Information icon.svg Consider taking the RationalWiki Community Survey 2017 or see the results.


From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon science.svg

This chemistry related article has not received a brainstar for quality. Please consider expanding the article appropriately. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.


Appeal to nature[edit]

The article says: At the heart of chemophobia is the fallacy of "appeal to nature". This appeal makes the assumption that anything "natural" is good and anything "unnatural" is bad. This a fallacious caricature of the argument, a Straw man. The appeal is made on totally different grounds, namely on Evolution. The word "Nature" has to be understood as "Evolutionary stable system". The liberation of new, random chemicals into an environment that has reached equilibrium through long term adaptation, including the human body, has unpredictable effects. The same is valid to altering the amounts of known chemicals significantly. The industry resorts to simple denialism of the obvious risks.--Brasov (talk) 15:10, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

So, really, what you've just said is "unnatural is bad", which is exactly the thing you're claiming is a straw man argument. Scarlet A.pngpostateModerator 15:28, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Yo! Straw man!--Brasov (talk) 15:31, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Just shouting "straw man" doesn't make it so. Article says "This appeal makes the assumption that anything "natural" is good and anything "unnatural" is bad" you then try to set this up:
  • Natural = equilibrium from evolution
  • Unnatural = perturbation of that equilibrium
  • Is bad = unpredictable effects.
That's not proving that there's a straw man argument involved, that's just proving that the sentence doesn't come with your own personal dictionary-style definition of each word. Scarlet A.pngbominationModerator 15:36, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
You misrepresent my argument pretending I didn't say: "The same is valid to altering the amounts of known chemicals significantly." "Known chemicals" extends to "natural chemicals", obviously. So yes, you just debunk a caricature of my argument. Straw man!--Brasov (talk) 15:43, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
You misrepresent my argument pretending I didn't say: "The same is valid to altering the amounts of known chemicals significantly." "Known chemicals" extends to "natural chemicals", obviously. So yes, you just debunk a caricature of my argument. Straw man!--Brasov (talk) 15:43, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I didn't pretend you didn't say it. You didn't say it. At least initially. And thanks to your inability to use the preview button, it was lost in a series of edit conflicts. As for that comment, I'm unsure as to what it means. You alter relative amounts of chemical substances and... what? Bad things occasionally happen? Indeed, occasionally good things happen too. It doesn't really tell us much. Scarlet A.pngpostateModerator 15:49, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I didn't pretend you didn't say it. You didn't say it.. WTF? are you for real?--Brasov (talk) 16:03, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Bad things occasionally happen? Indeed, occasionally good things happen too.. No, "good things" in Evolution means better adaptations, which only happen by trial-and-error until a new evolutionary stable equilibrium is found. It usually takes extinctions to achieve that.--Brasov (talk) 15:58, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Natural = equilibrium from evolution. Induction fail. Equilibrium from evolution is natural, but nature does not imply equilibrium.--Brasov (talk) 15:52, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Brasov, please don't edit your comments after someone has replied to them. SophieWilder 15:59, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
I only removed the duplicate above, so pleass, don't lie.--Brasov (talk) 16:01, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Is bad = unpredictable effects. Unpredictable effects = unknown risks. Phobia is "fear disproportional to the actual danger posed". In order to asses the actual danger, you need to define the risks, but they're unknown, so the use of Chemophobia is another caricature, another Straw man.--Brasov (talk) 16:12, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
The sheer mechanics of conversing with you are nearly insurmountable. You make multiple attempts at comments, causing edit conflicts, you indent randomly, you quote mine, you assert "straw man" without demonstrating it, your assertions where true are just trivial, and you're increasingly abusive. Scarlet A.pngpatheticModerator 16:37, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
"Unsurmountable" is weaselish for having all your (logical) holes simultaneously plugged. I love it!--Brasov (talk) 20:21, 5 December 2012 (UTC)


Some mention of flour-irradiation/fluoridation should be made.

Some additives #are# bad for you - [1] springs to mind. (talk) 17:55, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

Well, it's a wiki, so edit! :-) We have a Water fluoridation page by the way, but a link here is good. And yeah, there are some examples of historical chemicals that proved harmful. tobacco and asbestos are even more obvious examples (and, ironically, also "natural", rather than "man-made"). Carpetsmoker (talk) 18:21, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
Apparently there has been proper scientific research done on the glass - and it is #definitely not good for you#.
What about [2]? (talk) 19:26, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
Uranium glass is not harmful to eat off of....but given its value to some collectors I am sure someone would beat you for using cool looking vintage glass as every day table wear. I think that's a bit harmful to your health. The other stuff is cocaine and wine so certainly not good for you. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 19:33, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
There are other websites but [3] is one 'reason why not'. (talk) 19:38, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
An un-dated, un-sourced and unverified story on an old bead blog of items that no one has anymore. LoL, use that as a source of where people find these myths. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 19:44, 26 October 2015 (UTC)
Trying to find something apposite quickly - 'more formal' research exits (I have been told so).

Shall we agree that one can be against the use of/'more cautious than necessary with certain chemicals/more complex chemical substances without being a chempohobe? Not wanting to have uranium glass/consume 'crushed insect red (E120)/being against the use of additives that make 'food for ordinary consumption' (not being Antarctic bases etc) five years later (so the food is reasonably fresh) etc can be considered reasonable. (And hard water can be good for you - it does not absorb the lead from pipes.) (talk) 17:18, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

That's too vague to agree with because nothing in there has any concrete meaning. Honestly, you can take whatever food you want and put it in whatever orifice you wish for whatever reason you wish as long as I can do the same. If people start spreading fears on items based on dark age fears of vague undefined terms that is chemaphobia (it's the definition of the term). It's easy to find anything in nature, or only made in a lab, that can violate such vague definitions (say "unnatural") many advocates regurgitate. Like Carmine is very complex and refined but it's safer than the simpler oxalic acid that naturally occurs in rhubarb without messing with it. However, I wouldn't like Carmine produced in China with bad food safety regulations/inspections...but not because of the chemical itself.
Also some claim that they wish "better" research was done. Which only seems to mean "studies the person demanding better studies like". Such as those that reject hundreds of double blinded peer reviewed IRB managed studies as "bad studies" while wholeheartedly believing advocates with single extremely flawed studies like Irina Ermakova, Judy Carman, and Gilles-Eric Séralini. Making the assumption some people actually have a basis instead of just spewing "I heard it somewhere...Do your own research."
These are all PRATTS that are sourced in the article. However, I don't wish to get into a gish gallop of different items where it only ends up moving the goalposts around the field. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 18:40, 27 October 2015 (UTC)
Polar bear liver, I understand, contains lethal amounts of Vitamin A - and tapioca has to be prepared before it becomes edible. (Not forgetting all the adulterants used in the past, 'foods that go off unless correctly prepared'/lead sealing of old tins and similar negatives - and the current newsflurry over certain processed foods.)

One can 'prefer to be slightly too cautious' with certain foodstuffs/uranium glass/heavy metal artists pigments etc without being a chemophobe - and others 'can see where you are coming from.'

The question is - where is the boundary between 'being overcautious (but not stopping you)/deciding X exceeds one's squick factor level, and chemophobia? (talk) 15:17, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

There isn't a hard line in the sand with human personalities. One way to determine is by simple expression, caution over danger and why. It's reasonable to be cautious, such as avoiding a source that has quality problems. It's not reasonable to have vague concepts that even the claimant doesn't understand. Such as a product containing "chemicals"...which by definition accounts for everything we interact with on a daily basis that isn't a single element. This is more dangerous when people avoid safe "chemicals" while touting things like the Miracle Mineral Supplement. A set of caustic chemicals that is fatal if prepared as instructed.
Another is sources. Reputable science, or history (say China's contamination problems), are better than blogs run by notorious liars, frauds, and mental cases. If Alex Jones and his cybernetic elf overlords (I wish I was making that up) are a better source than Harvard Medical Journals...the person making the claims has an issue looking for anything that tells them what they want to hear.
Another is just plain old conspiracy nonsense by some vague "them" that can never be proven. The paranoia of grand conspiracies are not sane or rational. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:00, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
What is needed is more knowledge about 'chemistry and also low probability events', 'I know it is a minimal risk, but I choose to avoid it (and you can make your decision)' and recognition that 'it happens that some things once proclaimed to be good for you are then decided not to be (and vice versa)', along with 'adulteration does happen' on the one hand and 'opposition to what one does not understand'/"woo merchants' expensive (and possibly danger) snake oil" on the other.

We are broadly in agreement but coming from slightly different angles. (talk) 17:29, 29 October 2015 (UTC)