To everyone who has been accusing me of “defending Monsanto”…

To everyone who has been accusing me of “defending Monsanto” based on yesterday’s meme stating the simple fact that Monsanto has never sued farmers for accidental cross pollination, there is a big difference between explaining that a specific claim made about a company is factually wrong, and defending their business practices. There are plenty of things about Monsanto (and big companies in general) that I don’t like. I would be thrilled if Monsanto shut down and was replaced by small independent companies and non-profits (assuming that the same level and quality of research takes place without Monsanto). I can dislike a company, and still publicly acknowledge that a particular argument against them is demonstrably false, especially when that false argument leads so many people to reject the science of GMOs.

To put that another way, you all seem to be conflating a factual statement that a particular claim is untrue with a general defense of the company. It is never wrong to point out that a claim is untrue (assuming that the claim is actually untrue, of course). Even if that claim is used to support a position that we agree with, it is our job as skeptics to publicly reject that false claim. Imagine, for example, someone claimed that 1 out of every 50 unvaccinated children died of vaccine-preventable diseases. If I saw that claim becoming popular, I would publicly declare it to be untrue, not because I agree with anti-vaccers, but because my allegiance is to the truth. As a result, it is my duty to debunk false claims, even when those claims support a position I agree with.

Now, you might say that I entered into the realm of defense with my comparisons of copyright laws, but that was actually just a plea for consistent reasoning, which is something that I spend a great deal of time talking about on my blog. It’s a core topic of this page. If you want to make a general argument against the capitalistic paradigm that allows companies to hoard wealth and resources, fine. But singling out Monsanto when it is just doing the same thing as every other major company is logically inconsistent, and I would argue highly dangerous because, again, people conflate Monsanto and GMOs. As skeptics, we have to reject inconsistent reasoning, otherwise we are no better than science-deniers.

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