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December 01, 2013


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The tall, black-robed wizard/scientist entered the chamber.
Others, also cloaked in black circled the giant stone alter.
The tall wizard joined the circle around the alter and the chanting of ancient, demonic words rose from the group.
Some windows broke the monotony of stone high on each wall, but even the starlight seemed unwilling to enter this chamber.
The scientist rose a hand, sparkling with sorcerous energy high as the chanting increased in volume and speed.
Outside, sheet-lightning lit up half the sky and thunder boomed deafening as the tall wizard lowered his hand to the stone.

And as the light faded, a gaunt, misshapen figure now shifted upon the alter.

At my last job I noticed a lot of this type of view of genetic modification.
Someone even mentioned the Seralini study at one point, mentioned it as proof of the evil of genetic modification. I spun around on the woman with eyes ablaze. She wilted somewhat before me then with an extra breathe and a calming of anger I smiled and shot her a wink. "I'll send you a link", I offered.
The Bronze Blog recently gave a post on this subject so I sent her a link to it. Without missing a beat I remembered that Skeptico had also posted about this so I included a link to the previous post on this blog.
I am frustrated with the acceptance of this kind of dodgy test as well. It seems that the best I can do is make information available to those with beliefs that actually have no basis in evidence.
I hope to influence people sometimes and maybe they will learn, as I have, how to assess a scientific test. I'm no scientist, but I've learned to appreciate the method and the vital importance of test design.
Thanks Skeptico.

"Seralini 2012" may be gone, but sadly the damage has already been done, and the retraction will unfortunately fuel the conspiracy theorists.

The biggest downside of the retraction is that people won't get a chance to see how dismal the paper was to begin with. I vividly remember first reading it through—twice—and was incredulous that a known journal would have accepted this kind of propaganda. This paper would have been a great training tool for first-year college undergraduate biology or statistics students.

Personally, I would have preferred that the publisher left the paper up, but just superimposed a big scarlet letter R on each page, so that the shame could persist indefinitely.

Come to think of it, there are a couple of other similar papers that should also be in the hall of shame. Perhaps it's time for someone to gather the top ten GMO "smoking gun" papers in one place, so that they could be debunked together? This would have the added benefit that the common themes of bad experimental design and interpretation could be highlighted. (I'm curious what would be on other people's top-10 lists).

While there will always be activists trying to co-opt the peer-review system to create a veneer of legitimacy, the larger scandal was that the journal agreed to publish to begin with. As far as I know, the editor still has his job.

Yes, and already some of my friends with a liberal slant and little science background are saying "see, I told you so." These are, by the way, the same folks who believe the "global warming is a hoax" crowd are deluded science deniers. What a strange world we live in.

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