You know how they say “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.”? well the same might be said of bias as it pertains to truth. Science is a verb, a methodology that seeks to reduce the effect of inherent bias that we fancy monkeys harbor. Bias can be deliberate or unconscious but it’s an insidious corruptive force that is incompatible with science and inquiry.
In my last post The Vegan Bubble I talked about the vocalization of ex-vegans and what this means to veganism as a movement. Now that we have a growing vocal counter-movement of ex-vegans “who’ve been there” (read: an anecdote that’s always compelling) and espouse their own form of pseudoscience I predicted science will become a priority. That seems to be happening because one Ginny Messina RD was compelled to respond and pick apart Voracious Vegan’s farewell vegan post and vegans everywhere are suddenly finding science. Well good for you, it’s about time!
Messina tends to agree with my own tired tirade when she writes:
And I believe that a lot of vegans get sick and return to eating meat when all they needed was more sound information about vegan diets and less misinformation from the pseudo-scientific anti-vegan world (as well as the pseudo-scientific pro-vegan world.)
I can’t help but wonder though where is the critique of any number of the dubious pro-vegan texts? Standing idly by while bad information is trumpeted just because the conclusion favors yours is an unfortunate act of bias many vegans are accomplice to. Lierre Keith’s The Vegetarian Myth book also got on the priority list for debunking but what about Skinny Bitch? That has been around for years now and is an industry almost unto itself as the books and authors are lauded and featured by vegan organizations. I’m sure Messina is quite busy and has to prioritize her investigations but we’re seeing the cage-free chickens come home to roost for letting that kind of pseudoscience slide. Still, one-sided science is something so at least that is getting out there. I’m quite grateful for vegan science advocates like Ginny Messina and Jack Norris and if vegans embrace science for their bias towards these leaders then so be it. I’ll accept bias for that spark of enlightenment.
One way NOT to do it is to pile on another counter anecdote. I hope in the very least the one thing vegans learn from this mess is that anecdotes are not reliable as evidence. There’s a reason why alternative medicine depends upon testimonials to sell their dubious treatments. An anecdotal narrative is just more compelling but doesn’t do much to prove anything useful. Stooping to that same level as a counter won’t raise the level of discourse to a constructive means to an end either.
I’m glad to see all the buzz surrounding Voracious Vegan’s controversial exit. Her leaving might have been the best thing for veganism that’s happened in a long time. Anybody who’s worried that she’ll discredit veganism somehow now that she’s an outspoken critic should instead welcome it. If her first post is any indication it should offer easy fodder for vegans to practice some critical thinking and hone their arguments. There are bigger problems to face though and it’s how she got to that point in the first place.
Ok, that sounded alot more clever in my groggy head this morning.