Nice post of Derek on All Natural And Chemical Free. He has some very interesting points:
The "chemical free" view of the world has the virtue of simplicity (and indeed, sees simplicity as a virtue itself). Want to stay healthy? Simple. Don’t eat things with chemicals in them. Want to know if something is the right thing to eat, drink, wear, etc.? Simple: is it natural or not?
This is another thing that makes some people who argue for this view so vehement – it’s not hard, it’s right in front of you, and why can’t you see the right way of living when it’s so, so. . .simple? Arguing against that, from a scientific point of view, puts a person at several disadvantages. You necessarily have to come in with all these complications and qualifying statements, trying to show how things are actually different than they look.
So there are plenty of reasons why it’s hard to effectively argue against the all-natural chemical-free worldview. You’re asking your audience to accept a number of things that don’t make much sense to them, and what’s worse, many of these things look like rhetorical tricks at best and active (even actively evil) attempts to mislead them at worst. And all in the service of something that many of them are predisposed to regard as suspicious even from the start. It’s uphill all the way.
Mmh. Sadly, this is true. I had so many debates and arguments about these things with non–chemistry people (including relatives). After, I really feel exhausted because it feels like breaking through a brick–wall of ‘simplicity’.
I remember a talk I gave in a circle of physicists about my diploma thesis ‘Optical pH Sensors for Dermatology’. After the talk there was a short discussion. The very first question was ‘Will your stuff harm or kill you?’. Sigh.
Now, instead of arguing, I suggest eating amanita verna or the like. It is all natural and, therefore, chemical free, isn’t it?