Quickies

Skepchick Quickies, 9.8

We’ve kinda all been busy and slacking off on the Quickies lately, so here’s a nice big batch for you today.

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Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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18 Comments

  1. @sowellfan Thanks for that link. I hadn’t had a chance to read the actual study before I’d sent the link. I have since and completely agree with Steve’s assessment. I don’t personally put much stock in the “organic” label myself. I tend to look for what I like and is the most cost effective whether that be organic or non-organic doesn’t really matter to me. :)

  2. I should change my name to cynical skeptic.
    The author Hawkins suggests Scientology is on its death legs. I think it will recover. I think the human race has an inexhaustible supply of desperately sad, lazy thinkers. Like all religions, and nonsense peddlers, the market will support it.

    My position is supported by the crocodile sanctuary being torn down because of a psychic telling people things. Unhappy, scared people looking for easy answers and not wanting to spend much time really thinking.

    And even more depressingly supported by the theory that we may be evolutionarily pre-disposed to believe in the supernatural anyway.

    Yeah, I don’t hold out any hope for the larger portion of our population to begin living rationally.

    Hell, I don’t even make rational decisions and I’m trying to.

  3. @aeon65: . I don’t personally put much stock in the “organic” label myself. I tend to look for what I like and is the most cost effective whether that be organic or non-organic doesn’t really matter to me.

    And this is what needs to change. The problem is the US government subsidizes the most the practices that are the least sustainable. If the playing field were more even your approach would work like a charm. I view buying organic, even if the labels are not always all that meaningful, as a way of voting with my wallet.

  4. Hi there!

    Re: Evolutionary advantage to believing in God — Yes, exactly.

    My lovely lovely wifey is a devout Catholic, and one of her arguments for her faith has always been that when her father died, she really NEEDED to believe that he was in a better place.

    Whenever she says that, my thoughts are always: “A-HA! So you ADMIT that there’s no evidence for your belief, and your faith comes from a desperate need for solace, and that you’d willingly believe in a sentient, omnibenevolent, 3 oz. hunk of peppermint TOFU if it meant that your father was in a better place!!”.

    Not being a TOTAL jerkface, I usually keep those thoughts to myself.

    But sometimes, I start to feel a little depressed, and I feel my cynicism creeping in, and I really, really WISH that I had some sort of belief to cling desperately onto. The universe is a scary place, and sometimes I wish that I COULD hear something vaguely paranormal and say: “A-HA! That proves that there IS a heaven, and a God, and all that happy horse-doo-doo!”. But I can’t go back and “un-think” what I know to be true.

    One thing that people say when they find out that you’re an atheist, is: “Wow, that must be so depressing and sad to go around all day without GOD to bring you fulfillment and joy”. And that is absolutely NOT true. Not at all. We are happy and joyous and fun 95% of the time.

    But I just feel like I could use that kind of crutch for the other 5%, y’know? :(

  5. My main beef with organic farming is that it creates an unnecessarily high barrier to reducing the environmental impact of farming. I’d like a system similar to the EU energy labeling so I could judge how much environmentalism I get and at what price.
    Also stop claiming it’s so much better for you. As Novella points out that’s not what the data says, and I expect the difference between farms, and from year to year is as high or higher with organic farming.

  6. @Non Believer: I don’t know that Scientology will disappear forever. There may always be some form of it around. But I don’t see it becoming mainstream any time soon. It will always be on the fringe. For the most part, it’s for the rich and famous, and it’s alienating (hah!) in it’s eliteness. It’s also pretty far removed from God, which even for a lot of liberals is too much.

    There may always be the rich and famous who are bored enough to fall for it, or who use it to gain some sense of power, but it will never be a true religion.

    I mean, it’s weirder than Mormonism, and that’s saying a lot.

    Also, the recent flood of negative press, when they’ve always been so good at stifling such things, is promising. They are losing their grip a little. Tom Cruise did not help anyway.

  7. @Draconius: I don’t know how comforting a lot of people *actually* find the idea of God and Heaven, though. Dealing with the death of a loved one incredibly painful and difficult no matter what. People deal with it differently, but I don’t think it hurts any less or is any easier to deal with just because you believe in heaven. I’ve seen plenty of deeply religious folks deal with death, and it really doesn’t seem any less difficult.

  8. @Bjornar: My main beef with organic farming is that it creates an unnecessarily high barrier to reducing the environmental impact of farming. I’d like a system similar to the EU energy labeling so I could judge how much environmentalism I get and at what price.

    This would be so cool. There would be endless battles about how the numbers are computed, but I love the concept. I also like the way you snuck in the word “beef”.

    Also stop claiming it’s so much better for you. As Novella points out that’s not what the data says, and I expect the difference between farms, and from year to year is as high or higher with organic farming.

    I respect what the data says, but I have a vague, general argument that I’m certain you will find persuasive. To me the choice isn’t between an organic and a conventional strawberry. The choice is between a California strawberry and an apricot grown down the street. If you follow the definition of organic that includes the concepts of local and sustainable and you base your diet off of this definition I think you will get better food than if you go to the megamart and buy whatever is cheapest. Why? For one thing local produce doesn’t have to be bred for sturdiness. We can use the varietals that have been selected for taste and nutrition. My purple tomatoes barely survive the trip inside, but man are they tasty and I reckon from the deep color alone higher in nutrition than anything that can survive an interstate truck ride.

    This being said the reason I arrange my diet they way I do has mostly to do with environmentalism. Better flavor is a lovely fringe benefit. If it is more nutritious to boot that’s just another perk. Also environmentalists like myself will argue that local, organic produce isn’t really more expensive than intensivist food. It’s just all the costs are out there for you to see.

  9. davew:

    The problem is the US government subsidizes the most the practices that are the least sustainable.

    Very true. The agricultural policies of the US and EU cause massive economic an environmental damage around the world. The tragic part is that the countries practising agricultural subsidies are only hurting themselves anyway. Without those subsidies (and import tariffs), production of agricultural products would move to countries with more farmland, allowing for less intensive farming.

    On the evolutionary advantage of theism, it occurs to me that for thousands of years professing heterodox religious beliefs would get you burned at the stake or executed in some similarly unpleasant manner. I wonder how much selective pressure that has exerted on humanity?

  10. @davew: I agree with you, but living in Norway the choice is between something grown in one of the most expensive countries in the world and something grown somewhere cheap, shipped at a mindbogglingly low cost per item halfway around the globe, which despite duties and taxes is sometimes still as cheap or cheaper. And in winter it means choosing between what few items store well, and “fresh” imported wares.

    And despite the incessant whine about the price of food, Norwegians have never in history had to spend so small a proportion of their income on food, so price isn’t that big an incentive.

  11. @James K:

    Without those subsidies (and import tariffs), production of agricultural products would move to countries with more farmland, allowing for less intensive farming.

    The last I read on the topic was that the western world is already driving the price of food in developing countries up beyond the means of the local populace. The land owning minorities use their wealth to import luxury goods, the rest starve.

    In a world without vast reserves of underutilized farmland I can’t see how reducing production in the western world would lead to less intensive farming overall.

  12. @Bjornar:
    I can’t compress my entire economics education into a blog post, but I’ll give you a couple of points addressing your concerns.

    1) Import tariffs drive up food prices in foreign markets as well as domestic ones. Take these off and the price to the consumer falls without reducing the price to the producer.

    2) The definition of available farmland varies as commodity prices change. If trade in agricultural products were liberalised more farmland would be viable in countries which have comparative advantage in farming.

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