Repetition trumps truth

Insight can arrive at the strangest times. I learned that in 2015 when I was working on a story about Canada’s Inuit people and how they have dozens of words for snow.

As part of the piece, I spoke with Graham Nesbitt, who worked at an Inuit cultural centre in Iqaluit.

He said there probably aren’t 50 words for snow in Inuktitut, but that truth is irrelevant.

“It almost doesn’t matter any more. People believe there are. So, there are.”

Nesbitt’s comment helps explain, somewhat, the ferocious debate in Europe over the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

In March of 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, classified the herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

Many toxicologists and regulatory agencies around the globe condemned the decision as absurd, alarmist and biased.

Some experts have alleged fraud — that IARC scientists manipulated data showing that glyphosate is safe.

A Reuters story in October validated those suspicions. Data showing that glyphosate didn’t cause cancer was included in a draft version of the IARC report, but that evidence was deleted or changed in the final report to make it seem like glyphosate causes cancer.

The scientific malfeasance should have ended the furor over glyphosate. It didn’t.

Days after the Reuters story, the European Parliament voted, 355 to 204, to ban the use of glyphosate by 2022.

The glyphosate battle makes more sense if Nesbitt is correct: repeat something enough times and it eventually becomes gospel. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, two misinformation machines, it’s now possible to say “glyphosate probably causes cancer” 50 million times in a month.

If repetition of misinformation sways public and political opinion, Canadian farmers must depend on scientists at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency. If the PMRA can resist the madness of crowds, it will continue to permit the use of glyphosate in Canada.

But all bets are off the table if Europe bans the herbicide because the anti-agriculture crowd will unveil a new slogan that will be repeated a billion times on the internet: “Europe banned glyphosate, so it must be poison.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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Comments

  • richard

    Does the irony of “repetition trumps truth” completely escape the author? Not only has he “repeated” the same story from a week ago, but its very existence is financed by a myriad of repetitive shibboleths whos sole purpose is to seduce unsuspecting clients into a life of chronic need. The basis of modern advertising Robert is mindless repetition, and in case its lost on you, truth is not its driving force…..The activists voice you resent is nothing more than physics… opposite and equal reaction to years of mindless subliminal persuasion.

    • Harold

      We are seeing repetitive stories about repetitiveness and how receptiveness dismisses truth. There is a hidden message here isn’t there. Industry self-confession? You can repeat BS a thousand times to the knowledgeable but you will gain no effect. The foggy minds of the industry likely under the influence of their own toxic fumes cant seem to wrap their minds around this: the repetition of BS never trumps the holders of truth. However, it was good BS for the holders of BS and they certainly championed it. Clearly the Industry intent is to say that they hold the truth and that anyone else are liars – and if they repeat this many times – the people will come to believe it. However, if they were the truth – as they think that they are – they would never need to repeat themselves. The very best of lies contains within it – the very best in truths. In contrast, the lies that don’t have the bests in truth are the lies quickest to discover. This is not like rocket science to anyone, except to the peddlers of industry misinformation and propaganda who repeatedly point to their own truths, and yes we see them. It’s not a good lie if they wont show us their Truths. Obviously, if they can give the public more truth the public will be able to lie much better. The truth never needs to be repeated, only profit speeches do, and any TV expresses this quite well and we all know what truth in advertising is – and so does the garbage can. They did mention face book and pointed to it didn’t they? Apparently they have noticed that the smart public did not become stupid and unable to think and a “mad crowd” – like a mad dog – until long after glyphosate first came into the market place. It seems like prolonged use of Glyphosate does have an effect on the brain and its pathways. Humor aside, Profit speeches always points in disrespect of some thing or some person or group – the TV Ads shouts this out for us quite loudly and colorfully; the Truth does not. McDonald’s does not advertise how may people believe or know that their food is garbage, but Face Book will, and does. Go figure why the industry takes issue with face book users and others and gives them such total and deep disrespect. BUSTED. Science became argumentative and controversial the day after it was transformed into a for profit business. Now there are two sciences to choose between; “Real” fake science or “fake/junk” science and you choose the fake that is the most suitable. A hearing direct from the “horses mouth” does not exist. Where are the Einstein’s of discovery gathered in public places like they were in Einstein’s time? Did Einstein need to gain permission from anyone to speak? Today they are for profit mystery men with tape across their mouths. Any quotes coming direct from their mouths in public gatherings? Interesting isn’t it. The scientists gathering in the public domain of the internet are all spewing Junk – so industry says; are they? Is real and truthful science “confined to quarters”? A science that is in safe keeping is a Fake science and the illusions of this author doesn’t change that.

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