Monsanto Technology Division
First, I’m going to tell you five things:
- The species Felis catus, the common housecat, is the most popular pet in North America, with more than 70 million cats residing in about a third of American households.
- Ancient Egyptians were the first society to systematically domesticate cats, and worshipped them as “gifts from the gods” (translation from glyphs).
- Experiments recently conducted on a scaled-down size of the Great Pyramid of Giza demonstrated that its internal architecture, in the presence of the proper chemicals commonly found in the Nile Valley, facilitated the creation of a focused microwave radiation beam out the southern shaft. Residual salt deposits and sulfur gas emissions support this hypothesis.
- There is evidence to support the theory that the ancient Egyptian gods were actually aliens.
- Approximately one third of cat owners think their pets are able to read their minds.
I’ll tell you my credentials. I’m a scientist and a lifelong rescuer of abandoned cats. That makes me a trustworthy source, right? As you read through that list of five statements you may have noticed a couple of things.
First, I never called them facts. Second, I started out with a scientifically accurate statement, with statistics, which probably got you in the frame of mind that what I said afterwards was just as accurate and scientifically supported as that first statement. Number 2 is partially correct – the first phrase – but the rest of it is a combination of something I read on the internet and then I made up the translation bit. Surprisingly, #3 was an actual experiment that was conducted, but has nothing to do with the rest of the statements except to pique your interest. Okay, I have to confess that #4 was actually the storyline of the movie “Stargate.” Finally, #5 is a true statement – this survey was actually conducted – but the concept of cats reading minds was not a tested hypothesis but only an implied conclusion to the statement.
Now that the game is over, think about those five statements, made by someone who could be considered a qualified source, and the fun conclusion it took you to (my cat is an alien overlord bent on world domination through mind control and there are facts to support it). What was my agenda for playing this game? Of course I had an agenda. Everyone does. In this case, my purpose was to show you how a series of statements can lead you to a conclusion that is not true.
For my day job, I work for Monsanto, and I’m very proud of the technologies we develop to help farmers produce more food, with fewer chemicals, in a more environmentally responsible way. But every day I see news articles that lead to a conclusion about Monsanto that is just not true. Whether it’s a scare about new crops supposedly containing Agent Orange (not true), or conspiracy theories of Monsanto supposedly controlling the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Farmer Assurance Provision that was passed in recent legislation (not true), I read everything from the perspective of a scientist: “Which parts of these are factual statements, and what is the agenda of the author?”
I know that what I do, and what my colleagues do, makes a difference in agriculture, on a planet that will see 9 billion people by the year 2050. When your read conspiracy theories about agriculture, ask the authors what the real facts are. Tell them the crazy cat lady at Monsanto sent you.
Photograph by Jiri Dokoupil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.