Deconstructing Darwinese:  Delighting in Ignorance

first_imgWhen is ignorance a good thing?  When is confidence in one’s answers a bad thing?  One science writer expressed his desire for mystery over explanation – as long as the mysterious allowed room for lucky breaks without design.    Science writer Ben Shaberman got to share his views on the last page of the April 2007 issue of Sky and Telescope: “Knowledge can be enlightening, but so can mystery.”  He first described his rapture at hearing Adam Reiss speak about dark energy and multiverses.  Then he described those who disagree with the vision:Those who profess creationism or “intelligent design” think they have the answer to why things in the universe work out so well.  But for those seeking a scientific explanation, the anthropic principle offers another possibility.  It suggests that we simply got lucky: there have been a zillion Big Bangs, and the one that created our universe just happened to work out.  In other words, we hit the cosmic jackpot.  The idea has both its supporters and critics, and it’s utterly fascinating.Fascinating indeed.  Imagine winning the universal lottery without spending any money on tickets.  Ben went on to praise the glories of the unknown, the mysterious, the uncertain: “At a time when politicians and the media espouse so much certainty about virtually everything, it was refreshing to hear an intelligent and levelheaded guy acknowledge all the stuff that baffles us.”Darwinese is more than just a language foreign to the majority of people who live by common sense and know an intelligent cause when they see it.  No, Darwinese is a complete communication system that includes a set of protocols.  One requirement is the secret handshake.  This is the motion of sweeping away creationism with a wipe of the hand, and putting “intelligent design” in scare quotes.  In evolutionary parlance, it is taboo to actually consider the arguments of these dimwits.  The structure of Darwinese, as in 1984, actually inhibits formulating thoughts contrary to Darwinese protocol.  Whatever celebrates Darwinian ideas is goodthink; whatever attributes validity to intelligent design is crimethink.  The syntax and semantics force thoughts into naturalistic molds – except when Christian terms are borrowed temporarily to get around difficulties (e.g., 07/15/2005).    A second requirement is to reinforce the false dichotomy between design/creationist views and “scientific explanation.”  The word science must never be used in the same sentence with intelligent design.  It is a word reserved strictly for Darwinian materialists, even when the context appeals to mystery, the unknown and the unknowable.  Claiming to know the answer is design, and being able to prove it, spoils all the fun of remaining ignorant.  He said, “That hour-long lunch helped me appreciate the beauty of the mysterious world we live in.”    A third requirement in Darwinese is to pretend to be honestly curious and to demean certainty while actually maintaining a dogmatic position.  To prove that Shaberman is an accomplished Darwinese speaker, ask him if evolutionary theory itself is up for debate.  Imagine what would happen if an interlocutor were to argue that invocations to unknowable Big Bangs and multiverses constitutes a tacit appeal to the supernatural.  The Darwinese protocol in such instances is to chant Evolution is science!  Creation is religion! as long as necessary to get the interlocutor to leave.  News reporters watching on the sidelines will promptly report that the Darwinese speaker achieved a great victory against ignorance and superstition.    A feeling of awe and wonder at things too big to be understood does have its share of euphoria.  Mystery can spur one on to seek an explanation.  In that sense, it can be a good thing.  But mystery is not an end in itself, lest it become a mystery religion.  Shaberman just preached a little sermon for the Cult of Lady Luck, one of the denominations of Charlianity.  Darwin would be pleased to know that his doctrine of contingency has been extrapolated all the way back into prior worlds of the imagination.  This completes his systematic theology: ultimate origins, the present, and ultimate destiny.  He is gratified that his completed system produces such warm feelings in the hearts of his disciples.  Now that he controls the Ministry of Truth, having ruled all competing ideas out of bounds, he happily pays out his lottery winners in monopoly money.  Whatever keeps his devotees hooked enraptured in the realms of eternal ignorance is not too high a price to pay.(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Did Dinosaurs See the Grand Canyon?

first_img(Visited 520 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Evolutionists and creationists agree that dinosaurs did not look over the rim of Grand Canyon – but for different reasons.To understand how a feature was made, it’s helpful to know how old it is. Unfortunately, for one of Earth’s most striking features—the Grand Canyon of Arizona—age estimates vary widely. The Geological Society of America admits that a consensus age has been hard to come by:The age of the Grand Canyon (USA) has been studied for years, with recent technological advances facilitating new attempts to determine when erosion of this iconic canyon began. The result is sometimes conflicting ages based on different types of data; most data support the notion that the canyon began to erode to its current form about six million years ago. Then even newer, “high-tech,” data became available and questions were again raised about whether the western end of the canyon could be older.Two numbers are used as general time markers for these alternate hypotheses. The first suggests that the canyon may have started incising 17 million years ago. The second suggests that the canyon may have looked largely as it does today 70 million years ago. The time contrast between these hypotheses is striking, and any accurate concept of the canyon would have to be consistent with all observations.The press release ends by citing a new study that claims the western end of the canyon, at the Grand Wash Cliffs, must be “younger than the fault slip that occurred 18 to 12 million years ago.” Then it concludes, “Comparing their data to other datasets suggests that the notion that the canyon starting eroding around six million years ago is still the best scientific idea for the age of the Grand Canyon.” Notice that they call it a “notion” and an “idea.” It’s interesting that the spread of age estimates for the fault slip (6 million years) is equivalent to their estimate for the entire erosion of the canyon itself. If so much erosion occurred in that time farther to the east, why was there so much less erosion at Grand Wash Cliffs? Why did all the canyon’s erosion wait to commence till another 6 to 12 million years had passed after the fault slip? The theory seems incoherent, but is based on “general time markers” secular geologists rely on for reference.Dinosaur ViewpointSetting aside that question for now, their “notion” precludes dinosaurs having seen the Grand Canyon. The older age (70 million years) might have permitted some dinosaurs to see the western part at least. But the beasts should have been long gone if the fault slip was 18 million years ago. So the answer to PhysOrg‘s question, “Did dinosaurs enjoy Grand Canyon views?” is “Definitely not.”“We are confident the western canyon is younger than 6 million years and is certainly younger than 18 million years,” said Andrew Darling, a graduate student in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. The research is published online June 10 in the journal Geosphere.The problem with the assertion is that studying the age of the Grand Canyon isn’t easy.Measuring time can be tricky when everything you’re studying is eroding away. And the whole region has been eroding for a long time, so not much is left of the landscape that was there when the Grand Canyon started forming. Yet, most people think the Grand Canyon is young – around 6 million years old based on what is preserved.Creationists would agree that the canyon “is certainly younger than 18 million years”—a lot younger! And they would agree that dinosaurs never saw the Grand Canyon. Their reason would be that the canyon formed after the great Flood of Noah’s day. The dinosaurs had all drowned during the Flood year, the last holdouts leaving footprints in Navajo sandstone at levels thousands of feet higher than the canyon sediments. The canyon sediments preserve only marine creatures buried in the early stages of the Flood. Possibly centuries after the Flood, a dam breach from a remnant inland sea carved the canyon when the sediments were still soft, according to a leading creation model.Eastern Grand Canyon shows rapid downcutting after sheet erosionThe only possible way a dinosaur could have seen the Grand Canyon, in this view, would have been for descendents of surviving species taken on the Ark to have migrated to North America after the Flood. Migration and repopulation of the continents was expected to be rapid across land bridges when sea levels were low. Petroglyphs of dinosaur-shaped animals provide some tantalizing hints that early human migrants to the Colorado plateau saw dinosaurs. Conditions after the Flood were either no longer suitable for them, or else humans hunted them to extinction. Still, a few dinosaurs might have looked over the rim and said, “What a magnificent view! This should be a national park!”The creation model has long been a target for scoffers. This month’s announcements about soft tissue in dinosaur bones (6/09/15) and carbon-14 in dinosaur bones (6/18/15), however, have effectively falsified millions of years and confirmed creationist predictions (6/10/15), leaving the young-earth view the only one standing to explain those results. It’s time to turn the tables and laugh at the way secular moyboys use “millions of years” like a magic wand to explain everything they never saw, having denied the only eyewitness account.last_img read more

Darwinism Still Corrupts Culture

first_imgThe bad fruits of Social Darwinism are well known. Less well known are ongoing negative influences of modern Darwinian ideas on human behavior.How Do You Correct Behavior Based on Fake Science?Have you been led to believe that men are naturally more promiscuous because sperm cells are cheap? that women are more choosy because eggs are costly? It’s all bunk. Phys.org just published the following headline: “Data should smash the biological myth of promiscuous males and sexually coy females.” That’s strong wording: smash, myth. New findings are teaching the opposite: men can be coy, and women promiscuous. But both ideas, being based on Darwinian ideas that people are just animals, can have unspeakably horrible consequences for marriage, family, and civilization.The article is merciless in its attack on this myth:These ideas, which are pervasive in Western culture, also have served as the cornerstone for the evolutionary study of sexual selection, sex differences and sex roles among animals. Only recently have some scientists – fortified with modern data – begun to question their underlying assumptions and the resulting paradigm.If Thomas Kuhn were still living, he would have here a great new illustration of his theory of paradigm shifts and scientific revolutions. The article fingers Charles Darwin himself as the mastermind of this fake science. His disciples took it and ran with it.These simple assumptions are based, in part, on the differences in size and presumed energy cost of producing sperm versus eggs – a contrast that we biologists call anisogamy. Charles Darwin was the first to allude to anisogamy as a possible explanation for male-female differences in sexual behavior.His brief mention was ultimately expanded by others into the idea that because males produce millions of cheap sperm, they can mate with many different females without incurring a biological cost. Conversely, females produce relatively few “expensive,” nutrient-containing eggs; they should be highly selective and mate only with one “best male.” He, of course, would provide more than enough sperm to fertilize all a female’s eggs.Surely this notion was tested, right? The article explains how Angus Bateman, a botanist, ran some experiments one time in 1948 on fruit flies (not human fly-by-nighters). Telling a whopper from this miniscule test, he alleged that the promiscuous-male-choosy-female scenario “was a near-universal characteristic of all sexually reproducing species.” In 1972, Robert Trivers amplified on the idea, talking about males’ “cheap investment” in sperm. Read the following quote, and think about what sexually active guys in dorm rooms are supposed to think about normal behavior after evolutionary biology class:In other words, females evolved to choose males prudently and mate with only one superior male; males evolved to mate indiscriminately with as many females as possible. Trivers believed that this pattern is true for the great majority of sexual species.The problem is, it isn’t true! The article explains many counter-examples. Men have just as much reason to be careful about their sex cells. It’s not the number; it’s the biological cost, the article explains. Semen contains many compounds that are expensive to produce. Men can run out of sperm. Consequently, males have every reason to be “choosy” about mating, too. Think of the consequences of poorly-tested bad ideas:The problem is, modern data simply don’t support most of Bateman’s and Trivers’ predictions and assumptions. But that didn’t stop “Bateman’s Principle” from influencing evolutionary thought for decades.Now get this: the article—still founded on evolutionary notions that people are just animals—makes matters even worse. Based on the latest Darwinian notions about sex, the article claims that females tend to be just as promiscuous as males. Think about how that will influence college students!If you think nobody teaches “Bateman’s Principle” any more these days, look at another post on Phys.org that came about the same time, like two ships passing in the night. Steiner Branslet writes about “One night stand regrets.” Another study supposedly shows that women have more regrets than men about casual sex. Look what it’s based on:“Women and men differ fundamentally in their sexual psychology,” says Professor Buss. “A key limitation on men’s reproductive success, historically, has been sexual access to fertile women. These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities.“The quality of one’s sexual partner in short-term relationships plays a lesser role biologically for men. Assuming women did not avoid having sex with them, men who ran from woman to woman and got them pregnant would have scored best in the evolutionary race.Sounds like Bateman’s Principle, right? Sure. Men just act the way evolution makes them act. “Female choice—deciding when, where, and with whom to have sex— is perhaps the most fundamental principle of women’s sexual psychology,” says one of the evolutionists in the article, referring implicitly to the views of Darwin, Bateman and Trivers. How about the guys? “These evolutionary selection pressures have created a male sexual mind that is attentive to sexual opportunities.”Take these quotes and apply them to the dormitory. Think of all the blessed effects on marriage and family down the line; after all, “Culture does not change biology,” this article admonishes. We can’t fight natural selection. Nor should we.An overall explanation presumably lies in the fundamental differences between men and women.The study results support theories of parental investment and sexual strategy: men and women have throughout generations invested differently in their relationships and any children that resulted.We’re talking evolution psychology here.Of course, if humans are more than mere animals, the whole conversation is fake science. We have comprehensive instructions from an all-wise Creator on how we are are to choose our sexual behaviors. But to the consensus, that doesn’t qualify as science. They feel we must derive our sexual ethics from the blind processes of natural selection, which couldn’t care a whit about morals.Other Darwin Fake Science with Evil FruitBateman’s Principle is not the only example of fake science that corrupts culture. Here are more interested readers can investigate:Social Darwinism in 2017. Can you get away with racism today? Evolutionists appear to have no qualms. In a PNAS paper entitled, “Selection against variants in the genome associated with educational attainment,” no less than 15 evolutionists claim that Icelanders with less education have more kids. “The rate of decrease is small per generation but marked on an evolutionary timescale,” they say. “Another important observation is that the association between the score and fertility remains highly significant after adjusting for the educational attainment of the individuals.” Figure this conundrum out: “This is thus a striking case where a variant associated with a phenotype typically regarded as unfavorable could nonetheless be also associated with increased ‘fitness’ in the evolutionary sense.” Well, if that’s the case, might as well go with the flow. Quit school and have more sex. Darwinism is as Darwinism does.Myth-busting Neanderthal narrative takes decades. A lengthy piece in the New York Times shows how long it has taken to overcome what CEH calls “historical racism,” the myth that fossil humans were “other” than human. That’s why we give them other species names, like Homo neanderthalensis. NY Times reporter Jon Mooallem interviews the work of Clive Finlayson at Gibraltar who shows many reasons why “Neanderthals were people, too.” He tells how Frenchman Marcellin Boule in 1911 propagated the Neanderthal myth of stoop-shouldered, beetle-browed imbeciles on their way to the cave cookout. “A lot of what he said was wrong,” Mooallem finds from Finlayson. “Still, Boule’s influence was long-lasting. Over the years, his ideologically tainted image of Neanderthals was often refracted through the lens of other ideologies, occasionally racist ones.”LGBT tales. The inverse influence of culture on science is a fascinating area of philosophy. Check for it in a book review in Science Magazine this week, where Sheri Berenbaum wrestles with the normality of deviant gender roles while reviewing Cordelia Fine’s new book, Testosterone Rex Myths of Sex, Science, and Society (Norton, 2017). Approach this quote like a qualified observer of social influences on science, paying attention to Berebaum’s use of culturally-popular buzzphrases as she plays the academic “On the one hand this, but on the other hand that” game:I welcome and applaud Fine’s efforts to ground policy in science and to spotlight the false reasoning and dichotomies that appear in popular books and some policies (such as single-sex education). I also recognize (and regret) the long history—and present—of using biology to justify inferior treatment of women. This no doubt contributes to resistance to evidence of biological differences among those seeking gender equality.The challenge is not to dismiss biological explanations of sex differences but to articulate clearly their implications. We can accept that biology contributes to behavioral sex differences and simultaneously argue that gender inequalities are not intractable. Rather than rejecting biological differences, we must seek to reveal the nonsense in the arguments that brain and behavioral sex differences justify discrimination, segregation, and differential treatment of the sexes.Shocking but true. At Live Science, Jonathan Sadowsky of Case Western Reserve University tells about “the wild history of electroconvulsive therapy.” Early shock treatments were horrifying to watch; modern ones are milder, he says. While not directly tied to Darwinian theory, this article assumes the brain is merely a physical organ, and that shocking it with electrical impulses can help with “mental illnesses” that are assumed to be mere biological abnormalities. While some forms of depression have biological causes, what about mental illnesses that have a spiritual root or stem from true guilt? The following quote shows how scientific thinking is often tied to the culture of the day. This example is from the 1950s. Are scientists today culpable of such “medicalizing behavior”?At that time, ECT was also used as a “treatment” for homosexuality, then considered by psychiatrists to be an illness. This was not a major part of ECT practice, but this is not a comfort to gay people who received the treatment, for whom it could be traumatizing. The psychiatrists who used ECT in this way sincerely believed they were trying to help sick people, which serves as a warning against “medicalizing” behavior, and assuming that this will reduce stigma. This use of ECT did not last, in part because there was no evidence it did alter anyone’s sexuality. But it survived in the social memory of the therapy.Punish nations with carbon penance. Nature‘s editorial this week says, “Base the social cost of carbon on the science.” The very title assumes that science can speak definitively on something as global as climate a hundred years from now, when we can’t even predict the weather 15 days out. New unknowns and revisions come out weekly, as we have reported (1/18/17); just today, Phys.org said that humans, not climate, caused the extinction of megafauna in Australia 45,000 Darwin years ago. While not tied to Darwinian evolution directly, this editorial shares the assumptions of scientism and millions of years. Nature‘s anti-Trumpism comes out again in the article, accusing the new US president and his appointees of “disregard for science” even though the Editors acknowledge, “There is, of course, plenty of room for debate.”Fake science and false certainty. In closing, we should consider the views  of a Worldview op-ed column in Nature: “Anita Makri argues that the form of science communicated in popular media leaves the public vulnerable to false certainty.” Yet she argues that scientists should “Give the public the tools to trust scientists.” Mouthing Pontius Pilate, she begins, “What is truth?” Of the two groups she works in that are concerned with truth (scientists and journalists), she believes that journalists are doing a good job (despite all the evidence for fake news in the mainstream media, complained about by conservatives, like Breitbart News; see also Breitbart’s report on BBC’s admission they’ve been biased; meanwhile, New Scientist is overtly publishing a very biased and unscientific series, “Resisting Trump”). But “Scientists need to catch up, or they risk further marginalization in a society that is increasingly weighing evidence and making decisions without them.” Science is “losing its relevance as a source of truth,” she worries.Yet further reading reveals her faith in scientism. The only purveyors of fake news are the conservatives, she suggests with a link to another Nature story accusing Breitbart News of that. To Makri, scientists don’t tell lies; they just don’t have all the facts yet. Scientists may have gaps in their knowledge, but it will eventually catch up to the truth, because in scientism, science works as a truth generator in due time—the most reliable truth generator in the world. “Current debates about truth are far from trivial,” she ends. “More scientists and communicators of science need to get involved, update practices and reposition themselves in a way that gets with the times and shows that science matters — while it still does.” In other words, scientists don’t have a truth problem; just a talking points problem (echoed in Nature‘s interviews with three scientists about how to solve “post-truth predicaments”). One wonders what would be these “experts”‘ responses to the paradigms above about promiscuity, Neanderthals, electroshock therapy, racism and the other matters that have really hurt real people under the guise of “scientific truth.”After the historical and current examples we listed above, do you trust scientists when it comes to their pronouncements about how people should live and behave? Jesus said it succinctly with timeless wisdom: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20). A species puts out what is in its genes.One scientist wrote a letter to Nature that bears quoting. “Beware of scientists wielding red pens,” he titles his comment about censorship.By inviting scientists to take their ‘red pens to the Internet’ and grade online sources of science reporting, Phil Williamson implies that science is the primary and final voice in public discussion (Nature 540, 171; 2016). This disregards other ways in which people make sense of their lives through political debate, social context, personal connections or beliefs (see also D. Sarewitz Nature 522, 413–414; 2015). It stems from the naive myth of science as a disinterested producer of neutral truths.Science has a delicate relationship with society. Both have the right to speak and both shape one another — for better or worse. Governance and government rely increasingly on a science that is embedded in socio-political arenas populated by scientists, policymakers and citizens, among others. Not every expertise is equally credible, but a democratic society should allow each one to have a voice.To discredit them online may feel like defending the honour and public status of science, but it is a form of censorship. Science cannot impose its truths through power play — it must convince through symmetrical and open conversation. Whoa! Did you get that?In that second link, Sarewitz had said this:Scientists are not elected. They cannot represent the cultural values, politics and interests of citizens — not least because their values may differ significantly from those of people in other walks of life. A 2007 study on the social implications of nanotechnology, for instance, showed that nanoscientists had little concern about such technologies eliminating jobs, whereas the public was greatly concerned (see ‘A matter of perspective’). Each group was being rational. Nanoscientists have good reason to be optimistic about the opportunities created by technological frontiers; citizens can be justifiably worried that such frontiers will wreak havoc on labour markets. Unfortunately, such voices of reason are often drowned out by Big Scientism.(Visited 133 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South African journalists shortlisted in global awards

first_imgInvestigative journalists risk their own safety when exposing corruption and crime. The Global Investigative Journalism Network honours those fearless reporters with the Global Shining Light Award. A South African team has been shortlisted for the award this year, following the win by another South African team in 2013. A team of South African journalists has been shortlisted for the Global Shining Light Award, to be handed out on 10 October in Norway. (Image: Pixabay)• The Conversation goes live in Africa• Suzelle’s DIY takes South Africa by storm• South Africa’s women in politics• South Africa’s Rugby World Cup journey• South Africa in top 20 best places to raise children Priya PitamberA South African investigative journalism story, “Goldfinger”, which aired on television current affairs show Carte Blanche, has been shortlisted in the Global Shining Light Awards.The story, which explores the manner in which tons of illegal gold is laundered into the legal market, made the cut alongside 12 other stories from around the world. The illegal gold, the story explains, is masked as second-hand jewellery. “So lucrative is this VAT scam that it has drawn sophisticated and dangerous organised crime gangs into the trade,” reads the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) website.The finalists were chosen after the GIJN received 76 submissions from 34 countries. The awards will take place on 10 October in Lillehammer, Norway, during the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC).The team behind the “Goldfinger” story is producer Graham Coetzer; journalist Susan Comrie; and Devi Sankaree Govender as presenter.Watch more on the story here:What is the Global Shining Light Award?The award “honours investigative journalism in a developing or transitioning country, done under threat, duress, or in the direst of conditions”, states the GIJC website. It takes place every two years.The winner walks away with an honorary plaque, $1 000 (about R13 700 today), and a trip to the conference to accept the award.Congrats to the 12 finalists of the Global Shining Light! Winner will be announced at #GIJC15http://t.co/3k9xSR33dbpic.twitter.com/wTxKzp2vL3— GIJN (@gijn) September 19, 2015“More and more journalists are being killed, and media outlets attacked, because they are carrying out important efforts in investigative journalism – exposing uncomfortable truths, shining light on systematic corruption, and providing accountability in societies yearning for democracy and development,” informs the conference’s website.The awards recognise and celebrate the brave work conducted by the investigative press around the world. The majority of the press in sub-Saharan Africa is partially free. Click on the image for a larger view. (Image: US News)Previous South African winnersIn 2013, a team of South African journalists from the Sunday Times shared the top award with reporters from Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic.The South African team, Stephan Hofstatter, Mzilikazi wa Afrika, and Rob Rose; worked on what became known as “Cato Manor: Inside a South African Police Death Squad.” It exposed police corruption.Find out more about that story from Afrika, and the threats he faced:last_img read more

Tech trends fostering new links to consumers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Retail grocers and innovative farmers are using technology and new store concepts to address changing demographics, capitalize on new shopping trends, and bring consumers closer to the source of their food.Smart phones have now become the most important kitchen tool. They’re used to look up recipes, research brands and ingredients, check prices, interact with foodie friends, get advice from experts and key influencers, and trace the origins of food items. Statistics show that food accounts for the most popular posts on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and other major social media sites. Consumers also use social media to engage directly with farmers.Grocers and others in the food industry now are scrambling to meet the desires of Millennials, who recently overtook Baby Boomers as the largest working population in the U.S. A recent study conducted by Deloitte, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute showed that beyond the traditional drivers of taste, price and convenience, more than half of Millennials make purchase decisions by weighing “evolving drivers” — including health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience and transparency.Millennials treat grocery shopping as part of their social activities. They’ll meet for coffee, an in-store restaurant experience or cooking class and then pick up a few groceries. They’re willing to save on budget items in order to spend more on select luxury foods, often meeting friends to build their shopping trip around a particular recipe. Upscale markets have even become hot dating sites in some urban areas.Grocery stores are retooling to accommodate consumers’ changing tastes to include more story-telling as part of the shopping experience. With more than 80 percent of the U.S. population living in urban areas, few consumers will ever visit a farm. Retailers and farmers are using technology and innovative new store concepts to bring farms to consumers.• A new Whole Foods flagship store in Alpharetta, Georgia, features interactive digital elements like Instagram feeds to show produce being grown at local farms which supply the store.• BrightFarms Hydroponic Gardens is working with more than a half dozen grocery chains to build and manage hydroponic greenhouses on store rooftops, or in nearby parking garages and empty lots. Farmers trained by BrightFarms will grow tomatoes, salad greens and herbs for local sale and delivery. They’re also planning a 100,000 square foot farm in Brooklyn that will be able to grow a million pounds of produce each year.• The Farmery is developing a transportable “aquaponics store” made of stacked shipping containers. Reversible growing panels will allow customers to pick their own strawberries and leafy greens. Empty panels can be replaced by new panels from other containers stacked above the store level.• Wegmans Food Markets recently announced a new, on-site mill in the bakery of its Pittsford, New York, location. The first-of-its-kind, the mill will be used to grind raw grains, featuring Einkorn and rye sourced from a nearby farm. Commodity groups are also fostering innovation. The California Avocado Commission is receiving accolades for its creative approach to connecting with shoppers during the Super Bowl.  Every time a food or beverage commercial aired, they posted Twitter links to videos showing how California avocados would pair with it – from beer to soft drinks, snacks to grilled foods and even candy bars.More innovation is coming still! Consumers already can use their phones to scan bar codes or read Radio Frequency Identification tags in a grocery store to see ingredients, look up recipes and get more of the story behind their food. Increasingly, customers are able to use their phones to learn more about the farms or ranches where their food was grown, or even chat with the farmer who grew it.Thanks to social media tools, more farmers are making farm and ranch life come alive for consumers. This increased interaction is more important now with fewer and fewer consumers living near a farm or ranch. Innovative shopping trends and technology are bringing consumers and farmers closer together than ever before.last_img read more