When it comes to the droves of pseudoscience and conspiracy websites becoming a common trusted source of information for gullible facebookers, there’s a growing movement of media outlets challenging these websites and their claims.
Thanks to this phenomenon, the queen of pseudoscience, the Food Babe, is feeling a little pressure. For the past few months, there been a huge onslaught from various sources directly challenging the 35 year-old Vani Hari’s claims.
From the New York Times:
[Food Babe] targets have included Starbucks (accusations of “hazardous chemicals” in pumpkin spice lattes), Chick-fil-A (which she called Chemical-Fil-A), Whole Foods (for genetically modified and hidden ingredients) and Subway. To protest the sandwich chain’s use of azodicarbonamide in its bread, Ms. Hari posted a video of herself chewing another item in which the chemical is found: a yoga mat. …
It’s tough to argue with a crusade to help Americans eat better and to win more transparency from both food companies and the federal agency, but Ms. Hari, a former computer science major with no training as a food scientist, nutritionist or chef, has managed to become a flash point. Her click-me headlines (“Do You Eat Beaver Butt?” for a post about what’s in so-called natural flavorings) and camera-ready looks have won her a rabid #Foodbabearmy, billings as an expert on television shows, a book (“The Food Babe Way”) that made its debut at No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list last month, and a spot (along with Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian) on Time Magazine’s “30 Most Influential People on the Internet.” But her statements — often incorrect — and faulty reasoning have produced numerous memes and parodies, not to mention aggressive reactions from doctors and scientists, who call her scientifically illiterate.
Another attack on the Food Babe agenda was a widely-read piece published in Gawker Media by Yvette d’Entremont, also known as the “Science Babe” – the self-appointed nemesis to Hari. The piece, titled “The ‘Food Babe’ Blogger is Full of Sh*t” was unforgiving. D’Entremont is a chemist with a background in toxicology and forensics (Hari’s background is in computer science), and she systematically picked through a litany of Food Babe claims in a lucid, scientific clinic that was well-sourced.
The piece clearly rattled Hari, prompting her to post a rebuttal – that was immediately trashed as offering little substance and too much ‘I am rubber, you are glue’ ramblings that did nothing to address the challenges d’Entremont put forth.
It was a rare acknowledgment of her critics. And although she continues her crusade, Hari has quietly launched a sub-campaign designed to defend herself from critics and to salvage her image as a legitimate health advocate.
But it’s not going so well. She recently sat down with Al Jazeera America for an interview, and the problems in her message are still there, unevolved, and shamelessly rooted in the same baseless unscientific claims she cherry-picks out of context.