Idiocracy: The rise of the Food Babe

Idiocracy is a special kind of 2006 movie, vastly underrated but all too prescient.

Vani_Hari_from_Charlotte_Video_ProjectReal Clear Science writes that it takes a special sort of nonsense to land the top spot on our annual list of junk science. Last year, the honor went to the grossly misleading nature “documentaries” on Discovery and Animal Planet. This year, it goes to Vani Hari, better known as “The Food Babe.” And wow did she earn it.

Hari catapulted into the public spotlight this year by accusing Subway of using a “harmful” chemical found in yoga mats to make its bread fluffy. It’s true, the chemical in question, azodicarbonamide, is found in both yoga mats and bread, but as a food additive, it’s not dangerous in the slightest. Azodicarbonamide is merely guilty of having a hard-to-pronounce, foreign-sounding name. Nevertheless, Subway caved to her request.

“This is the worst example of pseudoscientific fearmongering I have seen in a while, and that’s saying something.” Yale neurologist and President of the New England Skeptical Society Steven Novella said.

Hari followed up her Subway victory by convincing the world’s largest brewers to disclose all of their “shocking” ingredients, including dried fish bladder. Never mind that dried fish bladder, also known as isinglass, has been used in beer for centuries with no ill effects.

Hari’s most recent fallacious foray was a misleading, viral image claiming that Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latté is full of dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals. It is not.

Transparency in the food industry is not a bad thing, but Hari’s resonant fearmongering, coupled with the way she massacres science, debases everybody’s intelligence. She preys on our most flighty, fearful, and irrational instincts. The public deserves better.