Anti-GMO Statistician Nassim N. Taleb Responds to Criticism (Sort of)
August 8, 2014
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A while back, statistician Nassim N. Taleb co-wrote an ignorant screed against genetically modified crops, which was refuted in detail here on Debunking Denialism. It was essentially based on elementary misunderstanding of the biology behind it when he simply asserted that genetic modification was “categorically and statistically different” from traditional plant breeding without any evidence despite the fact that it is just a logical extension. In addition, he presented a deeply flawed risk analysis, where he compared the prevention of famine with having poor people play Russian roulette.
Now, Taleb has posted a response on Twitter. Was it thoughtful? Was it based on scientific evidence? Did it interact with the arguments that were provided in the refutation? Not exactly.
The refutation was “not intelligent”, “full of flaws”, and “downright stupid”, yet Taleb could not produce a single argument against it? Also note the time stamps: the link was posted on 12:05 AM on 6 Aug and his response came 12:08 AM on the same day. That means that Taleb spent at most three minutes evaluating the refutation in question. So this is the intellectual summit of the most prominent opponents of genetically modified crops acts when someone criticizes him?
In the end, it does not matter how much statistical sophistry Taleb uses to dress up his erroneous assertions about GM crops since it is based on false premises about the biology. Garbage in, garbage out.