Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet the Mad Hatter

"Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.

"I do," Alice hastily replied; "at least--at least I mean what I say--that's the same thing, you know."

"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!"

Just about anyone in the United States can grab all kinds of information on just about anything. Education cannot compete with the information industry, nor should it. Our value lies in teaching how to think, how to discern, how to know what is true.

The Food and Drug Administration has been circulating a draft report within the government that argues the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential ill effects of mercury.
No new science here, just politics--though other sources of fish exist, the FDA threw a bone to the food industry before our regime change. The EPA quickly fired off a retort, and I doubt that the gummint's official position is likely to change. Politicians are clumsy, you can read all about it, but that's not worth a post here--this is an edublog, not the Daily Kos.

What is worth an edublog post, however, is how information is manipulated by private money.

The AP article above quotes the Center for Consumer Freedom:
The food industry is praising the FDA's shift. One organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom, called it "long overdue and a huge public-health victory" that "just might be the best Christmas present health-conscious Americans could hope for."
This is what the news media calls balanced reporting. Go to their website--it's actually big fun! You might even pick up some good information.

What you won't learn is that the "organization" is a front for Berman and Company, which lobbies for the food and alcohol industry. Its initial money ($600,000) came from the Philip Morris company, not the guy down the street, not the local farmer, nor the woman running the local bodega.

David Martosko is the "Research Director," a purty fancy hat for "a music major in college and then an AM radio talk show producer." Does he have a right to push the food industry's agenda? Sure. He's got Daddy's money.

Should the CCF get a tax break as a tax exempt non-profit educational organization? Beats me, I'm not a tax lawyer.

Should a lobbying firm be able to hide behind a front posing as a non-profit organization looking out for your interests? That's madness.

Pretending the CCF offers balance to any news story is also crazy, yet the AP continues to do it.
Maybe their mommas ate too much tuna.

[Full disclosure, Mr. Martosko: I am the brother of Mary Beth Doyle, yep, that one. She believed people are capable of rational thought, honesty, and the capacity for change.]


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Michael.

Another wonder(ful) post. I love the take on the Mad Hatter - the mercury laden idiot that tries to make sense of nonsense, and, of course, succeeds.

When I first came across the Mad Hatter, he struck me, even as a child, as a rational, logical thinking being.

That is the lot of humankind. We are striving to be understood in all the nonsense of reality. Funny that, of all the other characters in Caroll's story, except Alice herself, the Mad Hatter is the most human.

I'll be leaving you now.
From Middle-earth

Tracy H. said...

I'm sorry to hear about your sister. Evidently she'd had some run-ins with Martosko, huh?

Thanks for helping to carry on her work and for helping to expose the CCF.

doyle said...

Kia ora Ken

Thanks for the words--I saw you recently won a commenter award--well deserved!

I love the Hatter; Lewis Caroll is such a marvelous writer.

I don't even know what reality is/means anymore. We're plunging into winter. Keep sending warm words from your neck of the woods.

Dear Tracy,

Actually, Mary Beth's connection to the CFC is pretty funny. She laughed about it at the time.

Leslie said...

And here is a link to a song written for Mary Beth, which conveys a little about who she was:

Anonymous said...

I don't know that Mary Beth and Martosko ever met. But her OTHER brother was a co-founder of CCF. How's that for irony? Must have been some awkward family reunions.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Michael!

Thank you for alerting me to an unintentional misuse of the comment award medal (designed by Scott McLeod). I had not intended the display of the medals to indicate that I was giving the award to myself. I've amended the display so that there is now no confusion.

These awards are given to my top ten commenters. They deserved the awards, not me.

Thanks again.
from Middle-earth

doyle said...

Kia ora Ken

I had read your commenter entry earlier--and it was my knuckleheaded memory, not your words, that confused things.

I hereby nominate you for a comment award! Your words are thoughtful and frequent, you contribute to multiple sites, and folks like you keep the blogging spirit alive!

doyle said...

Just in case folks were wondering about our family reunions (since "anonymous" brought it up):

Our reunions are week-long affairs in Cape May, last week of June. We are a motley crew, but a happy one, and we love each other's company.

We love to dance, we like to drink, we love to chat and discuss just about everything, we love to eat, we like to sing--our own chautauqua.

Tracy H. said...

Let me see if I have this right:

So Other Doyle Brother co-founded the CCF, John Doyle (publisher of this blog) used to be its PR person, and Mary Beth Doyle fought for the environment and against the CCF.

Now John dislikes the CCF and tries to carry on Mary Beth's work? Is the Other Doyle Brother still connected to the CCF?

doyle said...

No, I'm Michael Doyle.
None of us work for the CCF.
Only one of us did.

I know John dislikes clams, but other than that, he's a pretty agreeable fellow, and a wickedly bright one at that. Can't imagine him not getting along with anyone.

I'm the cranky one.