Debate on Organic versus non-Organic vegetables

Facts? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Facts

By —— Bio and Archives--August 8, 2011

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Comedians Penn and Teller have a show call “Bulls**t!” which runs every so often on the Showtime cable network. The purpose of the show is to expose fraudulent ideas or thinking in an amusing way. The one I watched was about organic vegetables and whether or not they were any better than non-organic ones. The show, using both anecdotes and scientific evidence demonstrated pretty convincingly that they’re not. But the anecdotes revealed something profound about the way people think—or more accurately how some people allow feelings to completely over-ride reason.


First it should be noted that most organic food costs considerably more than non-organic food does. In the overwhelming majority of economic transactions, a higher price for something can be assumed to mean one of two things: a higher degree of scarcity, or a superior degree of quality. In terms of the former, the show blew a big hole in the cherished idea that “community” farms were the only ones producing organic vegetables. Turns out Big Agra knows a market when it sees one, and such “evil” corporations are more than willing to cash in. Also, 20 percent of organic food is grown in China, a country famous for their “quality” control.

In terms of the latter, an equally large hole was blown in the idea that organic foods were healthier, or that their methods of production were more “earth-friendly.” Not only that, but it was revealed that if organic farming methods were adopted worldwide, two billion people would starve.

But all of the science paled in entertainment value to the taste test segments of the show. That’s the part where the dedicated “save the earth” crowd was asked to choose between two plates of vegetables or fruit and tell the presenter which one was organic. Time after time, people convinced organic foods were better, chose non-organic foods as their preferred choice in terms of looks and more importantly taste, by an 80-90 percent margin. Yet when asked by the presenter if this new information would cause them to re-consider their buying habits, virtually every one them said they would continue to buy organic products.

But it gets even better. In one hilarious segment, the presenter cut a banana in half, told people one half was organic and asked people which half tasted better.

One woman who claimed her entire diet consisted of raw fruit and vegetables, was especially effusive regarding how much better the organic half of the banana tasted. When the truth was revealed, the tester asked the woman if she still thought organic food was superior. She answered yes—and somewhat belatedly admitted such feelings might be “psychological.” In other words, facts be damned, I just like feeling good about what I believe in.

You wanna know why I’m a conservative? Because the above anecdotes represent the essence of progressive thinking.

For progressives, it doesn’t matter that the country’s economy is going to hell in a handbasket, that we’re borrowing forty cents of every dollar we spend, that we’ve just upped the ante on the national debt from $14 trillion-plus to $16 trillion-plus, or that we’re headed for national bankruptcy.

It doesn’t matter that our soldiers are fighting wars with one hand tied behind their backs in order to “win the hearts and minds” of people who despise us, or that we’re sitting on top of more energy than any other country on the planet, even as we send billions of dollars to the very same people who despise us. It doesn’t matter that we’re well on our way to making the nuclear family extinct, or that we’re allowing millions of people who snuck into the country to live among us like they’re entitled, or that the housing market was destroyed when government forced banks to lend money to people who would never pay it back.

Those are the facts, and facts be damned. Progressives just like feeling good about what they believe in.

Thus, it completely eludes progressives why companies refuse to hire, or ship jobs overseas at every opportunity. In prog-world, companies exist primarily to re-distribute wealth, not make a profit or turn out a product. In prog-world, every business owner is suspect until proven otherwise, even as thousands of rules and regulations must be substituted for common sense and common decency.

In prog-world, those with a “superior” sense of insight, aka government bureaucrats, academic “intellectuals,” and self-aggrandizing media hacks must over-ride the sensibilities of millions of Americans acting in their own self-interest. Self-interest which is characterized as mean-spirited, thoughtless, cruel or religiously “fanatic.”

Anyone who challenges such wisdom? The prog word du jour is “terrorist.” But not used to describe actual baby-killing, strap-on-the-dynamite suit, all-Jews-are-ape-and-pigs kind of person. He’s an “insurgent.” A terrorist is a person who thinks spending forty percent more than the government takes in is insane. A terrorist is a person who thinks people who swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution ought to adhere to what that document specifically says about what government should or shouldn’t do. A terrorist is a person who looks at the carnage wrought by the socialist/marxist societies throughout the course of history and doesn’t understand that only reason such carnage occurred was because the wrong people were in charge.

Who are the “right” people? The folks who fervently believe that one half of the same banana is better than the other one.

I’ve got a hot flash for the banana-heads: the “terrorists” have no interest in underwriting your socialist utopia. They have no interest in substituting good feelings for hard truths. And while there may be many things you can force someone to do, one of them isn’t starting a business, or expanding one already in existence. Not that is hasn’t been tried. Every totalitarian society that ever existed yoked men to labor. And every one of them discovered coerced labor produces dismal results.

America’s wealth-producing class is essentially on strike. And they’re more than likely to remain so as long as progressives continue to insist that the stoking of envy, class warfare and guilt is a viable substitute for providing people with incentive. It is not and it never will be. Those are the facts.

And all the self-righteous feelings in the world won’t change them.

A final note: I wrote most of this before S&P downgraded the U.S. credit rating. Note what happened almost immediately: S&P got hammered by the Obama administration for having the temerity to notice government spending is completely out of control. When “kill the messenger” is your best line of defense, you’re out of ideas.

Here’s two ideas, Mr. president: one, give up the ghost on your tedious and ultimately destructive allegiance to re-distributionist Marxism, masquerading itself as Keynesian stimulus. It hasn’t “created or saved” anything other than government budgets and public sector unions. Those priorities demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that getting re-elected, rather than fixing the economy, is your first priority. Second, show Tim Geithner the door. His credibility, highlighted by his assurance in April that the U.S. would never get a ratings downgrade, is completely gone. He should be completely gone as well.

Perhaps he can get a job selling organic vegetables.


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Arnold Ahlert -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Arnold Ahlert was an op-ed columist with the NY Post for eight years.

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