I have been involved or witness to a number of debates which have led me to the conclusion that the word “natural” should be considered a weasel word.
Being vegan I have people tell me that it is “natural” to eat animals, and on the other side I see vegans claiming that not eating animals is “natural”. People argue that the paleo diet is “natural”, or that a raw food diet is “natural”. On the civil rights front, people argue that homosexuality is not “natural”, and, in the past, people argued that interracial marriage was not “natural”, or that slavery was “natural”. People arguing against GMOs will say they are not “natural” and people on the other side will say the opposite (I’ll get into that one in a future post). I’m sure everyone can think of other examples of these, possibly coming from one’s own mouth.
Since everyone’s definition of “natural” varies so widely, it is not a useful word and introducing it into a debate simply confuses the issue, and misdirects the debate down a “natural/unnatural” rabbit hole (weasel hole?) and away from the actual issue being debated. We’d all be better off not using the word at all, though I’m sure there are those who would argue that would be unnatural.