On “Calling Out” the Insane Among Us

GMO advocate Keith Kloor has recently been reporting (in his blog at  DiscoverMagazine.com) about the activities of a particularly insane anti-GMO activist whom I will not stoop to identify or link to.  Such vitriol does need to be called out (at least if it appears to be gaining any public traction), but there is a danger of seeing (or being perceived as seeing) the extremist as representative of the position.  So I was pleased to see that Keith has added an explanatory postscript at the end of his latest post. But his conclusion to that postscript raises a further question – namely how much responsibility do GMO opponents (or even just labelling advocates) have for controlling the nutbars.

Actually, I think that it can be hard to decide how much an advocate for any view or religion should be held responsible for finding and correcting extremists who claim to share their view – perhaps it depends on whether one is claiming some kind of “leadership” in one’s own advocacy. I am quick to condemn religious leaders (including “atheist” ones) who fail to control or at least to quickly identify and disavow vicious nonsense spouted by their followers, but I feel no real obligation on myself to address  and correct the anti-scientific nutbars when I make my own claims against those who would deny me the right to demand whatever information I want about the food I eat. (And my own confidence in the safety of GMOs is substantially reduced by the determination of their producers to deny me that information).

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