Nassim Taleb had a hissy fit last night:
Where I block @JordanbPeterson for violation of intellectual integrity/virtue signaling.
This spat was over Jordan Peterson’s endorsement of golden rice. Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, is a promoter of Golden Rice, vis this in the Globe and Mail a few years ago:
Two humanitarian scientists, Dr. Ingo Potrykus and Prof. Peter Beyer, used their knowledge of genetics to create Golden Rice, a variety of rice that contains beta carotene, the essential nutrient that we make into vitamin A. They were aware that two million people, mostly young children, die each year from vitamin A deficiency. Most of them live in urban slums in Asia and Africa and eat little more than a cup of rice each day. Conventional rice contains no beta carotene, resulting in 250 million preschool children who have chronic vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is necessary for eyesight and the immune system. As many as 500,000 children go blind each year, half of whom die within a year of becoming blind, according to the World Health Organization.
Taleb calls this argument Pedophrasty. He defines this as follows (in Medium, in a piece called “Pedophrasty, Bigoteering, and Other Modern Scams“):
Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.
Taleb continues his hysterics: Actually it is not just virtue signaling but Peterson’s DISGUSTING use of appeal to pity or some FAKE humanitarianism “because blindness” to justify selling speculative options in place of less lucrative more robust ones. Similar to pedophrasty.
Never mind that Greenpeace and every other environment crackpot organization use children ruthlessly in their advocacy, using their authority to insinuate themselves into every school, at just about every grade and filling the open minds of school children with flat-out terror.
Taleb continues in his twitter thread:
“And of course Patrick Moore whose dangerous, dishonest (& exploitative) arguments psychologist @jordanbPeterson was diffusing is a well identified shill for glyphosate.”
I have friends whose ability to reason I respect, who are completely unreasonable on the grounds of glyphosate and GMOs. I am moderately afraid of glyphosate myself and dislike it when Jamie spends a day spraying the dandelions in his five-acre, meticulously kept garden. I keep the pets indoors – as directed on the bottle – and am sullen for a day afterward. I have some kind of grain sensitivity which some health professionals believe is a glyphosate sensitivity. Hundreds of thousands of first world dwellers have developed glyphosate sensitivities and many naturopaths think it contributes to cancer, particularly in pets. The European Union has banned glyphosate and GMOs, on those grounds.
But damn, it is an effective poison and it makes the growing of food (and exquisite gardens) much much easier. Here is Patrick having his own hissy fit:
I believe that this argument can be solved by actuarial science. In the deep dark reaches of corporate and government labs, a grim calculation takes place. Its primary assumption is the following: Life Is Valuable. In the first world, our world, the value of a human life, last time I looked was estimated at about $3,000,000. That would be in the US and Canada. In Europe, given their refusal to use GMOs and Roundup, the value may in fact, be judged higher. In any case the boffins in the basement have judged that the cost of treating the one in 1,000,000 cancer caused by exposure to glyphosate is such that the value of a human life spread against 500 million people is $3 million or $5 million or $10 million, the value of life rising as the culture gets richer. Fine. The first world can argue this as if we are medieval monks arguing the number of angels on the head of a pin. We can afford it and we can afford organic, GMO-free, glyphosate-free food.
Not in the world where the value of a life is neglible, which is to say people die of starvation in the many many thousands every single day. If a chemical comes along that stops that, take it now. Right now. After titanic battles by Patrick and others, golden rice is about to be planted in Bangladesh.
Here are a few facts about starvation in Bangladesh.
Undernutrition costs Bangladesh $1BillionUS a year, and more in health care costs. 41% of children under five are undernourished. Even in the wealthiest households, 26% of children are stunted, and 12% are wasted. Sacrifices in food consumption in favour of children, particularly in times of scarcity, is highly gender biased. In most cases, it is an adult woman who must make a sacrifice.
You can read the rest of these grim statistics at the World Food Program. https://www.wfp.org/stories/10-facts-about-hunger-bangladesh
India has just closed two offices of Greenpeace and stated that the organization acts against the interests of its citizens. They’ve made the choice, not Mr. Fancy Pants on Twitter inveigling against feeding the world’s poor because he is jealous of Jordan Peterson’s fame.
Yesterday Ann Althouse wrote about the Green Reaper mascot that the Department of Energy created in 2013, a monster that was sent out to elementary schools during the Obama era. She appends this note:
“Wow! It was designed to scare children! I remember being scared through my entire childhood by the threat of nuclear bombs. And for thousands of years, people have scared children about Hell. The fact that you’re sure a threat is real doesn’t justify scaring children. I laughed at this mascot at first, but it really shows how evil people are towards children.”
Greens are all over the schools like a bad rash, terrifying children all day every day about global warming and species loss. Green has been infused through every subject. Maps and charts from green organizations hang in every classroom and library and cafeteria. All of them seed fear and lies into the hearts and minds of the most vulnerable.
I append this note: Green math is crap. Even I can break it down. The assumptions are flawed, the spatial equations are flawed, the sampling is bullshit, every single number is politicized. We do not know what is happening to the physical world, because greens have polluted the science to the point where it only lies. And by the way, green economics suffers from the same failings. I was excited by it enough to dig into it. I wanted to believe. I even devised my own case study: building a carbon-neutral LEED-certified house. And no. Just no. Green econometrics are fantasy-land. Green economics is as false and destructive as erstwhile Soviet 5-year plans.
This fact, when I came upon it, researching EcoFascists actually terrified me, that something so fundamental to human knowledge, so based on the proper measurement of the real world had been annexed by political interests and falsified.
A note about me and math. I was so busy flirting in my freshman year in college, that I received 0 in math at Christmas, and managed to just pass with 51%. I decided to retake it and my then boyfriend, now a heart surgeon, beat it into me over a period of 8 weeks. Result: 87% Then, when I decided to get an MBA, I nailed myself to the couch and taught myself calculus, first reviewing trig and intermediate algebra. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are dozens of workbooks that will walk the average punter through the maze. I respect math because it took me so long to master it. I recognize that most people cannot be bothered to look behind the assertions of outfits like the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and the thousands of others, but I will bet $1000 that every single major assertion they make is based on flawed math.
The very worst thing, given this blanket obfuscation of the truth, is that we don’t know what the real problems are.