It’s amazing how differently we see the world:
Recently, off on vacation, some friends form the humanities fields were complaining how scientific bodies regulate the food they ingest by adding labels like fat free or sugar free to describe products that barely make the cut as such. They argued that it’s deceiving how these companies take their products to “just meet” FDA requirements for such labels.
They later questioned the validity of how such scientific bodies arrived at the conclusion that an infected lot of fruit or meat came from this farm or that farm. In essence, implying that those were just fabrications.
From my point of view, biochem major, I took it to heart and I would like to share my reaction so that those of you who side with them understand where WE are coming from.
First, they are questioning the very scientific community that has given us the ability to live the way we do today with the plethora of advances we have brought to light. Second, I argued, they presented the “organic produce is a fallacy” idea, I wondered, how far do you guys need to go for us to name something organic or pesticide free? There are naturally occurring pesticides and chemicals in nature that will always be present in anything you eat. There will always be sugars and cholesterol or fats in stuff we eat. Its basically impossible to name something “X-free” because the physical limitations of many of the instrumentation used in labs or food-processes prohibit such detection levels. Science is about generalizations and statistics and norm. We, as a scientific community, work for the survival of the fittest, the norm, the majority. Even you, humanities and other majors, especially business majors, pressure us to come up with solutions for this or the other; pressure us to make this or that process economically viable so that we can produce enough of something to be available for the general population. It’s not only impossible but also impractical to analyze something to death so that it can contain exactly & precisely the amount of each ingredient everybody in the world is tolerable to and at the same time make it fast enough to satisfy the growing needs of a global population and economically sound so as to make money off of it, all at the same time. Maybe if you wouldn’t have taken baby-chem or bio-for-non-majors, or begged us to help you in physics labs, you would understand how things work the way they do. (You didn’t see us taking baby-philosophy or history-for-non-majors, did you? Probably cause they don’t exist!)
And no, it’s not a fabrication how we find where the rotten egg came from. There are hundreds of strains of certain bacteria that grow at certain rates in certain media and you can basically tell where it grew according to how it grew. You match that with some consumer statistics and good old fashioned logic and you can pretty much find out everything you need. I recommend watching “Bones” or “CSI” instead of “Desperate Housewives” or “Friends”.
I just want to make it clear that this is a personal, private reaction to a very common complaint. Here I thought I was the only one who complained about the other side of how life works, the social side. Well lo and behold, they have complaints too. And they seem just as ridiculous and unfounded to us, as ours seem to them. 🙂
And even though my first reaction was one of annoyance, it really helped me understand how different people can really be. And perhaps, no matter how much we can explain a point of view to death, we will never convince the other side who is right. Maybe because no side really is.