Scam Stud

We have evolved in order to survive reality, not to understand it. And it is a good thing that understanding and survival are not tightly linked as many people are apparently totally disconnected from the reality I inhabit, the one described by the natural sciences. When I started writing and podcasting about the SCAMverse I was under the impression that people who used SCAMs were simply misinformed. If people were made aware of the facts of the matter, they would see the error of their ways and put away their SCAMs as the childish thoughts they are.

Silly me. Reality, as I understand it, is often if little interest to proponents of SCAM. This was brought home by the Food Babe with an essay Should I get the Flu Shot? Spoiler alert. Her answer is “No, I’m not taking the Flu Shot. Ever.”

It is how she reaches that conclusion that is amazing. There are nouns and adjectives and adverbs and verbs and article and prepositions. They are strung together to form sentences and paragraphs, but somehow, though an almost magical alchemy, all that writing transmutes into content that is completely divorced from reality as I understand it. It is a tour de farce that reaches the definition of the Pauli Principle, where “It is not only not right, it is not even wrong.”

Who is the Food Babe? A blogger and media personality who has been all over the print and electronic media. I am increasingly aware of how out of touch I am, for I was unaware of the Food Babe. I will confess to feeling a little sympathetic for Jenny McCarthy. Many articles about her wackaloon approach to autism and vaccines make mention of her appearing Playboy, as if being naked or attractive makes her message less valid. Her being wrong about vaccines has nothing to do with either her attractiveness or intelligence. The few times I have seen her interviewed on TV she was funny and articulate, although she was not discussing vaccines. I have yet to see a correlation between being attractive and being intelligent. Or being intelligent and being gullible. They are three independent variables. So whether or not Food Babe is, in fact, a babe, I will leave to others as it is not germane to the content of her post, which is butt ugly.

Food Babe is a blogger who focuses on food and says she is:

most knowledgeable about harmful ingredients in processed foods and how to avoid them. For this reason, I have made it my mission to spread as much information as I can about what is in food, how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store and how to live an organic lifestyle in this over-processed world.

She is evidently self-taught, having her undergraduate degree in computer science, and her essay on the influenza vaccine suggests her institution of higher learning forgot the science part in her degree.

I freely admit I do not care that much about nutrition. I do not use food as medicine and as such food is mostly overrated. While I try to eat reasonably and nutritiously, during the day food is mostly fuel for the neurons. At home and on weekends I see food as one of the great pleasures of life. Pooh sums it up for me:

’When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.

As such I am not that interested in her blog entries on food, but I did notice that Food Babe has a curious approach to reality. Reading her website finds this thorazine-deficient paragraph as an argument to not use your microwave:

Last by not least, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who is famous for taking pictures of various types of waters and the crystals that they formed in the book called “Hidden Messages in Water,” found water that was microwaved did not form beautiful crystals – but instead formed crystals similar to those formed when exposed to negative thoughts or beliefs. If this is happening to just water – I can only imagine what a microwave is doing to the nutrients, energy of our food and to our bodies when we consume microwaved food. For the experiment pictured above, microwaved water produced a similar physical structure to when the words “satan” and “hitler” were repeatedly exposed to the water. This fact is probably too hokey for most people – but I wanted to include it because sometimes the things we can’t see with the naked eye or even fully comprehend could be the most powerful way to unlock spontaneous healing.

So that’s why my microwave-warmed coffee tastes off: the hitler and satan crystals. The problem is when I rewarm the coffee on the stovetop it makes boehner and bachmann crystals, which leave an exceptionally bad taste in the mouth and I do not like room temperature coffee.

And she dares, dares mind you, to cast aspersions on beer. Beer! Next up will be apple pie and mom. Evidently her article was not up to the standards reality and veracity that brewers would prefer:

Trawling through the bad grammar and typos (Not an issue for me, glass houses and all that -MC) was painful enough, but putting that aside, and dealing with the innuendo, misrepresentation, and blatant falsehoods made it doubly so.

Food Babe applies the same techniques to her analysis of the influenza vaccine and I suspect that there is not a single sentence relating to influenza and the vaccine that does not meet the above description. For the pedant in the audience, we will take it as given there is an inhaled influenza vaccine and refer to it no more. All that follows will concern the injectable vaccine.

She starts:

I want you to think about what you are directly injecting into your bloodstream.

I occasionally tell the house staff that precision of thought is reflected in precision of speech and precision of writing. God knows I have learned the hard way writing for this and other blogs what happens when I am not precise. I write for a tough crowd.

But really, that is just such cheesy innuendo. The vaccine is an intramuscular injection. The vaccine has to be absorbed into the bloodstream from the muscle. By the same argument, everything you eat is injected directly into the bloodstream. Sigh. This blog is not looking good for veracity.

She continues, jumping strait into the toxin gambit:

What’s exactly in the Flu Shot? To sum it up – A bunch of toxic chemicals and additives that lead to several types of Cancers and Alzheimer [sic] disease over time

See what I mean. All the components of a sentence but with zero true content, like a diet Coke. As we will see, Food Babe is, somewhat ironically, the aspartame of medical understanding. More the fool me, I thought the flu shot was predominantly proteins derived from the influenza virus grown in eggs or from recombinant technology selected for their ability to elicit protective antibody. And vaccines and their components cause neither cancer nor Alzheimer’s.

She then lists the components that ‘could’ be ‘lurking’ in the vaccine and mentions all the usual suspects save the most potentially fatal one:

Egg Products (including avian contaminant viruses), Aluminum, Thimersol [sic] (Mercury), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Chick Embryo Cells, Latex, Formaldehyde, Gelatin, Polysorbate 80, Triton X100 (strong detergent), Sucrose (table sugar), Resin, Gentamycin [sic].
I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body.

There goes peas, carrots and beets, good sources of sucrose and probably no pana cotta for the Food Babe, which means more for me and Pooh.

As the 2000 year old saying goes, it’s the dose that makes the poison. As an example, blood levels of formaldehyde, a product of normal metabolism, are 2.74 mg/L , about 15 mg total in a normal adult. A vaccine has about 1/50 the formaldehyde of a pear and given the concentration in the vaccine, the gradient would probably pull formaldehyde out of the body and into the injection site.

Only the multidose vials contain thimerisol and no flu vaccine, that’s no as in none, zero, zip, nil, nada, contains aluminum. So crediting those molecules as the reason vaccines increase the risk for Alzheimer’s (they don’t) is disingenuous at best. One would think a computer scientist could manage the Googles to find out the ingredients in the flu vaccine. It took me less than a minute.

However, Food Babe did say ‘could’ and could is not ‘is’, so if there were a freak transporter accident involving a shipment of influenza vaccine and soft drink cans, aluminum could be found in the influenza vaccine. The odds of that occurring are about the same as Food Babe doing proper research.

I am surprised she did not include dihydrogen oxide, found in every vaccine, which kills 4000 people a year in the US. That is about the level of the Food Babes arguments. It is evident she does not put resin in her body, although I thought it was spelled r-e-a-s-o-n.

Then she says, after reading “a couple of studies” that the flu vaccine does not work. I have discussed at length (see links below) the issues around influenza vaccine efficacy. It you were to read the most of the 2087 studies on flu vaccination efficacy instead of a couple you might conclude, as I have, that the vaccine prevents influenza, its complications (secondary infections, stroke, heart attack, spontaneous abortion) and decreases the chance of spread to vulnerable populations.

No, the CDC even admits it doesn’t protect you because the virus mutates every year.

CDC says that? It does really? Here is what I find the CDC says:

How effective is the flu vaccine?
How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community. During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it’s possible to measure substantial benefits from vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used.
Each season researchers try to determine how well flu vaccines work to regularly assess and confirm the value of flu vaccination as a public health intervention. Study results about how well a flu vaccine works can vary based on study design, outcome(s) measured, population studied and the season in which the flu vaccine was studied. These differences can make it difficult to compare one study’s results with another’s.
While determining how well a flu vaccine works is challenging, in general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that flu vaccine.

I admire the way Food Babe can take a complex and nuanced topic and distill it down to an aliquot of pure error. It is a talent rarely seen outside of the Tea Party.

And she has a poor concept of vaccination and immunity and is under the false impression that vaccines are both lifelong and perfect:

Why do I have to get a Flu Shot every year? Aren’t vaccines suppose [sic] to immunize you for life? (Err, no – MC)…And this brings me back to my previous point – if the flu vaccine were truly a vaccine – it wouldn’t wear off. Think about it – Once you get chicken pox as a child, your body develops antibodies to strengthen your immune system from ever getting chicken pox again (Um, reinfections can occur and there is shingles – MC) This is how vaccines are suppose [sic] to work. But the flu shot doesn’t work this way.

Another perfect misunderstanding of reality with every assertion incorrect. Of course doctors do not suggest the flu vaccine because it prevents morbidity and mortality, but because big Pharma makes money from the flu.

Why are Flu Shots recommended for children, women who are pregnant and the elderly?

I thought it was because they are at increased risk of death from influenza.

Because that group of individuals typically have weaker immune systems and if they catch the flu and don’t treat it in time it can lead to other complications like pneumonia.
However, why would you give a group with already weakened immune systems something that weakens their immune system systemically further?

Because the flu vaccine doesn’t weaken “immune system systemically further?” It makes it more effective against the influenza virus by generating antibody against influenza antigen. It is, dare I say it, a real vaccine.
First she says that the vaccine doesn’t work because the virus mutates, then because it isn’t a real vaccine, but the real reason?

This is why the vaccine isn’t effective in the first place, because administering a drug that weakens the immune systems makes people even more susceptible to the flu!

Medicine by the Ministry of Truth:

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite reality to change the facts to fit doctrine for propaganda effect.

I hate to say Orwellian, but if the shoe fits. Finally she concludes the best way to get immune is to go out and get influenza:

You can build lifetime antibodies against the infection. Just Skip the vaccine, boost your vitamin D intake, and encounter the flu naturally. If you encounter the flu – rest, take care of yourself, understand that your body needs a break and focus on getting better – This type of immunizing yourself works amazingly better than relying on an artificial injection that has been proven ineffective. You’ll have these new antibodies for life that will ultimately protect you from similar strains of the virus better than any yearly shot could ever provide.

And perhaps die. Or get a secondary bacterial infection. Or a stroke. Or lose your pregnancy. Or pass it on to someone less able to handle the illness who will then die.

It is hard to find an example of a piece of writing where virtually every piece of information is wrong. And when there is a nugget of truth my first response is to question my knowledge. If Food Babe says it, it must be wrong.

An almost reality-free discussion of the influenza vaccine is, in a hideous kind of way, a thing of beauty. That people may make decisions based on this fictional account of the flu vaccine flabbers my gaster, any disclaimer notwithstanding. It is a good thing for Food Babe that understanding reality is not a part of being fit to survive, but I sure hope she is never exposed to influenza, especially if pregnant.

By the way, I have decided that henceforth I shall be referred to as the SCAM Stud. Sure, I am old, balding and slightly above my fighting weight, but I do not mean stud using the Urban Dictionary definition. No way will I ever meet that definition. No one can ever drink that much beer. I’m thinking more metaphorically, the 2×4 definition, the central support of a structure. Or maybe a boss… with a large head. I’ll let you decide on the preferred usage.

Finally, this was a hard entry to write. Thanks a lot, The Onion.

Further reading

My co-bloggers and I have written at length about vaccines in general, influenza and the influenza vaccine. For a further plug, there is an ebook, Science-Based Medicine: Guide to Vaccines, Vaccine Preventable Illnesses and Autism, that is a collection of the essays from the first 2.5 years of the blog, available on Kindle, iPad and Nook.

Here are links to some of my extensively-referenced essays on influenza and vaccines:

What are words for?

Toxic myths about vaccines

I refute it thus

Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Flu

One Flu Into the Cuckoo’s Nest*

Protect Yourself

Drinking from the Fire Hose: Odds and Ends on the Gasping Oppression

Random Flu Thoughts

Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits.

Influenza Vaccine Mandates

Nine Questions, Nine Answers.

The Tamiflu Spin

Yes, But. The Annotated Atlantic.

Flu Vaccine Efficacy

More Flu Woo for You Boo Boo.

Herd Immunity

Flu Woo Hodge Podge

Posted in: Science and the Media, Vaccines

Leave a Comment (132) ↓

132 thoughts on “Scam Stud

  1. Ben P says:

    Very good article but you could of done without the idiotic political swipes.

    1. windriven says:

      Dude. Lighten up. Crislip lives in Portland, where Nancy Pelosi is thought to be just a little too conservative. Was it the swipe at Boehner or at Bachmann that offends you? Boehner is an old line silk stocking Republican and Bachmann is somewhere out there with Voyager II. The only thing they have in common is the (R). Getting to my point, has either offered anything of profundity worth mentioning in the last, say, … ever?

      1. David Gorski says:

        I suspect that Ben didn’t like Mark’s swipe at the Tea Party. Even though we try more or less to remain (mostly) apolitical here on SBM, given the recent debt ceiling debacle and government shutdown, I’m willing to give Mark a pass on that one. What he said about the Tea Party was arguably a statement of fact. :-)

        1. windriven says:

          I was chuckling so hard over:

          “I admire the way Food Babe can take a complex and nuanced topic and distill it down to an aliquot of pure error.”

          that I totally missed the next sentence with its rip on the TP.

          1. David Gorski says:

            I was chuckling so hard over:

            “I admire the way Food Babe can take a complex and nuanced topic and distill it down to an aliquot of pure error.”

            Yeah, once again, I wish I’d thought of that turn of phrase…damn you, Crislip!

          2. Nashira says:

            @Dr. Gorski:

            I am admittedly high on Lortab right now (thanks, colitis!) and thoroughly goofy brained, but I cannot help but imagine you shaking your fist at the sky, shouting “Crisliiiiip!” a la Shatner and Khan.

        2. Carl says:

          Yeah, Dr. Gorski you do such a swell job of avoiding politics. Crislip gets away with it because he is adorable, but you should probably cut back a little.

        3. Earthman says:

          Well put

    2. goodnightirene says:

      @Ben P

      May we have a reference, please, as to what part of the “political swipe” (now there’s an unbiased phrase!) was “idiotic”? It all seemed fact-based to me, unlike any number of political stances on topics from climate change to every manner of woo-medicine–which emanate from both sides of the aisle.

      We cannot keep pretending that the Emperor is wearing clothes–or that certain political groups’ notions are based on anything factual. It’s one thing to “spin” something for political advantage, quite another to deny that the earth is a sphere.

    3. Fractal says:

      idiotic political swipes

      The website has a strong leaning to the left, politically. A lot of the contributors and visitors are from medical academia and get their bread buttered either directly or indirectly by the government. In their view, more government = good, more regulation = good, more government spending on medicine and science = good.

      Comes with the territory.

      1. windriven says:

        “The website has a strong leaning to the left, politically.”

        Strong leaning to the left? I will take that to mean that anyone to your left.

        Science is apolitical. Scientists don’t have to be. But anyone, scientist or not, who believes that the political ideology that they cling to has all the answers is a fool. And anyone who believes the opposing party (presuming the US here) embodies all evil is a crank.

        Is it ‘strong leaning to the left’ to expect medical care to be science-based? Is it ‘strong leaning to the left’ to expect health care dollars to be spent carefully and wisely? Is it ‘strong leaning to the left’ to want the biggest economy on the planet to provide all its citizens with reasonable access to quality medical care? Or is it ‘strong leaning to the left’ to expect the US not to pay 50% more than other industrialized nations for healthcare that isn’t nearly best in the world.

        It would seem that by your definition conservative means slack-jawed rube or implacable social darwinist or both. I’m sorry but I don’t accept that definition.

        1. Fractal says:

          It would be naive to think that science is apolitical. A quick look at the news ticker will reveal just how political science is – Climate Change, Renewable Fuels, Embryonic Stem Cells, Animal Rights, War on Drugs, Intelligent Design, GMO, Nuclear Waste Reprocessing, Antibiotic use in livestock, etc etc

          1. Windriven says:


            Don’t bray like an ass. You confuse science with policy advocacy.

          2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            You are mixing the order up. Science is apolitical, and has produced correct answers and further avenues of research regarding all of the topics you list (climate change is real and due to carbon emissions, renewable fuels exist but are problematic, embryonic stem cells are a valuable medical tool, there is no evidence GMO is any more harmful than conventional crop breeding but considerable evidence it brings tremendous benefits, nuclear waste reprocessing works but has its own problems, antibiotics work as growth-enhancing drugs when given to livestock). The remainder of your issues are not scientific ones. Animal rights are a protest issue against the necessary use of animals in medical research, the war on drugs is a law enforcement effort, and intelligent design is another effort of fundamentalist creationists to push their religion into education.

            Your examples show areas where the science is essentially settled, but the ignorant general populace has been convinced by lobbying groups that there are hazards and politicians have succumbed to an astroturfing campaign or are using them as wedge issues to try to support their own political lives and welfare. It’s the intrusion of politics into science, not the intrusion of science into politics. If politics stepped back and left things alone, life would be easier for everyone.

      2. Mark A Crislip says:

        And here I thought it was, to quote S. Colbert, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Not really, the blog posters are highly critical of certain forms of government intervention. For instance, the creation of the NCCAM, and specific attention senators pay to pet topics. There’s also an argument against requiring further testing and assessment for GMOs – a pet topic of opposition for the left, along with vaccination. Generally the issue taken here is – where’s the science? While Republicans may have the perception of being anti-regulation and anti-science, they are perfectly willing to promote some topics and their anti-regulation stance is a bane to the public when it comes to the DSHEA. Democrats have been called out for making boneheaded decisions over vaccination and organic food.

        It’s the science, stupid.

      4. Earthman says:

        The main problem with politics these days is that all sides ignore facts, even when they are based on sound reasoning and evidence. This is one of the reasons we are in such a pickle. You cannot say that this site has a political bias, just that the site is based on science and evidence – and that is something sadly lacking in politics of all shades.

    4. DunnigKruger says:

      I enjoy discussions about science, however, this author sounds more like a religious zealot than a scientist–9 parts hate, 1 part science science.

      Seriously, how many more rants about the flu-shot and vaccines do we need? Or do you just enjoy getting drunk of your own kool-aid?

      I am beginning to think this is a political/religious site cloaked in a lab coat.

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        ” how many more rants about the flu-shot and vaccines do we need?”
        As many as it takes to educate the public and get the facts through to people like Food Babe.

        1. David Gorski says:

          D’oh! Harriet beat me too it.

          Actually, we would love not to have to do any more rants about idiotic articles spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about vaccines. Unfortunately, the supply of such articles seems to be endless. You might as well ask me how many more rants about articles extolling cancer quackery do we need. Unfortunately, the supply of those seems to be endless as well.

        2. mousethatroared says:

          Maybe you guys need a Vaccine Babe?

      2. windriven says:

        Wow, you’re good. I thought that Crislip had buried the hate well enough to hide it from all but the most sensitive hate-finders. Pray tell, what was the giveaway, his calling out an irrational nitwit for being an irrational nitwit or calling out a couple of nitwit Republicans for being nitwits? Or was it calling out the Tea Party for political malfeasance? Enquiring minds want to know!

      3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Ha, your name is funny.

        See, Dunning-Kruger applies primarily to nonexperts who try to make proclaimations on expert-dominated topics. Dr. Crislip is an expert, an infectious disease specialist who understands just how complicated the literature is and how even his informed opinion must defer to the scientific literature. Ms. Babe is in prime Dunning-Kruger, and you can see it in her post. She doesn’t even know what she doesn’t know; she assumes the science is simple and a quick coulple of googles is sufficient to understand it in its totality.

        What makes Dr. Crislip’s post a rant though? It looks like a systematic deconstruction of the ignorant babblings of a popular food (?) blogger attempting to proclaim about medicine. That’s basically the point of a blog like this, so what’s the issue?

        And where do you see “politics”? Aside from the minor jabs towards the Tea Partiers, there’s no criticism of government policies – just a lengthy discussion of how incredibly wrong Food Babe is. Even more so for religion, there’s nary a joke or aside about any of the faiths that I recall so how does that even come up? Unless you are asserting that “science is a religion”, in which case you’ve just demonstrated your lack of understanding of science. See, science relies on data, whereas religion is speculation within a data vacuum. Plus it crucifies fewere people.

        1. Stephen H says:

          WilliamLawrenceUtridge, you’re replying to DunnigKruger, not Dunning-Kruger. They hate when people get them confused.

          What’s puzzling is that comments here are not attacking the basis of Mr Stud’s article, but instead one or two side issues. Strangely, that is exactly the behaviour you can expect from trolls, or from people wanting to hijack the discussion for their own ends.

    5. Kate Corwyn says:

      When you can write in correct, grammatical English we will take your opinions seriously.

  2. windriven says:

    “I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body.”

    I’ll bet she smells like the fresh morning dew after a brisk walk. Stay downwind, darlin’.

    “Just Skip the vaccine, boost your vitamin D intake, and encounter the flu naturally.”

    She won’t put chicken embryo cells in the temple that is her body but she’ll welcome a nasty little package of RNA that will take over the cells in her respiratory tract and turn them into little replication factories. Which comic noted that you can’t fix stupid?

    Her feeble grasp of language and logic may explain why she is a professional intellectual bimbo instead of a software engineer. Anyone who has written code in a language like C understands that syntax and capitalization matter. Most computer languages would treat ‘Skip’ and ‘skip’ as completely different entities.

    What I want to know is how a college or university can confer a baccalaureate degree to someone who is incapable of rational thought. It is a disservice to the institution because it denigrates the value of the degree and it defrauds the larger community by attesting that the holder isn’t a knuckle-dragging idiot who is a danger to herself and those she comes in contact with.

    Finally, and I mention this only because it caused me significant dissonance at 5 in the morning:

    “Only the multidose vials contain thimerisol and no flu vaccine, that’s no as in one, zero, zip, nil, nada, contains aluminum.” should be no as in none.

  3. FastBuckArtist says:

    Mark is at it again on his pet quackery – the useless Flu Vaccine.

    I’ll spare my keyboard from pounding, and refer the 0.1% of you who are actually interested in science to a review by epidemiologist Jefferson who looked thoroughly into efficacy of flu vaccines and found it lacking.

    The other 99.9% feel free to continue poking yourself with flu needles.

    1. windriven says:

      Getting mine today, dumbass*. No one ever said the influenza vaccine was flawless. But then I don’t demand a silver bullet. If I can reduce the risk in the years where the match is good, that is OK by me. I’ve never had influenza (I believe) but I’ve seen people who have. It isn’t something I aspire to.

      *A reference to Dr. Crislip’s list of the many ways that not getting the influenza vaccination makes you a dumbass. Also a reference to FBA’s history of dufusness.

      1. Alia says:

        I had the definite misfortune of having flu. About every two-three years, usually around Christmas period. I even sat my First Certificate in English examination while barely recovered (I really don’t know how I managed to get an A, though). It was nightmare. The fever, the chills, the pain, having to stay in bed for a week. And then, about 11 or 12 years ago, I discovered the vaccine. Since then – no flu. Of course, I get the usual colds, coughs and runny nose, but that’s not something anyone would mistake with the flu, and they go away after 2-3 days. In the 10 years of my teaching career, I’ve never taken a day off due to illness – and I work in a big school, 600+ students, 70+ teachers, so there are vectors a-plenty.

    2. ravingdesi says:

      Can FastBuckArtist get banned please? I hardly look at the comments anymore as I know they get cluttered with FBA nonsense and people replying to him. And yes, I’m aware that in this post, I’m one of those replying to him but I’ll never reply to him again.

      1. windriven says:

        “Can FastBuckArtist get banned please?”

        NO! At least I hope not. FBA and stanmrak and a few others provide a dose of hilarity. More importantly they give voice to fears and superstitions and delusions that others feel and that gives us the opportunity to counter those fears with science and logic. And sometimes snark.

      1. Yes, that was written before I started reading the blog.
        I’ll have a read of your previous articles when I get a free hour.
        Duty calls…

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Yes, that was written before I started reading the blog.

          Why bother replying in a comment if you’re not even going to bother reading the post? Is it just for the FIRST glory, or in an effort to poison the well before anyone else can write something substantive?

          DutyHypocritical and unethical profit calls…

          Fixed that for you. It’s amazing to me how you can castigate Big Pharma for their profits, meanwhile selling people completely unproven nostroms. It’s also amazing to me how you can criticize doctors for being ignorant and not caring about their patients…by citing harms identified by doctors and published in the peer-reviewed press.

          But it’s all about the false dilemma, isn’t it? If you can point to an unresolved question in real medicine, you can pretend you offer a solution and your customers will fall for it and hand over the money. Who cares if it’s justified?

          How do you justify your comments to yourself? I’m assuming you just pretend replies like this don’t exist or, like your initial reply, you don’t read them.

        2. Chris says:

          FBA: “Yes, that was written before I started reading the blog.”

          On the top of this page is a box with the word “Search” in it. Put in something like the name Jefferson and you will find the articles listed, plus more. You might try doing that before you make some kind of broad claim that the bloggers here have ignored something.

          1. David Gorski says:

            That’s exactly how I located our old posts about Tom Jefferson and the flu vaccine. :-)

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Useless according to Tom Jefferson, whose interviews contain statements (“The influenza vaccine is a useless waste of money!”) wildly at odds with the his publications (“The influenza vaccine is effectively demonstrated in some subpopulations but the evidence for widespread use of it is equivocal”) was mentioned more than 25 times in the first two random links I clicked on from Dr. Crislip’s list at the bottom of the page.

      Also, your link to Jefferson’s post is from 2006, more than seven years ago.

      Jefferson likes to play iconoclast for popular magazines, make sweeping statements that aren’t really justified, and generally undercutting his own scientific work.

      Hah, as if 99.9% of people get the vaccine, that’d be great.

      Those who are really interested in science, rather than merely trolling for confirmation bias, might note that this old review is far from the last word in influenza research.

  4. AnObservingParty says:

    Curiosity got the best of me and I stupidly clicked the link to read the actual article. This woman is lacking in any knowledge of immunology, biology, chemistry, or basic logic. And now I’m sad.

    1. Derek says:

      Ah yes, and if you go to H2Om’s web site, you will see that their magic water is now “The Official Premium Bottled Water” of the Chopra Center. That makes it a “woogol” – woo to the power of woo.

  5. oldmanjenkins says:

    Wow, the amount of stupid the “Food Bade” spews forth is amazing. It reminds me of a quote from Billy Madison:

    “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said… is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul…”

    “idiotic political swipes.” really Ben P?

    Hey FBA…….Trololololololol!!!!!

    The “Food Babe” , full of hubris, lacking in critical thinking skills.

    1. David Gorski says:

      Indeed. How is it that neither Orac nor I have ever even heard of the Food Babe before? My goodness, her website is what the military calls a “target-rich” environment. She’s even into “detoxification” through juice fasts:

      1. AnObservingParty says:

        I am SO looking forward to what I am sure will come now that Orac has discovered that chick. :)

      2. Jack Rosa says:

        I very nearly squealed with delight when I saw SBM was taking on a FoodBabe “article”. I keep seeing her dreck on my fb feed as some friends have disappointed me with their lack of critical thinking. I would certainly look forward to future take-downs and share them gladly.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Even the snippets Dr. Crislip posted demonstrate a failure to appreciate the basics of the immune system, such that would be found in an undergraduate anatomy and physiology textbook. But hey, she’s vaguely pretty, right? And the human body is like being a computer, except for the lack of conscious design, the failure to optimize, complete lack of standardization and the essentially random nature of improvements.

      1. windriven says:

        Holy Crap! Did you see the load of advertisements on the juice fast page? This woman might be dumber than a bag of sand but she clearly knows how to ring the cash register.

      2. Calli Arcale says:

        I gotta share something I read over at once and liked so much that I saved it in my quotefile:

        Remy Porter: “One day, , Darrell sat down”
        The Typinator: “Okay, look. English is like Lisp: you can’t just throw a bunch of extra commas around and hope it works.”
        phleabo: “Well, except that the syntax of English isn’t formally specified and parser implementations have much more slop tolerance built into them, even if they sometimes insist on acting like dicks about minor problems that don’t affect intelligibility.”

  6. mousethatroared says:

    Firstly, admit it MC, you just wrote this article so you could see the line – 8 thoughts on “SCAM Stud” above the comments. Who wouldn’t?

    Secondly, is the food babe is actually a babe? Would anyone have any interest in her nonsense if she looked like this?

    1. windriven says:

      Hmmmm …. looks a lot like my first mother-in-law :-)

  7. lorimakesquilts says:

    She should write for a humor site. The article was one of the best parodies of anti-vaxxers I’ve ever read.

    By-the-by I’ve had a bad case of the flu and I never want to do that again. I get a flu shot every year, even if it only has a 1% chance of working or only reduces symptoms that’s good enough for me. Four days of crawling from the bed to the bathroom and hoping the tylenol will stay down this time is not something I want to repeat.

  8. Epinephrine says:

    Paracelsus was only 500 years ago, not 2000.

    1. Mark A Crislip says:

      See. What did I say. Tough crowd.

      I have been giving lectures for 30 years. Clinton was also a target rich environment esp for STD talks and no one ever complained at swipes at him. I only get complaints from the right, they are thin skinned babies. I never make jokes about Obama for as best as I can tell, he has done almost nothing and nothing is hard to make jokes about.

      I like to read the the primary literature rather than metas but of note

      So if you are going to choose one meta over another, the question would be why.

      It is odd how pubmed works. Last week I found a reference in the last month where they looked at the metas of flu vaccine in the elderly, specifically looking at potential bias as to Jefferson meta and found the flu vaccine did work in the elderly. Now I can’t find it using the same search criteria. This happens all the time, like their algorithm has a randomness feature

      1. Epinephrine says:

        Sorry, was your reply to a different comment? I was just making a very quick comment about how long ago the principle that “the dose makes the poison” was first expressed – it has certainly been centuries, making ignorance of it pretty silly, but I don’t believe that it goes back 2 millennia. Celsus was a 1st century doctor, but Paracelsus lived in the 15th-16th centuries.

  9. It’s hard to even consider trying to take such hyperbole (as put forth by the foodBabe) slightly seriously. OK, I can buy that she doesn’t eat eggs, maybe she’s a vegan; that could explain never eating Jello (gelatin) as well. How can anyone not eat any sucrose at all? Maybe she also has a allergy to (natural) latex as well; I could buy that too. But will she really not even put any aluminum on her body? How can you go through life in a technological civilization and never touch aluminum?

    “If you encounter the flu – rest, take care of yourself […] You’ll have these new antibodies for life that will ultimately protect you from similar strains of the virus better than any yearly shot could ever provide.”

    “Why do I have to get a Flu Shot every year? Aren’t vaccines suppose [sic] to immunize you for life?”

    Yes, these two sentences were written by the same person. Notice the mention of “similar strains” and “for life” in the first sentence. The writer seems simultaneously to understand and also not understand seasonal flu strains.

  10. Angora Rabbit says:

    I had not heard of her either, but that’s because I avoid the internet “nutrition” sites because they are bad for my blood pressure. And my computer monitor. When I had to sit through a lecture by Michael Pollan, my auditorium seat nearly vibrated loose from its fittings.

    What is that makes college graduates think that they are now experts in topics outside their area? This ought to be true (if you learn one subject, you can learn others), but in reality I and my colleagues are failing our jobs.

    1. WScott says:

      Reminds me of Dara O’Briain’s routine about how dietician is to nutritionist as dentist is to toothologist.

    2. David Gorski says:

      I had not heard of her either

      Yes, but given that I’m the editor of a blog called Science-Based Medicine, one of the main purposes of which is to combat the sort of misinformation the Food Babe is laying down, I’m simply shocked that I had never heard of her before. It’s probably good for me. After over a decade dealing with this sort of misinformation, I was beginning to think I knew all the major sites spreading quackery.

    3. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I want Angora Rabbit to write a guest post about Michael Pollan :)

      1. Angora Rabbit says:

        Your wish is my command. :) The short version basically says, “Where the heck have you been? Not listening to dietitians and (real) nutritionists for 30-40 years, I see. Clean your ears!” And then acts like he’s discovered this all on his own. And good a huge advance on it, to boot. Sigh.

        He’s saying nothing that we haven’t been saying for decades. At least the message is finally getting traction, so for that, I am thankful.

        1. MikeBendzela says:

          Oh, I hope you read this. And I hope you get back to me with my request at the end of this comment.

          I’ve inherited a freshman seminar from a professor who bailed for unknown reasons. The theme is “eating animals,” and when they heard I’m a farmer who raises some animals, they asked me to teach it. But I’m a writing instructor, not a food scientist. The previous instructor was also in English, and a vegan at that.

          So I began reviewing the materials–and screamed. “Forks Over Knives.” “Food, Inc.” I realized I would have to go about teaching it this way: How do we as lay persons evaluate the claims about foods we find in the media? It’s very difficult. Don’t believe everything you hear. In fact, believe almost none of it.

          One text is Pollan’s “In Defense of Food.” It strikes me as a font of inanity. It goes something like this:

          “Oh my God. Science is so wrong about food! Like, they said we shouldn’t eat fat, now they’re like, wait a minute. I read some studies. They said the science was wrong. So actually grandma was right and we need to go back to her old sausage recipes. Reductionist science doesn’t know the truth. Reductionist science studies told me so. Breathe air, mostly oxygen, not too much.”

          If you’ve written about this stuff, or know of great debunking materials, I need to know about it.

          Contact me: mikeb “at” foxhill “dot” com.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Long version! LONG VERSION! LONG VERSION! LONG VERSION!!!!!!!

          I quite enjoyed The Omnivore’s Dilemma and I wonder about his other books. But then I read about some of his nuttier opinions and it rather pollutes the rest of his work.

          1. Nashira says:

            WLU, may I join you in the chorus of long version? I. would. love. to read that post so, so baaaaaaaaaad.

            Just don’t ask me to jump up and down with you, please. One of us would fall straight on our heads. :)

  11. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    How can you go through life in a technological civilization and never touch aluminum?

    Not to mention its ubiquity in air, soil and water, you literally can’t avoid eating it. And if you’ve ever skinned your knee, or fallen on a branch, or stepped on broken glass – congratulations! Aluminum has just broken the skin and is now circulating throughout your body! But it was before anyway, so…

  12. Calli Arcale says:

    “the aspartame of medical understanding”

    This is a fantastic turn of phrase, and I hope to see its use spread outwards from your blog, Dr Crislip. ;-)

    Oh, and she demonizes sucrose. The classic bastion of food woo: all our ills come from refined sugar! On an unrelated note, I find it absolutely hilarious that there is now a lot of push towards “cane sugar” (which apparently sounds better than refined sugar, even if it does unfairly leave beet sugar hanging) as a superior and sometimes even healthful alternative to high fructose corn syrup. It’s like how butter and margarine keep going back and forth on which one is superior.

    “One would think a computer scientist could manage the Googles to find out the ingredients in the flu vaccine.”

    Of course she could. But why should she take the time? She already *knows*. It’s so much better, knowing, because then you are powerful and then you don’t have to trouble yourself with all that hard work of discovery.

    1. Mark A Crislip says:

      My Dad was a cardiologist at the height of the cholesterol fears so I grew up 2 eggs a week, skim milk, no bacon or butter.
      Now I eat all with abandon. Butter is sooooooo much better.

      1. Windriven says:

        Kerrigold Irish butter. Available at Trader Joe’s for cheap. Outstanding!

  13. WScott says:

    Thanks for one of the most hysterical snark-fests I’ve read in weeks!

    “Because the flu vaccine doesn’t weaken “immune system systemically further?” It makes it more effective against the influenza virus by generating antibody against influenza antigen.”

    [nitpick alert] Certainly. But isn’t it true that while your body is generating influenza anitbodies it can be *slightly* more succeptible to other bugs? I was just reading about that the other day (I thought it was here at SBM but I could be wrong), explaining that when people complain that they get sick after a flu shot they’re not 100% wrong. I mention this not as a point against the flu vaccine. Few things in life are completely risk-free, so it’s a matter of accepting a very small risk (of catching a less-serious disease in the short term) in order to reduce a much greater risk (of catching or transmitting a more serious disease).

  14. Chris Hickie says:

    From her web site: Impassioned by knowing how food affects health, Vani loves sharing her message on the blogosphere to a large population of readers across the globe. After receiving tremendous attention on her posts about Chick-Fil-A, she was invited by the company’s leadership to meet at its headquarters to consult on specific improvements to ingredients used by the national chain. Other major food companies that have responded to her writings include Kraft, Whole Foods, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Chipotle, Yoforia, and Moe’s South West Grill.

    Smells to me like an extortion scam.

  15. Anna says:

    THANK YOU for pointing out the fallacy that is criticizing Jenny McCarthy’s stance on vaccination by pointing to her Playboy past. McCarthy’s bad ideas hold up just fine on their own, thank you very much — no need for sexist red herrings. Whether you believe a woman is virtuous by being physically attractive, or that posing naked is a source of shame for a woman, either way a woman’s worth is being distilled down to her body, and that is terribly dehumanizing. Not just to McCarthy but to us all.

    So, yes, it bothers me very much when people cite McCarthy’s Playboy affiliation to undermine her opinions on vaccination. We can limit ourselves to criticizing what she says, and believe me, we won’t soon run out of material!

    Also, the pedant in me can’t help it:
    I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body [including latex].
    It is a good thing for Food Babe that understanding reality is not a part of being fit to survive, but I sure hope she is never exposed to influenza, especially if pregnant.

    And pregnancy might soon be in her future if she refuses to put latex on her body. Not to make assumptions about her heterosexual activity, but if she eschews latex I can only imagine what she might make of hormonal contraceptives and whatnot.

    1. AnObservingParty says:

      I think it would be wise to switch the argument from “Playboy” bunny to general “non-expert” and leave it at that. In fit of rages when her name is brought up in conversation, I’ve used the “Playboy bunny” argument (disclaimer: I am a woman, but that doesn’t make it ok), and have on occasion accidentally turned the argument to whether or not that inherently means someone isn’t intelligent. No, it doesn’t, she made money and a name for herself and she is successful at what she does, insofar as a brand. What it has been is extremely damaging.

      What we should be saying is that Jenny has no training in medicine, biology, chemistry, statistics, or immunology, and then proceed to point out the various non-truths she’s espoused, even about herself and her own words. She’s has stated things recently that stand in direct contradiction to video/print evidence of her past views in order to save face, EXCEPT for just admitting she was wrong and apologizing. The latest was that the “public misunderstood her.” Unfortunately, that has done nothing to quell at least MY rage, and my opinion of her has started to switch from a desperate mother taken advantage of by a charlatan of to a completely self-serving brand-name willing to do anything to get the spotlight on herself and make a buck (ex: e-cigs, despite railing against some of the very chemicals in them). Hell, Jim Carrey helped her wreak her havoc and he still didn’t deserve how she threw him under the bus (and exposed her son’s emotional state at their break-up) to get some attention in 2012. She very literally speaks for herself.

      I think it would serve us better to stop with the “Playboy” nonsense and rely on the abundant evidence that very little that comes out of her mouth has any worth, and it would be the same even if her title of “Playboy Bunny” was “MD.” It would make science look less petty.

      On that note, I do wonder how many of the people who follow “Food Babe” do so because she is attractive/fit. I think, unfortunately, gender/attractiveness influences too much of the trust we put in people. It’s the same reason people are still taken aback at and are wary upon meeting a burly, ripped, male nurse.

      1. Angora Rabbit says:

        Agreed. Plus, it gives a bad name to bunnies.

    2. David Gorski says:

      THANK YOU for pointing out the fallacy that is criticizing Jenny McCarthy’s stance on vaccination by pointing to her Playboy past. McCarthy’s bad ideas hold up just fine on their own, thank you very much — no need for sexist red herrings.

      Is it OK to mention her past as co-host of inane shows like Singled Out and star of an inane, short-lived sitcom Jenny? Because I do that all the time when discussing Jenny McCarthy. :-)

      1. Harriet Hall says:

        I think it is perfectly OK to emphasize that a Playboy bunny is not a reliable source for medical advice. And if you google images of her, you will see that she routinely allows herself to be pictured as a sex symbol. I submit that she is the one who is sexist, not Dr. Gorski.

        1. mousethatroared says:

          I agree with the fact that it’s fine to point out her lack of expertise. Whether or not she has a past as of sex symbol, nude photos ect, seems irrelevant. What if a expert in infectious diseases was a past playboy bunny? Would that disqualify their (hypothetical) pro-vaccine stance because they have made themselves a sex symbol?

          Consider Hedy Lamarr.

          1. Harriet Hall says:

            No, it wouldn’t disqualify her, but if she consistently presented herself as a sex symbol rather than as a scientist, I wouldn’t fault someone for seeing her the way she obviously wanted to be seen, or for calling her sexist. I can’t think of a single male scientist whose major public persona was as a sex symbol.

          2. mousthatroared says:

            I don’t know what seeing someone as a sex symbol means in this case. Do you mean seeing someone as only having value sexually or just seeing someone as sexually attractive, while acknowleging the fact that you only know them shallowly through media venues.

            I would say that in the first approach, someone who views a famous person as only having value sexually, is not reality based. The second approach shows an understanding that the media only offers a shallow view of an individual’s value and assumes there are many hidden traits about that peson.

            Whether I would fault someone or not…seems like a reality based approach would be better when making a decision.

            1. Harriet Hall says:

              I don’t even know what “having value sexually means,” unless it means having the appropriate body parts and being fertile. As for “only” having value sexually, that is impossible, because people have value in other spheres too.

              Take a look at the images for Jennie McCarthy at She chooses to present herself to the public primarily with glamour shots, sexually suggestive poses, and large swathes of uncovered skin. I consider that sexist.

              Contrast that to the images for her former boyfriend Jim Carrey: Instead of beefcake, they are mostly of his various film roles: his accomplishments.

              We have a long way to go before there is gender equality in our society. I’m not suggesting affirmative action so unattractive women can be in Playboy and the movies. I just think that Jennie’s self presentation tends to reinforce old stereotypes and maintain the status quo of gender inequality.

          3. Moebius says:

            That’s Hedly.

          4. mousethatroared says:

            HH “I don’t even know what “having value sexually means,” unless it means having the appropriate body parts and being fertile. As for “only” having value sexually, that is impossible, because people have value in other spheres too”

            Yes, that’s what I meant by it being unrealistic. If someone views another person as a sex object, it ignores the value the objectified person has in other spheres.

            Sorry, Harriet, I’m distracted and unclear, today.

            Pretty much what Chris says, down thread, is where I end up. Just pretend, I said something similar. :)

      2. AnObservingParty says:

        I wonder if that would be more effective, because it brings in the entirety of her body of work (which is all pretty ridiculous) and emphasizes that she is a non-expert, rather than a sex symbol. Even her non-crazy books (I admit, I read the pregnancy one) are funny, but ridiculous and honestly, nothing nobody didn’t already know. In fact, I’ve never seen her be amusing in an interview, so I’m not sure I believe they aren’t the result of ghost writers.

        Speaking of those things, it always strikes me as odd that she has SO many failed projects and people still keep giving her jobs. None of it was good, and while ABC denied the rumors she was bombing on the View, when Barbara Walters says there’s no truth in a rumor, there pretty much always is.

        Why does Hollywood keep trying to make Jenny McCarthy a thing?! Reminds me of “fetch” in Mean Girls.

        Regardless of who is the sexist one, if any, there are people who jump to refute that argument, and whether or not they have a point, I’ve found it detracts from the original argument: Vaccines = Good, Jenny McCarthy = Doesn’t Live in Reality

        1. Chris says:

          I usually try to sum it up as to who do you want to get medical advice from: an actress/lawyer/engineer/etc or someone with the appropriate credentials like a medical doctor, perhaps an infectious disease doctor?

          Like recently when I asked: “Would you rather get medical information from a public relations person or an epidemiologist from your county health department?” The public relations person I was thinking about was Barbara Loe Fisher (which she was in the 1980s). By the way, her co-author, Harris Coulter, had a PhD in Russian Studies and worked as translator.

          1. AnObservingParty says:

            Unfortunately, there are a few “doctors” they bring up in that case too. It’s so frustrating to hear, “well, she wrote the book with so-and-so” referring to Jerry Kartzinel, who hasn’t lost his ability to practice (yet). Or Jay. At least Andy isn’t a doc anymore. More than once I’ve gotten referred to that website of docs against vaccines, I honestly can’t remember the name, that states “100s of doctors from around the world are coming on board!” It’s frustrating when telling them that “100s” means little compared to the 80,000+ in the US alone doesn’t even register. Not to mention the rest of the scientific community. People like an underdog and a whistle blower, and to paraphrase our subject “I do sadly believe it’s going to take diseases coming back…” to make people realize how absolutely crucial childhood vaccination is. It’s already happening and is only going to get worse unless we’re able to rein it in.

            Oh, but we, the public, misunderstood her when she originally said that.

          2. Chris says:

            Yes, it is unfortunate that actual read doctors do get sucked into being purveyors of nonsense and prey on vulnerable parents. My quick note is to avoid any doctor who sells his own line of nostrums, as that is a clear sign of someone who is more interested in the health of their wallet than the health of their patients. Along with Kartiznel, this includes Blaylock, Julian Whitaker, Mercola and others.

            What is even more telling sometimes if these doctors have been discussed in the Autism Omnibus cases. The special masters were not pleased with both Krigsman and Bradstreet in this summary.

            I am out of links, but I encourage you to go to the LeftBrainRightBrain blog (it ends with a and read about the Geiers.

          3. AnObservingParty says:

            Oh, I know all about the Geiers. They’re also brought up, but it’s easier now since Dad lost his ability to practice everywhere. I always try to point out some warning signs: 1) if they immediately call a press conference and it’s not a WHO Level 6 Pandemic; 2) if they’re selling books for profit (this is where Offit’s donations of his book earnings to the ASF are particularly argument-worthy); or 3) if they’ve attached themselves to a celebrity who is making a profit…think twice, because there’s the “shadow agency conspiracy” they’re throwing at us.

            I guess this has gone off on a train of thought of how to argue with lunacy, huh?

            I wish we could go about with the idea of the commenter on Orac’s blog recently…make SBM sound all naturopathic and nonsense-y in an attempt to appeal to their natures. It might work, but actual SBM tries to remain, you know…ethical, and not make $h*t up.

      3. PaulieG says:

        **I wouldn’t usually comment but I brought this up in one of my pro-vaccine Facebook groups I post in….so…delurking**

        For the record Dr. Gorski, you have never associated Jenny McCarthy and her past as a Playboy bunny with her being stupid or a “bimbo” either here or at your other super secret blog. I think this is what people have an issue with. While you do talk about her career as an entertainer and how this does not make her an expert on anything science related, you do this with other entertainers as well, such as Rob Schneider and Mayim “say it ain’t so” Bialik.

    3. Lucario says:

      …and she’d better think twice about ever eating any bananas ever again (a natural source of latex).

    4. Carl says:

      If Jenny McCarthy didn’t regularly go on TV as some kind of spokesperson or expert who thinks she is smarter than all professional doctors and researchers, then her actual profession wouldn’t be such a frequent subject. Laypersons can have opinions, including people who are experts in one area but not a current subject of discussion. We all do that. But when someone takes a position contrary to all experts, it becomes relevant that their only special area of knowledge is something very unlike medicine.

      For another example, our good old buddy Neal Adams has a theory of physics which contradicts…everything… and he thinks Einstein, Hawking, and every single graduate of any science program are all total idiots. Neal Adams DRAWS COMIC BOOKS FOR A LIVING. OMG teh biggitree and teh ad hominimz.

      As a brief aside, when looking at a quacky paper once discussed on the SGU, Novella and a dozen other people checked the authors’ credentials and noted that one of the authors was a homeopath. One of the homeopath’s supporters actually griped that this was an off-topic character attack.

      1. Young CC Prof says:

        Irrelevant ad hominem: OMG, this epidemiologist did modeling to pay the bills in grad school! She’s a dumb pretty blonde!

        Relevant attack on qualifications: This person’s whole career has been in the entertainment industry. She has no training or experience in the biological sciences.

        1. mousethatroared says:

          Yes! I would add, though, that is doesn’t take a specific degree to apply critical thinking and logic to a claim.

          The person who has worked in the entertainment industry their whole life can still look at a study that claims TV causes ADHD and point out that it’s a small sample, based on parent recall and reporting and that there is no control group, thus the conclusion that TV causes ADHD is questionable.

          The problem is that many of the problematic entertainers are not applying critical thinking or logic, they are just creating an alternative version of science and claiming they are experts in it…which, unfortunately, is what many of the SCAM doctors do too. :(

  16. tgobbi says:

    Dr. Crislip: “Now I eat all with abandon. Butter is sooooooo much better.”

    Right! Has anyone ever noticed that the margarine manufacturers always tell us that their product tastes like butter – but the dairies never claim that butter tastes like margarine???

    1. Nashira says:

      Once you’ve had Lurpak or another cultured butter, regular butter might as well be margarine. Well… almost.

    2. Calli Arcale says:

      I actually like both butter and margarine, and so have both in my fridge. ;-)

      1. AnObservingParty says:

        I have both too…as I’ve discovered through experimentation that some baking recipes turn out better with margarine than butter. I have a pumpkin cookie recipe that my grandmother always joked was poor Irish immigrant dessert (I dunno how Irish pumpkin is, but her parents were poor Irish immigrants) that is just not the same if made with real butter. It was perfected using WWII rations says the legend. Mmmm….hydrogenated oils *Homer Simpson drool*

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Margarine would have no water in it, correct? If so it would be a good ingredient for pie dough, a sort-of-more-flavourful lard. A pure lard pie crust is horrible and bland, but an all-butter crust is hard to get right because it’s made up of a substantial amount of water, which creates gluten, which leads to a leathery crust.

          Or, of course, vodka. Good for pie, good for pie maker.

          1. Chris says:

            I use butter flavored shortening for pie crusts.

            Some stick margarines seem to have water and are softer. plus there is still a large variation between brands (the Nucua in my fridge does list water as an ingredient, right after palm fruit and soybean oils). The spreadable ones are worthless for cooking.

          2. mousethatroared says:

            I like to use 1/2 butter flavored shortening and 1/2 butter in my pie dough. Haven’t tried the vodka yet, although pie season is here, may need to do that.

          3. AnObservingParty says:

            Vodka? Really. I love vodka. I also love America’s Test Kitchen, but have never seen that one.

            I tend to stick with the margarine for these because it’s cheap and that sticks with the original theme of the cookies.

          4. windriven says:

            ” A pure lard pie crust is horrible and bland,”


            William! The very best pie crusts I’ve ever had have been made from lard that I’ve rendered myself. Nothing creates the flakiness that lard brings to the party. And the flavor is indescribable. My neighbor raises the hogs and feeds them a mix of hog chow, kitchen scraps and – most importantly – apples. All the apples from his many trees that are blemished end up as hog feed. This leads to a sweet subtle appliness that stands snout-to-snout in counterpoint to the nutty flavor of the fine Iberian hogs that are fed acorns. If you’ve never had first quality jamon Iberico, well, your life is incomplete (unless you’re kosher or halal). We butcher the hogs ourselves and I render pie crust lard from the snowy white fat from around the kidneys. Jose uses a lot of the rest of the lard for tortillas so good it is criminal.

          5. windriven says:


            “Some stick margarines seem to have water and are softer.”

            An easy way to determine the percentage of water in either butter or margarine is to weigh out 3 ounces of cold fat, then heat it in a hot skillet – it will bubble and spatter as the water evaporates out. When the bubbling has stopped, pour the hot fat into a ramekin and weigh it. The difference is water water weight. Most real butter is 15-18% water. Don’t know about margarine.

            This can be crucially important in some recipes where the amount of moisture is fairly critical. Pie crust and scones come to mind.

          6. Chris says:

            Thanks, I was just noticing the bubbling of the butter as I browned it for browned sage butter pasta.

            I want some of that apple scented lard and ham!

          7. Young CC Prof says:

            Half butter half margarine for me. I think it’s mixing two solid fats with different hardness/melting point that does it, so the margarine glues the flour together but the butter is still lumpy. I just can’t make it work with pure butter, I’ve tried.

          8. agitato says:

            Angora Rabbit:
            Do you condone the saturated fat love fest going on here?

          9. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

            William! The very best pie crusts I’ve ever had have been made from lard that I’ve rendered myself. Nothing creates the flakiness that lard brings to the party.

            ATK/CI specifies that the fats in both butter and lard are what brings flakiness, the lard is supposed to be better at it (it’s used as insurance to ensure flakes).

            And the flavor is indescribable. My neighbor raises the hogs and feeds them a mix of hog chow, kitchen scraps and – most importantly – apples. All the apples from his many trees that are blemished end up as hog feed. This leads to a sweet subtle appliness that stands snout-to-snout in counterpoint to the nutty flavor of the fine Iberian hogs that are fed acorns.

            Yep, that would probably make a difference; most lard purchased in stores are processed to be deliberately bland (and fat is where the flavour is, protein with all the fat extracted is basically indistinguishable from animal to animal). Leaf lard (the kidney fat you mention) is supposed to be best – but I don’t quite like even my own pie enough to find some, or render my own lard from a pig carcass.

            I do use bacon fat whenever I make a quiche with the same dough recipe.

            If you’ve never had first quality jamon Iberico, well, your life is incomplete (unless you’re kosher or halal).

            Sigh…I want to live in Europe…

  17. Lytrigian says:

    I am surprised she did not include dihydrogen oxide

    You know, I bet she’d fall for that if someone pointed it out to her.

  18. Stephen H says:

    There is good news at the FoodBabe website. Almost all comments on her ‘flu vaccination article are pro-vaccination, pointing out that she has absolutely no idea what she’s talking about.

    I’m also bemused about her attitude towards “non-natural” products. She clearly wears makeup. I’m guessing she uses deodorant in polite company. In fact, she probably goes the whole hog with the “body beautiful”. But all of those products, regardless of what the company claims, contain all sorts of “not so natural” ingredients.

    As Chris Hickie points out, she “affiliates” herself with a large number of well-known companies. I suggest writing to those companies about whether they support the ramblings of this quackticious young lady. Maybe she can at least lose a couple of sponsors out of her ignorance or – even better – be persuaded by the Almighty Dollar to change her views on vaccination.

  19. Chris says:

    In an off topic comment of the friendly rivalry between our two states I present this article: Obamacare: ‘Great start’ here, while Oregon lags.

    Take note that a couple of “Portlandia” characters are from that place north of them. Mainly a suburb of Seattle (Redmond) and Yakima (where my family is from)! ;-)

  20. Jason says:

    “I have yet to see a correlation between being attractive and being intelligent.”

    Here you are
    Right or wrong, they try to find a correlation, which at the very least, is interesting to speculate on.

    On a more related note, I get the flu shot every year and have for as long as I can remember. Nearly every year I still get the flu. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been able to get through the winter without the flu in the last 20 years. If it wasn’t free, I certainly wouldn’t pay for it.

    1. Harriet Hall says:

      Did it ever occur to you that without the shot you might have gotten the flu those other years too? And that your episodes of “flu” (technically, without laboratory diagnosis, all you can say is you had a “flu-like” illness) might have been more severe without the shots? It might be worth paying for after all.

      1. jason says:

        Absolutely considered it. Unfortunately I have no way of knowing whether it was luck or the shot that got me out of it those years.

        One year I had the “flu like illness” so bad I literally thought I might die. While it may take clinical diagnoses, it would be one hell of a cold to induce sweats, fever, chills, and vomiting. I was pretty sure it didn’t reduce the severity that year.

        However you raise valid points.

    2. Stella B. says:

      Did you really have influenza or just a bad cold? We tend to call any bad cold, episode of food poisoning, or viral diarrhea “the flu”, however the “flu” vaccine really only prevents influenza — not colds or intestinal complaints. Flu is usually accompanied by high fever, chills, body aches and minimal coughing, but usually not nasal symptoms. I had the real flu in college. It was an awful experience. I spent a full week in bed with aching fever and still felt rotten for an additional week.

      1. Jason says:

        As best as I can recall, not that I made a twenty year log, all were accompanied by fever, chills, sweating, and body aches. I could be mis-remembering of course. For sure though, in the last five years I have had the flu shot and 4/5 years I got sick and suffered from fever, chills, sweats and aches. I also got it this year, two days ago, so we will see if I suffer this year.

        1. Stella B says:

          Vomiting isn’t a symptom of influenza. You could certainly go to your doc and have your nose swabbed for influenza A and then you would know for sure.

        2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          The ‘flu vaccine isn’t optimal for a lot of reasons, and if you did catch the ‘flu after vaccination it’s possible the strain you were vaccinated against was a poor match to whatever was circulating in your vicinity. The nice thing is, there is evidence that even a poorly-matched vaccine can still blunt the symptoms of infection via the circulating strain.

  21. dingo199 says:

    I am always intrigued at the inherent paradox (unappreciated by antivaxers everywhere) in asserting that it is really important to be immune from a disease, so one should get the disease to get the immunity.

  22. Jason says:

    A very interesting piece on science daily today…
    “Receiving an influenza vaccination was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events such as heart failure or hospitalization for heart attack, with the greatest treatment effect seen among patients with recent acute coronary syndrome”

  23. Jared says:

    Common sense dictates you need to turn to medical advances to maintain optimum health and eat the right foods to keep your body functioning seamlessly. Science and sensibility go hand-in-hand.

  24. Uraniabce says:

    *Sigh* Thanks for this. The person in question just did a number on tea, and had me seriously worried. Now I feel better knowing of her opposition to the flu vaccine.

  25. I first found out about the Food Babe when she went on a big activism campaign against those evil, dirty, no-good artificial colors used in American processed food.

    You see, as a result of a single study, the European Union requires all foodstuffs with artificial food dyes like Red 40 and Yellow 5 to carry the warning “May cause hyperactivity in children.” No equivalent study has yet been done on “natural” food dyes like paprika and turmeric, but since such natural dyes have been used “for centuries” there cannot possibly be anything wrong with them. Because there cannot possibly be anything wrong with ANY tried-and-true traditional remedies, like leeches and mercury drops. So, naturally [sic], the Food Babe’s stance was “Ban artificial food dyes at once! They have ‘artificial’ in their name!”

    I had a friend who swallowed the Food Babe’s stance hook, line, and sinker. I wish I’d had that microwaved Hitler crystal paragraph to show her; it might have changed her mind.

  26. Non Idiot says:

    Great article. I saw that idiot Foodbabe on CNN the other day and searched “Foodbabe is an idiot” to land here. It’s almost impossible to believe she has any education whatsoever because I’ve struck up random conversations with perfect strangers in a bar, on public transit or even on the street who clearly know more science than she does. In fact, she could give Sarah Palin a run for her money on being anti-sicence and a world class idiot.

  27. Roman100 says:


    Wow! Now that is recherché!

    Superlative article, Dr Crislip!

  28. Jordyn says:

    I just stumbled across your article, curious about both sides of vaccines and whatnot.

    Facts are great and I do so appreciate reading them. However, you sure do sound like a huge jackass in essay.

    If you really want to help people, why act so condescending? Is it to make us think you are so much more smarter than us? People don’t like taking advice from a jackass. Be nice, be sensitive, and tell the facts. You would win over a lot more people.

    Just a thought.

    1. Chris says:

      Jordyn, if you really want the full snark, download the podcast of this article. Oh, and grow a thicker skin.

    2. Sawyer says:

      There are several other writers for this blog that take a much softer approach. Out of the regular contributors Dr. Novella tends to be pretty civil and I can’t imagine being offended by anything he’s ever written. Browse around and you should be able to find what your looking for. Sometimes it’s better to look for older entries, as people tend to lean towards condescension after debunking the same information a hundred times.

      As for Dr. Crislip’s unique brand of evidence-based ridicule, many of us here find his honesty and humor quite refreshing. Personally I would rather listen to a doctor that is upfront about their beliefs than someone who tiptoes around an issue.

  29. windriven says:


    “curious about both sides of vaccines and whatnot.”

    Both sides? There is the science side of vaccines and the huge impact they have made on the human condition. Smallpox once claimed untold lives, polio was the scourge of the young, babies once died in appalling numbers from pertussis. Vaccines have eliminated these and a host of other infectious diseases everywhere besides remote backwaters and isolated enclaves of Luddites.

    Now what is the other side?

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