I’m not too keen on taking factual advice from a self-labeled “babe”. She’s proving to be no better than celebs who suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect – they are overly confident that they know stuff. But they don’t. She’s scientifically ignorant and serving some rotten advice. But she may have just made a fatal mistake by dissing beer.
Ironically, one of the key factoids in blogger Vani Hari—aka, “The Food Babe’s”—attack on Big Beer was that they “even use fish swim bladders” to make their product without putting this self-evidently dodgy fact on the label; the implication is that beer should not from fish bladder be made. Yet, isinglass—as dried fish bladder is Tolkienesquely called—has been used to clarify beer, wine and liquor since the early 18th century, and its manufacture was widespread in Colonial America (a versatile compound, it was also mixed with gin and used as a glue to repair broken china). While this may cause vegans to pause before a draught, isinglass has been used and consumed without incident for centuries.
Unfortunately, this kind of clarification, where a blogger takes something commonplace and gives it a nefarious social media friendly twist to advance an agenda, did not make the Financial Times, Business Insider, USA Today, NBC News, and undoubtedly many more news stories that uncritically reported the Food Babe’s victory.
That the media should give The Food Babe a free pass as an expert or as a credible consumer watchdog is especially troubling when you look at some of her other claims, as recorded by the doctors at Science-Based Medicine. As infectious disease specialist Mark Crislip MD noted, Hari out goops Gwyneth Paltrow on the feelings of water by claiming that if you expose water to the words “Hitler” and “Satan” it will change its physical structure in exactly the same way as if you microwaved it. She believes getting the flu shot will give you cancer from all the “chemicals.” She is, naturally, against GMOs.
Yes, the Food Babe was given a dish of due criticism by people who are more informed. Not only is the toxic gambit stupid but it’s not new. This is another blogger trying to get attention by scaring you for nothing.
Who is this “Food Babe,” anyway?
It’s a marker of just what a double-edged sword the Internet is. While the Internet is the most fantastic piece of technology ever devised for spreading knowledge and empowering anyone to speak up, there’s a dark side. That dark side consists of people like Vani Hari. No Internet, no Food Babe, no chemically illiterate, scientifically ignorant rabble rousing. How did she get her start? What are her qualifications?
The second question is easy to answer. She has no relevant qualifications. She isn’t a scientist. She isn’t a doctor. She isn’t a dietician. She has no training in nutrition. It’s not for nothing that she’s been referred to as the Mike Adams of food activism, which is not a compliment. In any case, according to her Wikipedia entry she has a B.S. in Computer Science and began her career as a banking consultant.
As Dr. Gorski notes, she got her edumacation from Google University, same as anti-vax advocate Jenny McCarthy. Oh geez!!! Scam Stud « Science-Based Medicine.
And she also caused a ruckus at Subway. NeuroLogica Blog » Eating Yoga Mats.
Honestly, it’s nice to be a babe but not nice to be known for being stupid and misleading the public.