Ed Barrett

Writer / Director
Liverpool, United Kingdom

About Ed

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Languages

English, Japanese

Areas of Expertise

Theatre, sales

An idea worth spreading

GM food is more dangerous than you think. For many reasons. One of the simplest is this: imagine there is a phone-hacker has managed to steal 1,000,000 mobile phones, and he's trying to break into them. Each phone has its own 4-digit PIN number. He has three attempts which each phone. Mathematically, he should be able to break in to about one of every 3,333 phones he tries to break into purely by chance. In other words, he'd be able to break into only 300 of the 1,000,00 phones. Now - imagine instead of each phone having an individual PIN number, all the PIN numbers are the same. This time, it might (statistically speaking - and if he doesn't have a very scientific approach!) still take him 3,333 attempts to break into one phone; but once he has the correct PIN number, he can easily break into all of the other phones. This time, he can break into at least 996,667 phones. Each plant in a GM crop has the same 'security'; if a virus can infect one plant, it can infect them all.

Universities

Warwick University

People don't know I'm good at

Tactical thinking.

Comments & conversations

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Ed Barrett
Posted 3 months ago
Andrew Solomon: Depression, the secret we share
Wow. I get the impression Andrew Solomon has achieved a lot in his life; but even if he hadn't, even if this talk was the only thing of value he'd ever done, then his would be a life worth celebrating. He shines a light where it seems there can only be darkness, and builds a bridge between those who suffer and those who cannot understand the suffering.
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Ed Barrett
Posted about 2 years ago
How immune should science be from the political environment of its time?
There are analogies with situations such as climate change - which many people in the US now think is disputed by scientists, rather than there being a near-consensus amongst scientists, with a lot of counter-information from lobbyists funded by the oil industry. Similarly, the true harm caused by cigarettes was kept hidden by tobacco companies so they could avoid litigation - ie, because of the profit motive. (For those of you in the UK, there's a film on Film 4 this evening called 'The Insider' on this subject that's well worth a watch). The thinking and arguments supporting the widespread use of GMOs also has parallels with the derivatives market, which in part caused the downfall of the financial systems around the world. Things are being sold as safe and profitable, and of benefit to the poor, when they are not. The big difference is, when parts of the global food production system collapse, it won't mean people losing jobs, but their lives.
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Ed Barrett
Posted about 2 years ago
Nancy Duarte: The secret structure of great talks
Perhaps the comparison between King and Jobs tells us something about society's deepening fixation on material possessions. King helped create an optimism that the scourge of racism might one day be overcome; Jobs convinced people to buy new stuff long before the old stuff was worn out.
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Ed Barrett
Posted about 2 years ago
How immune should science be from the political environment of its time?
Some interesting points . . . largely science-centric, it seems to me, though. The idea that anyone seeking knowledge is a scientist is a case in point - there are many ways of seeking knowledge, only a small proportion of which could be described as scientific. Knowledge has been sought - and found - long before we had anything truly recognisable as science. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a luddite; but to give science some 'special dispensation' to act without constraint is to pretend scientists are immune to normal human frailties. Normal law-abiding citizens are subject to specific constraints based on their activities - you are allowed to be much more inebriated as a pedestrian than as a driver, for example. The constraints should be based on the potential damage of things going wrong - in my opinion, rules around genetically-modified organisms are way too lax, for example; and the science is driven not by a quest for knowledge, but a quest for profit.
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Ed Barrett
Posted about 2 years ago
How immune should science be from the political environment of its time?
The question is entirely hypothetical. No field of human endeavour is, or can ever be, entirely divorced from any other. The modern notion of 'democracy' is looking increasingly flawed. If you could remove the influence of politics from science, how would this make the world a better place? If you are suggesting scientists should be trusted to act without constraints, your faith in the 'dispassionate scientist' caricature seems somewhat misplaced.
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Ed Barrett
Posted over 2 years ago
Kirk Sorensen: Thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel
Comes across like an advert from the Thorium Marketing Board: "Thorium - the friendly nuclear fuel." More seriously - there is a much more urgent need to find ways of using less energy, rather than producing more. Just take his claim that all communities need air conditioning. Obviously untrue. But, if we have more energy, produced more safely and cheaply, more people will have and use air conditioning. Air conditioning - along with virtually all 'work' - expels heat. We would essentially be swapping climate change due to greenhouse gasses for climate change due to directly heating the atmosphere.