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Thursday
Jun152017

Travel journal entries

Last week & a half . . .

1. American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA: Talk on misperceptions & misinformation, based on paper related to the same. Slides here.

2. World Science Festival, NYC. No slides for this panel discussion, but video here.

3. Metcalf Institute, Rhode Island. Ran through “good” and “not so good” explanations of public polarization over (certain) forms of decision-relevant science.  Great program. Slides here.

4. Judges Conference. Second Circuit, US Court of Appeals, Mohonk Mtn House, New Paltz, NY. Discussed hazards of video evidence, which not only can excite motivated reasoning but which also distinctively stifle decisionmakers’ perception of the same (some [not all] slides here).  Great presentations by co-panelists Jessica Silbey & Hany Farid.

5. Yale bioethics program lecture:   Communicating science in a polluted science communication environment.

On deck . . .

1. New perspectives on science & religion, Manchester England. Will likely highlight findings from study on relationship between religiosity, cognitive reflection & belief in human evolution.

2. Symposium: Gene Drive Modified Organisms and Practical Considerations for Environmental Risk Assessments.  My talk is tentatively titled, "Forecasting Emerging Technology Risk Perceptions: Are We There Yet?"

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Reader Comments (2)

West! You need to head west!

Re: the last item: Next on my reading list, just came in to the local bookstore and I'll pick it up today (Barbed Wire Books, great place worth supporting). http://news.lib.berkeley.edu/2017/05/02/summer-reading-list-a-crack-in-creation/. Another review here: https://www.wired.com/2017/05/jennifer-doudna-what-crispr-can-do/


Based on what I know so far, and how Monsanto GMOs worked out, I'd say that a big issue is who controls the patents, what products get developed, and how those powerful controlling entities handle approaches to public review and potential regulation.

It's not about individuals dealing with a free, fair and accessible market of products, or of ideas.

Scientific developments themselves depend quite a bit on funding and support. But potential trajectories of Scientific Progress is even more driven by power structures and how effective promoters of potentially disruptive scientific understandings and technologies are at effecting change. And how strong the defenses of existing power structures turn out to be in retaining control by thwarting those changes or perhaps co-opting them.

Cultural cognitive processes are not only important to understand how individuals operate but also to gain knowledge as to how human populations can be manipulated. Often by turning one group against others in a divide and conquer strategy.

I picked the above book review to share because I find the pro-UC Berkeley attitude on display in the following paragraph to be amusing (and indicative of how our major Universities are in the competitive fray and not always cooperative towers of academic achievement):


"There are many compelling reasons for why this is a worthy contribution for any booklist, but for Berkeley the justification is even richer. UC Berkeley has been ground zero for this entire technology, with contributions from others around the world. Secondly, the ramifications of this technology are so widespread that only a campus with broad excellence in all areas is adequate to engage the range of implications that this technology offers."

June 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

"I'd say that a big issue is who controls the patents, what products get developed, and how those powerful controlling entities handle approaches to public review and potential regulation."

The big entities use "regulatory capture" to protect their monopoly. They encourage the imposition of expensive regulations by government as a way of keeping out the small fry competition that don't have the deep pockets they do needed to get any product through the regulatory process.

If you want more GMO products designed for poor people, from a wider range of suppliers, and to break the virtual monopoly of people like Monsanto, the way to do it is to make it easier to bring products to market. Competition brings the price own, and makes it cost-effective to sell products at lower prices, so more of the poor can afford them.

However, Big Ag have skillfully played the public debate, and take care not to disturb the cultural memes about themselves that guarantee them the high demand and restricted supply that result in high profit margins. (Certainly, they've put a lot less effort into it than they could have.) If I was the sort to believe in conspiracy theories, I'd be wondering about how many of the protests against GMO were being secretly funded by Monsanto, so beneficial are they to the company cause! :-)

"It's not about individuals dealing with a free, fair and accessible market of products, or of ideas."

True. But is a free, fair, and accessible market for inventors of GMOs what you're arguing for? One where any hobbyist could invent and sell a GMO freely, without having to pay billions for decades of safety testing? Is that what you would want?

"Cultural cognitive processes are not only important to understand how individuals operate but also to gain knowledge as to how human populations can be manipulated. Often by turning one group against others in a divide and conquer strategy."

Yep. I totally agree.

June 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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