Chemicalz! Toxins! (and cranks)

It’s the Food Babe: “There is just no acceptable level of any chemical to ingest, ever” Orac describes with “Respectful Insolence”.

“The Food Babe makes quite a pretty penny spreading her ignorance and has become sought after to feature in various media appearances, such as magazine covers.”

“Hari was featured in a fairly long feature article in The Atlantic by James Hamblin. ‘The Food Babe: Enemy of Chemicals.’ It’s a relatively amusing title, to be sure, and there’s a lot that’s good about the article. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that’s downright infuriating as well, the more so given that Hamblin is a physician and really should know better. To some extent, he does, but unfortunately in this piece he shows himself far more respectful of pseudoscience of the sort promoted by The Food Babe than a physician should be.”

“Of course, it’s great that Hari cleaned up her act, lost a bunch of weight, and saw her health problems go away. However, as all too often happens, she also attributed her health problems to more than just a poor diet and lifestyle. She blamed the evil chemicalz! She blamed processed foods, various food additives, and basically any synthetic chemical. Over time, as I’ve observed, this belief has morphed into a seeming concept that anything with a long chemical name that she can’t pronounce must be bad. Indeed, it’s evolved, as Hamblin notes, to include even things that are perfectly “natural,” such as isinglass derived from fish swim bladders. Hamblin just doesn’t seem to note that the reason isinglass is bad to The Food Babe is nothing more complex than her revulsion that a product of fish swim bladder is used to make some beers. Ditto the product of beaver anal glands and others:”

“Another thing that drives Hari is an intense competitiveness, which she attributes to her talent as a high school debater. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, the goal of a debater is not necessarily to come to find out what is accurate and true scientifically. It is to defend your position. It is to attack your opponent’s position. It is to win”

“And why are we giving so many vaccines so early? It’s “too many too soon.” What are all those chemicals in vaccines? They’re “toxins.” Truly, Vani Hari is the Jenny McCarthy of food.

“And like Jenny McCarthy, Hari thrives on the opposition her crusade provokes. She thrives on victimhood. It’s how she rallies her troops.”

It’s another case study of the crank, the snake oil salesman, the deluded and blind to reality types struggling to find simple solutions in a complex world. Health is particularly ripe for this sort of individual but you’ll also find them elsewhere. Look at the climate change controversy, or net neutrality, or vaccines, or large scale energy production, or environmentalism. The plague is expensive and even heartbreaking but, it seems, the purveyors of ilk never seem to notice except to blame the consequences on somebody else.

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