Thursday, January 9, 2014

#864: Jonathan Latham & Allison Wilson

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson run The Bioscience Resource Project, a “public interest organization that has provided independent research and analysis in the agriculture-related biosciences since 2006.” Their website, Independent Science News, provides “news and critical comment on topics where food, agriculture, and biotechnology impact human health and the environment.” That sounds OK, thus far. Unfortunately, Latham and Wilson – although both have research backgrounds – are notorious crackpots, which should be suggested already by the “Independent” inflection in the name of their outlet. Officially the website “links to science news on the web, from both traditional and alternative media sources.” Guess whether they picked up on the infamous (and shoddy) Seralini study? And guess whether they immediately went into conspiracy theory mode? “Seralini and colleagues are just the latest in a series of researchers whose findings have triggered orchestrated campaigns of harassment” – yup; the fact that most professionals in the field reject the study (and that it was eventually retracted) is not because of the evident shoddiness of the research and subsequent sensationalism capitalizing on widespread and unfounded fears concerning GMOs, but because there is an organized witch hunt going on, as shown by that eminent form of reasoning known as the “shill gambit”.

In fact, Latham and Wilson are something close to DNA denialists – that is, they reject the idea that genes can be the common causes of illnesses and disease; that is: genes play no role whatsoever, not only smaller role than expected. In short, Latham and Wilson call for a paradigm shift. Their contentions have of course been rejected by most people familiar with the topics, but moreover, their arguments contain such cherry-picking and deliberate distortion of the existing literature that it is hard to avoid drawing a parallel to the Intelligent Design movement. More here.

Diagnosis: Although they are not as obviously dishonest as the ID people, Latham & Wilson’s anti-science work shows frightening similarities, and deserves to be smacked down as soon and thoroughly as possible – hence the inclusion in our Encyclopedia. 


  1. He's gone after Kevin Folta now, claiming Dr Folta failed to attended an event at Cornell. It's clear that the offer, while there, was deliberately buried to make it look like Folta had ignored it.

    I emailed Kevin, out of the blue, two years ago and got a positive and very pleasant reply within days.

    Makes you wonder. Or maybe it doesn't.

  2. The event above was a "class" that he put on with a student at Cornell, off site of course. They claimed very publicly that I refused to debate him. I was never provided an invitation.

    They demanded that I was given an invitation. I asked about when and where. They referred to the comments section of an ancient blog, and they were right-- there was an invitation there! It is not really an invitation if you bury it in a place where the invitee would never see it!

    This is what these folks are about. Dishonest, manipulative, disgraceful, and time has not been kind to them. One faculty member of the institution where he completed his Phd calls him their "greatest embarrassment".