We’re back, baby, plus a thought about Neil Degrasse Tyson

imbackbabyAfter a nice two month summer vacay, we are ready to resume regular postings.

We’ve got a gem from our favourite activist we can’t resist, and will be publishing it later today.

But first, we want to draw attention to something which happened recently to Neil Degrasse Tyson, one of the world’s greatest spokespersons for science and critical thinking.

Tyson has risen in public consciousness thanks to his sense of humour, ability to explain complex topics in simple terms, and because he is a great speaker. He recently hosted the hugely-popular revival of “Cosmos,” carrying on Carl Sagan’s legacy.

But recently Tyson made some comments about genetically-engineered crops (GMO) that sent thousands of people to their keyboards to angrily bang out anti-GMO screeds on dozens of articles.

Here’s what he said:

NDT_GMO

Suddenly, the same people who had been praising him for his comments about religion, space exploration and critical thinking turned on him like a pack of yellow dogs.

“Stick to your telescopes, Neil.”

“Shill!”

“I wonder how much Monsanto just donated to the Hayden Planetarium.”

Those are just a few examples of the hundreds of hostile comments posted directed towards Tyson since he expressed his opinion about GMOs.

The whole episode reinforces something we’ve observed for years in aquaculture: opinions are more important to people than facts.

So many times we have met and conversed with people who are dead-set against salmon farming. We can provide fact after fact showing that their concerns are unfounded. But it’s rare that someone with a strong opinion will change it based on new information.

People will work desperately to preserve the integrity of their opinion by dismissing anything that disagrees with it, even if that means inventing conspiracy theories and shooting the messenger and turning so quickly on someone who they trust to explain other topics they don’t understand.

It’s hypocritical, but unfortunately, it’s human nature.

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