Skepchick Quickies, 9.1


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

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  1. On organic standards: “It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.” Does this mean there’s a standard for organic kid farming too? Crap, I gave my son some antibiotics and now he’ll never get into a good school!

  2. In case anyone missed it, skeptics should pay special attention to the 3rd-to-last paragraph of the “organic standards” article listed in today’s Quickies. It contains a mind-numbing quote from the national director of the Organic Consumers Association:

    “Others remain pure. Allowing one-time therapeutic antibiotics is “a slippery slope,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, and would “undermine consumer confidence in organics. It’s the same position [I have] as on human vaccines. They are dangerous, and that’s why I didn’t vaccinate my kid.””

    He’s an anti-vaxxer!! Is his view representative of the majority in the “organic food” business?

  3. Go Amy Wallace! When the anti-vaxxers have nothing but misinformation, intimidation, and name-calling, isn’t it great to counter with evidence, reason, and cool-headed objective reporting? This article and her Wired article should be required reading in journalism programs.

  4. The anti-vaxxers seem to have less and less solid ground (or really any ground) and are left with invective and innuendo. Surely at some point the smoke is going to clear and everyone is going to notice that they are standing on nothing but air.

    This entire thing makes no sense to me. If you look at other emotionally charged issues like abortion or animal rights – you can understand both sides of that issue. And you can see why someone who felt strongly would fight for their side. Whatever evidence comes in on those issues is trumped by a moral imperative on one side or the other.
    But with vaccine the ENTIRE issue is based on evidence and its NOT SUPPORTING anti-vaccine. So I just don’t get it. AT ALL.

  5. The Organic Standards one makes me want to pull my non-existant hair out. One shot “ruins” a calf? And the idiot who said that she won’t vaccinate her kids because they’re dangerous is in charge of making that kind of decision? Argh.

    The Earth-shattering asteroid can’t get here fast enough.

  6. Re the organic ideologues: It always amazes me how easily a person will abandon reasonable ethical and moral standards when a perceived violation of their all important ideology has happened. I wipe my ass with their precious organic standards.

  7. The whole notion of organic meat and milk is just odd. And I hate the meaningless term to begin with.

    @James the idea that withholding medical treatment on farm animals is unethical by reasonable standards is also odd. Next we’re going to be putting stints in cows so that they can live on another day (and be slaughtered).

  8. @eean: The whole notion of organic meat and milk is just odd. And I hate the meaningless term to begin with.

    The problem is not so much that organic when applied to animals is meaningless, it’s just that there are multiple meanings. Pollan does a good job of covering this in _The Omnivore’s Dilemma_. There is organic in the modern sense where producers follow an arbitrary, ill-defined, ever changing set of rules to qualify which I find not terribly useful. Then there is organic in the Rodale sense where a farm is self-sufficient and sustainable and the plants feed the animals and the animals fertilize the plants. This also incorporates the ideas of natural pest controls and no synthetic fertilizer. This second, less common, meaning of organic is one that I would love to see codified and promoted.

  9. @eean: To allow easily preventable animal suffering is in my mind a moral issue and if you happen to think about what you believe an ethical issue as well. I’m a happy omnivore who is thinking, and even making some plans, to start up a salumi-charcuterie business. In doing my research it has become clear that to have a successful business dealing in high end meat products, being organic is an advantage. But I’m faced with the dilemma of whether I’d be willing to buy organic just to say my product is made from organic meat, all the while knowing that animals are left to suffer and die just to maintain an arbitrary label. I don’t see this as odd or tantamount to putting stents in Mr. pig/cow a month before slaughter; or perhaps you didn’t read the whole article to see what the described situation entailed.

  10. As far as the organic farming anti-vaxxer…

    Isn’t she comparing apples to oranges? She won’t give livestock antibiotics because she thinks vaccines are dangerous? Those are two different things.

    I sure am glad to see she educated herself before she made such an important and ethical decision… :-/

  11. @Non Believer: I suspect that for the anti-vaxxers, it’s a moral issue as well. It’s about the sense of “purity of essence,” which is the same moral issue behind opposition to homosexuality. They don’t think about vaccines in scientific terms, judging what minuscule quantities are safe, but in moral terms, where any amount of contaminants makes them impure. Just ask them what a safe level is for, say, aluminum. I’ll bet you 10-1 the answer will be “none.” For a moral issue, it’s all-or-nothing.

    In fact, this is the same issue behind organic food. Pesticides and anitbiotics are contaminants, and even the smallest amount ruins a crop or cow forever.

    There’s no way to reason with the type of thought using logic. The moral part of the brain overrides the logical part. In the end, I’m not sure what should be done to combat people who think this way. Skepticism will at least help those on the fence, though, so they don’t fall too far.

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