BREAKING NEWS: Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Missing

boeing_777_cockpit

 

The Wall Street Journal reports that this Boeing 777 MH370 has gone missing enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane holds 227 passengers and 12 crew. Among them are the following:

China: 152 + 1 infant

Malaysia: 38

Indonesia: 12

Australia: 6

France: 3

U.S.: 3 + 1 infant

New Zealand: 2

Ukraine: 2

Canada: 2

Russia: 1

Italy: 1

Taiwan: 1

Netherlands: 1

Austria: 1

(stats from WSJ)

 

There was no distress call sent out from the aircraft and a search and rescue operation is underway. We’ll have more when news comes in.

Live streaming updates can be found here.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Occupy Wall Street, Anti-intellectualism, and Censorship

Social action is one of the most potent catalysts of change in the world. When the people become so loud that they shout with one voice, their leaders have no choice but to listen.

What happens when those directing that voice have lost their way?

When Occupy first began, I was behind them. They started a conversation that was, and is, sorely needed in America…and around the world. Even then, though, I had some misgivings.

While speaking to Occupy activists locally, they were expressing a dangerous precedent. You see, instead of wanting the rich to pay their share, for the tax code to be fair and balanced, regardless of class, they wanted more. They wanted the rich to pay more than their share….because they were rich.

Now, how is that different from where we stand, with the rich wanting the poor to pay more? The idea of pushing for that made them no better, in my eyes, then who they were fighting against. After all, you can’t win a social battle by offering to treat those you fight against in the same way that they treat you. That’s the easiest way to lose. It isn’t ethical….nor is it wise.

I, of course, tried to be a voice of reason. This was met with vitriol, but at least it led to a greater conversation, and more to the side with spectators who had the same though as I.

Down the road, after the initial momentum had begun to fade, I was again taken aback. Once of the Occupy groups online began posting commentary speaking out against higher education. They insisted that no one needed higher education. They exclaimed that universities were indoctrination camps.

In many ways, they used verbatim the arguments of the Tea Party.

This, to me, was disturbing to say the least. Luckily, when again I attempted to be a voice of reason, there were plenty who were also wondering how Occupy could express such a sentiment.

Now, we come to today. This morning, the main Occupy Wall Street Facebook page posted a meme about agricultural biotech. It was misleading. It was the typical misinformation and fear mongering we’ve come to expect from the pseudoscientific anti-GMO movement. That, however, is only a small part of what bothers me.

You see, a lot of people commented questioning the meme. A lot of people tried to correct the information, or at least have the conversation. The Occupy page chose to remove those comments and ban anyone who questioned them, without a word.

So, what does all this say about the Occupy movement?

What does it say when a movement such as Occupy not only pushes anti-intellectualism is a world sorely lacking in rational thought already, but latches onto movements purely because it’s a popular stance, and not due to evidence or reason? What does it say when a movement such as Occupy only wants the cheerleaders, and seeks to silence any dissent?

Doesn’t that make them the exact thing they’re fighting against?

Let’s look first at their principles of solidarity, posted on their main web page.

  • Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;
  • Exercising personal and collective responsibility;
  • Recognizing individuals’ inherent privilege and the influence it has on all interactions;
  • Empowering one another against all forms of oppression;
  • Redefining how labor is valued;
  • The sanctity of individual privacy;
  • The belief that education is human right; and
  •  Making technologies, knowledge, and culture open to all to freely access, create, modify, and distribute. (amendment passed by consensus 2/9/2012)

I can get behind every one of those. Why can’t they?

Let’s look at what they have. Most are just fine, but a few seem to be betrayed by their words and actions.

Empowering one another against all forms of oppression. Wouldn’t wanting to shift the imbalance onto another group of people also be a form of oppression?

The belief that education is human right. Then why speak out against education? Why state that being educated is inherently bad?

Making technologies, knowledge, and culture open to all to freely access, create, modify, and distribute. That’s fantastic. Why speak out against technologies that are scientifically sound, purely because it’s popular to be against them?

They also have proudly displayed on their site the following statement.

http://occupywallst.org/article/everyone-has-right-occupy-space-safely/

They believe that everyone has the right of protest. Why, then, do they censor any dissenting voices on their pages? Why, then, is being questioned, being kept honest, so terrifying that they can’t even bear to have it visible before them?

I believe I may have some of those answers.

Early on, it’s easy to forgive some being overzealous, and calling to oppress the oppressors on general principle. It’s not sound policy, but I get the sentiment.

Later, however, it becomes more problematic. When you begin speaking again education, joining the popular protests as opposed to the righteous ones, and silencing dissenters, you are no longer a social movement. You are no longer what can be called civil action. You are no longer working for the people.

That’s the moment that you have become the problem you were fighting against to begin with. They claim that their primary belief is everyone has a voice. Apparently that doesn’t mean people who disagree with them.

I suppose it’s right, what Harvey Dent said in the movie…”You either die the hero or live long enough to become the villain.”

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Shaming and the Left

Glamour-Poll

This morning, a Facebook page called The Witty Liberal posted a meme about Christ Christie. It said:

“It was a simple miscommunication. I said “CLOSE THE FRIDGE.”

This, of course, was followed by one post after another making weight jokes, all by people whose profiles scream “liberal” or “progressive.” When I spoke up, of course, there was plenty of backlash. I was told that it was a joke, or if I didn’t like it, to leave. I was accused of being a Tea Partier. Someone even had the audacity to claim that it’s OK, because comedians do it all the time.

Comedians also make racist and sexist jokes all the time. That usually means they’re poor comedians, if they can’t be funny without resorting to shaming of some sort. The others, like if I don’t like it leave, are ironic, since they accused me a being a Tea Partier, and them spit out Tea Party-esque rhetoric nearly verbatim.

This is something that really needs addressed.

Now, this little conversation was just a little piece of a larger problem. You see, whenever I see people shouting out against right wing figures that SHOULD be spoken against, like Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bauchman, or even Rush Limbaugh, I see the same type of vitriol. I hear things like:

“That fat pill popper!”

“I hope someone rapes her!”

“That stupid bitch!”

These people have so much that we can criticize them for. Why do we even consider using these tactics, instead of focusing on what matters? Why do we stoop to their level? How do we fight bullying and shaming, if we do it ourselves?

Consider this.

We teach our children not to bully. We teach them to be happy with their bodies. We teach them that everyone should be equal.

Then, we shame someone based on their weight or gender, because we don’t agree with their position on other things.

What are we really teaching our children? What example are we setting for the next generation?

Let me clear. Shaming is never OK. Never. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking the worst possible human being you can think of. The moment you resort to that type of rhetoric, you are no better than they are.

When you shame others, you aren’t progressive in any way. You’re exactly what we’re fighting against.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

American Xenophobia: Meditations On Genocide

xenophobia-4_1

On a Facebook post today that a friend posted, a conversation was sparked. The post was a meme speaking about the harm that religion does. What happened next was really a sad caricature of American xenophobia. It immediately turned to Muslims.

“Both are the biggest plight on human beings, radiate Moslems at the same time as cancer but make theirs a big fuck off A bomb!”

“There’s no such thing as a ‘moderate’ ‘fluffy’ islam, islam in its entirety is a death cult, unless the more moderate moslems denounce the doctrines of Mohammed I’m afraid yes we can’t trust one of them.”

“Fuck muslims they need to die! They are invading canada and france”

“Research the Koran Robert and then tell me there are moderate Muslims! Do you know what ‘thighing’ is?!”

Us Americans can be arrogant bastards, can’t we? First, let’s consider the idea that there is no “moderate” Muslim. This is demonstrably untrue. There are more Muslims living outside of the extremist Islamic theocracies than those who live in them. Of those who live in those theocratic nations, only a portion hold those extreme views. The rest are more often being oppressed by their fundamentalist religious government. There are people that are being victimized. They aren’t an evil spirit in a burka that needs to be smited. Look even to Palestine, a nation with majority Muslims who are being oppressed and systematically exterminated by the nation of Israel. And to top it off, we fund that oppression. How can you consider these people are a threat?

Really, the hatred comes down to a fundamental distrust of those who see the world differently. Do I think their views are right? Of course not. They’re no more right than any mystical ideology. Does that mean they should be exterminated? Of course not.

Let’s consider the idea of freedom. People should have every right to believe whatever they want. People should have every right to speak their mind. In fact, the freedom of speech is even MORE important when the person who wants to utilize it disagrees with everyone else. The moment we erode that right for one person, we erode it for us all.

Not one person in the world should EVER punish any speech with the genocide of a people. That person or people SHOULD be demonized as the most immoral and abhorrent of human beings.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

GMOs: Profit Over Food Security? Not So Much

gmo

A blogger who goes by the handle Tex Shelters wrote up an argument against GMOs. This post can be found here: http://texshelters.hubpages.com/hub/Profit-over-Food-Security-The-Case-of-Monsanto-and-GMOs

He decided that his opinions listed here are more viable than the independent scientific studies done on the subject. A good list can be found here: http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/independent-funding/

Now, I’m going to go ahead and take his post point by point, and we’ll see where it takes us.

Monsanto has a lot of propaganda on its website trying to sell the benefits of their GMO, Round-up Ready seeds. However, their statements most often don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny. Moreover, if GMOs are safe and beneficial, why is Monsanto vigorously fighting to prevent GM food labeling? And why did Congress, who Monsanto lobbies and donates to in the millions, put language into a spending bill, signed by President Obama, to protect Monsanto from lawsuits?

Ok, we’ll begin here. First, given the title picture of the post and immediately jumping into a rant about Monsanto is ironic. Monsanto doesn’t product any brand of tomato. Well, we can put that aside for the moment. Let’s talk about this “Monsanto Protection Act” that he’s citing.

“…a rider slipped into a Congressional spending bill by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that circumvents judicial authority concerning the planting and development of genetically modified seeds deemed to be unhealthy for human consumption.“Essentially, what that Monsanto Protection Act rider said is that even if a court were to determine that a particular product might be harmful to human beings or harmful to the environment, the Department of Agriculture could not stop the production of that product once it is in the ground.”

Now, here he cites an article about Bernie Sanders fighting this piece of legislation. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/bernie-sanders-pressure-monsanto-article-1.1357031#ixzz2UiHs1gCG

This, of course, is why it always pays to “Snopes” before posting something. http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/mpa.asp

You see, the legislation is a protection for farmers. It has nothing to do with the safety of the crops. It has to do with whether courts can order farmers to cease operations while a lawsuit is in progress, BEFORE a decision has been made. Why shouldn’t courts have the authority to do that before a case is completed? Well, in America, we have that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing, and, given that these cases involve science, the courts have NO standing to make a scientific decision before the science has even been brought to the table.

If these products are so healthy for us, or at least not harmful, there would be no need to have such legislative protections against agribusiness liability added to a spending bill.

This is always an argument I hear, and it amazes me how little people often know about business. Why would ANY business take an action to avoid unnecessary costs based on the misinformation of fear mongers? Probably because they’re in business to make a profit. I don’t care if someone comes out claiming that greeting cards are toxic. If they start fear mongering and getting a following, I can guarantee that Hallmark will do everything they can to stop the madness.

Ok, moving it. It just gets better from here.

vin

……there’s really nothing to respond to here. I’d suggest that the author learn how to use Venn Diagrams. Please see below “Venn Diagrams for first Graders”

The evidence on GM food safety is mixed, and we still don’t know the long term affects of eating them. However, the evidence of GMOs harm to our food supply is clear. GMOs dangerously reduce the genetic diversity of our food supply which puts us at risk of a pathogenic food disaster, as happened to the Irish during the potato famine in the 1840s.

For this, I’ll cite a review of the last 10 years of GMO safety research put out by the Genetic Literacy Project. http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Nicolia-20131.pdf

Companies like Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and others in the seed producing business are doing their best to corner the market in seeds and thus control much the world’s food supply. They are also patenting the DNA of seeds to corner the market in food producing genes. If that happens, crop diversity will be reduced and will put our food supply in danger of being wiped out by evolved pathogens that target these crops.

In order to control the seed supply, Monsanto has used their vast propaganda apparatus, Congress, and the legal system, which they employ to harass farmers who don’t use their products. Moreover, they set strict rules for those who do use their seeds.

This bit is really just filler. It’s simply conjecture (and a deep misunderstanding of business again), but has no bearing on whether or not GMOs are safe or not. Come on, Tex, let’s stay on topic here!

Monsanto has, to date, sued 410 farmers and 56 small businesses for alleged patent violations. In 72 judgements in their favor, they have been awarded almost $24 million (ibid). Additionally, small farmers who could not afford legal representation to fight the multi-billion dollar seed company have settled out of court. Monsanto forces farmers to pay royalties for any seed that is descendant from their GMO seeds. So if a farmer accidentally uses the DNA from their seeds due to cross contamination, they can be sued by the agribusiness giant.

To protect their seeds, they have a staff dedicated to investigating patent violators. “As early as 2003, Monsanto had a department of 75 employees with a budget of $10 million for the sole purpose of pursuing farmers for patent infringement,” the Center for Food Safety stated in a new report, “Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers.” Agrichemical companies earn billions of dollars each year, andfarmers cannot possibly compete against such resources.”

Many of the lawsuits have been judgements against farmers whose non-GMO fields had been contaminated with GMO seeds from neighboring farms or seeds that came from community seed banks. Even if you don’t intend to use the GMO seeds, you can be sued.

Such was the case of Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser. The Canadian Federal court ruled that the farmer infringed on the Monsanto seed patent for canola even though he was using conventional seed. Due to cross-pollination of his crop from GMO plants in his neighbor’s farm, he was found liable because he failed to inform Monsanto about the cross pollination. Apparently, Monsanto expects farmers to have genetic plant inspectors on the payroll to insure that cross-pollination doesn’t unlawfully spread the GMO genes. It’s ludicrous, but Monsanto is allowed to get away with these lawsuits in most cases.

Another case of legal harassment by Monsanto are the continued lawsuits against the Nelson family of North Dakota. A North Dakota arbitration panel has found in favor of the Nelsons, that there has been no patent infringement. However, the company has continued to take legal action against the family. “They (Monsanto) haven’t got any evidence,” says Mark Fraase, the attorney representing the Nelsons. “They can’t gather any, yet they persist.” (ibid)

Farmer Eugene Stratemeyer, however, did win his case against Monsanto. He was sued by Monsanto for saving his GMO seeds and selling some from his soybean crop. However, the company failed to get his signature on their techology agreement that made it illegal to save GMO seeds. Later, Monsanto was caught forging his signature on an agreement (idid). Monsanto was also caught forging signatures on contracts of other farmers. It is clear that this company will do anything for profit.

This is another long bit that has absolutely nothing to do with GMO safety, however, it’s used so often in the greater discourse on the subject that I think it’s worth addressing. There’s this myth that Monsanto waits for GMO seeds to blow into someone’s field and then has their lawyers pounce on the poor, unfortunate farmer. This is demonstrably false.

NPR covers this and several other myths pretty well. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/10/18/163034053/top-five-myths-of-genetically-modified-seeds-busted

Monsanto makes many claims about its patented “Round-up Ready” seeds that don’t hold up under scientific scrutiny. They argue that the use of their seeds will reduce the need to use herbicides. That argument flies in the face of accepted biological theory and has been proven false.

study by Washington State University agriculture professor Chuck Benbrookfound that use of GMO seeds drove up herbicide use by 527 million pounds, about 11 percent between 1996 and 2011. At first the Round-up Ready crops did reduce herbicide use, but as the weeds became resistant to the herbicides used, more herbicides were needed. Of course weeds that survive herbicide use will reproduce and herbicide resistant strains of invasive plants will crop up. The study just verified accepted scientific theory.

There’s a great article in Discover that breaks down the poor science reporting and poorly conducted study that Tex has cited here. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2012/10/03/when-bad-news-stories-help-bad-science-go-viral/#.UsnfXouzKpg

Also, here’s a good study that shows the exactly opposite of his claim. https://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/gmcrops/article/24459/

Crop yields also didn’t increase as Monsanto and other seed purveyors promised. One comprehensive study of the research into yields for GMO crops by the Union of Concerned Scientists found no overall increase in crop yield for GMO plants. In addition, a University of Kansas study found that soybeans using GMO seed produced 10% less output compared to conventionally grown crops. (ibid) The extra cost for the seeds, herbicides and fertilizer needed to use go GMO is unwarranted.

recent report from India has shown a record crop yield in rice and potatoes without using GMOs. What’s more, Round-up Ready cotton seems to have reduced yields.

We’ve well gone away from any safety discussion again, but let’s look at yield. The “study” that he cites for lower yield, the “comprehensive study” is a white paper, or a non-peer-reviewed paper. This means it hasn’t been vetted by any other scientists for accuracy, methodology, etc. There’s a good study that shows a mixed result of yields. Some is better, some is worse. http://www.skepticalraptor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/maize_prod_nat-biotech_2013.pdf

This has no bearing on safety, but on sustainability. When you take in the environmental factors of each area, you tend to see a bit of a better yield all around. The better the technology gets, the better these numbers will become, which is one of the primary goals of GM foods.

Studies on the harm of GMOs to human cells are so far inconclusive. “Some of the health concerns of food-safety advocates are warranted. There is plenty of scientific evidence to recommend caution with respect to certain kinds of genetic modification, especially if there are genes involved that confer antibiotic resistance. But some of the studies that portray the most dramatic health effects of GM crops have been called out by other scientists as deeply flawed.”

I’ll reiterate this list of over a hundred INDEPENDENT studies on GMO safety. http://www.biofortified.org/genera/studies-for-genera/independent-funding/

However, GM foods have been around less than a generation, around 16 years. That is clearly not long enough to see the affects of GM foods on humans and not enough testing has been done to determine the long term affects of GM foods on our health and environment.

I’ll let National Geographic answer this. They put it nicely.

Genetic modification is not novel. Humans have been altering the genetic makeup of plants for millennia, keeping seeds from the best crops and planting them in following years, breeding and crossbreeding varieties to make them taste sweeter, grow bigger, last longer. In this way we’ve transformed the wild tomato, Lycopersicon, from a fruit the size of a marble to today’s giant, juicy beefsteaks. From a weedy plant called teosinte with an “ear” barely an inch long has come our foot-long (0.3-meter-long) ears of sweet white and yellow corn. In just the past few decades plant breeders have used traditional techniques to produce varieties of wheat and rice plants with higher grain yields. They have also created hundreds of new crop variants using irradiation and mutagenic chemicals.

Monsanto and other seed companies will do whatever it takes to sell their seed. That is capitalism, and as long they can influence Congress and hide behind their hand-picked scientists, they will get lawmakers to protect and promote their their seed-selling without the technology being fully investigated. In 2012, Monsanto spent $654,325 on political campaigns. They also spent nearly $6 million dollars lobbyingCongress last year and this year have already spent over $1.5 million.

The claims of companies like Monsanto that GMOs increase crop yields and reduce the use of pesticides have been refuted by the scientific evidence. Despite the lack of science supporting the use of GMOs, they will continue to be used until there is enough pressure put behind boycotts and on Congress. Until then, support local growers and non-GMO farms, and buy GM-free foods when possible. 

And finally, more about Monsanto.

So, all in all, his post on GMOs amounts to “I don’t understand them and hate big companies, therefore they are bad.” Well, I’m glad we cleared that up.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Changing the Conversation in 2014

new-years-hat-752x483

As we enter the new year, let’s take a look back at what the greater discourse has looked like these last few years. It seems that rational discourse has been pushed to the fringe, and the bizarre extremes have become the mainstream. This is a problem, not just for those of us who seek rationality, but for everyone, as it leads to typically poor outcomes. The blame for this lies on the shoulders of everyone, of all sides of the political spectrum, all religious and philosophical ideologies….this is what we need to change.

General Politics

The GOP is no longer the party of conservatism. They’ve been hijacked by the religious far right.

The Democrats are no longer the left. They’ve become centrist at best.

Dems don’t want small government. Neither does GOP. No politician wants small government…because they’d be out of job.

The current discourse about “small government” always revolves around keeping the government out of our healthcare and away from our guns. These are the same people who want the government to regulate what women can do with their bodies and who can get married.

It isn’t an honest conversation.

Our country is suffering while rich white men in Washington squabble about ideologies. Enough is enough. It’s time to tell Washington that we won’t let THEM freeload any longer. They need to do their jobs or lose their jobs. This shouldn’t be negotiable.

End the drone program. Stop spying on the American people. Stop focusing on regulated women and the LGBT community. Let’s work on jobs and the economy.

Gun Debate

The simple fact is that the gun control measures in America need reevaluated. Currently, every time someone says “gun control,” the gun proponents erect a giant strawman that claims the government wants to take away their guns. Many conspiracy theories follow.

With this ideology, an honest conversation is impossible.

What we want are sensible measures to ensure that only responsible, mentally stable, non-criminal citizens have access to firearms. Unfortunately, every time there’s a shooting or the debate is brought up, the NSA muppets make a big fuss and all the gun shops have big sales by claiming Obama is coming for your guns. The ONLY people winning here are the gun companies making a fortune off of your stupidity.

Social Safety Nets and Minimum Wage

The fact that these are such a big conversation amazes me. The biggest uproar I always hear revolves around food stamps. The claim is always about all of these ingrates who are freeloading off of the system and eating up all of our hard earned tax money.

This is dishonest, and takes away from any real conversation to solve the problem of poverty.

In reality, only about 2% of tax dollars go towards food stamps. Only about 10% of those are for people who are not working. The problem isn’t that people are getting food stamps. The problem is that that many working people need them to survive. The problem is the wage inequality in America.

I keep hearing that these people should just get a better job. This usually comes from people who have no idea what it’s like to be unemployed and struggling. Currently, there are 3 job seekers for every open position. More than half of those positions are part time or minimum wage themselves, yet often requiring quite a bit of education and experience. After all, in this market, employers can pay peanuts to massively over qualified people and get away with it.

Again, this is not conducive to an honest conversation.

Gender Equality

Today, we have misogynists calling themselves “Men’s Rights Activists.” These people claim that all feminists want is superiority over men, and that they should be fighting for the rights of men as well. We have feminists who seem to think the movement is about middle and upper class white women marching against “the man.” They seem to forget about the fact that the most discriminated against women are those of minority races in America.

This is hugely detrimental to any honest discourse.

Let me break this down a bit. First, let me address all the Men’s Rights Activists out there. Is forced male circumcision bad? Yep. Should men be able to get paternity leave? Yep. Should men not get put down for deciding to be stay at home dads? Yep. Should feminists be fighting for those things? Nope. Do you know why? That’s not what the movement is about. Should people be fighting for those things? Absolutely. It shouldn’t, however, be done by degrading those fighting for women. Men have always held a place of privilege in America. Fixing the few problems men may face may be your soapbox, but insulting feminists and claiming that feminism is somehow horrible because men may have some problems is sorta like stubbing your toe and telling your friend who had his leg blown off to suck it up because you stubbed your toe. Get over yourselves, please.

Feminism is as essential now as it was when it began. It’s not only essential in America, where most states still allow rapists to sue for child visitation, but worldwide, where women are forced to marry at age 10 and live forcibly veiled for fear of their life. When girls like Malala are shot for the crime of wanting to attend school, feminists need to be a loud voice. All feminists, not just white ones. When the minimum wage workers in America, who need all the help they can get to survive, are all too often women of color, THOSE are the voices that need amplified the most. Don’t forget that we are all in this together.

LGBTQ Equality

Homosexuality does not lead to anything except homosexuality. It isn’t a choice. It isn’t abnormal. It was criminalized, really, until the rise of the Abrahamic religions. In tribal culture and ancient civilizations, it was more often celebrated. “Traditional Marriage” is a myth. Their marriage has no effect whatsoever on yours. The LGBTQ community is also not only gay men. Those against it often focus primarily on gay men. Those fighting for equality often forget their transgender kin.

This thinking is harmful to the overall conversation.

These are people. These are people who were born differently than you. That doesn’t make them an abomination. It makes them people, no different than you. We all live our lives and we all want to be seen as equals. That’s part of what makes America great. Don’t let your fear of the different make you someone who destroys that integral part of our society.

Science and Medicine

Agricultural Biotech, GMOs, are not dangerous. Monsanto is not the root of all evil. Vaccines are not poisoning our youth or turning them gay or giving them autism. “Alternative Medicine” is inherently harmful to the overall understanding of medicine. Natural does not always mean good. Man made does always mean bad.

This is not conducive to honest and rational discourse.

Monsanto is a big corporation like any other. They are good and bad. They also don’t represent the entirety of the biotech industry. There are many types of GMOs. Each has different mechanisms and different technologies. No one has bought the FDA. Most of the things being spread about the industry is purely made of whole cloth. Educate yourselves. If you refer to any effect as from “GMOs” in general, then you don’t understand the technology enough to speak to it.

Vaccines are proven safe. Diseases have been eradicated because of them. A discredited doctor and a playboy pinup queen have no bearing on whether the science is sound or not. They aren’t a money making scam. If anything, the pharmaceutical companies lose money on them. Refusing them doesn’t just affect you. It affects those who cannot be vaccinated for other reasons. There are whooping cough outbreaks all over the country because of this idiocy. Even if you never get flu symptoms, you likely aren’t WHY we need the herd immunity for the flu vaccine. The flue kills mostly the very young and very old. Not getting vaccinated risks that you will be the cause of those types of deaths. Educate yourself. Speak to actual medical professionals, not some “mommy instinct” blog. Those who spread the anti-vaccination fear mongering should be charged with attempted murder, plain and simple.

There is no such thing as alternative medicine. There is proven medicine and there are scams. The “big pharma” that you think is pushing drugs on you to make money while suppressing the alternative miracle cures is the same industry that owns the alternative medicine companies. I hate to break it to you. Dr. Oz and people like that make more money off of your ignorance than pretty much any doctor. Educate yourselves. Too many people die because they choose magic over medicine. Don’t be that person.

Racism

Racism is not dead in America. It many not always be as blatant as it once was, but it’s present. It’s just more insidious now. It’s just as prevalent on the left as it is on the right. On the left, however, it’s very subversive. The same people yelling about equal rights and those damned redneck racists still avoid areas that are mostly populated by people of color. See my post on Passive Aggressive Racism for more details.

Veganism

This one is simple. There are good reasons to be a Vegan. Not everyone is a Vegan. Insulting those who are not vegan and calling them murderers makes you look like an idiot and makes people not want to be associated with you, thus discouraging them from even learning about Veganism.

On the other side, the constant flinging insults at Vegans needs to stop. Yes there is a vocal minority that acts like idiots. Don’t judge the whole by them. In the same way, EVERY movement has extremists like that. You wouldn’t want me to judge yours by them. Offering to eat “insert meat product here” in a Vegan’s honest makes you ignorant, not witty.

Conclusion

No matter what cause is yours, remember, those who fight for other causes aren’t downplaying yours by not talking about it. It just isn’t their focus. That’s not a negative thing. Fighting over it is not conducive to the conversation.

Today, there are allies that are not part of, but still fight for, many causes. Allies, don’t try to take over the conversation. It isn’t your narrative. Those who are of the cause, don’t look at these people with disdain because they aren’t like you. That ideology is why you need to fight for your rights to begin with. Work together. Make a better world.

Change the conversation.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

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