Self-Right​eousness in Everyday’s Life and the Loss of Our Sense of Humor and Perspectiv​e When Talking about Organic & GEO/GMO — Written 05/20/2012

“There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous,” says author Kendall Eskine, assistant professor of  the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans.”

“”There’s something about being exposed to organic food that made them feel better about themselves,” says Eskine. “And that made them kind of jerks a little bit, I guess.”

Why does eating better make us act worse? Eskine says it probably has to do with what he calls “moral licensing.”

“People may feel like they’ve done their good deed,” he says. “That they have permission, or license, to act unethically later on. It’s like when you go to the gym and run a few miles and you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar.””

“”At my local grocery, I sometimes catch organic eyes gazing into my grocery cart and scowling,” says Sue Frause, a 61-year-old freelance writer/photographer from Whidbey Island. “So I’ll often toss in really bad foods just to get them even more riled up.””

“Self-righteousness (also called sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, a holier-than-thou attitudes) is a feeling of (usually) smug moral superiority derived from a sense that one’s beliefs, actions, or affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person.

The term “self-righteous” is often considered derogatory (see, for example, journalist and essayist James Fallows’ description of self-righteousness[3] in regards to Nobel Peace Prize winners) particularly because self-righteous individuals are often thought to exhibit hypocrisy due to the belief that humans are imperfect and can therefore never be infallible, an idea similar to that of the Freudian defense mechanism of reaction formation. The connection between self-righteousness and hypocrisy predates Freud’s views, however, as evidenced by the 1899 book Good Mrs. Hypocrite: A Study in Self-Righteousness, by the pseudonymous author “Rita.””

“Superiority complex is a psychological defense mechanism in which a person’s feelings of superiority counter or conceal his or her feelings of inferiority.”

“”If a person is a show-off it is only because he feels inferior, because he does not feel strong enough to compete with others on the useful side of life. That is why he stays on the useless side. He is not in harmony with society. It seems to be a trait of human nature that when individuals – both children and adults – feel weak, they want to solve the problems of life in such a way as to obtain personal superiority without any admixture of social interest. A superiority complex is a second phase. It is a compensation for the inferiority [feeling] complex.”

“The superiority complex is one of the ways which a person with an inferiority complex may use as a method of escape from his difficulties. He assumes that he is superior when he is not, and this false success compensates him for the state of inferiority which he cannot bear. The normal person does not have a superiority complex, he does not even have a sense of superiority. He has the striving to be superior in the sense that we all have ambition to be successful; but so long as this striving is expressed in work it does not lead to false valuations, which are at the root of mental disease.”

“From Alfred Adler’s point of view, an individual faced with a task, wants to overcome or master the task. This is known as striving for superiority. For a well adapted individual, this striving is not for personal superiority over others, but an overcoming of the task, or finding useful answers to questions in life. When faced with the task, the individual will experience a feeling of inferiority or a sense that the current situation is not as good as the it could be if the task was accomplished. This feeling is similar to stress. If the individual has not been properly trained, the task may seem too much to overcome and lead to an exaggerated feeling of inferiority, or intense anxiety. The individual may, after several unsuccessful attempts to accomplish the task, give up on mastering the task, experiencing the inferiority complex, or a depressed state. The individual may also make several attempts at solving the problem and find a solution to the problem that causes problems in other areas. An individual who answers the question “How can I be thin?” by not eating will become thin, but at the cost over their overall health.”

“An individual who is not properly trained to answer life’s problems may turn from striving for superiority in useful ways to that of a personal superiority at all cost. If an individual cannot be better than other on their own merrit, they will tear down the other person or group to maintain their superior position.”

“Other authors have argued that it is a mistake to believe that both the superiority and inferiority complex can be found together as different expressions of the same pathology and that both complexes can exist within the same individual since an individual with a superiority complex truly believes they are superior to others. An inferiority complex may manifest with the behaviors that are intended to show others that one is superior; such as expensive material possessions, or an obsession with vanity and appearances. They express themselves as superior because they lack feelings of adequacy. Superiority complex sufferers do not always care about image or vanity, since they have innate feelings of superiority and thus do not usually concern themselves with proving their superiority to others. The term “superiority complex”, in everyday usage, refers to an overly high opinion of oneself. In psychology, it refers not to a belief, but a pattern of behaviors expressing the belief that one is superior. Similarly, one with an inferiority complex would act as if they were inferior, or not up to the task.”

“Those exhibiting the superiority complex have a self-image of supremacy. Those with superiority complexes may garner a negative image in those around them, as they are not concerned with the opinions of others about themselves. This is responsible for the paradox in which those with an inferiority complex are the ones who present themselves in the best light possible; while those with a superiority complex may not attempt to make themselves look good. This may give off an image that others may consider inferior. This is responsible for the misconception that those with an inferiority complex are meek and mild, but the complex is not defined by the behavior of the individual but by the self-image of the individual. Not that a person with a superiority complex will not express their superiority to others, only that they do not feel the need to do so. They may speak as if they are all-knowing and better than others. But ultimately they do not care if others think so or not, and will not care if others tell them so. They simply won’t listen to, and don’t care about, those who disagree. In this regard, it is much alike the cognitive bias known as Illusory superiority. This is juxtaposed to an inferiority complex where if their knowledge, accuracy, superiority or etc. is challenged, the individual will not stop in their attempts to prove such things until the dissenting party accepts their opinion (or whatever issue it may be). Again this is another reason that those with inferiority complexes are often mistaken for having superiority complexes when they must express and maintain their superiority in the eyes of others. Many fail to recognize that this is a trait of low self-opinion who care deeply about the opinion of others, not of those who feel superior and have high-self esteem and do not care at all about the opinion of others.”

“The moral lesson is to avoid hypocrisy and censoriousness. The analogy used is of a small object in another’s eye as compared with a large beam of wood in one’s own. The original Greek word translated as “mote” (κάρφος karphos) meant “any small dry body.” A proverb of this sort was familiar to the Jews and appears in numerous other cultures too. For example, the poet Robert Burns famously wrote:

Oh, wad some Power the giftie give us,

To see ourselves as others see us!”

“According to the UK’s Food Standards Agency, “Consumers may choose to buy organic fruit, vegetables and meat because they believe them to be more nutritious than other food. However, the balance of current scientific evidence does not support this view.” A 12-month systematic review commissioned by the FSA in 2009 and conducted at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine based on 50 years’ worth of collected evidence concluded that “there is no good evidence that consumption of organic food is beneficial to health in relation to nutrient content.” Other studies have found no proof that organic food offers greater nutritional values, more consumer safety or any distinguishable difference in taste. A review of nutrition claims showed that organic food proponents are unreliable information sources which harm consumers, and that consumers are wasting their money if they buy organic food believing that it contains better nutrients. Minor differences in ascorbic acid, protein concentration and several micronutrients have been identified between organic and conventional foods, but it doesn’t appear that these have any impact on human health.

Although it is commonly claimed that organically grown food tastes better than conventionally grown food, reviews of the literature that looked at the sensory qualities of the two have not found convincing evidence that there are any significant differences.”

“In looking at possible increased risk to safety from organic food consumption, reviews have found that although there are theoretical increased risk from microbiological contamination due to increased manure use as fertilizer from organisms like E. coli O157:H7 during organic produce production, there does not exist sufficient evidence of actual incidence of outbreaks that can be clearly tied to organic food production to draw any firm conclusions. Other possible sources of increased safety risk from organic food consumption like use of biological pesticides or the theoretical risk from mycotoxins from fungi grown on products due to the lack of effective organic compliant fungicides have likewise not been confirmed by rigorous studies in the scientific literature.”


“Demand for organic foods is primarily concern for personal health and concern for the environment. Organic products typically cost 10 to 40% more than similar conventionally produced products. According to the USDA, Americans, on average, spent $1,347 on groceries in 2004; thus switching entirely to organics would raise their cost of groceries by about $135 to $539 per year ($11 to $45 per month) assuming that prices remained stable with increased demand. Processed organic foods vary in price when compared to their conventional counterparts.

While organic food accounts for 1-2% of total food sales worldwide, the organic food market is growing rapidly, far ahead of the rest of the food industry, in both developed and developing nations.

World organic food sales jumped from US $23 billion in 2002 to $52 billion in 2008.

The world organic market has been growing by 20% a year since the early 1990s, with future growth estimates ranging from 10%-50% annually depending on the country.”

“Sustainable agriculture is the practice of farming using principles of ecology, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as “an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will last over the long term:

Satisfy human food and fiber needs

Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends

Make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls

Sustain the economic viability of farm operations

Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”

Sustainable agriculture in the United States was addressed by the 1990 farm bill. More recently, as consumer and retail demand for sustainable products has risen, organizations such as Food Alliance and Protected Harvest have started to provide measurement standards and certification programs for what constitutes a sustainably grown crop.”

“Protected Harvest is an American non-profit organization headquartered in Soquel, California that certifies sustainably grown crops. The goal of the organization is to provide a standard measurement of what constitutes a sustainable product and use it to assure retailers and consumers that they are purchasing sustainably grown items. Protected Harvest was founded in 2001 as an independent non-profit organization and merged into SureHarvest in 2008. According to, a non-profit monitoring certification programs, “Protected Harvest is an eco-label with the stated mission of helping farmers meet environmental standards that yield high quality products and preserve healthy land for future generations.” Pest-management in particular is among the specialties of Protected Harvest, according to Consumer Reports.”

” Possible sources of nitrogen that would, in principle, be available indefinitely, include:

  • recycling crop waste and livestock or treated human manure
  • growing legume crops and forages such as peanuts or alfalfa that form symbioses with nitrogen-fixing bacteria called rhizobia
  • industrial production of nitrogen by the Haber Process uses hydrogen, which is currently derived from natural gas, (but this hydrogen could instead be made by electrolysis of water using electricity (perhaps from solar cells or windmills)) or
  • genetically engineering (non-legume) crops to form nitrogen-fixing symbioses or fix nitrogen without microbial symbionts.”

“Without efforts to improve soil management practices, the availability of arable soil will become increasingly problematic.

  • Some Soil Management techniques
  • No-till farming
  • Keyline design
  • Growing wind breaks to hold the soil
  • Incorporating organic matter back into fields
  • Stop using chemical fertilizers (which contain salt)
  • Protecting soil from water runoff”

“What grows where and how it is grown are a matter of choice. Two of the many possible practices of sustainable agriculture are crop rotation and soil amendment, both designed to ensure that crops being cultivated can obtain the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. Soil amendments would include using locally available compost from community recycling centers. These community recycling centers help produce the compost needed by the local organic farms.

Many scientists, farmers, and businesses have debated how to make agriculture sustainable. Using community recycling from yard and kitchen waste utilizes a local area’s commonly available resources. These resources in the past were thrown away into large waste disposal sites, are now used to produce low cost organic compost for organic farming. Other practices includes growing a diverse number of perennial crops in a single field, each of which would grow in separate season so as not to compete with each other for natural resources. This system would result in increased resistance to diseases and decreased effects of erosion and loss of nutrients in soil. Nitrogen fixation from legumes, for example, used in conjunction with plants that rely on nitrate from soil for growth, helps to allow the land to be reused annually. Legumes will grow for a season and replenish the soil with ammonium and nitrate, and the next season other plants can be seeded and grown in the field in preparation for harvest.”


“There may be some techniques of farming that are inherently in conflict with the concept of sustainability, but there is widespread misunderstanding on impacts of some practices. Today the growth of local farmers’ markets offer small farms the ability to sell the products that they have grown back to the cities that they got the recycled compost from. By using local recycling this will help move people away from the slash-and-burn techniques that are the characteristic feature of shifting cultivators are often cited as inherently destructive, yet slash-and-burn cultivation has been practiced in the Amazon for at least 6000 years; serious deforestation did not begin until the 1970s, largely as the result of Brazilian government programs and policies. To note that it may not have been slash-and-burn so much as slash-and-char, which with the addition of organic matter produces terra preta, one of the richest soils on Earth and the only one that regenerates itself.”

“Terra preta’s capacity to increase its own volume-thus to sequester more carbon-was first documented by pedologist William I. Woods of the University of Kansas. This remains the central mystery of terra preta.

  • The processes responsible for the formation of terra preta soils are:
  • Incorporation of wood charcoal
  • Incorporation of organic matter and of nutrients
  • Role of micro-organisms and animals in the soil”

“New Harvest is a non-profit organization promoting research on the development of in vitro meat and other meat substitutes. New Harvest was formed by researchers actively promoting tissue engineering. In 2005, P. D. Edelman, M.Sc., D.C. McFarland, Ph.D., V.A. Mironov, Ph.D., M.D., and J.G. Matheny, M.P.H. published their research in the journal Tissue Engineering, proposing new production methods.”

“Matheny says lab production of meat would be “cleaner, more efficient, more sanitary,” and “solve all of the animal welfare problems” of current meat production. According to New Harvest’s FAQ, “Within several years, it may be possible to produce cultured meat in a processed form, like sausage, hamburger, or chicken nuggets, with modifications of existing technologies.” The organization seeks to fund these technologies while focusing on their economic viability. A preliminary study was commissioned in 2008 in order to analyze costs of different technologies.”

“New Harvest currently funds university-based research to develop new culture media, bioreactors, and methods of tissue assembly for the production of cultured meat. In addition, it is funding an environmental assessment of cultured meat compared to conventional meat, looking at the relative efficiency in land, water, and energy use.”

“New Harvest has received press coverage by US News and World Report, Time,The Washington Post, and The Economist”

“A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques, generally known as recombinant DNA technology, use DNA molecules from different sources, which are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism, giving it modified or novel genes. Transgenic organisms, a subset of GMOs, are organisms that have inserted DNA from a different species. GMOs are the constituents of genetically modified foods.”


“GMOs are used in biological and medical research, production of pharmaceutical drugs, experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy), and agriculture (e.g. golden rice). The term “genetically modified organism” does not always imply, but can include, targeted insertions of genes from one species into another. For example, a gene from a jellyfish, encoding a fluorescent protein called GFP, can be physically linked and thus co-expressed with mammalian genes to identify the location of the protein encoded by the GFP-tagged gene in the mammalian cell. Such methods are useful tools for biologists in many areas of research, including those who study the mechanisms of human and other diseases or fundamental biological processes in eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells.

To date the most controversial but also the most widely adopted application of GMO technology is patent-protected food crops that are resistant to commercial herbicides or are able to produce pesticidal proteins from within the plant, or stacked trait seeds, which do both. The largest share of the GMO crops planted globally are owned by the United States firm Monsanto. In 2007, Monsanto’s trait technologies were planted on 246 million acres (1,000,000 km2) throughout the world, a growth of 13 percent from 2006. However, patents on the first Monsanto products to enter the marketplace will begin to expire in 2014, democratizing Monsanto products. In addition, a 2007 report from the European Joint Research Commission predicts that by 2015, more than 40 per cent of new GM plants entering the global marketplace will have been developed in Asia.

In the corn market, Monsanto’s triple-stack corn-which combines Roundup Ready 2-weed control technology with YieldGard Corn Borer and YieldGard Rootworm insect control-is the market leader in the United States. U.S. corn farmers planted more than 32 million acres (130,000 km2) of triple-stack corn in 2008,[14] and it is estimated the product could be planted on 56 million acres (230,000 km2) in 2014-2015. In the cotton market, Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex was planted on approximately 5 million acres (20,000 km2) of U.S. cotton in 2008.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), in 2010 approximately 15 million farmers grew biotech crops in 29 countries. Over 90% of the farmers were resource-poor in developing countries. 6.5 million farmers in China and 6.3 million small farmers in India grew biotech crops (mostly Bacillus thuringiensis cotton). The Philippines, South Africa (biotech cotton, maize, and soybeans often grown by subsistence women farmers) and another twelve developing countries also grew biotech crops in 2009. 10 million more small and resource-poor farmers may have been secondary beneficiaries of Bt cotton in China.

The global commercial value of biotech crops grown in 2008 was estimated to be US$130 billion.”


“The safety of GMOs in the foodchain has been questioned by some environmental groups, with concerns such as the possibilities that GMOs could introduce new allergens into foods, or contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistance. According to a study published in 1999, there was no current evidence to suggest that the processes used to genetically modify food were inherently harmful. However, a number of more recent studies  have raised concern, and environmental groups still discourage consumption in many countries, claiming that GM foods are unnatural and therefore unsafe. Such concerns have led to the adoption of laws and regulations that require safety testing of any new organism produced for human consumption.”


“GMOs’ proponents note that because of the safety testing requirements imposed on GM foods, the risk of introducing a plant variety with a new allergen or toxin using genetic modification is much smaller than using traditional breeding processes. Transgenesis has less impact on the expression of genomes or on protein and metabolite levels than conventional breeding or plant (non-directed) mutagenesis. An example of an allergenic plant created using traditional breeding is the kiwi. One article calculated that the marketing of GM salmon could reduce the cost of salmon by half, thus increasing salmon consumption and preventing 1,400 deaths from heart attack a year in the United States.”


“Hybrid seeds were commonly used in developed countries long before the introduction of GM crops. Some hybrid crop seeds cannot be saved, so purchasing new seed every year is already a standard agricultural practice for a majority of farms.

There are technologies evolving that contain the transgene by biological means and still can provide fertile seeds using fertility-restorer functions. Such methods are being developed by several EU research programs, among them Transcontainer and Co-Extra.”


“The phrase naturalistic fallacy, with “fallacy” referring to a formal fallacy, has several meanings. It can be used to refer to the claim that what is natural is inherently good or right, and that what is unnatural is bad or wrong (see also “appeal to nature”). This naturalistic fallacy is the converse of the moralistic fallacy, the notion that what is good or right is natural and inherent.”


“The naturalistic fallacy is related to (and even confused with) the is-ought problem, which comes from Hume’s Treatise.

Another usage of the phrase was described by British philosopher G. E. Moore in his 1903 book Principia Ethica. Moore stated that a naturalistic fallacy is committed whenever a philosopher attempts to prove a claim about ethics by appealing to a definition of the term “good” in terms of one or more natural properties (such as “pleasant”, “more evolved”, “desired”, etc.).”






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