The Food Babe gets another public grilling

A chemical

A chemical

You know, I hear a lot of noise about the internet’s “outrage culture” and how everyone needs to be more polite and stop making people, especially white male people, so uncomfortable. The latest was a disappointing rant by Patton Oswalt who wants everyone to stop criticizing comics (dealt with well by Joe Garden, another comedian).

They never seem to factor in the fact that there is also a lot to be outraged about, and that complacency isn’t a solution, it’s a potentiator of problems. It can be racism, it can be the growing divide between classes, it can be the abuse of women…it doesn’t matter how big the problem is, someone will be whining that you aren’t allowed to complain.

At least we can find unity in one thing: The “Food Babe” Blogger Is Full of Shit. This is the latest expose of her bad science, and it’s damning. It’s written by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

I am an analytical chemist with a background in forensics and toxicology. Before working full-time as a science writer and public speaker, I worked as a chemistry professor, a toxicology chemist, and in research analyzing pesticides for safety. I now run my own blog, Science Babe, dedicated to debunking pseudoscience that tends to proliferate in the blogosphere. Reading Hari’s site, it’s rare to come across a single scientific fact. Between her egregious abuse of the word "toxin" anytime there’s a chemical she can’t pronounce and asserting that everyone who disagrees with her is a paid shill, it’s hard to pinpoint her biggest sin.

And then the author tears her apart bit by bit. It’s glorious.

Then I looked in on the Food Babe blog. It was depressing. There’s some good stuff there — sure, nice healthy recipes are fine — but all the stupidity leavening it makes it repugnant. And then there’s the long list of endorsements she publicizes:the New York Times, Good Morning America, Dr Oz, The Doctors, USA Today, CNN. This is why she succeeds: the media are willing panderers to her flavor of garbage.

Maybe someone ought to introduce them to Science Based Cuisine. CNN ought to bring Dr Ricky on instead of the uneducated person with no knowledge of science or food.


  1. says

    FTB is making me really hungry this morning: first Cuttlefish with his delicious “Meaningless Pieces Of Meat” and now PZ with grilled Food Babe!!
    [wanders off before tum rumbles drown out everything else…]

  2. zenlike says

    Sad, Patton Oswald is generally a funny and clever comedian. Seeing him embarras himself by burning a barn full of straw is painfull to read.

  3. says

    Check out Science-Based Cuisine. The post at top right now is about a stew made of organs, and below that is one about tasty grasshoppers. That’ll fix you right up.

  4. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    This is why she succeeds: the media are willing panderers to her flavor of garbage.

    Part of her appeal is how TV-friendly of a “Babe” she is; she’s easy on the eyes, if not on the brain, and her irrational opinions on food chemistry are more interesting than some explanations that debunks nonsense about hidden toxins and uses scary, hard-to-pronounce words. And I suspect this is part of the reason people fell (still fall?) for Jenny McCarthy and her stand in line for the f___ing measles gobbledygook.

  5. rietpluim says

    Yvette d’Entremont is a chemist. You know, the kind of person that makes chemicals for a living, even for fun. You’d trust her as much as the chemicals in your food.

    In short: Yvette d’Entremont rocks!

  6. dõki says

    Anybody else getting an “Error establishing a database connection” message from the SciBabe website?

  7. kc9oq says

    Wait ’til Food Babe discovers IUPAC naming. I sure wouldn’t want any (2R,3R,4S,5S,6R)-2-[(2S,3S,4S,5R)-3,4-dihydroxy-2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)oxolan-2-yl]oxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-3,4,5-triol [aka sucrose] in my tea.

  8. The Mellow Monkey says

    kc9oq @ 10

    Wait ’til Food Babe discovers IUPAC naming. I sure wouldn’t want any (2R,3R,4S,5S,6R)-2-[(2S,3S,4S,5R)-3,4-dihydroxy-2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)oxolan-2-yl]oxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-3,4,5-triol [aka sucrose] in my tea.

    Ha. Shows what you know. The Food Babe has already determined that she has an “allergy” to refined sugar.

    One of the ongoing treatments I am doing with my regular needle Acupuncture, is figuring out all of my allergies and then using laser acupuncture to eliminate them. I found out I was incredibly allergic to refined sugar. About 3 months ago I was treated for this – it doesn’t mean I can eat all the refined sugar I want now, rather it means that my body can tolerate it better. This type of treatment is said to help with sugar cravings. I immediately noticed a difference after I was treated. When I had a dessert, after the 3rd or 4th bite, I didn’t want anymore.

  9. Sastra says

    There’s a certain segment of the public which feels “empowered” by the everything-the-experts-tell-you-is-wrong schtick. Some of this arrogance comes out of a counter-cultural love of rebellion for its own sake, some of it is derived from the idea that simpler, natural ways are always best — and I think a big whopping load of it drops from a combination of both.

  10. Artor says

    ScienceBabe’s website has been getting overloaded, since her Grilled Food Babe article has been reposted so much.

  11. 00001000bit says

    Since PZ brought up eating grasshoppers … does anyone know if a shellfish allergy typically carries over to other arthropods such as crickets or grasshoppers? I’ve never really known what specifically in shellfish causes the allergic reaction, and didn’t know if it was something having to do with habitat, was something limited to crustaceans specifically, or if it was maybe an allergen that is shared among a wider set of relatives and extended to arthropods in general.

  12. says

    One of my favourite bits of irony is that invariably the people who go on about the “perpetual outrage machine” are themselves perpetually outraged. Gamergate is a fine example of this.

  13. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    One of my favourite bits of irony is that invariably the people who go on about the “perpetual outrage machine” are themselves perpetually outraged.

    I know. Projection much? I’ve been arguing with some FB friends over this and it’s really strange how passionate they are about this alleged Outrage Culture and how people are so much more sensitive nowadays etc. It feels to me like simply an extension of the Political Correctness Myth that so many people believe in. In addition to just how upset people seem to be at the idea of other people making criticisms they disagree with, the other thing that has really stood out is the poor quality of their arguments. Even people who are usually pretty good on Social Justice issues and applying critical thinking to bad arguments are showing big time blindspots on this topic. Most of them are involved in the arts to some extent so I suppose they could be oversensitive/paranoid about artistic freedom. Anyways, here are some of the bad arguments that I’ve seen just in the past few days (with my rough responses in itallics):

    People These Days…- People are just too sensitive nowadays and everyone wants to be offended by things. (Rather than the idea that maybe people have always been offended by offensive jokes and that the internet is just making it easier for the voices of people previously excluded from the conversation from being heard.)

    Just A Joke- People need to get a sense of humor. (intent is not magic, most racism/homophobia is inadvertant etc.)

    Slippery Slope- Criticism of offensive tweets will put us on a slippery slope towards a World Without Comedy! (Seriously? Nobody is censoring comedians or saying that any topics are Off Limits, just that some topics deserve a cautious approach by the comic and feedback from the audience to tell them when they screw up. Even if these topics were somehow Off Limits, that would still leave nearly endless other topics that a comic could use. The net loss of laughter in the world would probably not be huge.)

    Not Targeting Certain Groups = Treating Them Differently, Rather Than Treating Them Like Everyone Else- (Right, because the balance of humor is so naturally equal. Just think of all those jokes that mock people for being white, wealthy, straight, cis, able-bodied, fit, etc.

    The Job Of The Audience Is To…- The Audience OWES it to the comic to only react in certain ways in order for comedy to work. People who can’t handle a joke shouldn’t go to comedy clubs, or read twitter, or um exist.. (last time I checked the comedian was the one getting paid. The audience has no job other than to react however they want to.)

    Grow A Pair/Thicker Skin/You Have the Power Etc.- Self explanatory. But the weird corollary was that a friend of mine went on a whole thing about how you CHOOSE to be offended by granting the offender power. If we could all just be stronger like him…problem solved! (F. That. Noise. Why should the onus be on the victim to change rather than on the person doing the offending (regardless of their intention?))

    People Don’t Understand Context/Comedy/Twitter- Oh those silly rubes who don’t have our comic sophistication and internet savvy… (I must be fortunate to run in fairly enlightened circles because all the SJW criticisms I’ve seen have been from people who absolutely get context and humor and just take issue with downward-punching comedy. Some are even professional comedians.)

  14. blf says

    Over at Bad Science, there is a claim (which strikes me as being quite plausible):

    For her trouble, sciencebabe is libelled by foodbabe and foodbabe supporters send death threats. Classy bunch.

    However, there are no citations. My Generalissimo Goggle™-Fu hasn’t found anything, albeit there apparently is a private Farcebork page which sounds, ah, “promising”:

  15. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Thanks Anteprepro, I screwed up the bold and forgot a couple:

    History Eraser Button– So you think the world would have been a better place without Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Whatever-Legendary-Comedian-Once-Used-Offensive-Humor etc.

    Why Should We Care More About One Groups Feelings Than Others?(Says the person who is strangely obsessed with protecting the feelings of comedian’s at the expense of the people the ridicule.)

    The other thing that is strange about the whole kerfuffle is that it’s not like Oswalt is totally clueless. He used to defend rape jokes but then after listening to actual rape-victims, he admirably changed his tune:

    Let’s go backwards through those bullshit conclusions, shall we? First off: no one is trying to make rape, as a subject, off-limits. No one is talking about censorship. In this past week of re-reading the blogs, going through the comment threads, and re-scrolling the Twitter arguments, I haven’t once found a single statement, feminist or otherwise, saying that rape shouldn’t be joked under any circumstance, regardless of context. Not one example of this.

    In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.

    And just because I find rape disgusting, and have never had that impulse, doesn’t mean I can make a leap into the minds of women and dismiss how they feel day to day, moment to moment, in ways both blatant and subtle, from other men, and the way the media represents the world they live in, and from what they hear in songs, see in movies, and witness on stage in a comedy club.

    There is a collective consciousness that can detect the presence (and approach) of something good or bad, in society or the world, before any hard “evidence” exists. It’s happening now with the concept of “rape culture.” Which, by the way, isn’t a concept. It’s a reality. I’m just not the one who’s going to bring it into focus. But I’ve read enough viewpoints, and spoken to enough of my female friends (comedians and non-comedians) to know it isn’t some vaporous hysteria, some false meme or convenient catch-phrase.

    Which makes his inability to use the same logic with regards to the complaints about Treavor Noah all the more disappointing.

  16. PatrickG says

    From The Mellow Monkey, quoting TFB @10

    …figuring out all of my allergies and then using laser acupuncture to eliminate them.

    Well, shoot. And here I thought lasers made anything better.

  17. karpad says

    I’m more or less indifferent about Trevor Noah. Some of the tweets were more offensive than others (“implying Israel is warlike” is not, and never will be, antisemitic) I don’t think it has any bearing about whether or not he is in his heart of hearts an ally who supports justice and is just steeped in our bullshit culture like everyone else, or whether he “deserves” the show. Because god knows Stewart has had his fair share of problematic jokes, both before joining TDS and while with that program.

    I did, however, make up my mind quite some time ago about Patton Oswalt, who isn’t generally as bad as say, Bill Maher, but is much, much more disappointing because I expected better from him in the first place.

  18. Al Dente says

    laser acupuncture

    Shining a bright light on your skin fixes many aliments like imaginary allergies to sugar and a surplus of money in your wallet.

  19. says

    In a Facebook group I expressed disappointment with Oswalt’s defense of Noah’s tweets, explaining why I feel he should know better, and someone responded to inform me that, you see, Patton Oswalt is a comedian, so …

  20. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    @ HolyPinkUnicorn #6

    Part of her appeal is how TV-friendly of a “Babe” she is; she’s easy on the eyes, if not on the brain…

    I disagree; a very large part of her appeal is based on the fact that she is very easy on the brain.

  21. ironflange says

    She’s right about the paid shills part. I frequently make critical comments about her, and every few weeks or so Monsanto will back a dump truck full of money up to my door. It’s great.