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Squaring the Strange

Squaring the Strange brings evidence-based analysis and commentary to a wide variety of topics, ranging from the paranormal to the political.


Investigating ghosts. Debunking conspiracies. Dodging chupacabras.

If a claim seems strange, Ben and Pascual will try to square it with the facts.


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Aug 10, 2017

Episode 18: Food Evolution Documentary and Chewing the Fat on GMOs

This week Ben, Celestia, and Pascual open with a discussion on what people consider uncanny, bizarre, or strange. What takes something from implausible to downright mysterious? An understanding of statistics is one angle to consider, but ignorance of particular fields is also at work: from the World Trade Center to the pyramids to cancer remissions, people who lack the relevant technical knowledge are the ones gobsmacked by particular events or facts. Headline writers emphasize this “bizarre” aspect without providing context, leading many to jump right to conspiracy theories or supernatural explanations.

Then Celestia, back from the 2017 meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists, discusses the new GMO documentary, Food Evolution. The film was funded by IFT but director Scott Hamilton Kennedy was given complete control over topic, content, and approach, and he chose to tackle the human side of the GMO/organic controversy. Kennedy did a beautiful job bringing the human element to the forefront and takes viewers along a persuasive narrative of finding common ground and changing minds. Celestia, Pascual, and Ben touch on hot button topics like GMO labeling, evil corporations like Monsanto, and patenting living organisms. We also discuss the negative feedback the movie has so far received, and the strength (or rather lack of strength) in the arguments that the anti-GMO crowd has put forth. Namely, a Huffington Post columnist supported by organic industries decries the appearance of a logo in the film’s background, and Mike Adams calls Neil deGrasse Tyson a race traitor.

Lastly, we let you know how to check for a screening of Food Evolution in your area, and give shoutouts to some online resources for anyone wanting to learn more about GMO tech.