Friday, July 24, 2009

New Humanist podcast review

The New Humanist magazine, has a promotional podcast that gives a flavor of what is to be expected in the coming issue. (feed) New Humanist editor Casper Melville speaks with a couple of contributors to the issue about their articles. Judging from the feed, the podcast faded about half a year ago and has been revived just now.

So the latest issue is a first in what is hopefully coming to be a regular series. It was recommended, if I recall correctly, by the makers of Philosophy Bites through Twitter. In any case I picked it up on Twitter. The subjects are: Genetically Manipulated food, the New Economy hype and internet porn from the perspective of classical theory. The last subject seems to be the most sexy, but in effect it is the first. About porn you will learn just what you already knew; it is plain, superficial, predictable and lacking any form of story.

The question about genetically manipulated food is, what is it? What is good about it and what might be bad? Agricultural products are, already, the outcome of ages of breeding and amelioration. We have always striven to get out of our crops more yield, whether it is more harvest, bigger size, more nutrition or more resistance to disease or other failure. With new genetic technology the same aims are pursued on the molecular level. New Humanist sees no problem with it. The negative ideas about it are contributed to an intuitive revulsion. I hope to find a podcast some time that will shed more light from that angle.