And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.
There's a good reason for this: If you gamble on something that can hurt your livelihood, then if you win you only get marginally richer, but if you lose you might not be able to feed yourself or your family.
Or to put it in a cruder way, reproductive success has strongly decreasing return to scale as a function of economic success. Bill Gates has only 3 children, even though his income is around ~300,000x that of the average American.
Ibn Saud, founder of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabian, had 45 sons alone. Such large families continue in the House of Saud.
There's the oft-cited case of Ghengis Khan, who by DNA estimates may have as many as 16 million surviving progeny. Estimates of the numbers of his actual children are quite hard to come by, and range from low (he had only one official wife) to many thousands.
Gates, in particular, is aware of several modern challenges, including overpopulation. His "reproductive success" may well be a calculated strategy for long-term advantage. Or simply altrusitic motive.
By contrast current estimates are that about 0.5% of the world has a y-chromosome descended from a relatively close ancestor of Genghis Khan. (When his horde burst out, both he and his male relatives took advantage of "mating opportunities".)
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent_from_Genghis_Khan#DNA_... for more.
A side note. His y-chromosome would have benefited more than his other chromosomes since many of his sons, grandsons and other direct male descendants also had good breeding opportunities. Those men had his y-chromosome, but not all of his other chromosomes.
It's a fact of life that you have to play to win. The richest in history took extraordinary risks to get there, and for every winning risktaker there were 10 losing risktakers.
This also goes hand in hand with why hard work and perseverance are virtues.
Not exactly accurate. Bill Gates may have dropped out of college to pursue Microsoft, but that was hardly an extraordinary risk. His parents were extremely well off, and had that adventure been a failure, he simply would've gone back to school and completed his degree. Same thing with Zuckerberg.
You are ignoring that Bill Gates had to come from an extraordinarily privileged position to even be able to incur such a large opportunity cost. Most people don't have the opportunity to not to finish a Harvard degree, because most people don't have the opportunity to go to Harvard to begin with.
You are also ignoring that even if Microsoft had failed after a 10 years, the act of founding and running it would likely have afforded him experience that would rival in value a Harvard degree. This makes it doubtful that the opportunity cost was actually very large.
Furthermore, when you talk about how large the risk was, you play fast and loose with relative and absolute sizes. It may be true that Bill Gates took a large risk in absolute terms, but because of his background, the risk was actually not that big in relative terms. Not any larger than the risk of someone else choosing one education instead of another, or one career over another.
We're not talking about whether he'd "get by," that's irrelevant. We're talking about relative risks assuming that Microsoft didn't succeed.
I think Bill Gates is a great businessman and he has worked for his wealth, but let us not be delusional. The son of a well-respected Seattle lawyer from a long-standing Seattle family that could afford to send their kid to the most prestigious school in Seattle was never going to have issues having a comfortable career by going with "Plan B".
The only delusion in this thread is the idea that Bill Gates took no risk when he decided to drop out of Harvard and start a company with the goal of ushering in the age of personal computing. I'm not comparing him to a starving African child, I'm just pointing out that he took a risk just like every entrepreneur on the planet.
So yes, technically you're right, but your argument is missing the vital essence of what people mean when they say, eg, "Bill Gates wasnt taking a risk".
But because of my skills I had no problem getting back into a normal development job afterward.
That means that my risk was a lot less than someone who would lose everything if their plan didn't work out; the same goes for him. His risk was negligible.
As for "bleeding money out of his trust fund" - you do realize, short of developing a 6-figure coke habit, he could've lived off the interest for the rest of his life QUITE comfortably, right?
His relative risk was nearly 0. He was going to live, at worst, an upper middle class lifestyle regardless of the success or failure of Microsoft.
Except this is not a black and white matter, nothing is stopping him from going back to college except time and money of which he already had enough. I'm pretty sure his parents had a contingency plan in case his company failed.
By contrast, not getting a Harvard degree and maybe having to spend an extra year or two for a degree from a lesser university, that's absolutely not a huge risk. It's like the ultimate non-huge risk.
First of all, in real terms, no they didn't. In monetary terms maybe, but poor people take bigger risks all the time.
It is true, though, that the richest of the rich take bigger risks than their peers, and bigger risks than are arguably sensible. This is the difference between the "nouveau riche" and old money.
In terms of securing the level of consumption they're used to, and usually in terms of happiness, rich people are better off playing it safe, and most do. But some rich people may just have borderline pathological need to prove themselves, and buy metaphorical "lottery tickets". It makes sense that the richest individuals of the rich come from the group of those who take "dumb" risks that happen to pay off (I'm thinking Steve Jobs, Elon Musk etc.)
This is a recent coincidence. Bill Gates could easily have 300,000 times the reproductive success he's expected to have. It's not a priority for him.
it is also the reason I think this one is appropriate --> Science advances one funeral at a time. (I think this is Max Planck)
It works so well, which makes one wonder how gullible human beings are, in a general sense. The thought is depressing.
Considering how much things changed in the 20th century, I doubt the quote.
How many scientific revolutions did Einstein live through? Two?
The real quote is, Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist. which is better translated as A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. This was cited in Kuhn's famous book, _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_ which explains why it is so.
"...one funeral at a time" is a pithy condensation of what Max Planck actually did say.
Einstein, who you mentioned, is the quintessential example that science progresses one funeral at a time. He was a brilliant scientist who not only single handedly ushered in one of the two pillars of modern physics but sparked a revolution in the other. His own research into the photoelectric effect was one of the earliest hard data that showed that quantum phenomena were not deterministic and yet he fought against the very concept of nondeterminism for decades. He went so far as to popularize the quote "God does not play dice with the universe" and despite a wealth of experiments or effective theories to explain them, he continually rejected the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Even though he still contributed a lot to physics and remained friendly with the rest of the theoretical physics community during that time, he was essentially a social pariah when it came to his thoughts on quantum mechanics. However, he was already a very public and popular figure (think Neil Degrasse Tyson minus the ubiquitous television) so this very very wrong belief led to an untold number of rejected grants and misguided careers.
I already pointed you to the actual quote. And a book to look into. I can give you no shortage of examples. For example for famous examples of scientists in the 20th century that rejected new scientific theories, I can offer Fred Hoyle's refusal to accept the Big Bang, Einstein's refusal to accept QM, and Ernst Mach's refusal to accept the existence of atoms.
I would suggest that you at least keep an open mind on the topic.
Today we can ignore history's detractors, but that doesn't mean people at the the time shared our view of things.
I think it's fair to say he was dissatisfied with it (which drove his work on unification).
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohr%E2%80%93Einstein_debates for a brief history.
Similarly, when Scalia died Ginsburg said she would miss his rebuttals to her opinions because they always made her final product better.
"The greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge.
Imagination drew in bold strokes, instantly serving hopes & fears, while knowledge advanced by slow increments and contradictory witnesses."
Introduction of technology tends to induce dynamics which resist its influence over the longer term.
See http://bentilly.blogspot.com/2010/05/le-chateliers-principle... for more on my opinions on that principle. :-)
Interesting how other principles of chemistry seem to be generally systemic. Ilya Prigogine would be another instance.
How about if the article talked about the problems with the people who rapidly embraced once "nifty and new" ideas like taking x-rays of feet at shoe stores, using Fen-Phen for weight loss, getting on airplanes in the early days of flying, etc.?
What the article ignores completely is the notion of idea survival bias. The article goes through pains to cast reluctance to adopt new ideas as being a defective mode of thinking by not talking about the risk model for the adoption of new ideas.
Leaded gasoline was a superior fuel in many respects but was clearly a fraudulent mistake (it was sold with false assurances of safety).
Even the original Luddites were not wrong in their original critiques - the technological innovations of machined industrialization did indeed replace workers and enrich employers. (That such technological innovation also created wealth was poor consolation for the workers getting the short end of the stick).
Chemical warfare was horrible enough to have military strategists more than willing to agree to ban its usage.
New is not universally a good. In fact, every change has benefits and detriments that will be unequally distributed. History has also shown a tendency for the detriments to be mostly felt by the poor and disenfranchised.
It seems fair to be cautious about the new.
That falls flat when you consider that lower middle class people have access to much greater things than upper middle class people and rich people did 50 years ago.
To be fair, if you're the guy losing your job today, you probably don't care much about the idea that you might be better off twenty years down the road, or that society in general might be richer in 20 or 50 years. You care about putting food on the table now.
Even if you look at things like re-skilling and the creation of new jobs that results from technology, you're still looking at a potential gap in employment and income where you might starve to death, when you look at this at the individual level. In that regard, it's hard to say that people are wrong to oppose certain kinds of changes.
An individual does not have the luxury of evaluating the "good of the many" when they are unemployed by innovation. Equally horrid from the individual's perspective is discovering the skills they've spent a life time accruing are suddenly worthless and make them unhireable.
White-collar workers have only just started feeling this pressure of good jobs disappearing only leaving more menial and lower-paid jobs.
To ignore that some people are harmed by innovation is as silly as pretending that all innovation is a positive.
It's also important to note that you can't just credit changes in living standard to technological innovation. Soft innovations in things like politics and philosophy are AT LEAST as important as technological innovation.
You know who really got hammered by innovation? Tobacco companies.
The fact that some people are harmed by innovation doesn't mean we shouldn't ignore them.
And we used to think we can build roads and buildings faster by using atomic bombs to make digging quicker. That didn't work out that well either.
And we used to make cold syrup with morphine, cannabis, and other fun things.
Once upon a time, Freud was convinced that cocaine is a viable drug for treating mental ailments. That didn't go far.
For every long-term successful idea or product, there are dozens dumb products and ideas that never went anywhere. There's value in waiting for a product to prove itself before you adopt its use.
It's also very possible that these oppositions helped shape and amend the use of these new technologies in ways that made them safer and more palatable.
Be cautious of this standpoint, technology suffers from a confirmation bias, we tend not to remember the technology that fails, the technology that lowers quality of life, or the technology that kills people.
Here are some counter-cases for you all:
1. 1920's era radiation craze. Water energizers, xray shoe fitting etc.
There's nothing wrong with scrutiny, and nothing wrong with taking your time exploring an idea, dealing with it's repercussions at a manageable rate. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something.
For example, we're only just now starting to see countries start to bring the hammer down on companies that push their employees to be contactable 24/7 without paying them to be on call. Mobile phones have been around for how long? The legislative system has inertia, and sometimes it's worth giving it time to catch up.
Not sure what communism has in common with the other 2, considering it is:
1. Not a technology.
2. Has never actually been implemented with success due to flaws in human nature.
3. Failed precisely because of lack of technology to support it (a command economy could be viable, given a high enough technological level and sophisticated models to predict the necessary outputs in real-time)
If there ever was something that failed because it threatened the established way of doing things, communism was it.
It turns out that at scale it's very hard to get everyone on board, so you start having to apply coercion... and then any time your command economy is locally inefficient black markets spring up and you have to apply more coercion. Obviously this is a matter of degree; there's a good bit of coercion in economic matters that happens in today's "capitalist" economies too. But the point is that if you slip too far off what the vast majority of people agree to, you start running into sedition problems.
Now you also need a not-too-corrupt coercive apparatus (something that was sorely lacking in the places that have tried communism, I agree) _and_ you need quite saintly central planners.
The real litmus test here is whether you could combine a command economy with a political system that replaces the central planners when enough of the population loses faith in their general direction. _This_ is the thing no one has really managed to do yet, and I'm not sure how viable it is given that human nature you talk about.
But the the result is that most discussion of communism just ends up with the No True Scotsman fallacy, pretty much.... because every time attempts at it fail people say it wasn't really "communism". Including the people who claimed it was too "communism" at first.
Perhaps the success of the market system has to do with spreading the coercive element across more fronts (as it did some of the rewards).
Importantly, "all" you need in the market system is to find _someone_ willing to pay you for doing whatever it is you would like to do for pay. I'm not going to claim that's easy (it's not), but it's a lot easier than convincing a small group of bureaucrats to pay you for that thing. This is what allows, for example, writers who cater to niche markets to exist... In theory, the central planners could be enlightened enough to fund (with food or services or whatever, if you want to assume a post-money society) that sort of thing, but in practice, why would they bother?
It is because people are allowed to own things that they can trade. In this system there's plurality whereas in a system where all is owned by the state, there's a monoculture.
This is why property rights are important to many things including intellectual freedom. However, the "market" can also create monoculture if one player gets too big.
But that's not the reason it shouldn't be grouped with the others. The fact that the others only resulted in a few hundred deaths while communism resulted in hundreds of millions. People still die today from the after effects of communism's heyday, killing more people than anything ever before it besides old age.
Wow talk about hyperbole. Well I guess that's true if you discount malaria, bubonic plague, typhus, AIDS, dozens other diseases, religion, nationalism, fascism, european colonialism...
FYI, by my rough estimates, Communism was around ~20x more deadly the N. America colonialism.
For a small commune, or village scale, perhaps. Perhaps also once technology has advanced far enough for humans to cede leadership to a benevolent AI. Then the humans can be equal, deferring to the AI?
That's what destroyed the Soviet Union. It largely only traded with other command economies like Cuba, China, North Korea etc.
Some are virtually entirely based on trade: Singapore. Hong Kong (as an autonomous region of China), etc.
But the comparison was more one of size and scale of operations.
WalMart has an annual income of $482 billion.
That's more than the annual GDP of Poland, as measured by the World Bank, the 25th largest economy in the world, and of Belgium, the Philippines, Thailand, Norway, Iran, Austria, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, ... and 153 other countries (163 total) in the world.
It carries nearly a third of a million distinct products -- 291,000 unique SKUs across all channels, some 100k per store.
It employs 2.2 million people. That's more than Macedonia (#143), but might better be considered as
It has 11,620 stores worldwide. Each is comparable to the business district of a small town, and in many cases is. Wikipedia only lists cities in the US of 100,000 or more population in the United States, there are 304 such. There are a total of 35,000 recognised place names of cities or towns in the US, most quite small.
Of course, that's being a tad unfair to WalMart, perhaps, and the company has all the advantages of modern computers and such which earlier command economies did not have. Clearly, it would be impossible for an early 20th century or earlier command economy to have claimed a significant share of any national economy, let alone the global economy.
Except of course, for the fact that the East India Company which effectively was the corporate state of India, and comprised half the world's trade at the 18th and early 19th centuries. A prime example some Prussian-born economic critic living in England in the 1840s might well have been aware of.
1. Annual Financials for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. https://secure.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/WMT/financial...
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28no... WalMart itself claims it would rank 19th, see note 5.
A firm's revenues are the monies paid it. A nation's GDP is measured largely as money flows, though Adam Smith (and Simon Kuznets, largely) defined it more specifically as "the annual labour and produce of the nation".
So yes, it's not clear to me that a company which is buying at $n and selling at $n+m should be rated on its revenues. But you'll see that number turning up in GDP as I understand it. See:
"Output can be measured in three (theoretically equivalent) ways: by adding up all the money spent each year, by adding up all the money earned each year, or by adding up all the value added each year. Some economies, including Britain, combine all three methods into a single GDP figure, whereas others, like America, produce different statistics for each. (American GDP is estimated via the spending approach; GDI, or gross domestic income, by the income approach.)"
(There's a case to be made on that basis that GDP is mismeasured, but it seems it's awfully close to corporate income as defined.)
Your post doesn't convince me. Whether that's because I don't know enough to follow the argument, or because the argument doesn't follow, I couldn't say.
I will say that, as I understand it, GDP depends a lot (mostly?) upon things being bought and sold within a country, while a firm's revenues mostly come from sources outside the firm.
As I'd hoped my comment above made somewhat evident, my thinking can go either way on the concept. Your insights might give me a nudge one way or the other.
My quoting the accepted answer doesn't mean I agree with it.
The interrnal production vs. passthrough disttinction has merits. Though what of a mabufacturing company, say, of automobiles of computers?
A system designed for organizing humans doesn't work because of human nature. And you're blaming the humans. Think that through.
The flaw is in Communism, not human nature.
The very system you claim could theoretically work - given enough technological development - is fully incapable of ever producing that technology to begin with. That's just another excuse in over a century of endless excuses for why command economies fail and fail so dramatically. That specific excuse regarding technology has existed at least since the 1960s. Fortunately, human nature will always thwart command economies.
The very system you claim could theoretically work - given enough technological development - is fully incapable of ever producing that technology to begin with."
If you look at how new technology develops, you'll see a lot of what goes into it is fundamental research carried out without an immediate profit motive. Science progresses through the open sharing of knowledge, take that away and the technologies we'd be left with would be far less advanced.
> "Fortunately, human nature will always thwart command economies."
It is a commonly held misconception that communist societies are dictatorships. A dictatorship is as far from a communist society as you can get. What about those countries under dictators that claim to be communist? I'll give you a hint, they're not.
If you want to know what a communist society looks like...
True communism has a lot more in common with anarchism than the societies that got given the communist label in the 20th century. There are different schools of anarchism, but if you'd like to read more about it, I'd recommend starting with Proudhon...
Globally a technology shift may be the best option for a society, but there are often casualties.
Agreed. This is not the best way to argue for acceptance of new tech. I believe it would have the opposite effect.
Innovators should consider themselves teachers. The more unexpected the tech, the more the public will need to be taught. And, open discussion is part of teaching. Teachers can learn too.
>> Uber offers a prime case study. The ride-sharing service exploded in popularity and rapidly expanded to cities around the world, sparking an outcry from taxicab commissions the world over. In most cases, the government’s response was slow and reactionary. “That’s because they think about [innovation] in a slow and linear way. That’s how it’s been in the past; that’s not the case anymore,”
I disagree the government response was reactionary. Constituents are losing their livelihoods. They went to the government and complained. It is understandable that the government would react on their behalf and that the unrolling of some tech would be more gradual. It is the job of the government to represent the people. If they don't do that they are voted out.
The article is (smugly) passing judgement on yesterday's acceptance of technology, forgetting that we are looking though the lens of 80 years of development and safety improvements.
#2 depends very much on what you mean by "Communism". If you mean "Marx's prediction of what would naturally evolve to replace capitalism , and what flaws in capitalism would produce the discontents that would provoke that change", then so far it hasn't been particularly wrong, though the developed world has only, so far, progressed in that direction so far as a system which implements a limited form of socialism over a property-rights system which follows that of capitalism in broad outlines, with key exceptions with major effects.
If you mean the program that Marx and various others advocated as the best means to facilitate and realize that transition, making it immediately real (or at least, transitioning fully to its socialist phase) in his time, well, while people advocated for that, the program was never adopted in any of the states where it was advocated, so it can hardly be called a "technology" (to the extent that it was a kind of social technology) that failed, so much as one that no one ever bothered to give a trial to.
If, instead of either of those, you mean the radical rejection of many of the key principles (including both in preconditions and mechanisms) of Marx's Communism represented by Leninist vanguardism and its various derivatives (Stalinism, Maoism, etc.), yeah, that failed rather spectacularly.
 the "capitalism" for which the term was coined, the economic system of much of the developed world in the 19th Century, which is very different from the system which exists now that sometimes is called "capitalism".
I can imagine a world where "Communism", like "Naziism", was a label for a single system of government implemented by a single group of people in one time and place in history, with no theoretical model (and prior practical advocacy) that shared the same name but had substantial differences.
OTOH, that world is very much different from the real world, so when one wants to criticize one of the things called Communism, one needs to be careful in identifying which it is, since there are multiple of them, and they have different traits.
What I see is the root of Communism; "No True Communist" is simple deflection.
Either Communism is an unusually badly-designed system, more than usually volatile and likely to implode by accident; or it was built to implode on purpose, using good intentions as cover for a world-historic power grab. There's no way to prove which of these theories is true -- but that says something pretty unflattering right there -- but either way, it's rather horrifying that there are still people out there who go to bat for it, some of whom aren't even on Vladimir Putin's payroll...
What if I believe the Sun rises in the West and sets in the East?
If you mean to provide a reason that I should believe the thing you suggest, perhaps an argument and/or evidence supporting that proposition would be in order.
What? Failed to realize? Leninist vanguardism was, viewed optimistically, a deliberate modification of key elements of Marxism to address the fact that Lenin wanted to avoid the mess of actually having to have a mature capitalist society with the features Marx saw the transition from capitalism to communism through socialism requiring, what with Russia not having gotten there yet.
Viewed cynically, it was a modification that allowed using the language of Marxism -- an idea that had quite a bit of appeal internationally at the time -- to implement a centralized authoritarian dictatorship governed by a narrow elite, as well as providing the cover of a superficial theory that provided a veneer of an excuse for how "Marxism" could be applied a country with what was largely, in Marxist economic terms (not traditional political terms), a feudal rather than capitalist system.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone claim that Lenin's divergences from Marx were unintentional.
Communism as anyone has ever tried to implement it, or has talked about implementing it in pratice, is a system of totalitarian social control masquerading as an economic system.
The only difference between Nazism and Communism in practice has been whether "right genes" are defined by race or by your ancestors' professions and social classes. The totalitarianism is pretty similar, really.
(As a side note, "communism" as practiced in the Soviet Union, the version I'm most familiar with, had quite its share of racism as well, both official and just people on the street.)
The terminological confusion is unfortunate on the one hand and great for motte-and-bailey arguments on the other.
 As described http://philpapers.org/archive/SHATVO-2.pdf and discussed at a bit more length at http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/07/social-justice-and-word... . Note that such arguments are very common. They are not limited to postmodernism or the fringe elements of the social justice movement by any means; I see them all the time on both the left and the right.
No, Stalinism does not represent communism as a whole and Stalin was very controversial even at that time.
"Communism did not work in practice" - by which metric ? The Soviet Union transformed itself into a world superpower from an backward agricultural undeveloped nation in just 40 years while fighting two world wars and losing almost all their male population. That in itself is a pretty amazing feat in itself. Not to take into account the countless inventions we owe to the Soviet Union today, it was a very productive place for scientists.
Ironically, it's the social policy of the Soviet Union which had the most issues since during most of its history, it was a brutal dictatorship sending opponents (and even random people) to Gulags.
Catch-up industrialization is easy; many societies have done it, dictatorships or not. Staying developed is harder; the USSR, like Argentina and North Korea, first developed and then regressed, which is not a particularly impressive feat. Meanwhile, China's development was stalled for 50 years because their implementation of Communism was more than usually destructive; it wasn't until Deng Xiaopang renounced Maoism and overthrew the Maoist die-hards that China finally began to industrialize.
Nor are impressive feats acceptable when they're built on bones; or was the opium trade justified because of all the money it made for the UK and US?
And the GULAG proper existed until 1961, with forced-labor camps for political prisoners (so, GULAG but on a smaller scale) existing until 1987; likewise, the VChK and its many renamings persisted for the whole history of the USSR, and I think the FSB is descended from them -- although they're evidently much less bad.
xrays have saved many many millions of lives.
I'm not sure xray shoe fitting even killed anyone.
Because an amazing technology was misused a little while changing the world it scares you?
The precautionary principle is a killer.
My answer is yes. That doesn't mean I'd have delayed x-rays used by medical professionals, or any of the myriad technologies that did harm when they first came out. I would, however, be worried about them myself, and would want to make it painfully clear to anyone looking into it that the tech's long term effects are unknown. We've been bitten on this repeatedly, and almost every time it's been a trivial use of an eventually useful tech.
It's only some years later we realise whether it was a great idea, a really stupid one or a straight up con. So a little reluctance and wariness, especially in a world where everything is marketed as being a brilliant idea, is probably a very good thing.
Self driving cars are definitely in the don't know yet category for instance.
A firmly one-sided article promoting a new book.
The car is self-driving until the moment it isn't. And being aware of your surroundings but not driving is extremely exhausting. And you have just a second or two to react.
I'm surprised we do not compare self driving cars to trains more often. Trains are on tracks and still require drivers who have to hold onto deadman switches.
Full automation of cars with no driver are not coming any time soon.
1. Multiple pilots in the cockpit.
2. 3.5 minutes of fully-stalled descent.
3. Exceptionally high degrees of training. These are skilled professional pilots, specifically drilled in mishaps, and independently aware and capable of discussing or diagnosing the situation.
Multiple modes of failure occurred (it's a fascinating case study), starting from bad sensor design (prone to icing) and weather conditions (icing) leading to loss of airspeed indication. Lack of feedback between pilot and copilot controls, and input-averaging, combined with failure of the co-pilot to relinquish control of aircraft to the pilot, led directly to control-and-response failures which ended in impact of aircraft with the sea at over 100 knots each of vertical and horizontal velocity components.
What it wasn't was some distracted inexperienced teenager crusing in daddy's Autopilot Tesla whilst distracted on mobile calls, texts, and showing off to other passengers.
Trains and tracked vehicles are another good case in point.
Automobile autopilots will have to respond to degraded conditions by adapting to safer modes -- lower speeds and recognising that they're operating out of their design parameters. It doesn't seem Tesla are doing this. Google's approach seems more conservative.
Yeah. Tesla seems pretty committed to enabling hands off driving for minutes at a time.
The self driving, especially Tesla, is being promoted as being along the lines of "do whatever you like, the car will cope". The public, rightly or wrongly, are forming the impression they can read a book, chat with passengers, do makeup, eat lunch and completely ignore what's happening outside.
What it actually is, of course, is cruise control plus. If it were promoted as such we'd be less likely to have folks making hands off videos trying to find the limits of the system.
When, as will undoubtedly happen, we get true self-driving we're going to have to accept new failure modes and deaths as a result. People will die as a result of AIs going out of known parameters. Perhaps innocent pedestrians, perhaps we'll find they're especially bad with children or cyclists. We may require legislation that in certain weather, road or other conditions self-driving must be disabled.
It took an awful lot of years, miles and deaths to get to the exceptionally safety conscious aviation we now have. If we're just passengers will we start to expect a similar level of safety with self-driving?
Sitting in the back of the magic car with iPad whilst it takes you from any door to any door is, sensibly, still a good way away.
The problem is replacing over 300 unique varieties of corn, and over 40,000 unique varieties of rice with 3 or 4 patented, flavourless, often less nutritious varieties.
Stop pretending all opponents of GMO food are scientifically illiterate new-age types. I owe my life to GMO (cancer immune therapy)... hell, I am GMO. But there is nothing inherently good about progress. Nuclear technology can be used to provide clean, cheap energy to entire cities... or it can be used to eradicate an entire town in a matter of seconds and bring decades of unimaginable human suffering.
Using GMO to help third world countries grow foods they otherwise couldn't? Great. But that's not the full story, is it.
Where is the great progress in getting the same bland, flavourless, overly-sweet two or three varieties of rice, corn, and potatoes in every friggen store? Is driving Indian farmers to suicide and suing small farmers who accidentally grow your crop because the wind blew progress?
Is destroying thousands of years of man-driven biodiversity progress?
Coming from a country where real vegetables are sold, it's depressing. Everything tastes the same in North America. Every salad, every sauce. Same shit.
People don't oppose Monsanto because they hate science, they oppose monsanto because it's the Enola Gay of GMO.
Monocultures have been an agricultural practice since the 1800s, long before GMOs and Monsanto. It's for sure a risky practice, but even if you removed Monsanto or even GMO technology from the agricultural industry, you would still have farmers monocropping hybrids.
It seems you're more upset at what agriculture has become under capitalism and economies of scale, because the majority of consumers select for food based on lowest price, and not flavor or variety like you prefer.
>[Monoculture's] for sure a risky practice, but even if you removed Monsanto or even GMO technology from the agricultural industry, you would still have farmers monocropping hybrids.
Attributing monocultures to GMO is irrational.
And even then, it has to be pointed out that it is specifically the economy of scale that is irking the grandparent, not capitalism. The USSR was certainly not capitalist, but its vast centrally planned agriculture was optimized towards efficiency, not towards feel-good/organic qualities, and exhibited all the problems (except perhaps GMOs because they were not developed at the time) that people who rail against contemporary capitalism tend to complain about.
Also, I've never entirely understood all the venom directed specifically toward Monsanto. There are a handful of other companies doing basically the same thing. Where's the hate for Cargill?
The Wikipedia page seems to paint a much different picture regarding Monsanto's legal cases. Everything that I'm reading seems to indicate willful infringement:
"...Monsanto has stated it will not 'exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patented seed or traits are present in farmer's fields as a result of inadvertent means.' The Federal Circuit found that this assurance is binding on Monsanto, so that farmers who do not harvest more than a trace amount of Monsanto's patented crops 'lack an essential element of standing' to challenge Monsanto's patents."
"The court record shows, however, that it was not just a few seeds from a passing truck, but that Mr Schmeiser was growing a crop of 95–98% pure Roundup Ready plants, a commercial level of purity far higher than one would expect from inadvertent or accidental presence. The judge could not account for how a few wayward seeds or pollen grains could come to dominate hundreds of acres without Mr Schmeiser’s active participation, saying ‘...none of the suggested sources could reasonably explain the concentration or extent of Roundup Ready canola of a commercial quality evident from the results of tests on Schmeiser’s crop’" – in other words, the original presence of Monsanto seed on his land in 1997 was indeed inadvertent, but the crop in 1998 was entirely purposeful."
That's not to say that they haven't pulled any jerk moves: "In 2002, Monsanto mistakenly sued Gary Rinehart of Eagleville, Missouri for patent violation. Rinehart was not a farmer or seed dealer, but sharecropped land with his brother and nephew, who were violating the patent. Monsanto dropped the lawsuit against him when it discovered the mistake. It did not apologize for the mistake or offer to pay Rinehart's attorney fees."
If it's patent law that we find outrageous, then we should be directing our rage at patent law.
Edit: I hadn't heard of the Indian farmer suicide problem before reading your comment, but to lay it at the feet of Monsanto ignores many other potential contributing factors: "Activists and scholars have offered a number of conflicting reasons for farmer suicides, such as monsoon failure, high debt burdens, government policies, public mental health, personal issues and family problems."
Huh? If monoculture is the concern, should the solution be encouraging more varieties of GMO? I mean, creating more varieties of corn with genetic modification seems so easy.
Given that the food industry has a long history of using whatever crap they can find if they can get away with it, and producing all kinds of addictive or harmful monstrosities if they can help them make a bigger buck (not very unlike the tobacco industry making their cigarettes more addictive with all kinds of crap), yeah, I'm suspicious. Very suspicious.
If it weren't for laws and regulations, they'd be adding lead in children's milk if it was cheaper to produce.
>Credible evidence has demonstrated that foods from the [genetically engineered] plant varieties marketed to date are as safe as comparable, non-GE foods.
"...Monsanto originally sold the soybeans to farmers under a limited use license that prohibited the farmer-buyer from using the seeds for more than a single season or from saving any seed produced from the crop for replanting..."
Global farming should not depend on patented seeds that can be made scarce as an economic strategy. It is, at least, extremely risky from an economic point of view. But it gets worse from a legal point of view.
I'm all for developing new ways of farming. But if patents are so bad for software, they can be worse if we allow to patent gens.
I'm all for a healthy skepticism of technology, but layman critics of GMOs routinely confuse standard industry practices (such as licensing and monocultures) with the GMO technology itself.
There is a popular perception that only GMO seeds are patented but that's not the case.
It's not like most food staples are really more "natural" or "wild" than GMO food courses.
The actionable data for traditional food (even that which is selectively bred) is that the majority of the population is fine with it. They've been fine with it for hundreds to thousands of years.
Now if the question is would I have eaten a tomato when it was brought back from the New World? Maybe. I would said, especially since I wouldn't have any other point of reference, "Others have eaten it. They're ok. And it's one of God's creations."
With GMOs, I have to ask the questions, "Do I think this is food? Do I think this is safe because I know that CEOs are rushing out things they know are bad for me." So we have evidence that GMOs are bad . We know that CEOs put a low premium on safety and following the law . Given that as a context, is it really irrational to pause and say, "Scientifically, do I trust this stuff? Should we require more research to see how hybridized plant-imals work?" I don't think so.
0 - http://www.hangthebankers.com/10-scientific-studies-that-pro...
1 - http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/internation...
That seems like a pretty fallacious argument, unless your end goal for food is merely that "the population is fine with it." Human history is full of death and disease due to malnutrition. It's not exactly a solved problem, and "the way it's always been" is almost certainly not the best we can achieve.
Many of the modern farming techniques that have caused famine are a result of people importing ideas, without first checking to see they would work with in the context of the local ecology. GMOs often do this. We tell African farmers to grown mid-west corn because that's what we know. We want to grow wheat in Saudi Arabia because we eat white bread.
There are other products indigenous to those localities that could support that population when paired with modern water management and soil improvement processes. One such technology is hydroponics. The proper system can use the limited water resources in a semi-arid landscape to produce stable food supplies. Weed management reduces the impact of this further. You can use elevated gardening to improve vine plant yields.
Holding up GMOs are the only source of life for the population around the globe is fallacious prima facie. Time honored agriculture, plus modern takes on improvement of the support system can provide the same outcome without the need to introduce animal/plant hybrids. As a result, the risk of introducing a carcinogenic into an otherwise safe plant is limited to environmental factors like careless fuel storage rather than the agent being the food itself.
0 - https://www.organic-center.org/news/response-to-can-organic-...
Today corn is corn. What if in the future it's more fish than corn? What if you can't grow it without a license from the "manufacturer"? What if it cross-breeds with traditional corn and you can't even grow that because of patent implications?
That's the fuss.
The difference between teosinte and maize is about 5 genes. We've been genetically modifying corn for nearly 10,000 years, but we've just done so really inefficiently. If you want to eat raw, non-GMO corn, here's what's for dinner:
If you want to eat this, it took a few thousand years of hybridization, selective breeding, and culling:
(Patents expire after 17 years, anyway; it's likely that 17 years after the first teosinte plants were cross-bred to make maize, the breeder had a complete monopoly on them anyway.)
We've also been doing it massively distributed which means it can adapt and change independent of a single/couple organizations. Yes, it's inefficient but that's also somewhat of a feature in that we don't have a single point of failure.
It's pretty unlikely that the original development of agriculture was decentralized. In fact, we have pretty good evidence that it was intensely centralized in a few places, and that tribes that had this technology then outcompeted, conquered, and killed all the hunter/gatherer bands that resisted using it.
I'm all for inefficiency when too much efficiency can cause a problem.
I'm looking for sources on early 18th and 19th century maize farming and cultivars, haven't turned up any yet.
If you realise that all three major grains on which humans are overwhelmingly dependent, maize, rice, and wheat, did not exist only ~10,000 years ago, the power of simple selective breeding becomes apparent.
Look to dogs, horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and poultry for similar trends in selective breeding over only a few thousand years, though in many cases a few centuries.
As a consumer I want to the right to patronize companies that don't purchase seeds from these companies, however under the current state of things there's no way to distinguish which produce/companies these are.
Likewise I'm pretty chill with nuclear power. From a tech side its a total win.
Nuclear power plants managed by mega corporations, oh not so happy about that idea.
But nuke plants in general, without American style management, sure, they're cool.
That's because many see domesticated crops as a different thing than GMO crops... and of course, use the assumed bad behavior of one company, as a detriment to the science behind crop enhancement.
That doesn't protect against global seed contamination, but we aren't teetering on that precipice.
I also doubt Monsanto and other big GMO organizations are going to give away anything ever unless they're forced to. Their answer to everything is "sue me" because they know they'll bury you.
I'm pretty sanguine about the teetering. Among other things, companies like Monsanto (and thus their competitors) like to do things like maintain big seed banks. So do academics and hobbyists.
One is a legal issue. The other is... piscaphobia?
No, there is rational opposition to certain aspects of the use of particular crops, some of which happen to be GMOs. Since, to the extent that opposition is rational, it has nothing to do with the mechanism by which the traits that are problematically exploited were generated, it is completely irrational to generalize that rational opposition to "GMOs", or even attach it to GMOs.
Personally, I don't find "All GMOs are bad" and "All GMO resistance is irrational" stances to be very distinguishable in their intellectual laziness. Your mileage may vary.
There's an entire chapter on the topic of GMO.
Dismissing objections as antiintellectual is simply false.
The disadvantages include things such as vendor lock-in into expensive proprietary seeds that you can only obtain from a single supplier with compulsory proprietary herbicide/pesticide and you might become a target of lawsuits because cross pollination cannot be prevented.
If GMOs are actually safe, then why goes the government need to pass laws making planting non-GMO crops illegal? (C.f. Order 81 in the Iraq constitution, written by the U.S. government.) The whole argument that GMOs are inherently safe doesn't even make sense; it's like saying all drugs are safe or all food is safe. It's just corporate propaganda that's marketed to the ignorant pro-science crowd. I can't believe that people here consistently fall for it, given that it's basically on the same level as what Idiocracy is making fun of with Brawndo.
My opposition is to the corporate entities behind GMOs. There is no way that I will trust any part of my food supply to corporate entities that can trivially raise an army of attorneys and specialists to silence even legitimate critics with valid evidence through legal, regulatory, political, and professional channels. The same entities that push for a carb-laden diet when there is plenty of evidence for decades it is actively harmful advice, are now behind the push for GMOs; I won't trust their offerings based upon what they are actively already doing today.
No, they aren't. First of all, because there is no "push for GMOs". There are a number of companies, small and large, investing in various crop technologies (and usually the same firms do both GMO and non-GMO work), and those that actually have products are selling -- and thus, "pushing for" -- those products, whether GMO or otherwise. But there is no generalized "push for GMOs".
Also, many big agribusiness firms are cooperating the propaganda against GMOs, and actively promoting non-GMO and Organic products. If you aren't going to trust agricultural megabusinesses, that really restricts your food options, but it weighs on both sides of the GMO issue.
With reference to other stuff that gets sprayed on crops glyphosate is amazingly safe. (Herbicide is a significant cause of death by suicide world wide, and glyphosate reduces that because it's safer than others). If you're spraying it on crops you want to be careful.
But if you're just eating the crops: you're not going to get cancer from glyphosate.
It has been pointed out that if in the State of California one were to sell the coins handed back as change after the sale, they too would require legally require a safety warning about the cancer risk. My favorite warning is that of Dharma Trading Post, a silk importer:
"To conform to state laws, our labels make everything sound
like a deadly poison, even simple things like sawdust and
seaweed. The law says you have to warn everyone about
everything, regardless of how obvious, stupid or remote the
possibility. Anyway, we are now labeled to the "max". Please
don't hold it against us."
There are many reasons why you can legitimately be afraid of glyphosate. It's presence on California's list of chemicals requiring a Prop 65 warning should not be one of them.
Monopolies should be handled like any other: by anti-trust authorities. Banning a specific type of technology is a poor substitute.
Bananas are a monoculture due to the way they are propagated: they've been this way for over a century (and a single blight is currently wiping out the Cavendish variety that is ubiquitous in the USA).
What you are asking for is to make a system of polyculture profitable: this is a worthwhile endeavor but an entirely different challenge than fighting the use of gene splicing techniques.
Until you test it, you don't actually know it's safe, you just assume it is.
If years from now everyone eats, that just means they've done enough involuntary human testing that people feel it's safe.
It's the "involuntary" part of the testing that is bothering people right now. You might say "it's safe", but he might reply "you don't know that".
How about this as a headline: Some humans welcomed coffee and refrigeration, some didn't, and during their respective introductions to any particular culture, most people were unaware of the existence of either product or didn't feel like they knew enough about either of them to have an opinion: why all humans don't unanimously agree on everything immediately, or ever.
It's like the Dr Seuss story where one guy gets a star tattoo, then everyone wants stars, then one person wants to be different so they remove their tattoo, then everyone wants to be different so they remove theirs, and it continues back and forth.
I think the perspective to keep in mind about this piece is not that people are afraid of new things, but rather, different things. When I lived in the city, I couldn't imagine life without walkable access and being in the middle of the action. When I moved to the suburbs, I couldn't imagine life without abundant space and tranquility. Now I'm back in the city. Technological advancement had nothing to do with those perceptions, but my resistance was still there, on both sides.
It talks about how anesthesia was quickly adopted, but scrubbing in before surgery to reduce infection was not.
Interesting mixture of cultural issues and how people behave.
Am i the only who has serious reservations about mobile banking? It completely undoes 2FA (I hear banks in the US don't use 2FA, but it is mandatory for all online transactions in India).
I mean if you lose your phone you lose your bank a/c. Your android phone is highly insecure. Microsoft got flak for dropping XP support after a decade. Your typical android phone stops recieving updates after 2-3 years. And since in the mobile security paradigm, the user is just another security threat to be mitigated, there is nothing you can do about it (short of doing a risky root of your phone, which btw would stop many banking apps from working ). Already there are viruses in the wild which are rooting millions (yes, millions) of unpatched phones.
Right now these malware are only looking for low-level fruit like steam, credit cards, and pushing ads. Its only a matter of time before they go after your bank a/c.
There is always enthusiast as well as critics with any new tech.
I have in my house big ads of commercial products With cocaine!! and Heroine! along with nuclear stuff when it was all the rage and we did not understand secondary effects of those things.
For me this is a PR propaganda article in a Washington newspaper(the politics center of US) in order to discredit those that oppose for example GMO, or paint those that want control in any new tech as lunatics.
If you read it carefully you can identify the tone "look, those changes improved the lives of those that opposed them, so governments have to do what we tell them is better for them and favor the new changes"(that will make richer the people who paid for this bluff article).
9) New technology can be very expensive. For example, a colleague's father purchased a DVD player in 1998 that cost $3,000 in today's dollar.
10) New technology often has bugs. After Microsoft releases updates, I always wait a few days to see if there are any reports of problems before updating Windows (I run Windows 7 so I can still do that).
Nonetheless, I think I'll buy this book and read it, just to see if there's any kernel of novel insight there. After all, for an innovator / entrepreneur, this is one of the most crucial issues out there.
In the end, humans as a whole, change very slowly until you get to 50-60% support/usage.
The government knows tech moves fast. The issue is mostly #7,
> 7) Technologists often don’t think about the impact their inventions have on society.
Public support for new tech sometimes moves slowly.
Politicians' heads are on the chopping block for anything the public feels they do wrong. One result of that can be slower support of new technology.
There is a societal discussion happening about self driving cars, as car companies have mentioned 
And there is nothing wrong with the standard headphone j
Apple's new Dongle Driven Development™ methodology sucks.
From what I understood, coffee was common in England before tea was, and tea was first introduced as another option within established coffeehouses.
That's right, keep the driver engaged because we know the outcome of the EULA whereby people swear they'll pay attention when autopilot is enabled, they won't, they can't, it's not how the human brain works. Rather, autopilot should function as a backup to the human driver in the near term as the technology is developed. If it senses a pending collision, kick in. Simple, simple. A computer won't disengage because it's not in control, it will always be vigilant as a backup to the human, but a human will never be a backup to a computer, we aren't built that way.
But you might say: "Oh, Mr. Smarty Pants, if the driver knows there's an autopilot backup wouldn't the driver just let it take over?" Well, there's an easy solution to that. Just like a computer can be taught to drive a car, it can also be taught to sense when the driver isn't paying attention. It can kick off the radio, turn off the AC, sound an alarm, or even just pull the car safely to the side of the road.
The little experiment we are currently playing with everyone's lives must be better managed. As a security researcher who's uncovered thousands of bugs over the course of the last two decades, without question, the code that Tesla or anyone else in this space is producing is not of sufficient quality for a life critical system. Where are the independent lab certifications? Where's the university research? It's not there, it's too early in the game and that's why people need to set their ego's aside and do the right thing. Computers at this stage of the game are for backup, not primary.
You can still do all that you suggest while providing semi-autonomous driving capabilities.
They didn't stand alone most of the time and were heavily sponsored or subsidized by governments to gain a competitive advantage in warfare or any other area.
Not to mention the obvious survivorship bias.
Meh. I don't buy the idea that there's a special "thinking class" who are solely imbued with the magical power of "innovation", or the idea that education is something that is gained at the expense of the "working class."
Education is something that's attainable by pretty much everyone who at least gets over the bar of being literate, and who has some work ethic and access to a library. Not all education means going off to a small, private, (expensive) liberal arts college for four years. Sometimes it's somebody reading books by candlelight after spending their day plowing fields.
> I don't buy the idea that there's a special "thinking class"
> Education is something that's attainable by pretty much everyone
The statement is about a time when productivity was just high enough to free some (few) people from the toils of daily live. It's not like there was no progress at all, that class was getting larger over the millenia, but the explosion (in productivity) happened only in the (late) 19th century.
Who said anything about genetics?
Only in recent times. The original quote starts with "Throughout the centuries...", so this is about a longer period, and throughout most of it that opportunity you speak of did not exist for the majority of the population.
That's all relative and not really relevant to the overall point. There have always been people who managed to innovate relative to their peers, and they haven't always come from a special "thinking class".
> There have always been people
In other words, we were not talking about extremely rare individual cases - the rarer the farther back in time you go. The science for and during the industrial revolution wasn't driven by poor farmers and workers. That statement remains true even if you should manage to find some poor fellow who did manage it. Even today we still have the problem of way too low upward mobility from the working class, even though they could do it without nearly as much trouble as in the past!
Sure, there are a lot of things we should do to promote upward mobility. But we've gotten away from the point of the quote that kickstarted this particular branch of conversation.
> But they won.
I think people eat it because they heard it's good for you and it tastes amazing. They're not necessarily 'anti-science'.
So more for economics than nutrition per se, outside of a few niche markets.
Is the thought that fridges give off some kind of chemical that affects the food? Is it the act of making the food cold itself that makes it less healthy? Is she opposed to electric refrigeration, or would something like an old school icebox be objectionable too?
To this issue specifically, I think it's more of a shelf-life concern, that you can't artificially lengthen the shelf life of a food without corrupting it somehow. In that regard, I can't say she doesn't have a point. That the movie "Better Life Through Chemistry" is a satire is somewhat telling.
It's why the debate about whether or not milk/eggs/bread are healthy rages on and on. There is no definition of the word healthy so anyone can make their own interpretations of what makes those foods healthy or unhealthy.
COLLEGE EDUCATED people believe that vaccines cause autism.
GMOs are considered less healthy than normally grown foods
Organic foods are considered "healthier" than normally grown foods even though studies have shown that there isn't a statistically significant difference in nutrients that matter.
People believe microwaving foods causes cancer in humans and also makes food less nutritious in a significant manner.
These are people who have every single resource in the world to educate themselves on the science of things, and yet believe dumb shit.
Compared to that, some farmers in a small village not completely trusting something that they don't understand or really have any ability to properly understand seems much less crazy.
Americans refrigerate more than we need to. Butter, eggs, certain vegetables (like tomatoes). Tomatoes have healthy compounds in them that break down under refrigeration. I'm sure you've noticed certain things taste different after they've been refrigerated?
In this particular arena, we often don't know what we don't know. Instinct can lead us astray, but it can also be nagging at us for a very good reason.
Such as? It's true that refrigeration can impact the taste/texture of tomatoes. That doesn't mean it necessarily makes them less healthy. Also, if you're buying store-bought tomatoes, they're shipped in refrigerated trucks anyway.
Depending on how long you have tomatoes on hand, you might be better off refrigerating them even for taste and texture.
I was surprised that the antibiotics are mandated in Europe, given the problems we're seeing with antibiotic-resistance in bacteria that's largely due to overuse in farming. I would've expected that the US farmers were using antibiotics and Europeans were not, rather than the other way around.
Antibiotics seem to be a part of it, but not the most important factor. The egg naturally has a thin film around it which protects it from contamination by microbes. In the US, the eggs are washed, which removes this film, rendering the egg susceptible to contamination. The eggs then have to be refrigerated to slow bacterial growth. In the rest of the world, the eggs are left unwashed, so the film prevents the egg from being contaminated and no refrigeration is required.
I'm surprised that free market enthusiasts rarely talk about the Lion Mark, because it's great example of entirely private business (except for the government trademark enforcement) improving standards for consumers.
A little bit of n=1: I eat eggs directly from the local Mennonite community. They don't use antibiotics in their chickens. I keep the eggs in a bucket in the pantry (cool, but not refrigerated). I wash my eggs before using them. I haven't had an issue with Salmonella yet. I imagine there's a very big difference between free range, naturally raised chickens and eggs and factory farmed chicken and eggs, but I'm not up to date on the details.
Mandating antibiotic use would be a great way to breed resistant salmonella.
I agree with you about the Tomatoes though. That one is backed by science, but what else is impacted by refrigeration that hasn't been discovered by science yet? There's no danger in leaving produce on the counter so long as you eat it within 2-3 days. It varies, of course. I keep bananas on the counter for a full week.
It will not. It remains on my kitchen counter in a ceramic or glass container and keeps its shape. Lots of people do this, look up "butter bell" or "butter keeper" For example: http://goo.gl/fLIotj
Butter melts above 32 C.
That's what butter keepers are for.
Perceived threat to vested/commercial interest? Spot on.
Out here in India, until the early 1980s, there were only two types of (largely indigenous and engineering-wise inferior) cars available in the market. Then, the then prime minister allowed a domestic company to manufacture (more) sophisticate cars in collaboration with Suzuki. The model they started with was far superior as compared to the two ancient mechanical atrocities.
Since the car mechanics at large here had never even seen any piece of engineering like that, leave alone the matter of repairing it, they all generally used to say: Yes, this car is a marvel of technology blah blah... BUT... it won't work on our roads!!
I've seen similar trends with Microwave ovens as well. For some reason people have all sorts of weird notions about new stuff.
One more thing I can think of is TV. Kids growing up in a home with a TV were considered will end up being bad students.
I assume this has partly to do with the relative novelty of AC.