14 November 2013

Alan Caruba: boldly finding new ways to be wrong

Our old friend Alan Caruba is a profoundly talented writer, in large part because he's not satisfied with mediocrity.  Many columnists are satisfied with only being wrong about one or two things, but the Caruba Standard (TM) demands a level of wrongness that is truly exciting.  This is comprehensive wrongness - inaccuracy that advances the frontier of being wrong.

A recent column, "The Food Fear-Mongers," is a great example.  You might be skeptical, but it will absolutely prove to you that Alan Caruba is exploring bold new ways of being wrong, as he sets out a methodically mistaken attack on the liberal efforts to ban food.

There are basic errors of syntax, of course.  That might seem easy to you, but Caruba has spent years honing his ability to garble even the clearest thoughts. Read his introduction to a Tocqueville quote about the tyranny of the state:
Alexis de Tocqueville, the author of “Democracy in America”, was a Frenchman living under a monarchy that, not long after the American Revolution would be overthrown.
He doesn't rest content with such pedestrian mistakes - any child could mangle a clause or two.  No, Caruba is building a great tower of unreality, a shining monument to his hatred of all things Muslim, gay, and green.  We know this, and admire it.

Let's get to the meat of the wrongness.  We'll begin with the lede:
I recently read somewhere that there are so many laws and regulations on the books of federal and state governments that we are all breaking a law at some point every hour of the day. I have little doubt of that.
BAM!  Take that, all of you fools who might have doubted his conclusions!  Not only does he have devastating likely facts that are probably true, he even almost kinda sorta footnoted them!  And he has a cause for these innumerable laws that might maybe exist according to something he read: liberals!  Liberals have been banning many harmless chemicals, a mistake which is eventually going to hurt our food supply.  And after the food supply is strangled?
I had a college professor who said that no government is more than two weeks from being overthrown if it cannot feed its people. This was the case of the French Revolution and, in more modern times, a major reason for the initial overthrow of the Egyptian government.
You hear that, North Korea?  You are living on borrowed time, Kim Jung Un!  There were widespread, enormous famines in North Korea during the early 1990s, so the regime should be collapsing any time now.  I think it's almost been two weeks since the end of Soviet agricultural subsidies, right?

Anyway, the danger is clear to Caruba: an all-embracing and monstrous totalitarian socialist government.
The Socialist movement that emerged in the early years of the last century is a perfect example of a tyranny that seeks to control all aspects of people’s lives.
Okay.  So this is a pretty standard column lay-out: we have our snappy quote, our dire predictions, and our blame-game.  Let's hear the list of examples.  Tell me your evidence, Caruba.  Sing me your siren song of dumb.
Others spread fear like those who rant about Bisphanal-A, a beneficial chemical that protects people against food poisoning. The World Health Organization, the European Food Safety Authority and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have all discounted its risk to human health. I have written extensively about BPA and you can visit the blog, The BPA File, I maintain in its support. Another example of food fear-mongering has been the smear campaign against finely textured beef that was subjected to some very bad, inaccurate media coverage last year, called it “pink slime.”
Yes, you read that correctly: Alan Caruba is so committed to being wrong that he misspelled the name of the chemical he is defending, bisphenol-A.  He has an entire blog on the subject and still managed to get it wrong!  That is serious dedication.  It's not your run-of-the-mill, everyday wrongness.  It's inimitable Caruba-level nonsense.

And wait, what happened to all of those oppressive laws and regulations?  BPA is legal (except in baby bottles), and so is "pink slime."  This isn't much in the way of tyranny, unless it's tyrannical when the meat industry gets bad press.

What else you got?
The FDA recently ruled that trans fats, partially hydrogenated fats or oils, are unsafe in food. They are deemed a potential prime factor that could lead to heart attacks and strokes. ... [T]hough it has taken more than a half century, it is a good thing the FDA has finally ruled against their use.
Okay, whoa now.

Whoa.

Slow it down.

Drink it in.

Alan Caruba, in a column devoted to the evils of government bans on substances, has given us two substances that aren't banned, and one ban with which he agrees.  He is actively attacking his very own column, from within.

That's amazing.  By my count, we have encountered nearly every possible error.  Spelling, syntax, basic journalism, logic, and even the very idea of "evidence" as something that should support your thesis... these have all fallen before the all-conquering might of the Caruba.

There's only one way to finish off this column.  And I can't tell you about it, I have to show you.

Read the end of the column, quoted here in its entirety, as he forgets the topic.

It starts off sanely enough, as he embarks on his final example: an attack on the idea of "organic" food.  Then he starts talking about the benefits of genetically modified crops, including the abundance they create.  And at the end... well, Caruba has wandered off into the mental wilderness.
All food starts off as organic. This simple truth is lost on those who have an irrational fear of genetically modified crops and there is a worldwide movement to create a baseless fear of GM crops. As Dr. Marc Van Montagu noted in a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, “In fact, people have consumed billions of meals containing GM foods in the 17 years since they were first commercialized and no one problem has been documented.” One would think that is self-evident since “Mankind has been breeding crops—and thereby genetically altering them—since the dawn of agriculture. Today’s techniques for modifying plants are simply new, high-precision methods for doing the same.”

In a world of heavily-funded propaganda to create various fears about food, it behooves us to educate ourselves about the real science and real facts about what we eat and drink. Were it not for GM crops, the growing population of the world would lack the vast amounts of food it provides. It says a lot about the planet’s capability to produce all manner of food that one of the problems we hear about lately, whether it is America or China, is obesity. There is a cure for it—EAT LESS.

We should be mindful of what and how much we consume.
In the journalism of the future, there are no more facts.  There is no more evidence.  There aren't even any consistence topics.  Everything is gone, everything lies flat and desolate.  For there is only Caruba.  And all is Wrong.

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