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Hate Food? Organic Foods Can Make You Mean, Scientists Say


A paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science says that eating organic foods can tend to make people judgmental. At least, that is the way the story is being covered in a number of places. The journal's abstract seems to bear that out.

A number of commentators are having fun with this, as well they should, though perhaps for reasons not connected to organic food. First, this is another example of misleading "science" studies that actually are little more than Onion-style pieces taken seriously. Surely, it is not the eating of organic food that makes one judgmental, but rather, some judgmental people gravitate to any life-style appurtenance that allows them to feel superior to other people -- to put others in the wrong, as C. S. Lewis said. It could be diet or politics or religion or even musical preferences. Jerks are jerks and will find ways to exhibit their disposition. In other words, the premise of the study would seem to be wrong, and not "science" anyhow.

Second, materialism is the superstition -- disguised as science -- that wants to assert a material cause for practically anything. In this case, we have the amusing post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc error of thinking that because someone eats organic food and also is judgmental, that the action causes the attitude.

I know organic enthusiasts who are delightful people. Same with vegetarians (my wife, for example). And I know other people who believe that chemicals grow produce bigger and better (and cheaper) and in seasons when they might not otherwise be available--and some of those people are jerks.

In any event, I have a particular affection for "Scientists Say" headlines. They often reduce to government-financed fairy tales. The only element missing in the present story is that there is an evolutionary cause for linking mean people and organic foods. Maybe it's that humans were so much more violent in ages past when all the food was organic, while the introduction of pesticides and additives, canning and freezing, etc. have bred our present race of relatively pacifistic people. Quick, we have our theme, so get me a grant!