Remember that Time Someone Rich and Famous Promised to Stalk You for the Rest of Your Life? Yesterday, I began to tell a story about character assassination. It’s a story about how I came to be the focus of one crusading quasi-journalist and a group of GMO opponents unhappy with my reporting and writing on the topic of agricultural biotechnology.

What I have experienced these past few years is not uncommon for science journalists reporting on contested science, be it pertaining to climate change, vaccines, GMOs, etc. By “contested science,” I mean a field of science with policy implications and a high degree of public interest that has become contested in the public sphere by religious ideological, or politically-driven interests.

For example, in the 2000s, creationists made evolutionary biology a “contested science” when they tried to insert “intelligent design” in school curriculums during a campaign called “Teach the Controversy.”  The effort was rightly opposed and legally challenged (successfully) by science educators, high school teachers, and science advocates. In a rather ironic development, the creationist campaign has come to be taught in some classrooms–just not as creationists had intended.

Climate change is another classic example of “contested science” in the same mold. Earlier this year, the Heartland Institute, a conservative/libertarian think tank long hostile to climate science, took a page out of the creationist playbook and mailed scientifically inaccurate classroom materials to thousands of school teachers nationwide. The Heartland Institute claims it is attempting to teach the “debate” on climate change, but this is disingenuous. What it really is trying to do is cast doubt on multiple lines of well-established evidence of anthropogenic climate change. The debate over GMOs in the last twenty years has been marred by similar concerted efforts to discredit and muddy the underlying science of agricultural biotechnology. Don’t take my word for it. Read Will Saletan’s thoroughly researched and reported 2015 deep dive at Slate.  The subhead of his piece is what he discovered: “The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors and fraud.”

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Order Ambien Overnight This is precisely what I found after immersing myself in the issues that had come to define the GMO discourse. I wrote about that for Slate in 2012. I didn’t know at the time I would continue to cover the GMO story, but the more I looked into the issues that shaped it, the more fascinated I became by the false narratives that had become entrenched. So I followed my curiosity and learned how some of those powerful narratives were constructed.

By the way, I’m not the only journalist who has debunked zombie GMO myths. See, for example, Dan Charles at NPR and Brooke Borel at Popular Science. Other talented reporters, such as Nate Johnson at Grist and Amy Harmon at the New York Times, have undertaken herculean journalism projects that crystallized both scientific and socio-political controversies that have dogged the GMO discourse. Additionally, Michael Specter at the The New Yorker and Tamar Haspel at The Washington Post have done amazing journalism on thorny GMO-related issues.

I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting at the moment, but you get the point. All those aforementioned journalists have performed a valuable public service with journalism on GMOs that has been revelatory, nuanced, engaging, fearless, and evidence-based. I am not in their league. (It has been said, though, that I punch above my weight.)

But I have something they don’t have: A super-dedicated internet stalker who also harangues my employers/colleagues at the magazines I freelance and at the universities I teach at. Additionally, I have this charming fellow popping up in my Twitter feed every few months.

The famed, wealthy author is notoriously irascible on Twitter, so it’s not as if this sort of thing is out of character for him. However, the person who he is exchanging Twitter pleasantries with has developed an unhealthy fixation with me. Every so often, this person–my super-dedicated internet stalker–channels his obsession into an article about my apparent shortcomings as a journalist. The first time he did this in 2015 didn’t turn out so well. His article got retracted by a respected publication (though, on principle, I didn’t agree with the retraction and said so publicly).

I should mention that my super dedicated internet stalker has also taken an inordinate interest in Tamar Haspel, who he often disparages on Twitter (and who knows where else). Here’s a representative example: He tends to be a bit…well, conspiratorial:

Ambien Sale Online Cheap And if you think I’m just picking out a few random tweets, you should read Thacker’s interaction with science communicator Aaron Huertas. So I can’t claim to be the sole target of what Huertas characterizes as Thacker’s “rather silly and crass tactics.” But I gotta give Thacker credit for going the extra mile with me, as demonstrated in his latest valentine published at the Huffington Post, titled “Keith Kloor’s Endearing Love Affair with GMO’s.” In my previous post, I started to deconstruct the main accusations, which go beyond my supposed fondness for GMOs. That job deserves to be completed, and I thought I would get it done here. But I felt a bit more needed to be said about the person who wrote that article and how he conducts himself.

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Please indulge me and come back tomorrow. We’ll have a closer (and final) look at what some are suggesting is a “journalism scandal.” Like I said at the outset of this post, it’s actually a story about character assassination.

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