Bill Maher and his Unscientific Beliefs

By Keith Kloor | February 8, 2015 9:34 am

Bill Maher, the comedian and host of his own HBO show, is God’s gift to conservatives. Nobody makes liberals look likes asses more than Maher. You think I’m kidding? Try watching Maher’s latest show without banging your head against the wall (if you’re an evidence-based, science-minded-liberal).

As Mark Hoofnagle observes at his Denialist blog, it is “just about the most perfect example I’ve seen yet that maybe reality doesn’t have a liberal bias.” The stuff Maher says about vaccines and immunity, in particular, will take your breath away. (Hoofnagle summarizes all the “incredibly stupid, unscientific beliefs about medicine” uttered by Maher.)

When you watch the clip, you’ll notice that one of the panelists, John McCormack, a senior writer for the Weekly Standard (a conservative magazine), is mostly quiet. I can see why. If the host is making a fool of himself, why get in the way? Still, McCormack has a barely concealed grin, as if he’s thinking, gleefully: I’m watching a left-wing equivalent of Glenn Beck–without the chalkboard.

Maher, towards the end of his opening rant, starts blathering about the dangers of Monsanto and GMOs. Hoofnagle describes what ensued:

There is a moment then when the conservative John McCormack butts in and points out there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful, and Maher and his panel of ignoramuses are shocked into silence, and one panelist gives this weighty sigh and covers her face in horror and Maher simply sighs. No, Bill Maher, it is we that should be asking you to justify your foolishness here, McCormack, the conservative who should supposedly be the one without the liberal bias of reality asked the right question. Where is your data? Where is the proof? There is no evidence, and worse, no even plausible mechanism by which he can describe the current GMO foods on the market to be harmful to humans.

Look, we’ve been here before with Maher. He’s been saying asinine things about vaccines and GMOs for years. Science bloggers and writers have taken him to task for the former; in recent years they have started paying attention to the latter.

It is his nonsense about vaccines, though, that drives people crazy. At a time when Jenny McCarthy is trying to shed her image as the face of the anti-vaccine movement, Bill Maher is cementing his reputation as a vaccine skeptic and all-around crank.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Bill Maher, science, vaccinations
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  • Joshua

    Keith

    ==> “Bill Maher, the comedian and host of his own HBO show, is God’s gift to conservatives. Nobody makes liberals look like [pejorative label redacted] more than Maher.

    In your very special non-name calling way, thanks for doing your part to associate Maher’s views with being a liberal as opposed to being someone whose views you don’t agree with.

    Maybe some day you’ll wake up and see that your approach of guilt-by-association, as you insist on doing with liberals and views on issues like GMOs is fallacious?

    You often refer to Kahan’s data, yet continue to put for the non-existent association between views on GMOs and vaccines and political ideology?

  • Joshua

    test

    • kkloor

      Joshua,

      You strain mighty hard to make that claim. So I’m engaging in name calling if I figuratively say that Maher–who is a liberal standard bearer and who holds ridiculous (wait–is that name-calling, too?) views antithetical to science–makes liberals looks like asses.

      Whatever, dude. You have too much time on your hands and now I’ve wasted too much time on you, today.

    • JH

      hilarious!m Did you think Keith had nixed you? :)

      • Joshua

        Yeah. He’s threatened to put me in moderation in the past and he’s no less thin-skinned than he used to be.

        • lilady R.N.

          It’s Keith’s blog and Keith’s rules. Don’t like it? Tough. Get your own blog where you can post all your stupendously ignorant fact free insults and rants…anytime.

          • Joshua

            Good point. It’s so insulting of me to point out that Keith’s name calling is likely counterproductive.

          • kkloor

            Joshua,

            You lodged the same complaint in my previous post on climate communication.

            I asked you repeatedly in that thread to provide examples of my name-calling. All you came up with is a headline from one post and a tweet. That’s it. I asked you for some concrete examples. Did you provide any yet?

            I can’t figure out why you continue to lie.

          • Joshua

            Keith –

            Nobody makes liberals look likes [pejorative label redacted] more than Maher….Bill Maher is cementing his reputation as a vaccine skeptic and all-around crank.

            It really is possible, Keith, to criticize Maher without implying fallacious guilt-by-association and without name-calling.* Really, it is!

            The fact that you then engaged in name-calling in the very next freakin’ post – and then fail to be accountable for it, will suffice as a response.

            * Not that I’m saying anything about you personally – I’m only describing your behavior!!!

        • kkloor

          True, but then I realized I’d have to put other people in moderation, too, for trolling and mischaracterizing my posts.

          Not worth the effort.

  • Joshua

    Keith

    ==> “Bill Maher, the comedian and host of his own HBO show, is God’s gift to conservatives. Nobody makes liberals look likes [pejorative name-calling redacted] more than Maher.”

    Thanks for doing your part, in your very special non-name calling way that just so happens to include name-calling, to associate Maher’s views on vaccines and GMOs with being a liberal – as opposed to being someone whose views on vaccines and GMOs you don’t agree with.

    Maybe some day you’ll wake up and see that your approach of guilt-by-association, as you insist on doing with liberals and views on issues like GMOs and vaccines, is fallacious?

    You often refer to Kahan’s data, yet continue to point to a non-existent association between views on GMOs and vaccines and political ideology?

    The logic of your argument is incoherent. And your approach on name-calling is obtuse. But don’t take that personally.

    • kkloor

      Joshua,

      Not only do I not take anything you say personally, I don’t take it seriously.

      You latest comment is a perfect example why. You have nothing to say about the substance of Maher’s latest unhinged commentary on vaccines, modern medicine and GMOs.

      Rather you single out a word I use–asses–to register your disapproval. Oooh, I think you should tell mommy I used a bad word.

      And what argument do you think I’m making? It certainly isn’t the one you think it is. How am I pointing to an association between liberals and GMOs/Vaccines?

      By pointing out that conservatives will seize on (and have done so) his selective embrace of science–the way they do with Robert Kennedy Jr. Just google around and see for yourself.

      For the record, yes, vaccine rejection is bipartisan.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/02/conservatives_and_liberals_hold_anti_science_views_anti_vaxxers_are_a_bipartisan.html

      But you go ahead and work up that special trolling outrage, if that’s what gets you through the day.

      • Joshua

        Keith –

        It isn’t that you used a “bad word.”

        It’s that you simultaneously criticize the impact of name-calling (which I agree with) even as you name-call (which you claim that you don’t) even as you claim that you don’t name-call (which is positively hilarious).

        • lilady R.N.

          The use of a (not so) bad word such as a$$hole(s) is quite acceptable to grown ups who comment on this blog, but it should be paired with some clever (and honest verifiable facts).

          When used ass a blanket condemnation and insult toward people you don’t agree with..or people who are annoyed with your fact free comments, it only reiterates you have not added anything to the conversation taking place on a science blog.

          Incredibly bad form and resorting to school yard taunts, IMO.

        • Tom Fuller

          I’m a liberal. I not only don’t feel insulted, I agree with Kloor. Maher is a jerk (I didn’t say anything about calling people names.)

          I’m just wondering when Keith will twig to the fact that Maher is just as… foolish when discussing climate change.

          • Joshua

            I don’t feel insulted either.

            You missed the point entirely.

            Try reading my comment again.

          • Thomas Fuller

            No, reading your comment again is pointless. You really only have one comment to make, although you dress it in different clothing from time to time. Reading it again is not only pointless but painful.

            Invite me again when you post a comment on the topic of any post, anywhere, any time.

          • Joshua

            I don’t feel insulted either.

            You missed the point entirely.

            Don’t read my comment again.

            You still missed the point entirely.

          • Thomas Fuller

            That’s the tragedy of trolling. Perhaps you made a point (I’m not looking to see). But who will ever know? Your schtick is your schtick so nobody reads you for content–It’s Joshua, the blog author/commenter/other human being is accused of inconsistency, hypocrisy, yada yada yada.

            How sad it would be if you now discovered the answer we’ve been looking for is in fact 43…

      • Matt B

        NBC was more than happy on Meet the Press today to put Chris Christie and Rand Paul as the faces of anti-science anti-vaxxers. Coincidence that they are both repubs? Maybe not. But, did they deserve it? Absolutely.

        This has sent people scurrying to find things Obama said 7 years ago about vaccines, was he/wasn’t he pandering to the anti-vaxxers? Who cares! That was 7 years ago. These are the same people that are pissed that Obama talks about the Crusades and why is he bringing up the past? Although, admittedly the Crusades is a bit old news.

        In these dark times (hey Brian Williams how’s that “new normal” working for you now?) all tribes need to take the beatings they deserve. I agree with a lot of Maher’s opinions but the fact is, he is a smug dope at times (well he’s always smug) and his sycophantic audience is too obtuse to notice when he’s off the rails, so if his fanboys will not administer the beatings he deserves then outside agencies need to take up the task. .

        • Tim Lieder

          As a liberal I only wish that the anti-vaxx morons were all Republicans. But that’s not the case.

          • Matt B

            Tim,

            That is my point, there is way too much rooting for each individual’s tribe in these matters. You want your tribe to be smart, but no one groups is uniformly right across the board. It really makes a group look idiotic when a “thought leader” (Limbaugh? Maher?) goes off the rails and their followers follow along like zombies. Hoe can you debate a zombie? The lack self-analysis within the tribes means that what should be relatively simple debates will go on ad infinitum.

        • Joshua
    • Tim Lieder

      Bill Maher is a liberal and he is quite open about being a liberal. He identifies as a liberal and as a liberal, I want to hit him over the head with a hammer several times.

      Hell, every time I hear Bill Maher speak on vaccines or GMOs, I feel a special sympathy for my conservative friends who have to be associated with Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, etc.

      • Joshua

        Actually, despite Keith’s strange interest in associating Maher’s beliefs with political ideology, Maher’s positions on a number of issues are not exactly typical of a “liberal,” and apparently (according to Wikipedia) he identifies (at least sometimes) as a libertarian…

        • Tom Scharf

          The real world sorting is a lot more complex than red tribe and blue tribe. This identity politics where once you assume one position associated strongly with a tribe you are automatically assumed to hold all their positions is a bit tiring.

          I would suggest that those who hold all views of the red tribe or blue tribe are likely not engaging in much critical thinking and just hopping on a bandwagon. They are letting their views be determined for them by others instead of working them out one by one.

          • Joshua

            I suggest reading Kahan on the interface of ideology and views on vaccines – if you haven’t already.

        • Delius

          I’m a libertarian. And speaking as a libertarian, let me say, Bill Maher, you are no libertarian.

          I think Maher used to be a libertarian, or at least, I used to think he was, back in the early days of “Politically Incorrect”. He has clearly shifted away from it more recently.

          • Joshua

            Tom’s comment stands.

            I would suggest that someone with his views about Islam is not a “liberal.”

            The labels are inadequate – which just goes back to the vacuousness of Keith’s original post.

      • Tom Fuller

        +1

      • agscienceliterate

        I have lots of “super liberal” friends who are ignoramuses on gmos and a few who are anti-vaxx. It’s pathetic.

  • mem_somerville

    All I could do was watch the tweets fly as this aired the other night, I don’t have cable. And I’ve been avoiding the clip, but figured finally i need to watch.

    ERMAGHERD. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but…. [lists every anti-vax and alt-med trope over the next few minutes].

    But I laughed out loud at that woman reaches out to McCormack.

    • Kimberly Taylor

      Half the clips from his show are published on their YouTube page right afterwards Fri night/Sat morn. I usually look forward to it every week, but instead spent yesterday seething in rage at his scientific willful ignorance.

      • mem_somerville

        I’m actually wondering if some people will finally get the link between the anti-vax nonsense and the anti-GMO nonsense. I was laughing at RawStory the other day when they had the piece with the hilarious conspiracy theorist attack on Jon Stewart:

        Anti-vaxxer radio host accuses Jon Stewart of being a vaccine ‘Nazi’ for opposing ‘healing liberty’

        That guy is comedy gold on GMOs too.

        • Tim Lieder

          I am happy to see that it seems like the tide has turned on GMOs. When I first learned what they were and why people were crazy over them, I took about a month to study up on the claims – read way too many Vandana Shiva articles and conspiracy theories – and then once fully convinced that GMOs were beneficial to the environment and humanity, I argued. And argued.

          I felt like the lone voice in the wilderness, especially when March Against Monsanto was going on.

          Thankfully, it seems like guilt by association to Natural News is coming through loud and clear (and now I have friends who are just as vigorously pro-GMO).

          • Delius

            I know very much how you feel. The poor stances taken are so predictable and repetitive that I maintain a text file for both vaccines and GMOs, with canned answers to a dozen or more common but entirely incorrect assertions. I hate that the denialists have reduced me to a cut-n-paste person, but I simply got tired of repeatedly typing, “No, that’s wrong, and here’s why” so often to the same nonsense.

            The disadvantage of it, though, is that it prevents me from being overly snotty and sarcastic to especially stupid people. For them I usually make an exception.

            It does seem like the tide is turning, though. Now, if we can just rid ourselves of the FUD Babe, everything will be cool and froody.

          • agscienceliterate

            And Vandana Shiva gets $40,000 for every one of her lectures. Plus, first-class plane fare. Not a bad gig for a shill for ignorance.

  • David Skurnick

    Krauss incorrectly asserts that Watts showed “no skepticism whatsoever, no critical thinking skills” when Watts published a claim that horses in Spain were becoming deformed by wind farm noise. On the contrary, Watts wrote:

    “So, WUWT readers who actually know something about horses, have you heard of this case or similar cases at other farms with new wind turbines? Or, if you live near wind farms that are near farms with horses, cattle, etc, have they had problems like this?

    “This is just one study, involving one farm and not very many horses, clearly more research is warranted. If it’s confirmed, it would be interesting to know if other animals are susceptible to a similar problem.”

  • Kimberly Taylor

    I’m in the science community, and I lean center-left (as many of us probably do because policies of the right are atrocious). I’ve tried to ignore Maher’s views on GMOs lately since it’s the ‘hip, Hollywood’ thing to do lately. But after his rant Fri night about not trusting medical science in general (biology, biochemistry, etc.), I can only conclude that he is becoming senile and I can’t swallow his anti-science crap anymore.

    And another thing. Why the HELL would you bring up those topics and not have at least one scientist/MD on the panel? It was pathetic.

    • Tom Scharf

      Hmmmmm….right before you rail against Maher for not having a science expert on his panel, you trot out an association that just because you do “science” this clearly makes you an expert in “politics”. Perhaps politicians are more skilled at their job than scientists? Maybe you need a politician on your panel before you rashly dismiss other’s views.

      If there is one thing people such as yourself are not short on, it is an appeal to self authority.

      • Tim Lieder

        No. Science is a specialized field. Politics is something that everyone is involved in. Politicians can make policy but they need to listen to the right experts instead of any crank that comes along. The fact that climate change denialists and anti-vaxx cretins are being listened to be politicians who make policy is a shame.

        • ivr

          Science is a generic term referring to a process and/or methodology; it is not a field of study, therefore not specific.
          Cellular biology is a specialized field, that uses the scientific method for gathering data.

        • Helmut_Schmidt69

          No, science is a methodology that requires testing hypotheses. Climate change, for example, is not science as its believers do not even attempt to use the scientific method. Let me guess, you also believe humans are equal and genetics has no impact on behavior or ability?

          • lilady R.N.

            Wow, it didn’t take a long time for you to pull the race card and to refer to minority groups, who, you claim are genetically unequal.

            Scientist have already proven there are subtle, but real differences between the ability of African-American-vs-White people to control hyertension caused by their reaction to table salt in a typical American diets…to control hypertension. A major difference in the death rate of African-American from CVAs and hearty attacks.

            You forgot the increased risk of sickle cell anemia and Fanconi;s anemia amongst African- Americans and those with Mediterranean heritages-versus-those with northern European heritages, the higher prevalence of true dairy intolerances all proven by scientist…and the lower level of leucocytes seen in healthy African Americans-vs- the higher levels of leucocytes in heathy White Americans.

            How about the prevalence of what are now classified as Jewish genetic disases in Ashkenazi Jews…such as Tay Sachs disease and Canavan’s disease, ..kiling off these young Jewish chidren from Tay Sachs disease and Canavan’s disease (two degerative genetic diseases which are invariably fatal in early childhood). There are only a few cases of these diseases that have ever been reported in the medical literature, where the young victims are not children who have Ashkanazi Jewish heritage.

            Why is it that people who do not have these ancestries where then were forced into ghettos, or, who have, by choice, chosen to live in closed societies have far lower prevalences of these rare genetic disases?

            Why is it that another closed society group with intermarriages to close relatives are being studied to give scientists and geneticists the opportunity to study people such as Amish groups and hopefully find treatments for metabolic disorders identified in early infancy?

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3077314/

          • Sam Jay

            What? Climat scientist don’t test? Dude, it’s called a thermometer. They test their models all the time. Certainly as much as any other science . Problem is they have a oil and gas industry spending millions to undermine them. Most scientist don’t have that worry.

          • ericlipps

            Ordinary “believers” in climate change may not attempt to use the scientific method; they aren’t scientists but ordinary citizens. However, plenty of people who support the reality of human-caused climate changeare scientists who do, in fact, do legitimate research on the subject. They don’t turn into frauds just because you don’t like their conclusions.
            If climate change were bunkum as science, one would expect that in the thirty years since the subject first came up in the 1980s the number of scientists supporting the hypothesis would have remained small and likely even decreased. Exactly the opposite has happened; now its the deniers who are the small minority.

        • Tom Scharf

          I think scientists have valuable inputs to policy *** in their area of expertise ***.

          What has little value is claiming that just because you do science, your input to policy on topics unrelated to your field has more value than others. It doesn’t.

          While I would make a generalization that those in science would tend to be better educated on average than Joe Public, this needs to be demonstrated by the argument, not by an appeal to self authority.

          I would also make another generalization that those in science (specifically academia) tend to be left leaning and so their policy views tend to align with the Democratic platform. It is not necessarily science makes you a Democrat, it may be Democrats go into science. The public sector knows where their paycheck comes from and typically aren’t supportive of smaller government. Individual results vary of course.

          • Delius

            While I would agree with you for the most part, I think that the ability to do science well means you are that much ahead of most others simply because you can think better. I wouldn’t trust a theoretical physicist above an economist on matters of monetary policy, for example, but I’d certainly trust him more than a comedian.

            That’s not to say that comedians *can’t* think extremely well, of course. But it isn’t part of their job description. There is a reason why the same people who are anti-GMO also tend to be anti-vaccine, or why creationists tend to also be climate change denialists (depending on their political stances). Poor thinking is poor thinking.

          • ericlipps

            That generalization is less than accurate. Plenty of scientists tend rightward. Edward Teller was a prime example; so was William Shockley, a crucial figure in the development of the transistor who became notorious when he stepped outside his field to maintain, using his scientific reputation to give him credibility, that blacks are genetically inferior to whites in IQ. Then there’s anthropologist Roger Pearson, who expressed similar views on the issue of race. None of these men had a history as a Democrat, though Teller in particular attempted to ingratiate himself with presidential administrations of both parties.

            And that’s without even bringing up the “Project Paperclip” German scientists, including Wernher von Braun, who worked quite happily to help Hitler win World War II, or Werner Heisenberg, who tried his best to give Hitler nuclear weapons. Von Braun is another who sucked up to presidents of both parties; his politics were right-wing, but he’d approach anybody he thought might give him the resources to build his rockets. I’m sure that if he’d fallen into Soviet rather than American hands in 1945, he’d have willingly worked for Stalin and his successors.

      • robustgrowth

        True

      • Rene David DeVilliers

        When political views start to skew scientific data, we all suffer. You hang on to marh’s pocket like a prison ‘bottom’ because he was the anti religious liberal mouth with an impressive vocabulary when it was the in vogue thing to be. I hold liberal views when it comes to bipartisanship because it bodes best for scientific advancement (ie. Stem cell research) but marh is guilty of the same as conservatives if he is going to cherry pick what he is going to ‘science’ today in order to best suit his liberal agenda.

    • lilady R.N.

      What? Why should Maher have at least one scientist/MD on his program, who could refute his ill conceived, not-based-in-science remarks ?

      Could it be that Maher has to always be right and his tremendous ego does not permit him to admit he could be mistaken, because his mind is sealed shut and encased in a concrete vault.

      • Tom Fuller

        Maybe it would have been smart–a scientist could have told Maher to shut up.

        • Steve Garrett

          …which is why there were none.

        • Emkay

          I find it odd, because I never, took Maher seriously… he just babbles, has always babbled, and I pay NO attention to what he says…ever..

      • scourge99

        He did have an MD on his show last week who was advertising a book. And he completely refuted what Bill said. Bill ignored it

      • Emkay

        concrete vault? call Geraldo Rivera..

    • rk29

      So I agree in that I have read nothing about GMO’s that indicate there are any dangers from them. I am not a scientist but an engineer and at least know some of the scientific basics.

      That said, why the opposition to labeling food as GMO? Allow the consumer to make up their own mind?

      As for vaccines, again, I am pro vaccine, but all human beings are are a differentiated pile of substances I don’t believe that everyone will respond in kind to chemicals injected into the body. Now to say that it causes autism, seems laughable to me, but to say that the flu shot will be effective for everyone or offer value, is also not a certainty. Now Maher though, certainly doesn’t offer much nuance in his response.

      • Cathal Ó Broin

        “That said, why the opposition to labeling food as GMO”

        Because it’s a scare tactic. Here’s a small example; the amino acid phenylalanine is included in labels because a very small subset of people have phenylketonuria (PKU) and can’t process the amino acid. As a result, many people see phenylalanine and _assume_ it’s a carcinogen or dangerous (“why else would it be on the label!”) and avoid the food. That is a case where a label is included for a small percentage of the population, but also scares others.

        Genetic modification is simply the process by which the genes are originally changed, it’s not actually a useful description of the final plant or animal. This is just as one can’t look at other artificial selection techniques in isolation and know they have occurred (such as the use of radiation farming which are considered acceptable for “organic” labelling). GM labelling is not included for the same reason other processes of selection methods are not included either; there is no evidential basis for doing so.

        • rk29

          What is there to be afraid of? Other countries do it – and I really don’t see the average American afraid of a GMO, as they eat their bag of Doritos followed by a bottle of Mountain Dew – it really should be a non issue.

          • Miles Stockdale

            I was reading through the comments after a piece in the Washington Post this morning about the scientific illiteracy of the general public on the GMO issue. I could only make it through about 50 of the almost 700 comments as, while I am a sucker for punishment, I have my limits.

            Interestingly, while most comments gave reasons for opposing GMOs (all of them completely absurd), the small number which mentioned actual problems at the plant propagation level, all gave problems that were clearly chemical mutagenesis problems, and not genetic engineering problems. Their demand for labeling GMOs wouldn’t inform them, but completely misinform them – and make them far more likely to buy the products they are most concerned about. When one side has been this thoroughly misinformed by cranks and fraud artists, the last thing society should do is rearrange the village to suit the village idiot.

          • Emkay

            “the last thing society should do is rearrange the village to suit the village idiot.”….. very well said, but unfortunately we have done just that with our ‘political landscape..

          • robustgrowth

            Lol

          • Monica Bonn Cohen

            YES, I agree.LOL.Lol. lol…

            .

          • Delius

            The issue for me is that food labels should only be for proven health concerns, even tiny ones (such as the phenylalanine example above). Putting “contains GMOs” on the label *implies* that there are health concerns, even though none have ever been found.

            Opposition to GMOs is a political/philosophical stance, which, to be clear, is totally fine, if that is your bag. But we shouldn’t impose such a regulatory burden on the food industry, any more than we should have labels that say, for example, “migrant labor was used in the production of some of the ingredients”. Someone might be opposed to the exploitation of migrant laborers, after all, but that is a political issue, not a health one.

          • agscienceliterate

            Also, lots of organic products are made from seeds and tissue cultures that have been affected by mutagenesis (chemical blasting and radioactivity) with ZERO oversight, and ZERO screams for labeling. Consistent? Hardly.

          • rk29

            Perhaps, but why not leave that to the electorate then?

            If the electorate wants labels on them, like other countries, then so should it be.

            From a regulatory standpoint, it really isn’t that complicated for a label change to artwork – we do it in pharma all the time and this would be little more than a branding exercise in most cases and requires far less workups within food.

            If the electorate wants notice that it is, for instance, organic, or comes from a sweatshop free environment, or wasn’t used with migrant labor, whatever, then put it on the label, it really isn’t that big of a deal.

            I would ask, though again, this isn’t my industry, why is it labeled this way in other countries? There are plenty of things in our food here that aren’t allowed elsewhere in the world and I expect it isn’t for the better considering their results vs ours.

          • ericlipps

            “Leave it to the electorate”?

            You’re basically asking the voters to decide what is and isn’t scientifically accurate and what is or isn’t medically dangerous—at the polling booth. Even basic scientific ideas wouldn’t be, and haven’t been, safe under such circumstances, as the Scopes trial (held under a law passed by freely elected Tennessee legislators and not declared unconstitutional until 1968), illustrated.

            Democracy is a great system of government, but the laws and facts of nature aren’t established by public opinion. Pretending that they can be is a road to ruin.

          • Emkay

            Democracy… always leaves 49% of the people still pissed off!

          • ericlipps

            If you’re lucky.
            Sometimes none of the available choices really satisfies the majority of people.

          • Emkay

            In fact..if the package inserts in ‘over the counter’ ‘OTC’ and ‘RX’ prescription medications were actually read by the potential user, the ‘precautions, contra-indications, adverse reactions, and side effects verbage would definitely cause people to NOT take their meds…but how many read the ‘fine print?
            This whole GMO discussion is stupid.

        • agscienceliterate

          Additionally, all of the labeling efforts to date 1) mislabel as gmo foods that aren’t (like sugar which has 0% protein and thus 0% gmo DNA); and 2) exempt lots and lots of foods that DO have gmos, like cheese (which has gmo chymosins). Every labeling effort to date has been inaccurate, misleading, and based on fearmongering, rather than based on giving nutrition and allergen info.

        • Lawrence Lile

          I find that phenylalanine is a migraine trigger. I do not have PKU. People who suffer from bipolar disease can find that some can be triggered into manic states through doses of phenylalanine. These statements are based on my direct experience. I am quite pleased that phenylalanine is labeled and thus I can avoid it. I wish more things in food were labeled, so the minority that may react to some additive can be warned.

        • stderr

          >> That said, why the
          >> opposition to labeling
          >> food as GMO
          >>
          >”Because it’s a scare tactic.
          >

          Like telling me if the spices come from India or Bangladesh or China?

          • ericlipps

            It’s a little more than that. If a particular spice comes from India, people assume it’s essentially the same as if it came from China or Bangladesh. Even in the case of tea, where soil and climate conditions really do make a difference (along with differing strains of the plant), no one suggests that tea from India is safe while tea from China might make you sick or kill you. But with GMOs, the whole point of labeling is to hint, without actually saying so and risking a lawsuit, that the food product is dangerous. It’s ideology masquerading as science and “consumer information.”

          • Two Americas

            We have been lobbying for years for enforcement of the “COOL” labeling laws on food – country of origin labeling. You could call that “ideology masquerading as science and ‘consumer information,'” and dismiss it, I suppose. However the country origin of foods is not merely a matter of local growing conditions, but rather also a matter of the public agriculture infrastructure in the country of origin. Powerful commercial interests are working hard to break down the infrastructure that protects the public, as they see that as a barrier to profits.

            Similarly, if crop varieties are being developed with an eye to maximum profits and control over markets, that short-circuits the safeguards in place in the infrastructure. Perhaps in some idealized world, the call for GMO or COOL labeling could be seen as illogical or unjustifiable. However, we do not live in that idealized world. We live in a world where there is a drive to privatize everything, and the public be damned.

          • stderr

            > But with GMOs, the whole point of labeling is to hint, without actually

            > saying so and risking a lawsuit, that the food product is dangerous.

            >
            So you want to make a law that says you can’t put information on your product? They let you say your milk is free of added BGH and they make you say there is no evidence that adding this is dangerous. I suspect the same thing would work more generally with genetics.

          • ericlipps

            That’s a deliberate misrepresentation of what I said.

            I didn’t say anything about “[making] a law that says you can’t put information on your product”; you did. I pointed out that such labeling is being demanded by anti-GMO activists in order to frighten people away from products they don’t want people to buy, irrespective of whether those products pose any proven danger or not.
            If companies choose freely to label their food products as containing genetically modified ingredients (“put information on [their products]”), that’s their affair: they’re choosing to take the risk of scaring away customers. If on the other hand they are forced to do it, they are being compelled via a legislative gun to their heads either to harm themselves commercially or change their products.
            Now, if there were actual proof of harm to human beings from GM foodstuffs, that would be one thing. But anti-GMO forces are insisting that the standard be not whether any proof of harm exists but rather that there is no possibility of harm to anyone at any time. There isn’t a product on the market, genetically modified or not, which could pass that test. And that’s the whole point: setting up GM products for condemnation via a test, applied to them alone, which is designed to be impossible to pass.
            Note that the “actual proof of harm” requirement voids any comparison to, say, the tobacco industry, since the harmful effects of tobacco products have been known beyond question for decades. There’s no need in the case of tobacco to “prove it’s safe” before allowing its sale: we know it isn’t, and the only reason it’s still on sale is that Southern legislators whose states’ economies would collapse without tobacco sales have joined forces with corporate executives whose firms would likewise go under to make sure it stays on the market.

          • stderr

            > That’s a deliberate misrepresentation
            > of what I said.
            >
            Since you aren’t quoting what I supposedly intentionally misrepresented, I’m left to guess.

            > I pointed out that such labeling is

            > being demanded by anti-GMO activists
            >
            There are two arguments, whether to allow someone to label their own products or whether to force others to label their products. I don’t see the harm in more information but I would want to know exactly what GMOs are in the product. Just saying that something is in there provides no useful information. Contrast to the BGH where they are saying a specific thing has been added or it hasn’t been added.

          • ericlipps

            Surely it’s obvious from my last post what I was talking about. But in case you really don’t see it, let me walk you through it.

            I said,

            But with GMOs, the whole point of labeling is to hint, without actually saying so and risking a lawsuit, that the food product is dangerous. It’s ideology masquerading as science and “consumer information.”

            You replied,

            So you want to make a law that says you can’t put information on your product?

            Nowhere did I advocate passing “a law that says you can’t put information on your product.” In fact, I didn’t advocate any laws at all. Yours is the side which wants laws–to force the stigmatization of foods via GMO labeling, in the hope of panicking consumers away from them.

          • Two Americas

            Let’s say that it is true that people are trying “to force the stigmatization of foods via GMO labeling, in the hope of panicking consumers away from them.”

            What is the harm in that?

          • ericlipps

            The harm is that in the absence of any actual proof of a real danger to human beings, such coerced warnings cause needless fear on the part of consumers and may stampede them away from perfectly harmless items. And there are, of course, always those waiting to make a buck by offering frightened people an alternative—and who therefore have an interest in cultivating fear.

            I have the same feeling about some of the warnings already attached to various medications. Listen to the ads for them on TV and you’ll hear a litany of side effects, without any indication of how common, or how rare, they are.

          • Two Americas

            Being involved in so-called “conventional” agriculture, I took exactly the same position for years that you are expressing here. I looked askance at the organic movement, and resented it when a trust fund baby set up a CSA organic veggie operation up the road (after building himself a McMansion, a much nicer house than any farmer in the county could ever afford) and then ran ads in the local media that implied we were poisoning people. We resented that he had free labor in the form of “internships,” supposedly teaching college students “how to farm,” when the owner himself had no experience in farming. “Community supported agriculture?” We said in response that we were engaged in agriculture that supported the community, we weren’t demanding that the community support us. When he failed to treat for potato blight and that led to an epidemic, we felt vindicated.

            “They are fear mongering! They are denying science! They are blocking progress!” Yep.

            A few years back the USDA was encouraging fruit farmers to make public the results from research about nutritional content of various fruits and the connections of fruit consumption to human health outcomes, as a public education effort. Growers did that. The result was swat team FDA raids on fruit farms. The letters sent to growers said that selling fruit that had health benefits was tantamount to selling untested and unapproved drugs. The press release that went to the media, however, said that the fruit growers were “making false health claims” about fruit. For a long time I kept the two documents side by side on my desk. It is pretty hard to dismiss the fact that pharmaceutical industry people had been appointed to key positions in the FDA, and that better health through better diet represents a potential threat to the dominance of health care by the pharmaceutical industry.

            I would not have believed it had I not witnessed it first hand. We quickly had every quack snake oil sales operation, and every anti-government right wing organization taking our side. “Government tyranny! Bureaucracy run amok!” Yep.

            Meanwhile, over the last decade we have watched as the biotech industry has gained more and more control and influence over the Land Grant college system and the public agencies. Massive amounts of money are flying around, and there is a gold rush going on as people try to cash in. Researchers, working in public institutions, can become millionaires if they play their cards right. Research is directed to benefit industry, and commercial agendas are the priority, rather than the public good, as was always traditionally the case. Life forms are being patented and research is being privatized. Corrupt deals are being made right and left. The entire food safety system is being compromised, and public confidence in the system is collapsing.

            As professionals involved with food and agriculture – growers, researchers, scholars, public officials, inspectors, technicians – our responsibility is first and foremost to the public. We serve the public, as they are, not as we might like them to be. If public trust in us is collapsing, and it is, that is being caused by our failure to act responsibly, and it is not the fault of the public. The public fears are well founded. Beating up on the public, and dismissing their concerns, can only make the problem worse. The general public has damned good reason to be suspicious,and sticking your head in the sand and ignoring that is not a rational option. I now think that the public should be more suspicious, not less. We should be on their side, and the fact that there is an adversarial relationship developing should tell us that something has gone seriously wrong. If this has led to opportunities for charlatans and hucksters and quacks, and it has, so be it. we should nit be surprised by that. It is an effect of the breakdown of public trust, and the breakdown of public trust is a consequence of the corruption of the public institutions and agencies.

            The GMO label tells the public something valuable. It tells the public that they are buying a privatized life form, a privately own crop variety that was developed for the benefit of industry, not for the benefit of the public. It tells people that they are supporting an agenda to privatize and corrupt, and ultimately destroy the entire public agriculture and food infrastructure.

            The GMO label has nothing to do with “science” – nothing in these debates has anything to do with science. People have a right to resist the domination of the food system by a handful of powerful commercial interests. People have a right to protect the public welfare, the public asserts and the public institutions from total domination and control by commercial interests.

          • Atomsk

            You have to excuse me, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with people sticking to the old until the new stuff is *proven to be safe*. That’s, in my opinion, the rational and sane response. The other way aroud, your suggestion, actually sounds downright stupid to me. Not progressive, not “pro-science”, but stupid and sometimes actually insane.

            As for warnings on medication…I see a lot of things wrong with advertising drugs on TV btw. In fact, I don’t see a single good thing about it. Not one. More control over what a seller can or has to say is a very good thing.

            As for the fearmongering…yeah. I mean, it’s not like your example (the medical industry) doesn’t live off of that. It’s not like critique of GMOs is not met with industry shills bullshitting about the aim being stopping world hunger and you being against that. Big business is actually the main user of fearmongering, ignorance, anti-science tactics.

          • Two Americas

            When I look at the introduction of “new” crop varieties that we grow, they are often 40 or 50 years old before they are in significant production. The research stations release samples, growers test them, tests are done, lessons are learned. The process is slow and deliberate, with thousands of people involved, because no one was looking to make a quick profit from the process.

            The idea that we can genetically engineer new crop varieties and then fast track them out into the field and into massive production without numerous unforeseeable consequences flies in the face of thousands of years of agricultural experience. The only reason for fast tracking this new technology and these new varieties to market is because people are looking to make quick profits from the process. It is not benefits to the public nor to the growers that is driving this, nor is it “science.” In fact, the institutions and agencies that protect the public interests are being weakened, and the research science is being whored out to the highest bidder.

            It is pretty humorous that the biotech industry advocates claim that the opponents are “fear mongering,” when the industry is sinking millions of dollars into fear mongering campaigns to defeat GMO labeling initiatives.

          • dreamjoehill

            Opponents of GMO labeling are advancing elitist and authoritarian arguments. Why should the GMO industry be allowed to modify the food we eat in secret? Why do you think We the People are too stupid and irrational to make our own decisions about the matter.
            Your arguments demonstrate that you are an authoritarian and an enemy of democracy.

      • JH

        incidentally, no one opposes voluntary labeling on the part of the food companies.
        The question is this: does labeling GM Foods satisfy a pressing enough public need that it needs to be mandated? The answer to that is NO.

        • rk29

          that was also said about nutritional information – if the public wants it and the vote passes – then there is no negative to the public and labeling, really isn’t that big of a change

        • Emkay

          regular food, modified food, irradiated food, supplemented food, enhanced food, or genetically modified food, once entering the gastrointestinal tract all turns to sh*t…..no labels needed..

      • BREWDAWGZ

        I agree with you on the GMO’s they should be labeled unfortunately big agribusiness don’t want consumers to be armed with knowledge not just GMO’s but irradiation and a myriad of other things. As for the vaccines your correct they don’t work in everyone but that’s ok because if you can just vaccinate a large enough percentage of the population it makes it difficult for a communicable disease to gain a foothold in a community.

    • Buddy199

      Senile?

    • nelly0042

      ” I lean center-left (as many of us probably do because policies of the right are atrocious)”
      In the spirit of the article, where is your data to back up such a biased and arrogant statement?
      I lean right, and my engineer co-workers tend to lean right. We don’t find the policies of the right to be atrocious, but we do find those of
      the left to be frivolous and foolhardy, especially when it comes to
      spending our hard earned income. We applaud the right for trying to
      stop the hemorrhaging of our wallets. But the ideologies of those with whom I keep company have not led me to any subjective world view as you seem to hold.

    • TZ

      First off to address the vaccines.. Inactive and adjuvant ingredients in vaccines induce exaggerated immune reactions against the ‘active’ vaccine antigen (e.g. the viral or bacterial antigen) which sometimes results in the immune system attacking self-structures (autoimmunity). The vaccine is not the problem it is the CRAP they add to it!

      Next the GMOs…There are two main GE crops….One is BT toxin which is an unnatural form ovaccf a naturally occurring bacteria which is far more toxic than its natural counterpart, this unnatural bacterium has been genetically engineered into the seed, so this toxin is then expressed in every cell of the plant, so then our corn for example becomes a registered pesticide with the EPA…yummy….then there are Roundup Ready crops that have been genetically engineered to withstand heavy doses of Roundup without dying, so mothers get to feed their babies Glyphosate ridden breast milk and the rest of us get to process it though our kidneys and out in our urine…..Not to mention the active retro virus called the cauliflower mosaic virus that is used to turn the desired trait on and then the antibiotic marker used to ascertain if the desired trait is being expressed… antibiotic resistance anyone? There were never any independent, long-term, minimum of 3 mammalian species, preferably multi-generational studies done to deduce toxicology in human beings concerning the consumption of GMOs…. it’s criminal that they were allowed into our food supply….PERIOD!

      • BREWDAWGZ

        Please refer me to a peer reviewed study from an accredited institution to back up your assertions.

        • TZ

          GMO SCIENCE – STUDIES & RESEARCH
          This compilation is a sample of the scientific references including over 1800 studies, surveys, and analyses that suggest various adverse impacts and potential adverse impacts of genetically engineered (GE/GMO) crops, foods and related pesticides. This list contains references regarding health impacts, environmental impacts, including impact of non-target organisms (NTOs), resistance of target organisms, pesticide drift, genetic contamination, horizontal gene transfer, unintended effects, as well as references regarding yields, social impact, ethics, economics and regulations. In most cases, links are provided to the abstracts for the references or links to sites where the study can be purchased. http://www.gmofreeusa.org/research/gmo-science-research/

        • TZ

          http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm
          Vaccines: Vac-Gen/Additives in Vaccines Fact Sheet
          Additives in Vaccines Fact Sheet
          cdc.gov

    • nik

      If GMO’s are safe, then why the resistance to having them tested and proven to be safe, and why the resistance to having them labelled?

      So far NO GMO, to my knowledge has been proven to be safe.

      The GMO companies merely got the law changed so they wouldn’t have to do so.

      That in itself should ring alarm bells, and has done.

      • ericlipps

        Since no test result which failed to show that GMOs are a deadly threat would be believed by the ant0-iGMO crowd, one wonders what the point is of debating the issue with them.

        • nik

          As there are NO test results to show one way or the other, people will believe the worst, its a natural survival instinct.
          If I gave you something you had never seen or eaten before, and said. ‘its perfectly safe, eat it,’ would you?
          If you were told, ‘this plant is covered in toxic insecticide,’ would you eat it?
          If you were told this plant is impregnated with toxic insecticide, that it produces itself,’ would you eat it?
          I certainly wouldnt, and in my opinion, anyone who did would be a fool, or be suicidal.

          • ericlipps

            But I suspect that most of those strongly opposed to genetic engineering would remain hostile to it o matter what experiments might show. If testing failed to show dangerous effects from GMOs, such people would (will) assume that the experiments were poorly designed, poorly carried out or flat-out rigged.

            As for the insecticide-producing plants, many plants humans eat produce such chemicals naturally. They just don’t end up in the parts of the plant people eat, or, in some cases, are toxic to insects but not mammals. The whole point of engineering pesticide genes into crops is to use natural defenses borrowed from other plants.

            Now, what Monsanto has done in its “Roundup Ready” crops is different: it has engineered resistance not to pests but to pesticides, specifically the toxins in its own product Roundup. This allows those crops to be sprayed with much higher doses of that pesticide, “coincidentally” allowing the company to sell more of it. That’s not a problem with genetic modification; it’s a problem with Monsanto, which is abusing the technology.

  • Joshua

    Responsible science communication?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JnGiKr90zu8

    At least Potholer54 acknowledges the “mocking tone” – presumably because he recognizes that it is suboptimal?

    • mem_somerville

      So you think Supreme Master Ching Hai is right? I don’t think she delivered very responsible science communication there. Did you critique her too?

      Great video, though, thanks.

      • Joshua

        ==> “So you think Supreme Master Ching Hai is right?”

        I’m curious as to which part of what I wrote led you to ask me that question. Could you point it out?

        Was it the part where I said that Keith’s name-calling is sub-optimal, likely counterproductive, and inconsistent with his fear-mongering about name-calling?

        Yeah. I liked the video also.

        • kkloor

          Joshua,

          Your obsession with my blogging style is very flattering, regardless of how much and how frequently you mischaracterize it.

          It reminds me what a dedicated reader you are and how much time you take to show this.

          One of these days, I look forward to you engaging with what I actually write about, and not just a single word plucked from a post and filtered through your interpretive lens.

          • Tom Fuller

            Oh, Keith, if only it were just you…

        • mem_somerville

          Well if you dislike the mocking tone–and not the fact that Supreme Master Ching Hai is full of crap–maybe you think Supreme Master Ching Hai is right?

          Do you? I’m just asking questions.

          • Joshua

            mem_somerville –

            Consider that it’s possible to think that the Supreme Master is “full of crap” and to still think that mocking people is generally sub-optimal.

            I know that Keith has a hard time with the concept – but maybe you can still get it if you try.

          • mem_somerville

            I don’t like your tone, Joshua. So who cares if you are full of crap, that’s what matters.

            I think I’ve got it!

          • Joshua

            No – you don’t’ have it yet:

            Consider two options. (1) I disagree with you and I explain why.

            (2) I disagree with you, possibly explain why, and then throw in some gratuitous name-calling.

            I consider the 2nd option relative to the first to be sub-optimal (unless one of your goals is to promote name-calling – in which case, then, you probably shouldn’t hand-wring about the counterproductivity of name-calling).

  • MarkH

    Thanks Keith. I kind of felt this coming and watched this weeks
    episode to see exactly how bad he would be. I didn’t even go into his
    nonsense about the flu vaccine or his atrocious mockery of mitochondrial
    therapy to prevent genetic transmission of mitochondrial disease. That
    was pure luddism. Just think a new therapy to prevent inheritance of
    devastating diseases and all he could do was mock the concept of using this therapy to help people have healthy offspring because it involved a third donor of genetic material. Overall a disgusting
    episode.

    • kkloor

      Mark,

      I’m grateful you wrote as much as you did. I try to stay away from the blog on weekends (dedicated family time), but I wanted to at least get something up to let folks know just how off the wall he was this week.

      Fortunately, you did all the heavy lifting and I just piggy-packed on it.

      • Steve Garrett

        “backed”, – it’s “piggy-backed”, with a “b”.

  • steveknows62

    “Nobody makes liberals look likes asses more than Maher.”
    Actually, no one makes conservatives look like asses more than Maher. Except, that is, for conservatives, themselves. Which explains why they dislike him so.
    Did you catch Sarah Palin’s last speech in Iowa?
    Maher did, and showed some of it on his last show.
    Just in case there was any doubt as to who, and where, the asses were.

  • steveknows62

    If I can’t use the same language as the writer did, then what are your standards, anyway?

  • steveknows62

    I posted a comment using the same ‘a’ word which the author used to describe Bill Maher, and the post was censored.
    Was that because only authors get to use common vulgarities, or did someone in charge just not like what I said?
    Or both?
    How bush league of you.

    • Tim Lieder

      Wow. You want to say A–hole on a comment thread and it didn’t show up right away. Truly, you are a political martyr and satirist on par with George Carlin and Lenny Bruce.

      • steveknows62

        I first posted a comment with the same ”as..” word as in the article. They said it would have to be reviewed, then it was dropped.
        Then I posted the one above your post and it was dropped without any notice, though it’s now reappeared.
        Then, I asked the question below, and that was also dropped.
        So then I posted the one that you commented on, and it was dropped, too. As I expected.
        Now it’s back, but the original one is still gone..
        The original was a tough comment on the writer’s opening line, and I assume that’s why it was dropped.

        • kkloor

          I have extremely light moderation. There is an automatic filter that catches expletives or similarly offensive words.

          I used the word “asses” in a comment yesterday and got myself moderated. I never bothered to take myself out of moderation.

    • lilady R.N.

      Your remarking labeling people who you disgree with, as a$$holes did appear 9 hours ago:

      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/collideascape/2015/02/08/bill-maher-unscientific-beliefs/#comment-1842779546

    • Tom Fuller

      As a blogger I can only say that tools for moderating could be… improved… don’t blame the moderator automatically.

      • steveknows62

        The comments that I made following my original,
        “moderated” = censored, comment, also disappeared, only to reappear later. But not the original.
        That’s gone.

  • steveknows62

    You disgusting assholes.
    Can’t stand any criticism?
    Typical wrong-wing jerks.

    • lilady R.N.

      Must you resort to vile defamatory comments about other commenters here?

      Truly the mark of an ignorant-of-science commenter when asked for proof for his outrageous claims, to resort to those tactics.

      Not a good sign, steveknows62.

      • lielady, R.N. BS

        You mean like your vile defamatory comments about other commenters?

        Yeah, not a good sign, Ms. Phelps-Roper.

      • steveknows62

        I was referring to those who were responsible for censoring my original comment.
        Which remains censored.

  • RobertWager

    @Steveknows62
    Care to bring forward any substantive comments on the central point of this blog? You know, the false assertion that vaccines and GMO’s are harmful?

    • steveknows62

      My original comment, which engendered those others that you do see here, was censored, and it was that fact which brought about my more strident remark.
      It remains censored, and for that reason, I stand by my criticism of either this site, or this writer.
      Or both.

  • First Officer

    How’s this for a political cartoon:

    The grave of an infant measles victim with the stone saying, “Wish I had a personal choice in the matter.”

    • Bearpants112

      +1 for emotional manipulation
      -10 for logic

  • ivr

    It is my understanding that it has been well established that the use of GMO’s over the long run will actually lead to an increased use of pesticides as insects develop immunity to those found in GMO plants. In creased use of pesticides leads to decreased soil health and increased risks to human health. Right? If our solution to protecting our food supplies is by killing our ‘foes’ through artificial implementation of biological and chemical weapons we are doing something wrong IMHO.
    As to immediate health factors what about these studies :
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/ten-scientific-studies-proving-gmos-can-be-harmful-to-human-health/5377054
    In the long run turning our food supply over to one or two suppliers of the seeds and technology seems unreasonably risky.

    • Chris Preston

      Globalresearch.ca? Are you sure you want to present that as a respectable source?

      Of the studies mentioned:

      Study 1 used an ELISA method that was unsuitable for samples like blood due to the risks of false positives and used the test outside its range. The authors got all excited by noise.

      Study 2. used next-generation sequencing to measure DNA between cells. There is very little DNA in there, so you have to do lots of amplification to find it, increasing the risk of contamination. What they reported was lots of DNA reads from the chloroplasts of potato and tomato. But why these species? Nothing in the paper suggests these pieces of DNA are in any way dangerous, and none of it was GMO.

      Study 3. this is a third party report about a paper published by Stephanie Seneff an artificial intelligence researcher with no experience in biochemistry or medicine. It is junk science based on spurious correlations and ignorance.

      Study 4. Seralini’s rat study that was retracted for being too incompetent for words.

      Study 5. A paper done on cancer cells grown in petrie dishes and without adequate controls. Glyphosate had no effect at the highest concentrations, but did at lower concentrations. How does that work? Looks like an artifact.

      Study 6. not a scientific study, but a speculative article ignoring the vast majority of research written by someone who owns a GMO testing operation.

      Study 7. Stephanie Seneff again, with more spurious correlations and even more ignorance about biochemistry and physiology/

      Study 8. A study purporting to find glyphosate residues in humans. No proper controls and no definitions of how much of what was fed to whom and what does chronically ill mean? The study found glyphosate residues in urine, which is where you want them, because that means they are being excreted. Conclusion is not actually supported by the data.

      Study 9. A study published in an out of the way organic industry journal – why would their readers be interested in studies of GM feed for animals? The study had insufficient control of animal feeding and failed at statistics. The claim of stomach inflammation was wrong – they didn’t properly measure that. Otherwise, it showed no differences.

      Study 10. Not a scientific study, but a claim.

      • ivr

        Truth be told I really only glanced at that sight. I noticed the first was published in PLoS and moved on. Also, very first hit, I suspect deeper digging would get more substantial studies. Your answers and rebuttals (thank you) tell me that there IS enough justification to be skeptical of claims that GMO’s are 100% safe. Obviously some studies were junk but others you seem to only disagree with the methodology which would invite re-testing. Lastly, My first claim is the single most important issue in my mind and why this avenue of food production is so risky. There seems to be no rebuttal to that.

        • agscienceliterate

          Go back to high school science. You can’t “prove” that X is “safe.” You can only show statistical probability that it is highly unlikely for X to be non-safe. (it’s called “rejecting the null hypothesis.”) Drop the “prove it’s safe” rant because it shows you don’t understand science and statistics.

          • ivr

            Right. Pick apart data that you don’t support; praise that which you do; thats the scientific way right? There is no question by any within the scientific communities that insects develop immunities to pesticides and that some do it rather quickly. The solution is not to eradicate a problem (we are not vaccinating the plants we are making them ‘toxic’) the solution is to achieve balance. Nature always seeks balance. Extermination is only ever a stop gap solution.
            Your resorting to insults is a strong indication you know I’m right. Here is your choice: organic tomato on the left, GMO tomato on the right. Which would you choose and why? Their free and and look identical. Now, how about the science that says organic more sustainable. Your ball Mr. science.

          • Jackson

            The solution is not to eradicate a problem (we are not vaccinating the plants we are making them ‘toxic’)

            Using siRNA to control pests is actually analogous to a vaccine for plants. Regardless, only some GMOs are used for controlling pests, so saying “GMOs cause resistance” isn’t very informative.

          • ivr

            I won’t wade into a debate regarding analogies but as far as ‘resistance’ goes, and my main argument against GMO’s we find that pesticide use is actually increasing with (some) GMO’s. There is an abundance of information out their regarding this issue. ex: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-bronner/herbicide-insecticide-use_b_5791304.html or
            http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/farmers-say-gmo-corn-no-longer-resistant-to-pests/
            Way to much info here: http://www.weedscience.org/summary/home.aspx

          • Jackson

            I won’t wade into a debate regarding analogies

            Good, I think we can both agree then that inserting an inverted repeat of a viral coat protein as a transgene is conceptually similar to the human immune system reacting to a vaccine.

            my main argument against GMO’s we find that pesticide use is actually increasing with (some) GMO’s.

            And with some GMOs the use of pesticides is drastically lower. And with some GMOs the kind of pesticide added is much less toxic to humans and much less harmful to the envirnment than pesticides applied to conventional crops. And with some GMOs it is completely unchanged because the transgene has nothing to do with pest resistance.

            The effects, either good or bad, from a GMO crop are entirely dependent on which transgenes are added, so condemning GMOs as a technology is foolish, and labeling something as “GMO” gives the consumer almost no information without knowing which genes where added.

          • ivr

            “And with some GMOs the use of pesticides is drastically lower. And with
            some GMOs the kind of pesticide added is much less toxic to humans and
            much less harmful to the envirnment than pesticides applied to
            conventional crops.” Sources? Less harmful or not at all? Flipper baby or mild inflammation? Of all the exchanges I have engaged in over the past few days on this sight none made compelling arguments for me to support Monsanto which is really what this comes down to. None have demonstrated that a proven, safe viable long term solution like organic farming can be replaced by “inserting an inverted repeat of a viral coat protein as a transgene…” is this a corporations are people argument? Or is this a debate on the law of unintended consequences? I don’t like Bill Maher but he is spot on going against GMO’s IMHO.

          • Jackson

            Of all the exchanges I have engaged in over the past few days on this sight none made compelling arguments for me to support Monsanto which is really what this comes down to

            OK, you don’t like Monsanto, but does that mean all GMOs get thrown under the bus too? What about other companies that produce GMOs? What about non-profits that make GMOs and give them away for free?

          • ivr

            Resistance to heat, and drought are worth while pursuits.

          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            You have admitted that you can’t prove these pesticide laden GMO currently being purposely hidden in the food we feed our families are safe.

            Yet,

            It’s obvious to anyone who has looked into these issues that the GMO pesticide industry operatives will never accept any science that doesn’t support the GMO pesticide industry agenda.

            This limited agenda driven pseudo-science is not science at all. This junk science rejects any new data that doesn’t support the agenda.

            You are not “debating science” and it is disingenuous to claim that you are. You are using science, selectively, to promote a political agenda.

    • RobertWager

      This article will help you distinguish the real science from the junk science:
      http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/10/28/not-all-science-is-created-equal-the-genetically-engineered-crops-story/

      • ivr

        That is not real science; In fact, the most recent scientific studies head by the UN conclude organic farming is the most sustainable, productive method for long term high yield agriculture. Read ‘Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’ put out by the UN. Fact of the matter is food security will not be achieved if is left in the hands of a few global corporations. Look at the dust bowl of the 30’s. In the US: 1000’s of farmers with little to no experience grew bumper crops because of the ‘miracle’ of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Paid no attention to the land and the soil became lifeless. Hand out Monsanto seeds to some struggling 3rd world farmers and watch as the results dimension over time; the only way to survive is to buy the latest GMO product. No money oh well. Organic allows them to keep and breed their own seeds, replenish the soils and manage as the farmer sees fit and not the corporate shop owner.

      • Cletus DeBunkerman

        Only a fool would believe any thing from the GLP,

        The Genetic Literacy project is one of several GMO pesticide industry controlled disinformation sites. The architect of this corrupt little GMO pesticide industry echo chamber of disinformation is Jon Entine. Learn more here: http://www.propagandists.org/propagandists/jon-entine/

        Or here: http://www.naturalnews.com/047665_Jon_Entine_domestic_violence_Forbes.html

        • Chris Preston

          Natural News? Are you serious?

          Oh, I see you are.

          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            Natural News is very well respected by most open minded people for the good accurate information they provide to the public.

            I don’t necessity agree with every political statement there but their information on GMOs and pesticides has always been good.

            Mind controlled GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons like you will never accept any information that doesn’t support the corrupt GMO Pesticide industry agenda.

          • Chris Preston

            Natural News is very well respected by most open minded people for the good accurate information they provide to the public.

            only those who are so open-minded their brains have fallen out. Natural News is a crank website and there is no conspiracy theory too cranky for Mike Adams to adopt. 9/11 truther conspiracies, chemtrails, Boston Marathon attack was a false flag operation, conventional physics is a conspiracy. It goes on and on.

            I don’t necessity agree with every political statement there but their information on GMOs and pesticides has always been good.

            It is about as reliable as the information on the Sandy Hook shooting.

            Mind controlled GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons like you will never accept any information that doesn’t support the corrupt GMO Pesticide industry agenda.

            I work from real evidence, not the idiotic conspiracies and predictions of Mike Adams.

          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            That is what all the corrupt GMO pesticide industry pseudo-science disinformation goons say.

            After all everyone know they will not recognize or accept any FACTS that conflict with the corrupt GMO pesticide industry agenda.

  • Eamonn
  • Eamonn

    I watch his show every week and I’ve been a fan of Maher for years, but I was shocked at his scientific ignorance on this topic and his lapse into using the exact same kind of fallacies used by creationists and climate deniers. His show has been hit and miss of late, but this one was a major major miss.

  • Cathal Ó Broin

    Stop calling people who deny fact skeptics. It really grinds my gears ….

    • Tom Fuller

      I think your gears need shifting

  • Buddy199

    Nobody makes liberals look likes asses more than Maher.

    —–

    Al Sharpton does. Robert Kennedy Jr. is a close runner up. Or the syncophantic, hooting studio audience for John Stewart, Maher’s too. It’s a crowded field among our preening best and brightest.

  • Buddy199

    Nobody makes liberals look likes *sses more than Maher.
    —————–

    Al Sharpton does. Robert Kennedy Jr. is a close runner up. Or the syncophantic, hooting studio audience of John Stewart. It’s a crowded backwards running field among our preening best and brightest.

    • Jeffn

      it’s called “battle space prep”. The left knows it has a serious problem with anti-science nut jobs and its candidates for 2016 are on record as being supportive (and unsupportive- they are Democrats after all, it’s like nailing jello to a wall). To get ready for 2016, liberals need two messages out there:
      1. “There are Republicans nuts too!”
      2. “yeah, yeah, nutty, but really we’re cool with nutty.”

      The NYTimes did the first one (see the last post) Maher and others will carry the weight on the second.
      We haven’t even started talking about the anti-nuke loons

    • Mike Richardson

      John Stewart? He’s actually been a lot more balanced in lampooning the left and the right. However, the right does provide a lot more material. Maher’s just blinded himself to the fact that on some issues, he can be just as ridiculous as the conservatives he mocks in ignoring facts that contradict his preconceptions.

  • Dominic Michael Salerno

    As a microbiologist, Maher hast turned me off to his show due to his woefully ignorant characterizations of modern medicine and biotechnology. I think that he has truly revealed his stupidity and ignorance here. Too bad, I liked Religulous.

    • Sienna Rosachi

      Modern medicine is a disaster, statin drugs for primary prevention of CVD, the over use of antibiotics. Before you speak, please understand the entire scope of the issue

      • Dominic Michael Salerno

        I have a PhD in molecular biology and genetics from a highly regarded cancer research institute, teach microbiology and do research on inflammation. I think you are the person who needs an education. There is no doubt that certain drugs are pushed and overprescribed but that is a business issue, not the fault of modern medicine. Vaccines work and many standard procedures like chemotherapy and radiation save lives.

  • Sam Jay

    You all realize he is a comedian and entertainer? And he can be a complete jerk. So why do you all take him anymore serious then I take Rush serious. Come on.

    • Sienna Rosachi

      Why do you take lame Kloor seriously. What medical background does he have? Zip

  • thisguy

    If you watched the full show you would see that Bill is skeptical only of the flu vaccine (because it is guesswork since the flu changes each year). He is far less skeptical of the measles vaccine, for example.

    • scourge99

      Bills vaccine skepticism and medical quackery goes beyond the flu. Google his history.

  • M Briffa

    Did she say smallpox?

  • Deryck

    I really don’t see why this is so bad. His beliefs are not anti-scientific, nothing he says goes against the science. He is just a skeptic towards big pharma and GMO’s. No study shows that GMO’s are bad but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for skepticism. I’m a liberal, and Maher does not makes us look like asses. This is a very poor article, stop the hate.

  • Rick Seeger

    Even funnier was the knee-jerk group-think GASP from the audience when McCormack dared even question the idea that GMOs may not be dangerous.

    • Khan Trayles

      +1.

      That was unreal.

    • Steve Crook

      Do they do canned GASP in the US?

  • http://www.JDCMEDIA.net Jeremy David Cannon

    Another puff piece. Maher specifically said on the show “I’m not an anti-vaxxer.” Great job listening.

  • Red Ear Reviewer

    Maher is an idiot about fluoridation, too.

  • Fideliolioli

    Maher is just not that informed or intelligent. He’s no Jon Stewart. He carries himself as someone to be listened to on serious issues – but unlike Stewart – he just doesn’t inform himself.

  • Cletus DeBunkerman

    Another hit piece by Keith Kloor.

    I’m not a fan of Maher’s but I recognize a PR placement piece promoting a GMO pesticide industry agenda when I see it. We have come to expect this kind of desperation “journalism” from Kloor and the rest of the GMO pesticide industry echo chamber as they try to talk away all the science that shows us purposely hidden pesticide laden GMOs in our food supply are poisoning the people who are eating them. This is a slow chronic poisoning that degrades the health of the victim until body systems break down entirely an acute disease takes over.

    • Chris Preston

      The problem with your argument is that “the science that shows us purposely hidden pesticide laden GMOs in our food supply are poisoning the people who are eating them” does not actually exist.

      • Cletus DeBunkerman

        The real problem is your claim that “science” shows the pesticide laden GMOs purposely being hidden in the food we feed our families are safe is a lie.

        The science has not been done so nether safety or harm have been proven by science.

        YET,

        The nations largest health care organization sent a newsletter to their patients. In that newsletter was An article by one of their nutritionists who explained GMOs and then told the patients to avoid them so as to not degrade their health. The health care organization had no “official” policy on GMOs because of the politics, but it cared enough about the concerns of it’s medical staff, it’s patients, and it’s bottom line to send out the warning
        http://www.willamettelive.com/2012/news/corporate-giant-comes-out-against-gmos/

        There have been no long term independent studies of the health effects of GMOs on human health. Many health care organizations are recognizing that severe unexplainable symptoms that are being reported by their patients get better when GMOs are removed from their diet.

        You are not “debating science” and it is disingenuous to claim that you are. You are using science, selectively, to promote a political agenda.

    • Steve Crook

      “but I recognize a PR placement piece promoting a GMO pesticide industry agenda when I see it”
      Plainly you don’t. Then again, perhaps you were being sarcastic.

      • Cletus DeBunkerman

        Typical mind controlled GMO pesticide industry disinformation goon response.

        GMO pesticide industry disinformation goons like you will never accept any FACTS that don’t support the corrupt GMO pesticide industry agenda.

        • Steve Crook

          Sarcasm it is then…

          • Cletus DeBunkerman

            No, TRUTH ..!!

  • Sienna Rosachi

    Hoofnagle says: “There
    is a moment then when the conservative John McCormack butts in and points out there is no evidence that GMOs are harmful…”

    Let’s get something straight, no evidence
    of harm (and that is certainly debatable) is not proof of safety. Further more, it is outrageously unscientific to determine safety based solely on animal studies. Wake up Kloor. I am waiting for the day you are removed from Discovery Blog.

    • Steve Crook

      Urrrm. Actually, no evidence of harm is often used to determine the safety of something. If you think about it a bit more you might realise that proving something is ‘safe’ is a bit like proving a negative.

      And that’s long before we get to talk about cost/benefit, risk/return, or just accepting that *nothing* is ‘safe’.

      • Emkay

        Running through a stop sign is not safe.. but there is no evidence of harm for doing so. Stopping is safe, running through may not be.. nothing may happen, or you may get killed.. obeying the law ‘not to run the sign is a subjective thing..

        • Steve Crook

          There’s plenty of evidence that running through a stop sign isn’t safe, a cursory examination of road accident stats shows this.

          But police, fire and ambulance services do it all the time. Because sometimes the risks can be mitigated and sometimes, even if they can’t, they’re worth taking.

          • Emkay

            “Running through a stop sign is not safe”.. my first sentence! your reading comprehension is alarming.
            The ’emergency service vehicles can break the law, but if you impede their ‘breaking the law, you are breaking another law… Sounds like a ‘Crook’ wrote those laws, huh…

          • Steve Crook

            Ahh a joke at the expense of someone’s name. Bless. If you’re going to make a joke like that you could at least try for something original. If you don’t it just looks like you’re sorely lacking in imagination as well as being unable to decide on making a point or causing offence. In this case FAIL on both counts.

            Watch Roxanne the nose joke scene might educate.

          • Emkay

            Thanks, you should watch ‘ESAD’ you might learn something too…

    • ericlipps

      You are asking GMO supporters to prove a negative, which is always difficult. (Prove you’ve never committed a felony.) It’s even more so when the one demanding the proof has his or her mind made up in advance.

    • ericlipps

      If “no evidence of harm is not proof of safety,” just what would be such proof? Taking the position you do rigs the debate.

      As for it being “outrageously unscientific to determine safety based solely on animal studies,” since I’m sure tests on cell cultures in the lab wouldn’t satisfy you either (nor should they, by themselves), what sort of human studies do recommend? Tests on prisoners? On members of “inferior races”? then accept some possible risk instead of cowering away from potentially beneficial discoveries because they might somehow, someday, cause some kind of harm to someone.

  • ivr

    I have been engaged in several discussion on this sight over the past few days and I have to say I have learned quite a lot. There is clearly a lot of brain power here; none could make a compelling argument for why Bill Maher should not have put down GMO’s. I have never feared eating a piece of so called GMO produce but after a week here I am convinced more than ever that organic farming is so much smarter, wiser, more productive and a over all more viable solution to long term food needs.
    Why support Monsanto? This is not a company that puts people before profit. Why turn over our seed supply to them, it make no sense. They are proven bullies, a corporation that above all wants your money. Privatization of things like water supplies, infrastructure and especially seed production is a dangerous game. I absolutely support the sciences but I will always be skeptical of claims of magic pills that will free us from this that or the other thing that is slower or less convenient in the short term. Anyway, I have not been swayed and I am now bored. Thanks.

    • Chris Preston

      That is incorrect. The arguments were made and the scientific basis of them explained. However, you have preferred to ignore the evidence in favour of your own prejudices.

      A case in point was your liking to 10 health studies showing the dangers of GM food. When it was pointed out that none of these studies demonstrated that GM food was not safe, you chose to disregard that in favour of the belief that if you dug deep enough for long enough you would find such a study. You also completely ignored all the studies that have shown no dangers of GM food.

      What you have indulged in is a classic example of motivated reasoning.

      • ivr

        You are incorrect. My objections are environmental not health related. in other words you just did what you claimed I did: “What you have indulged in is a classic example of motivated reasoning.”

        • Chris Preston

          That statement is not supported by your posts on this thread.

          • ivr

            um. no…. you are projecting. see your previous derogatory statement on my views. I have about 6 or more comments on the site, try and read them with out your personal bias.

  • lapis

    Utterly disappointed in Bill Maher!

    How do we explain the great rift between the American public and
    scientists in their understanding of scientific issues including
    vaccines, genetically modified food and climate change?

  • Cindy Robin

    Nothing Bill said was idiotic, in my opinion. He invited the panel to discuss the way skeptics and questioners are being dismissed and called cranks. Hmm, like you did just now in your article.

  • Roscoe

    Why are you wasting your time watching or paying attention to Maher?

  • EquusMtn

    First — Maher is a comedian; albeit a comedian with a point of view, a
    la Jon Stewart, but because he’s a comedian I can forgive him for
    holding a few misguided ideas, just like I do with Dennis Miller (although clearly that’s a bigger lift). Overall, a lot more truth
    comes out of Maher’s program than nonsense.

    Second — It’s interesting to see some commenters criticize Maher for having a number of simpletons as guests, while others criticize the lack of dissenters. The reality is, Maher should be applauded for having a variety of guests from across the political (and/or scientific) spectrum.

    Third — Regarding GMOs, what I fail to see in the first 10-15 comments I read here is a real grasp of the argument. True that GMOs are most likely harmless in and of themselves, but there’s a deeper level
    of reasoning involving the motive for creating GMOs in the first place.
    Many GMOs were created to provide resistance to certain herbicides
    (e.g., RoundUp) so that those chemicals could be freely applied to the
    crop without killing it. Thus, the GMO foods may contain higher
    levels of those herbicides. THAT’s the real argument against them.

    • Miles Stockdale

      So the real argument against GMOs is that some of the types of GMOs are herbicide resistant….although several are not…and several non-GMOs are also herbicide resistant (the best example being the clearfield variety, which was created through chemical mutagenesis)…meaning that if GMOs were banned tomorrow their would be absolutely no change in the growing of herbicide resistant crops as the farmers who currently grow GMO herbicide resistant varieties who just switch to the common non-GMO herbicide resistant varieties.

      And despite that thorough display of ignorance, you complained that the earlier comments didn’t grasp the real argument?

  • Larrycrunch

    There is a scientific community and a scientistic community. Scientism, as opposed to science, is dogmatic and fundamentalist, composed of people who have to believe they’re right. Bill Maher asks reasonable questions about vaccinations and is attacked as an ignorant extremist. The extremism is people claiming to be real scientists who dismiss anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with their fundamentalist so-called scientific world view. And yes, the science, the real science, is still out on GMO’s.

  • Pamala Clift

    I can not say one vaccine works and maybe another won’t cause permanent harm to my body. No doctor who has years of experience can guarentee it either, but what I can tell you is there is a lot of competition for funding. The professors have to be seen as contributing to the vast body of knowledge to even retain their position. I have worked in a research university in pharmaceutical sciences with the professors and PhD students that do the research and I have heard all sorts of data modification techniques that totally cloud my belief that just because someone did it in a lab the results are true.
    Scientists are people too and recognition and income are their concern as well. Nothing is more devastating than to work years on a hypothesis to find that there is no statistical difference. So they cut off the extremes in the data, claim that calibration was off on the data that doesn’t fit their hypothesis and present that.
    There are good and bad scientists, but just like in every other profession, it seems the ones less ethical get ahead. Science is a belief that everything had nothing to do with people, but it is not. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong for you, you should not be considered a quack for following that belief.

  • Marc Stein

    I’m just disappointed that Discover would be reporting political opinions. What if they turned on Fox “News”? There wouldn’t be any room left for any real science.
    If this continues, I’m going to stop my subscription. This doesn’t concern science at all.
    By the way, I used to work for Monsanto and I don’t trust them either.

  • Jim Dodds

    First, radiation and chemical blasting ABSOLUTELY disqualifies any food as “organic.” Second, transferring genes from other organisms into foodstocks is not the same thing as selective breeding. Third, yes, I’d like my label to tell me about GMOs and Labor practices. Fourth, this leads into not allowing farmers to retain seeds to replant, which is WRONG. Anything else? Oh! get vaccinated!

    • Miles Stockdale

      “First, radiation and chemical blasting ABSOLUTELY disqualifies any food as “organic.””

      That is absolutely not the case. Mutation breeding is not prohibited by the organic standards of any country, despite the National Academy of Sciences deeming it to be the most risky technique. Many organic seed companies promote seeds that were derived through this method.

      I didn’t read the rest of your post. When your first comment is stated with extreme certitude while also being 100% wrong, I don’t see the point of reading further.

  • JAS

    The anti-science guys provide a nice illustration of adolescent debate tactics. They often emerge when the adolescent is losing the debate:

    –Use correlation as proof of causation. (More vaccines? More autism? Yep, it’s the vaccines doing it. Oh, and my rooster causes the sun to come up, too, ’cause it rises right after he crows.)

    –Oversimplify to the point of falsification. (The human body is not understandable, but the climate is understandable because the earth is just a rock.)

    –Speak with unwarranted certainty. (I’m sure flu vaccines are a waste of time. And, yes, there is no doubt the earth is a rock.)

    –Cast as much uncertainty on things as possible (There could have been a second gunman on the grassy knoll. We just don’t know. And by the way, how do you know there’s not a bad effect from a vaccine? or eating? or breathing?)

    –Belittle your adversary, preferably with ad hominem attacks. (You think GMO’s are safe? Oh, you poor thing. You just aren’t able to understand, are you?)

    –Ascribe the unknown to your favorite theory. (Those crop circles could only have been made by aliens. And that rise in allergies in children? That’s caused by_________(you pick)).

    In the real world, the trouble is manifold:
    –You can actually win a moderated debate with these intellectually dishonest tactics if the majority audience doesn’t have the time, interest, and wherewithal to think it trough for themselves. Most don’t.

    –When grownups use these tactics, they can prevent useful work from being done to find the real problem.

    –I suspect our grownup debaters fail the “ideological Turing test” (Google it) and any useful progress unlikely. Maybe impossible.

  • David

    Bill Maher’s negative attitude towards towards Science is ironically the same as the Fundamental Christians he so ruthlessly condemns as fools. Will the real fool please stand up! (BTW,,,Conservative Christians tend to trust real Science as a positive force on civilization much more than the Fundamentals as well as secular liberal progressives.)

    The problem I believe is that people tend to put blame on bad things that happen on external “things” instead of where it belongs…..on bad PEOPLE. ie, All Science is bad because there are “some” bad Scientists,,,All ,religion is bad because of “some” bad fanatics or All atheists are bad because there are “some” bad athesists.

  • rsams777

    This argument has become irrational and tiresome. John McCormack states that studies have PROVED that there is no relationship between vaccines and Autism. This is not true. Medical science has NO IDEA what causes Autism. They cannot prevent it. They cannot cure it. They just have not yet FOUND ANY LINK TO ANYTHING.

    For a country that aborts 730,322 babies a year (CDC statistics) for convenience surely we should err on the side of allowing the family to decide whether to risk inoculations for their child. As for the public health question of other children who “might be” exposed; if we will terminate (read kill before they are even born) 700,000 a year to protect individual choice, then the few exposed to measles should not even be enough to mention.

    Can’t have it both ways.

  • Keith Fleming

    I’m probably one of Discovers most avid readers and one of Bill Mahers biggest fans. In fairness to both , he began by separating geological science from medical science (very well actually) and after getting up the other morning and hearing that since 1961 doctors have “poo-pooed” intake of high cholesterol foods , now in 2015 “eh we were wrong eat all the eggs you want! Lewis Black touches on the same topic in the opening of one of his shows asking the audience “Is milk good or bad”? simple question …….not a sound from the crowd as he says “I rest my case”! Einsteins science was scrutinized until all doubt about his theories had been removed (solar eclipse etc.) In medical science it’s like “well we’re pretty sure this is bad so we’ll tell the public it is bad while we are figuring out the truth~

  • Jim Dodds

    Your loss. Government has taken over the definition of what organic means, and that’s what you’re talking about. Organic means “not messed around with. Radiation? No. Mutagenic chemicals ? No. Back up a little. organic basically means, the way our ancestors did it, 10,000 years ago.

    • Chris Preston

      What so hunter gathering rather than agriculture? Can’t have corn, barley, oats, potatoes or most of the fruits and vegetables eaten in America?

      No organic was an invention arising from Rudolph Steiner’s lectures on how agriculture should be. It was invented in the 1950s.

    • hyperzombie

      Radiation? No.

      Organic uses radiation mutagenic crops.

      Mutagenic chemicals ? No.

      Organic uses mutagenic mutagenic crops.

      Organic farming is as old as Scientology.

  • Viva La Evolucion

    I like Bill Maher, and see eye to eye with him on most issues, including vaccines. Like Maher, I am pro-vaccine, and like Maher, I take any scientific study funded by vaccine manufacturer with a grain of salt, similar to how I would take any scientific study funded by fossil fuel industry or tobacco industry with a grain of salt. I think there has been a lot of fear mongering going on about Measles, a disease which kills 1-2 people out of 1,000 who get it, comparable to the flu (not ebola). Please let that sink in for a sec. If we were talking about a disease as contagious as Measles, but as deadly as Ebola, THEN I would expect to hear the level of hysteria that I am hearing now.

  • bullardrr

    I do not do HBO, so am getting Maher second hand. If the vaccine thing is true, it borders on criminal negligence on his part. On the other hand, GMO is more complicated. For example, making corn that is Round-up ready does not hurt the corn and, likely, the corn in and of itself is not harmful to folks or stock eating it, rather it is the pesticide baggage that is the problem, especially if there is a bio-magnification component.

    The world cries out for a single, completely balanced and lucidly explained source in lay terms for all the science that is being warped due to the ignorance or intention of those who do the warping, Maher included. For example, I have yet to read a lay article on anthropogenic global warming that succinctly presents the essential physics underlying the phenomenon, without which presentation the reader is expected to accept the ensuing arguments on faith.

  • ailurophile1

    First thing I noticed is that with both women, their daces are darker than their chests, especially the black woman. It’s as if they wanted to make her “blacker”. But at the end, when that guy questioned the research into the harm of GMOs, and that woman to this, with her body language, had a “oh, you poor misguided child” attitude. It’s as if they couldn’t possibly be bothered with anything like facts and research.

  • http://inartic.tumblr.com/ Apocalypse

    “Malaria kills a child a minute, making it the most deadly infectious disease for under-fives on the planet. Now children are on the verge of taking revenge on the parasite.

    A new vaccine based on the blood of toddlers with a natural resistance to the mosquito-borne illness is exciting scientists and public-health officials alike.

    If it proves as safe and effective in humans as it was in early mouse trials – where it cut the number of parasites by three-quarters and doubled the hosts’ life expectancy – the vaccine could help to combat one of mankind’s oldest and most deadly enemies.”

    Maybe Bill Maher can put the brakes on this before it gets out of hand.

  • Lawrence Lile

    Warning: Nuanced post ahead: Mr. Maher’s statements about vaccines don’t particularly help his credibility. However, the statement “Where is your data? Where is the proof? There is no evidence, and worse, no even plausible mechanism by which he can describe the current GMO foods on the market to be harmful to humans.” can be easily refuted.

    Well, here is some evidence and plausible mechanisms:

    Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0300483X09003047

    Differential effects of Glyphosphate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3436299?sid=21105355777561&uid=3739256&uid=2&uid=3739744&uid=4

    Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/tx800218n

    Are these primary effects of eating GMO crops? No. They are secondary effects – one type of GMO crop resists herbicides, which results in more residues of that herbicide in the human food chain, which has health effects.

    I’d agree that several studies do indeed show that BT corn and roundup-ready crops, considered in isolation, are safe for humans. But these crops are not grown in isolation – they are grown in a complex agricultural system.

    Another secondary effect – roundup ready crops are a culprit in the well-documented 90% decline in the Monarch butterfly populations. Are we ready to sacrifice this iconic species, while shrilly maintaining that GMO crops are completely harmless?

    It is the secondary effects of these crops – and the way they are grown, that concerns me most. Yes, there is evidence of human health effects, but not primary effects from the transgenic crops themselves. Yes there is now an herbicide treadmill as superweeds also develop resistance to these same herbicides, much the same as insects have matched our pesticides with resistance. Yes there are effects on non-target species.

    Trangenic technology gives humans the godlike potential to create any plant with any characteristic we desire. As such, we need to calmly think through the consequences of that power. This technology can now solve problems that no previous civilization could solve. But we should take pause in the rush to profit from this power to consider what might go wrong.

  • Randy Elble

    If GMO foods were labeled, only the poor and the scientifically literate
    would buy them. The market would force farmers back to the organic
    pesticides that nearly caused the extinction of the eagles and to the
    neonicitinoids that are wiping out bees and other insects. GMO foods
    were not developed to enrich Monsanto. They were developed by idealistic
    molecular biologists who had read Silent Spring and Our Plundered
    Planet, intelligent humanitarians who wanted a better future for all
    inhabitants of the planet.What a shame it would be to see to see these treasures discarded because of hysteria.

  • Todd

    Food and Death Administration…..need I say more! So you think all vaccines are “safe” as they are FDA approved?! http://www.wired.com/2015/02/infoporn-proof-fda-isnt-protecting-americans-health/?mbid=social_fb

  • Emkay

    you’re nuts…Maher said nothing that took my breath away…

  • dave hug

    While I do not like Maher at all his one saving grace is his skepticism of “science”. After all the only thing we can count on from science is that it will be wrong. Every day we see products The FDA considers safe released to the public with more side effects that are far worse than the prescribed illness. We see these same products be recalled and considered unsafe by the very same FDA. You can not show me a “safe” medicine even over the counter. So In what aspect do you need a study to see the logical outcome here? Yes vaccines can do harm if they could not people would not be winning cases at http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/index.html Which might I add is nearly impossible as it does not follow due process.

    What is all this talk of evidence also? Was it not the polio vaccine that caused SV-40 virus? Also it is well known this is exactly how AIDS and HPV was introduced. At the bare minimum we all know there are risks with vaccines and some of those we have no idea of because there is no actual studies when there are any studies they are clearly not good enough or else we would not be getting recalls for medicine.

    So when you quote evidence and include G.R.A.S. or work done by conflict of interest labs I mean Monsanto paying men in lab coats to fabricate data is not a proper study. Then you have issues like the FDA being fraudulent to those ends. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/02/fda_inspections_fraud_fabrication_and_scientific_misconduct_are_hidden_from.single.html

    As far as scientific evidence I know I have just discredited FDA but seeing how so many people trust them as being the mouth piece of health by approving toxic pharmaceutical products that kill more people than Hitler’s eugenics agenda.

    Adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS,
    anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting.”
    http://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM101580.pdf

    Evidence enough? How about that most immunities wear out over time so the entire herd immunity people always go on about is nonsense Maybe if someone’s kid is sick with immune issues to not put them in the public space I mean after all the flu is more deadly than measles and we all know how useless the vaccine is for that. You know a lot can be said about people who take things in books and what other men say on blind faith say all you want about peer review studies but they are often never reviewed and more often complete loads of crap.

    We have a place for science in humans accomplishments its just not meant to be worshiped at an alter something I see far too many fans of sheldon cooper people are becoming dogmatic and loosing their own trust of each other and their own common sense. People need to understand science does not deal in currencies of facts and proofs
    http://www.wired.com/2013/01/worst-science-misdeeds-2012/

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200811/common-misconceptions-about-science-i-scientific-proof

    In the end you should be able to think for yourself and at least have the ability to question things especially when you see people being harmed Yes GMO’s harm even if they did not it should be the right of the consumer to know what is in their food and how it is made Look at citric acid and ascorbic acid it does not come from um fruit it actually comes from black mold (Aspergillus niger). So I may want food that contains actual fruit instead of something black mold craps out. We should not be consuming things that the only natural ingredient is if some kid spit on our burger. Because that is all we eat these days food that looks smells and tastes like food but in reality it is far from it. Stop calling people ignorent because they think for themselves and challenge the status quo because those people are the only ones who have fixed or changed anything I remember a time when science said cigoretts where safe it’s not that hard to buy a “scientific fact” these days.

  • http://inartic.tumblr.com/ Apocalypse

    Bill gave cred to a nut who said he’d cured Aids more than a decade ago.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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