The week’s Top 6 #GMO news stories from @GeneticLiteracy #GLPTop6!

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  1. USDA annual report: Pesticide residues on food well below amounts dangerous to humans by Steve Savage

  2. For studies on GMO food safety, does length matter? by Andrew Porterfield

  3. What are GMOs? by Genetic Literacy Project

  4. Artificial uterus: How close is the reality? by David Warmflash

  5. Reflections on Craig Venter’s synbio creation: Life, from scratch by Meredith Knight

  6. IARC-Gate? Are Europe’s anti-chemical enviros conspiring to suppress conflict-of-interest scandal? by David Zaruk & Jon Entine

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Top 6 #GMO news stories from @GeneticLiteracy #GLPTop6!

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  1. Moms Across America claims GM salmon not kosher, but Jewish law, tradition say otherwise by Stephan Neidenbach

  2. Cellular clock may help improve cancer treatment, forensic science by Nicholas Staropoli

  3. Genetic engineering in Africa: Part 1: Bananas and Cassavas  || Part 2: Cautious embrace of biotechnology by Steven Cerier

  4. Enviro activists reject synbio solution for Indonesian palm oil-orangutan crisis by Nicholas Staropoli

  5. Life without allergies? Detecting genetically-based food allergies at birth by Meredith Knight

  6. Knowledge of genetic risks from personal DNA tests may not help in changing behavior by Arvind Suresh

Today: #3D matrix for growing neurons! And the result of senate GMO labeling debate #science

Just some cool stuff from twitter today!

@GeneticLiteracy top 6 new stories this week! #GMO #GLPTop6

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  1. Debunking 11 popular GMO Myths: Part I: Frankenfoods and Franken-corporations || Part II: Do GMOs pose health and ecological dangers? by Michael Hess & Peter Hess

  2. Making monkeys just to suffer: Is new autism model ethical? by Meredith Knight

  3. Stopping global hunger will require mix of high-tech, GM, organic methods by Andrew Porterfield

  4. Genetics might be able to save the world’s coral reefs by Andrew Porterfield

  5. With global gene editing slow down, what’s the future of ‘designer babies?’ by Nicholas Staropoli

  6. Genes identified that extend life by Ben Locwin

How should scientists respond to science denialism?? John Cook explains @ConversationEDU

Inoculating against science denial

John Cook, The University of Queensland

Science denial has real, societal consequences. Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS led to more than 330,000 premature deaths in South Africa. Denial of the link between smoking and cancer has caused millions of premature deaths. Thanks to vaccination denial, preventable diseases are making a comeback.

Denial is not something we can ignore or, well, deny. So what does scientific research say is the most effective response? Common wisdom says that communicating more science should be the solution. But a growing body of evidence indicates that this approach can actually backfire, reinforcing people’s prior beliefs.

When you present evidence that threatens a person’s worldview, it can actually strengthen their beliefs. This is called the “worldview backfire effect”. One of the first scientific experiments that observed this effect dates back to 1975.

A psychologist from the University of Kansas presented evidence to teenage Christians that Jesus Christ did not come back from the dead. Now, the evidence wasn’t genuine; it was created for the experiment to see how the participants would react.

What happened was their faith actually strengthened in response to evidence challenging their faith. This type of reaction happens across a range of issues. When US Republicans are given evidence of no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they believe more strongly that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When you debunk the myth linking vaccination to autism, anti-vaxxers respond by opposing vaccination more strongly.

In my own research, when I’ve informed strong political conservatives that there’s a scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming, they become less accepting that humans are causing climate change.

Brute force meets resistance

Ironically, the practice of throwing more science at science denial ignores the social science research into denial. You can’t adequately address this issue without considering the root cause: personal beliefs and ideology driving the rejection of scientific evidence. Attempts at science communication that ignore the potent influence effect of worldview can be futile or even counterproductive.

How then should scientists respond to science denial? The answer lies in a branch of psychology dating back to the 1960s known as “inoculation theory”. Inoculation is an idea that changed history: stop a virus from spreading by exposing people to a weak form of the virus. This simple concept has saved millions of lives.

In the psychological domain, inoculation theory applies the concept of inoculation to knowledge. When we teach science, we typically restrict ourselves to just explaining the science. This is like giving people vitamins. We’re providing the information required for a healthier understanding. But vitamins don’t necessarily grant immunity against a virus.

There is a similar dynamic with misinformation. You might have a healthy understanding of the science. But if you encounter a myth that distorts the science, you’re confronted with a conflict between the science and the myth. If you don’t understand the technique used to distort the science, you have no way to resolve that conflict.

Half a century of research into inoculation theory has found that the way to neutralise misinformation is to expose people to a weak form of the misinformation. The way to achieve this is to explain the fallacy employed by the myth. Once people understand the techniques used to distort the science, they can reconcile the myth with the fact.

Skeptical Science

There is perhaps no more apt way to demonstrate inoculation theory than to address a myth about vaccination. A persistent myth about vaccination is that it causes autism.

This myth originated from a Lancet study which was subsequently shown to be fraudulent and was retracted by the journal. Nevertheless, the myth persists simply due to the persuasive fact that some children have developed autism around the same time they were vaccinated.

This myth uses the logical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”. This is a fallacy because correlation does not imply causation. Just because one event happens around the same time as another event doesn’t imply that one causes the other.

The only way to demonstrate causation is through statistically rigorous scientific research. Many studies have investigated this issue and shown conclusively that there is no link between vaccination and autism.

Inoculating minds

The response to science denial is not just more science. We stop science denial by exposing people to a weak form of science denial. We need to inoculate minds against misinformation.

The practical application of inoculation theory is already happening in classrooms, with educators adopting the teaching approach of misconception-based learning (also known as agnotology-based learning or refutational teaching).

This involves teaching science by debunking misconceptions about the science. This approach results in significantly higher learning gains than customary lectures that simply teach the science.

While this is currently happening in a few classrooms, Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs) offer the opportunity to scale up this teaching approach to reach potentially hundreds of thousands of students. At the University of Queensland, we’re launching a MOOC that makes sense of climate science denial.

Our approach draws upon inoculation theory, educational research into misconception-based learning and the cognitive psychology of debunking. We explain the psychological research into why and how people deny climate science.

Having laid the framework, we examine the fallacies behind the most common climate myths. Our goal is for students to learn how to identify the techniques used to distort climate science and feel confident responding to misinformation.

A typical response of scientists to science denial is to teach more science. But that only provides half of what’s needed. Scientific research has offered us a solution: build resistance to science denial by exposing people to a weak form of science denial.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Twitter mocks ‘The Food Babe’ Vani Hari for her anti-science, fear-monger lies!! @foodbabefacts #science

[tweet https://twitter.com/GeneticLiteracy/status/586521730581143552]

If you didn’t already know about the anti-science activist Vani Hari, commonly known as ‘The Food Babe,’ you may have seen her name over the last week. ‘The Food Babe’ is popular for fear-mongering and sounding off about invented dangers from just about everything – including GMO’s, vaccines, additives, food, and anything else she can make up. Check out this terrific NPR piece exploring why Hari should be labeled a fear-monger – exploiting the fears of the ignorant, uneducated, or those prone to conspiracy theories. Also check out this great post by Keith Kloor that looks at Hari and how science should deal with her. Twitter and scientists have had enough of Hari, and are now openly mocking her all over twitter – and calling out her anti-science drivel.

Case in point… the hilarious twitter handle  @foodbabefacts – some of my favorites below!

[tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586457892082941954] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586454992178913280] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586454992178913280] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586401176180002816] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586385272620711936] [tweet https://twitter.com/foodbabefacts/status/586290793398276096]

Also check out this great post about Hari from fellow WordPress blogger – Violent Metaphors