production and allow transnational companies to take over, thereby tying farmers and regions into a system of neoliberal globalization. Whether it involves the undermining or destruction of what were once largely self-sufficient agrarian economies or what we are currently seeing in India, the agenda is clear.

In finishing, one final point should be noted. In their rush to readily promote neoliberal dogma and corporate-inspired PR, many government officials, scientists and journalists take as given that (corrupt) profit-driven transnational corporations have a legitimate claim to be custodians of natural assets. There is the premise that water, seeds, food, soil and agriculture should be handed over to powerful transnational corporations to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

These natural assets (‘the commons’) should be under common stewardship and managed in the common interest by local people assisted by public institutions and governments acting on their behalf because that’s the bottom line where genuine choice is concerned.

And how can we move towards this? It is already happening: we should take inspiration from the many successful agroecological projects around the world.

Dazzled by Tech: Universities, Googlification and Microsoft

The mechanical, robotic striving of university politburos and their jack boot managers have always been interesting when it comes to one particular topic: the role of technology and its adoption.  For it is in technology that the mediocre paper clip shuffler can claim to have achieved something – on someone else’s back, naturally.

The shift to Google by universities as a storage and communication mechanism was something taken with a breezy obliviousness to its implications.  For Google, it was a magical boon: mass concentration of staff and student data, cloud facilities, the magic of information.  Such decisions are generally taken without asking the staff who actually use it – the nature of university management is piously anti-democratic, with all the usual balloons of sentiment about faux consultation and the like.

Google’s move into the university sector with a mixture of predatory zeal and seductive wooing was inexorable, mimicking the cyber colonisation drive of Steve Jobs at Apple (“computers are bicycles for the mind”).

In schools, Google has built a relentless, unquestioned empire, taking root in such systems as Chicago Public Schools, the third largest school district in the United States.  As the New York Times noted in May 2017, such an event heralded “the Googlification of the classroom.”  Teachers became Google grunts advertising products to other schools, bypassing school district officials.  Students became Google converts, effectively disabled from considering any alternatives and indifferent to pure knowledge.  They have become the new worker bees.

University managers were tickled and thrilled by the jargon, the applications, the idea of productivity, sending out such messages to staff as follows:

“The College is Going Google!  What does this mean?  How will it impact teaching and learning at The College?  Many K-12 school districts are using Google Apps for Education, providing their students with access to Google productivity tools as early as primary school.  Students coming to The College in the next five years may never have opened Microsoft Word, but will be familiar with the sharing, collaborating, and publishing with Google tools. Are you ready?”

Such gush and wobbly prose characterised the nature of such unwanted missives.  (Most staff, at least the sentient ones, could not have cared less.)  And Google was certainly winning over its competitors, most notably Microsoft.  In 2011, it scored the coup of coups by netting University of California at Berkeley.

The Californian giant displayed those usual budgetary considerations typical of such decisions: Google, for one, was cheaper and easier on the bottom line.  Office 365 would also require the initial installation and configuration of local software as a preliminary for any migration to be effectuated. “Office 365 offers an integrated experience for on-premise and cloud users,” went the explanatory document comparing Google and Office 365.  “This comes at a greater ongoing, operational expense and complexity of maintaining central infrastructure.”

Google, on the other hand, would be able to do amply more with significantly less – and at goggle eyed speed.  “A UC Berkeley migration to Google [from CalMail] can start faster and with less infrastructure investment.”

But some universities, after conducting their whirlwind Google romance, soured over the giant company.  UC Berkeley students and alumni contended in a law suit in 2016 that Google had given the false impression that email accounts would not be scanned for commercial purposes.

In 2015, Macquarie University reconsidered a move it undertook in 2010 to migrate some 6,000 staff from its Novell GroupWise to Gmail.  Students had already commenced using Gmail in late 2007.

Again, as with UC Berkeley, it is worth scrutinising why the university initially decided to go with Google over Microsoft, that ever contending beast in the tech boardroom.  The reasons are crusty as they are old: “The university rejected Microsoft as an option at the time,” explained Allie Coyne in ITNews, “for being too expensive.”

Being careful to market such economic reasons appropriately, the Macquarie public relations unit was keen to emphasise that the university had only gone with Google after being reassured that generated data would be hosted in the European Union.  With data protections being more securely moored in the EU, this was a consideration decorated to sell.  To have hosted it in the US would have naturally brought the US Patriot Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act into play.

With a change in hosting policy on the part of Google, Macquarie found itself veering into the arms of Microsoft and Office 365.  That company had, it so happened, opened two Australian data centres in 2014, a point that alleviated the infrastructure impediments that bothered the paladins at UC Berkeley.

The move to Office 365 is simply exchanging one demon’s credentials for another, and the rosy line being parroted by university management must be unpacked with diligence.  The example offered by RMIT University, for instance, in abandoning Google is fittingly opportunistic, with one email circulated amongst staff finally revealing why one of Australia’s largest teaching institutions is moving to Office 365: “RMIT strategic vision is to expand into China.  Google is NOT supported in China.”  A truly mercantilist sentiment.

Jordan Peterson and the Threat of Working-class Intellectual and Attitudinal Liberation

Why the industry of glib and vehement mainstream character assassinations of clinical and research psychologist Jordan Peterson? My examination of Peterson’s “Rule 1: Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back” suggests that it is a seminal work anchored in a prestigious body of scientific research that should form the theoretical basis of social science in the coming years. Peterson is simply presenting this nascent scientific paradigm of the primacy of dominance hierarchy directly to the people, without an institutional filter, and using it in a cognitive therapy approach to solve the self-image catastrophe that white males in particular are experiencing. There is no valid basis for the attacks against Peterson, which are motivated by establishment machinations.

I’m a world-class scientist. I’m a physicist with an h-index of 36 (i10-index 81). I was a university professor at 29 and a full and tenured professor at 40. I’ve made discoveries in physics and some of my most cited papers are in soil and environmental science. I’m not clever in navigating society’s dominance hierarchy but I am intellectually honest and I am damn smart when it comes to understanding concepts and recognizing new phenomena.

Only those of my enemies who are professional liars (lawyers) have ever dared to call me stupid: “Mr. Rancourt is an intelligent man Your Honour”, but not repeatedly.

That is why I have been surprised to observe the deluge of strident voices, opinion leaders of our time, who use the establishment’s highest media venues to launch character assassinations of clinical and research psychologist Jordan Peterson based on… nothing.

Peterson is a fascinating media and social phenomenon worth investigating. I looked at his outstanding research record on Google Scholar and read several of his most cited and recent scientific papers. I watched several of his debates against said opinion leaders and several of his pedagogical presentations.

The scientific papers are exemplary, with correct applications of sophisticated statistical, significance and factor analysis tools. I often find sloppy and incorrect applications to be the norm in the medical field,1 for example, but not here.

In the presentations, I find clear and intelligent statements on the questions related to his many areas of expertise, and ya, some exaggerations and incorrect statements in areas where his gaze has not been objective, it appears.

For example, I don’t understand how an authentic intellectual could read the landmark works of Karl Marx and the critiques of the said work by the great anarchist theorist Kropotkin and not be thoroughly impressed by the genius of Marx, and the elements of his theory that are seminal and fundamental even if incorrectly extrapolated by Marx. I conclude that Jordan has not actually read this stuff or he is being irrational in his evaluation, for whatever reasons related to his personal history.

In my evaluation, however, Peterson’s occasional stupid summaries are entirely a result of his boldness to put ideas out there, on the fly, in his broad and continuous interactions with the world; and they remove nothing from the depth and rigour of his other written and spoken words. Even Einstein wrote naïve and silly things without the prerequisite background study: “Why Socialism?”, 1949.

Next, I decided to get myself a copy of his record-breaking best seller 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I’m a slow reader, and I read all the notes and most of the articles themselves that are cited. I have now finished up to the end of: “Rule 1: Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back”.

I thought: “Holy crap. This guy is doing something unprecedented. He is taking a nascent scientific paradigm and bringing it directly to the people, with no institutional intermediaries. Brilliant.”

I’ll explain what Peterson is doing and its significance but before I do…

I next went back to the products of the character-assassination professionals to see what the service intellectuals had said about “Rule 1”, and I looked for “Rule 1” summaries and explanations on line.

I was shocked to find the degree to which the said service intellectuals had done their job. What a distasteful spectacle. Such vile dishonesty. Only an assigned mission and attempts at opinion mobbing could produce such trash, which actually hurts the brain unless your purpose is mindless subservience to establishment spin.

What is the “nascent scientific paradigm”, which threatens key tenets of the current social engineering complex if it is not sufficiently buried? Let me be blunt. In the last decade or more, biochemists, biologists, animal behaviourists and psychologists have established proof of what some astute observers have been saying for centuries: Dominance hierarchy rules, across the animal kingdom and over evolutionary time. It is rooted in a primordial physiology and metabolic biochemistry.

The metabolism of the monoamine neurotransmitter serotonin, and the associated evolutionary biology, is the first synthesis of the new tectonic plates theory of social science, whether social scientists are aware of it yet or not. Period.

The metabolic biochemistry of dominance locks us in. No socialism theory that presumes altruistic cooperation as its organizing principle can ever work. Non-hierarchical anarchism and its libertarian cousin are useful conceptual end-points that can never be sustainably achieved. The best we can do is to have a responsive and optimally (evolutionarily) beneficial dominance hierarchy that is actively prevented from exercising pathological excess.2

Jordan is spelling this out (p. 14-15):

This is because “nature” is “what selects,” and the longer a feature has existed the more time it has had to be selected-and to shape life. It does not matter whether that feature is physical and biological, or social and cultural. All that matters, from a Darwinian perspective, is permanence—and the dominance hierarchy, however social or cultural it might appear, has been around for some half a billion years. It’s permanent. It’s real. The dominance hierarchy is not capitalism. It’s not communism, either, for that matter. It’s not the military-industrial complex. It’s not the patriarchy—that disposable, malleable, arbitrary cultural artefact. It’s not even a human creation; not in the most profound sense. It is instead a near-eternal aspect of the environment, and much of what is blamed on these more ephemeral manifestations is a consequence of its unchanging existence. We (the sovereign we, the we that has been around since the beginning of life) have lived in a dominance hierarchy for a long, long time. We were struggling for position before we had skin, or hands, or lungs, or bones. There is little more natural than culture. Dominance hierarchies are older than trees.

The part of our brain that keeps track of our position in the dominance hierarchy is therefore exceptionally ancient and fundamental. [Footnote 17: “Serotonin and dominance”, by Ziomkiewicz-Wichary, 2016] It is a master control system, modulating our perceptions, values, emotions, thoughts and actions. It powerfully affects every aspect of our Being, conscious and unconscious alike. This is why, when we are defeated, we act very much like lobsters who have lost a fight. Our posture droops. We face the ground. We feel threatened, hurt, anxious and weak. If things do not improve, we become chronically depressed. Under such conditions, we can’t easily put up the kind of fight that life demands, and we become easy targets for harder-shelled bullies. And it is not only the behavioural and experiential similarities that are striking. Much of the basic neurochemistry is the same.

Consider serotonin, the chemical that governs posture and escape in the lobster. Low-ranking lobsters produce comparatively low levels of serotonin. This is also true of low-ranking human beings (and those low levels decrease more with each defeat). Low serotonin means decreased confidence. Low serotonin means more response to stress and costlier physical preparedness for emergency—as anything whatsoever may happen, at any time, at the bottom of the dominance hierarchy (and rarely something good). Low serotonin means less happiness, more pain and anxiety, more illness, and a shorter lifespan—among humans, just as among crustaceans. Higher spots in the dominance hierarchy, and the higher serotonin levels typical of those who inhabit them, are characterized by less illness, misery and death, even when factors such as absolute income—or number of decaying food scraps are held constant. The importance of this can hardly be overstated.

There is an unspeakably primordial calculator, deep within you, at the very foundation of your brain, far below your thoughts and feelings. It monitors exactly where you are positioned in society …

What the ignorant hit men against Peterson have failed to recognize is that Peterson has summarized the greatest scientific advances of the last few decades, which have immediate relevance to human anthropological consciousness—not to mention representing a direct threat to the medical establishment and pharmaceutical industry.2

Peterson is doing this as part of a state-of-the-art cognitive therapy guide or companion.

How can his glib critics be oblivious to this? Simple: Their place and the place of their bosses within the dominance hierarchy are threatened.

Jordan goes on (p. 23-24) to explain the fundamental roles of anger and of fighting back, both as necessary elements of personal liberation and as the fundamental agent to prevent societal spiralling into totalitarianism. His summary on this point is brilliant, and is as seminal as Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology in the geopolitical field.

The same point is also the main thrust of my 2013 book3 and was made in my 2011 blog extract from the book:

There is no denying the first reality about humans. We are social beings, first and foremost regarding the forces that determine our lives. Our societies are hierarchical and, when not constrained by geography or balancing natural forces, spontaneously grow in size towards more hierarchy and fascism.

A recent antidote against the runaway excesses of Western monarchical and religious hierarchies has been the development of an ethos of individual freedom, spawned in the Enlightenment and anchored in mid-layer economic independence from the top hierarchical predators. …4

Peterson is not waiting for the social and medical sciences to catch up to the paradigm elucidation that has recently occurred among dominance-hierarchy pioneers. He is taking those discoveries as his world view and as the foundation for his advice to the youth.

The dominance-hierarchy view of nature is powerful and compelling, now supported by a few decades of hard science. It is a predictive model with unlimited capacity to organize our perception of the world. It is a dangerous truth, as is any truth about ourselves, which is not dominance-hierarchy-given but which instead is anchored in objective reality.

In the words of Harold Pinter:

[T]he majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.
– Nobel Lecture (Literature), 2005

Peterson is having an impact because his important words are true and because oppressive false words have gone too far.

Goodiness is helpful in stabilizing the domestic dominance hierarchy, but goodiness has been co-opted and used to excess by one side of the establishment forces, the so-called “Left”. In a classic positive feedback loop—not unlike Jordan’s explanation of alcoholism—goodiness (political correctness) has achieved pathological levels and its totalitarianism is spraying dead bodies all over the landscape.

Regular white males are very publicly being told to “check their privilege” (that is, to shut the fuck up), to cower and to apologize and make amends for a historical accumulation of “toxic masculinity”. Privileged (professional class) non-white and non-male service intellectuals are recruited into a deceitful industry of supposedly fixing society by engineering language and by mounting witch hunts against perceived attitudinal blasphemy.

Dominance hierarchy theory tells us that this is a recipe for backlash. Self-image catastrophe is the dominant determinant of ill-health and is accompanied by violent outbursts or self-destruction.5

Jordan Peterson is furiously working to prevent and alleviate a violent race and gender civil war, waged by competing hierarchical exploiters, and guided by a disgusting array of careerist social managers.

Jordan Peterson is also fighting for reason and objectivity and against ideological madness.

I mean, come on:

[T]he idea that there is no binary male/female sex divide in humans is simply a vast overstatement of the fact that many other things also occur in the genital and metabolic physiology of a minority of individuals. …

That environmental factors—including culture and the violence or authoritativeness of the local social dominance hierarchy—affect both natural reproduction and the said set of sex-differentiating physiological attributes does [not] invalidate the sex binary in human society.6

Jodan’s Rule-1 explanation about gender roles (pp. 15-16) is anchored in science. His Footnote 18 is “Darwinian sex roles confirmed across the animal kingdom”, which has:

Combining Bateman’s principles with Darwin’s conception of eager males and discriminating females, the Darwin-Bateman paradigm is now the most commonly invoked concept to explain conventional sex roles (…). Specifically, it provides the conceptual framework to understand two central manifestations of conventional sex roles—female-biased parental care and male-biased sexual dimorphism.7

What is next? Are we going to pretend that sexual dimorphism is not real? Or postulate that virtually all animal behavioural studies are cultural fantasies imagined by the field observers? Are we going to throw out evolutionary biology and all of Darwin’s ideas as “male science”? Why not discount Einstein’s theories as “Jew science” while we are at it?

Look, white males are assholes, fine. But the “Words that Wound” industry service intellectuals are going too far.8 Establishment “science” can be lethal, as is literally the case with medicine,1 but that does not negate what we actually know about cell biology and metabolic reactions. Likewise, fundamental empirical discoveries about dominance and sex are not negated because Freud was off and psychiatry is a horror. You cannot simply extrapolate cherry picked scientific reports of anomalies into broad self-serving ideological conclusions.

These are the things that Jordan Peterson is responsibly questioning. Thank god.

  1. Cancer arises from stress-induced breakdown of tissue homeostasis”, by Denis Rancourt, Research Gate, December 2015, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1304.7129.
  2. Cause of USA Meltdown and Collapse of Civil Rights”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, September 7, 2017.
  3. Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism, by Denis Rancourt, Stairway Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9859942-8-0.
  4. Individual freedom versus collective oppression as the determinative conflict in a hierarchical society”, by Denis Rancourt, Activist Teacher, August 16, 2011.
  5. Self-Image-Incongruence Theory of Individual Health”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, October 26, 2014.
  6. Respecting ‘Rules of War’ in Societal Battles: Science, Sex and Hate Speech”, by Denis Rancourt, Dissident Voice, November 8, 2016.
  7. Darwinian sex roles confirmed across the animal kingdom”, by Janicke et al., Science Advances, 12 Feb 2016: Vol. 2, no. 2, e1500983 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500983
  8. “Critical Race Theory and Freedom of Speech” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Chapter 5 in: The Future of Academic Freedom, edited by Louis Menard, University of Chicago Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780226520049; which is a critique of Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment, by legal scholars Mari Matsuda, Charles Lawrence III, Richard Delgado, and Kimberlè Crenshaw, Westview Press, 1993.