Could the recent handling of controversies spell the end of Food Babe? Let’s hope so

Could the recent handling of controversies spell the end of Food Babe? Let’s hope so April 13, 2015

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Vani Hari, better know as The Food Babe is a fraud.

Plain and simple, the work she does is dishonest, not based in science, profit driven and downright dangerous. (Like suggesting that people should not use sunscreen!)

Armed with nothing more than a degree in computer science, Hari acts as a biologist, nutritionist, toxicologist and medical doctor all while holding zero degrees or training in any of them.

In 2011 she sent out a tweet claiming the flu shot was used as tool for genocide:

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And since then has continued to use fear-mongering tactics to scare readers away from life saving vaccines or to back her anti-GMO stance or campaigns attacking chemicals in foods. Yes, you read that right, she doesn’t want chemicals in food. Sadly, she has yet to produce anything on this planet that lacks chemicals. I heard her very own book is made from chemicals!

In 2014, NPR covered Hari’s dishonest tactics in an amazing expose titled, “Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out.” In the piece NPR discovered that her tactics are based in “manipulation and misinformation.”

“What she does is exploit the scientific ignorance and fear of her followers,” says Kavin Senapathy, an anti-pseudoscience blogger who frequently challenges the assertions in Hari’s posts.

The New York Times noted in 2015 that Hari has “no training as a food scientist, nutritionist or chef…” and they pointed out that the alternative products she promotes through her work is done so on a commission basis.

Kevin M. Folta, the chairman of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida, described Ms. Hari’s lecture at the university last October as a “corrupt message of bogus science and abject food terrorism.” (Her fee was $6,000.) Dr. Folta added, “She found that a popular social media site was more powerful than science itself, more powerful than reason, more powerful than actually knowing what you’re talking about.”

And if her ignorance of science, food and vaccines are not enough, she even called air travel dangerous because of the pressurized cabins,

Regarding recirculated air in aircraft, she wrote, “The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%.” This betrays a profound misunderstanding of reality. As you probably recall from grade 6 science class, air is comprised of about 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, the rest being other gases. Higher concentrations of oxygen can be toxic and explosive. She also attempted to delete that post but the internet never forgets.

So, controversy and misinformation follows Hari wherever she goes and she never seems to admit when she is wrong, but she does seem to address some of the claims of those correcting her.

And just how does she do this? Well as Morgan Fisher notes,

  • She has accused critics of being shills for Big Pharma (whatever that is) and that they’re being paid by Monsanto, the company that manufacturers pesticides and herbicides. She provided no evidence of these claims.

  • She refuses to debate, or even discuss, her conclusions with critics. Among others, Dr Joe Schwarcz of McGill University has repeatedly called upon her to discuss her ideas in a respectful, public forum. Hari refuses to respond.

  • She attempted to delete her previous statements, further undermining her credibility.

  • Rather than responding factually and with data and reason, she resorted to ad hominem attacks on her critics. At one point she called critic Yvette d’Entremont “twisted.”

It seems ad hominem, personal attacks and trying to delete posts are the best method in which Hari knows how to combat those who challenge her with scientific evidence.

This can not be overlooked or ignored. Hari has an audience and an audience that takes her advice unquestioned. They believe she is an authoritative source of knowledge and are putting their health at risk by listening to a dangerous money-driven fraud.

Her credibility has been put on the line and she failed to defend it. She was not able to cite a single source in order to back up her claims and instead decided that those attacking her must have other motives. Though while collecting money herself for the items she is trying to hock she was not able to actually lin Monsanto or “big pharma” to any of those taking her to task.

Evidence and science matter and ignoring those while using fear driven tactics to become a spokesperson for a movement you are unqualified to speak on is downright stupid.

While I would much rather see the media ignore her, until her following is squashed it cannot happen. We cannot allow someone in her position to run around unquestioned and unchallenged. Her motives could be as pure as can be, she could be making zero money off her claims and this would change nothing because what she is spreading is dangerous.

She has failed to handle even the smallest of controversies with grace. She has continued to stand by her ignorance. Let’s shine a light on who she really is and end this farce once and for all.

(Photo: YouTube Screengrab)


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