Counted amongst my favourite men in history is Socrates. He would be higher on my list if he’d questioned women’s rights, but Plato’s recordings of his dialogues give examples of such beautiful, quiet reasoning that one cannot help but love him.
Recently I’ve been reading a lot about rational discussion not being effective. A recent New Scientist article by Michael Le Page which annoyed me immensely stated that the use of GM foods was entirely logical, but the public wasn’t listening, couldn’t comprehend the situation, were simply scared and asked the question; “How can this opposition be overcome? Not by rational argument, that’s for sure.”
Another article about eco-fashion discussed the importance of using emotional “heart not head” to get people to convert to sustainability.
The initial thought that springs to my mind when I hear these things are the words used when you degrade a woman. “She’s being emotional and irrational” which implies that you should therefore discount everything she says.
Irrationality irritates me beyond belief. I’m not saying that compassion is not important, but compassion too, I think, is heavily based on reason. You expect or want to be looked out for and cared for and should therefore care for others in the same way. You cannot reasonably expect to be treated with love if you do not reciprocate.
In terms of GM foods I do not have a problem with the concept, nor the science, but I have never once read a rational argument for them. Genetically modifying foods to have more vitamins, to be able to grow in less fertile ground or in drought conditions (whilst a scientific feat) does not solve the fundamental problems with our food supply chain.
Tristram Stuart has a TED talk where he outlines the amount of food first world countries waste. America, for example, produces four times the amount of food that it needs. (And he’s pretty lovely to watch as well…)
A lot of third world countries are stuck in a trade system where they have heavy quotas of a produce dictated to them from first world countries and are not able to concentrate on growing food for themselves.
It may be a scientific feat to produce a soy bean crop that is more effective in the 12.5% fertile land that the Amazon is being cleared for, but most of that crop is going to feed US cattle to add to the quadruple amount of food that we simply don’t need.
And furthermore there is, and should be, the social side to consider with GM foods. Should we make third world countries pay for a seed every year? How much are we taking advantage of them by giving them seeds that we, ourselves, are going to buy back? Should they even be stuck in the trade system they are in in the first place?
GM foods seem to be simply a bandaid solution and I don’t blame the public for questioning the need.
MacDonald’s for example has a new ad campaign:
17,500 farmers in the UK and Ireland supply MacDonald’s.
It’s a boast to appeal to your heart.
That means 17,500 farmers could be growing other food NOT going to be turned into saturated fat. We have 17,500 more farmers that could be supplying healthy food to the nation!
This is not too intelligent.
This is not emotional.
This is taking a moment to reconsider habit.
A moment to stop, take a breath and think rationally.
This is Socrates simply asking “why?”
Oranges and parsnips going to waste as they are the wrong size for supermarket specifications.