Wednesday, June 09, 2004

'Mongrel dogs who teach' *

You wanna see some good-old-fashioned viral ignorance masquerading as a "teach-in"? You'll need RealPlayer to access this video from The video, produced by, who else, ETC Group, is a classic mix of selective information and fiction that drops names ranging from Eric Drexler to MIT researcher Angela Belcher.

Singling out Belcher as a stooge of the corporate NanoBioAgriPharmaGlobaIMF plot is particularly amusing. One speaker takes offense at the fact that this evil woman in the white lab coat, and others like her, have the nerve to use materials and processes found in nature (for whom the teach-inners are the self-appointed spokesmen) in their plot to subjugate the segment of the intelligentsia who so clearly speak for the rights of working farmers and viruses everywhere.

Wait for it. They'll be demonstrating outside your headquarters soon, and good luck engaging them in intelligent discourse. They won't be interested in the real possibilities of the science because they're already convinced you're hiding something.

Oh well. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Related Post
A Sad Jab at the 'Bad Rad Lab'

* It's a Bob Dylan song reference.


Anonymous said...

Hi Howard

This is Jim Thomas from ETC Group - the guy in the red T-shirt in dire need of a beard trim. Not sure how I feel about being called a Mongrel (being all for canine diversity) however I'm curious to know what you regard as fiction? In that tiny clip from the teach-in I was referring first to Du Pont's announcements about using DNA for seperating nanotubes and considering what the biosafety implications of that might be - particularly given that other recent studies from CNRS in France have seen modified carbon nanotubes rapidly migrating towards the nucleus when introduced to human cells (see New Scientist Dec 16th 2003 - Carbon nanotubes show drug delivery promise). in the CNRS study the researcher responsible (Alberto Bianco) noted "The nanotubes seem to migrate mainly to the nucleus, so we can imagine them being used to deliver gene constructs."

Also you should be a bit clearer with your readers who do not have Real Player that my colleague does not accuse Angela Belcher of being either evil, wearing a white coat or part of a conspiracy of any sort. Selective with the truth is one thing, but insinuating derogatory words into somebody elses mouth is not behaviour becoming of a responsible journalist.


Jim Thomas (

ps. ETC Group did not produce that video, I guess one of the participants did -We ran three hour and a half workshops on different aspects of converging technologies and what you are viewing is two tiny and somewhat random extracts of the first of those workshops.

Howard Lovy said...

As you can see by my NanoDog, I'm all in favor of canine diversity, myself. I believe I have just about every breed imaginable all wrapped up in one puppy.

The reference was to a lyric from Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages."

"In a soldier's stance, I aimed my hand At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I'd become my enemy In the instant that I preach"

The neoluddite branch of the environmentalist movement brought this song to mind. It's how knee-jerk devotion to only one worldview can hinder real progress toward the original goal.

Author Andy Gill, writing in "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right: Bob Dylan, the Early Years, put these lyrics in context:

"The clearest statement of Dylan's changing attitude – and the single greatest justification of the album's title – "My Back Pages" is his mea culpa, an apology for the stridency of his earlier social proselytizing in which the paradoxical refrain, "Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now" attests to the rejuvenation of spirit the songwriter feels, having removed the blinkers of protest.

"Within the song's six verses can be found sketched out the essential core of the debate which all left-wing activists inevitably have to confront, concerning the extent to which individual desires and aspirations must be curtailed in pursuit of a more universal social "good." The youthful certitude of his protest period, Dylan suggests, was indicative of an autocratic conservatism almost as detrimental to the progress of the human spirit as those forces it condemned; having abandoned it, he now felt younger, more open to the sheer variety of possibilities. It was only later, he realized, "that I'd become my enemy in the instant that I preach[ed]."

Then, again, Dylan is now doing lingerie ads, so what do I know?

I appreciate your note, Jim. Let's keep the lines of communication open.


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