Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Science Tuesday: You can't prove something is safe


Recently I was having a conversation with someone about how problematic our food supply has become. When we started in on GM wheat, another person broke into the conversation, visibly agitated, and stated that "research has shown" that GMOs are safe. I wanted so badly to argue, but I sensed it wasn't the time or place, so I saved up my indignation for a blog post. Now I can make my argument to a broader, and possibly more receptive, audience.

Really, I want to make two points here. The first point is that we should see a BIG red flag anytime an argument is stated as "science has shown", "research has proven", or "scientists agree". Little known fact: I am a scientist. I spent about a decade training in the scientific method, training to think critically and to understand how we go about learning about the world. In science, answers are not formed by consensus. We may coalesce on certain ideas (e.g., the Earth is round), but new evidence can always overturn accepted views, and it regularly does. The beauty of the scientific method is that nothing is sacrosanct - any idea or result can be ripped open and re-investigated, and if it fails to hold up, we change our view.

My second point is that you can never prove that something is safe. You really can't prove anything with the scientific method; you can only disprove things or provide evidence to suggest that something is the case. If someone uses the word proof, they had better be a mathematician (e.g., Dr. Mandi, Mike's dad). More specifically, you can't demonstrate that something is safe because problems that are not apparent at first can show up over time. In a very short time frame, Thalidomide seemed safe and doctors told their patients it was (history lesson: it was really not safe). The best we can do to demonstrate safety is to let time pass and observe that there are not problems. Even then, we are not sure. In the time that GMOs have been around, we cannot say that there are no potentially linked problems (look at widespread increases in food allergies and autoimmune disorders). But in the scheme of things, it has been a very short time that GMOs have been around. Modifying something for one characteristic changes numerous other characteristics in unpredictable ways. We simply cannot reach any firm conclusions about their safety in one generation, and I think we are right to ask questions and investigate.



Workout

push press 5x3
2 pull-ups between sets

then

10 rounds
5 OHS
5 Tall Box Jumps
rest 1:00



Endurance Option

push press 5x3
2 pull-ups between sets

then/or

10 rounds
5 OHS
5 Not-so-tall Box Jumps
rest 1:00



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