GM Foods – Greater Ignorance Leads To Greater Opposition To Them


An interesting and useful proof of the Dunning Kruger Effect here, that it’s the truly ignorant who see themselves as the experts on matters. So it is with opposition to genetically modified foods, those GM Frankenfoods. Those who have no clue about genetics nor, indeed, food, are the ones storming the ramparts to insist that they should never be allowed and burn the test fields of them immediately. Certainly don’t let such abominations as golden rice prevent much of the world’s blindness.

Those who have a clue are in favour of GM foods. Dunning Kruger just explains so much about the world, doesn’t it?

There is widespread agreement among scientists that genetically modified foods are safe to consume and have the potential to provide substantial benefits to humankind. However, many people still harbour concerns about them or oppose their use. In a nationally representative sample of US adults, we find that as extremity of opposition to and concern about genetically modified foods increases, objective knowledge about science and genetics decreases, but perceived understanding of genetically modified foods increases. Extreme opponents know the least, but think they know the most. Moreover, the relationship between self-assessed and objective knowledge shifts from positive to negative at high levels of opposition. Similar results were obtained in a parallel study with representative samples from the United States, France and Germany, and in a study testing attitudes about a medical application of genetic engineering technology (gene therapy). This pattern did not emerge, however, for attitudes and beliefs about climate change.

That is indeed Dunning Kruger:

The findings are in line with the Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, by which a low level of competence is directly correlated with high confidence in perceived competence. In lack of genuine knowledge, a person is unable to critically assess their performance in a given field of expertise, thus leading to an overestimation of their competence.

We need no other explanation for Greenpeace, Richard Murphy or Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, do we?

As one or other wiser than we has pointed out in the past, ignorance leads to certainty, wisdom to the acceptance of doubt.