The Psychology of Chemophobia – Part 5

Bananas contain unpronounceable ingredients, too What is chemophobia? The scientific community describes chemophobia as a “non-clinical prejudice” – rather like homophobia or xenophobia – that is, not a true medical phobia but a learned aversion to ingredients created in laboratories. Researchers Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischhoffidentified a number of affective characteristics that help to explain…

(Almost) Nothing is Truly ‘Natural’ – Part 4

Nothing on this table is natural – not even the fruits. The Basket of Apples by Cézanne Corn isn’t ‘natural’ In 2014, I created a series of infographics to help convey this message. Corn, for example, used to be a spindly grass-like plant called teosinte, which Native Americans farmed and bred through artificial selection until…

On the $$$ fuelling Chemophobia – Part 3

We’ve already asserted that chemophobia is an irrational psychological quirk thatgained traction after the environmental movement of the mid-1960s. But I don’t want to make such allegations without proof. In part 3 of this weekly series on chemophobia, I’ll show you some of the irrational conclusions that chemophobia leads us to make, and the psychology…

On the Pervasiveness of Chemophobia – Part 2

Would you drink water that’s been purified from sewage? Bill Gates did: “It’s water,” he says. “Having studied the engineering behind it… I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.” – Bill Gates He’s talking about the Omniprocessor in Seattle, USA, which illustrates perfectly the prevalence of chemophobia in our society. The Omniprocessor…

On the Origins of Chemophobia – Part 1

“The Blue Marble” is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon. The rise of the environmental movement is most often attributed to the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962, which demonised chemicals as it introduced them…