Madagascar: Student pranks Greens — now in fear of his life
“Sir, I am afraid for my life and future, afraid because March Against Monsanto has threatened me and my community,” Navid Rakotofala told me amidst a fury of reactions to his unconventional expose prank to explore just how outrageously far “mainstream” anti-GMO activists would go to to spread their message.
Navid is my protege at the University of Toliara in the southwest of Madagascar. He doesn’t attend the university but he has assisted me as a volunteer to translate my courses for over a year now. In exchange, I’ve helped him improve his English by teaching him about the growing field of psychology of science (POS); that is, how our brains create and relate to this thing we call science. There’s no better way to teach POS than to contrast unhealthy and healthy scientific discourse. In my personal opinion, there are few examples of unhealthy science discourse more clear than the extreme vocalists of the anti-biotechnology movement.
Well, Navid took my message to heart, and despite my concerns, he created quite the prank to coincide with the May 30 March Against Monsanto to challenge the way the group’s supporters engage this issue. They often seem more interested in promoting their views regardless of whether the science is behind them or whether people will actually be helped by what they are advocating. He set up an intriguing hoax to evaluate their sincerity. The fall out from this teen’s hijinx are extremely telling, and should serve as a clarion call to those open to reconsidering their scientific and ethical positions on genetic engineering. Navid’s project speaks for itself, let me just share some highlights from how this extremist group responded.