Saturday, August 11, 2012


I lied when I said I care only about the theological connection when people reflexively prefer the natural to the artificial.  I also care about the poor logic that boils down to "Well it only stands to reason that..."

Things that "only stand to reason" often turn out to be wrong.  It's called having a theory without evidence but applying it anyway.  It can be right, but there's just no guarantee. None. "Natural" things, by some definition, might also be superior to artificial ones in any individual instance. Or might not.

Chance thought: there are certainly plenty of conservatives and libertarians who lean in a whole foods/natural foods direction, but the main appeal for organic/vegan/alternative medicine types is among liberals.  Odd that they should prefer lots and lots of human intervention and control by large, distant entities when it comes to an economy, but not when it's food or medicine.  I imagine that's related to their dislike and distrust of corporations (because they don't understand how they work) contrasted to their trust and confidence in nonprofits and ahem, Public Servants.

This would bring me back to my Arts & Humanities Tribe discussions pretty quickly.


james said...

One of my wife's cousins works as a "flavor engineer" creating new flavors. Any new artificial flavoring has to be proven safe in a number of different ways, but naturally occurring ones do not. He claimed he'd rather eat the artificial ones, because some of the "natural" flavors failed the toxicity/carcinogenicity tests--they just weren't required to pass them because they were natural. Lemons?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I never thought of that.

Dubbahdee said...

I regularly deal with people who seem to view anything approved by the FDA as suspect -- a product of Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress "natural" remedies.

When I mention that their are no reliable studies that show the effectiveness of these remedies I get looks - like moon man looks. Then some kind of non-sequitur or logical fallacy will follow. Touchy area this because in cases of real illness the stakes are high.

Appeals to Homeopathy is my favorite teeth grinder. I had a conversation once with a friend who is completing a 10 year course to become a homeopathic healer. I came out and asked her about trials and studies. Turns out that homeopathy by nature is impossible to study with blind or controlled trials. Each case is too individual to allow for control of variables. Hmmmm. Convenient for them.

DCE said...

I have some friends who are in the "we only consume all natural foods and substances" church. I have to remind them that things like arsenic are all natural (it shows up in well water) but that I sure as heck have no intention of partaking of any.

Sam L. said...

DCE beat me to it!

Sam L. said...

Cow poop in the ponds and rivers is natural, too.

karrde said...

@DCE, I think Socrates' last drink was all-natural hemlock.

@AVI, I like the comparison between economic controls and food/medicine controls by governments.

This looks like rationalization, not reason. Sadly, rationalization is not limited to a particular social or political group.