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The Food Babe and Rob Schneider: When companies choose poorly

October-2014-Cover

It’s been a bad week for celebrity quacks; that is, after starting out looking as though it would be a good week. For example, as I discussed a couple of days ago, contender for the title of world’s most brain dead antivaccine conspiracy theorist, washed up comedian Rob Schneider, having somehow managed to land a gig resurrecting his 20 year old “Richmeister” character (a.k.a. the “Makin’ Copies Guy”) in the service of an ad campaign for State Farm Insurance, found his ad dropped like the proverbial Ebola-laced bedding when State Farm was made aware of Schneider’s virulently antivaccine views. It took a few days of social media pressure, but in the end, State Farm did the right thing. After all, from a strictly mercenary standpoint, does a company that sells, among other insurance products, health insurance want to be associated with a pitchman whose extreme antivaccine views are inimical to the business and message of any company selling health insurance? Then, of course, there’s the standpoint of society, and definitely using such a person without any consideration of the message he sends is not good for public health.

Then there’s Vani Hari, a.k.a., the “Food Babe.” I’ve written about the Food Babe several times before. Basically, she’s a one trick pony, with one modus operandi. In essence, in her utter ignorance of basic chemistry, she finds chemicals with scary-sounding names in foods and beverages. Once such chemicals are located, she uses their scary, scientific names to whip up a frenzy of outrage among her “Food Babe Army.” She then channels that ignorant outrage, directing it at food companies, in order to get them to remove that scary sounding chemical regardless of whether or not there is any science to suggest that the chemical is in any way harmful or dangerous. She’s done this so many times now that a term has been coined for it: Quackmail. It’s a perfect encapsulation of just how the Food Babe operates. She’s done it to Subway over what she ignorantly or disingenuously (or both) called the “yoga mat chemical” in its bread.

She’s done it to beer brewers over a number of scary sounding chemicals, in particular a hilariously dumb misunderstanding of chemistry that led her to confuse propylene glycol with propylene glycol alginate, even though the two chemicals are very different, and propylene glycol alginate is derived from kelp. She’s also pulled what I now like to call argumentum ad ickium (or an appeal to ickiness). Actually, I originally referred to it more as an appeal to “yuckiness,” but I just thought of argumentum ad ickium last night, and I like the term better. On the other hand, it does sound too much like David Icke; so maybe argumentum ad yuckium would still be a better term. Be that as it may, that’s basically what the Food Babe did when she demonized isinglass, which is basically gelatin derived from the swim bladder of a fish and a substance that has been used by beer brewers since the 19th century to accelerate the removal of yeast byproducts and other solids from the beer. But it’s icky (even though it’s not a urinary bladder, but rather a bladder that fills with air); so it scares the Food Babe, and she assumes it must be bad for you. It was for this latter incident that the term quackmail appears to have been coined. More recently, her success seemed to have stalled, with Starbucks being less than receptive to her quackmail with respect to its pumpkin spice latte.

So, not surprisingly, a lot of people were none too pleased when the cover story for the October issue of Experience Life (EL), a magazine that bills itself as the “no gimmicks, no hype health and fitness magazine,” was a fawning interview with Vani Hari (which you can read), complete with a fawning “behind the scenes” video (whose accompanying article you can’t read without a subscription, which is no big loss):

Here we hear Hari’s story, in which she claims to have been sick all her life, culminating in a bout of appendicitis requiring appendectomy. After that, she claims to have cured herself of asthma and allergies and weaned herself from six to eight prescription drugs she had been taking in her 20s. To get an idea of just how bad and credulous this coverage is, get a load of this excerpt from EL’s interview with Hari:

Her chief expertise — from her days on the high school debate team and her corporate consulting career — lies in her ability to research, analyze, and fight for a cause. In this case, the cause is “food as a basic human right,” she says.

Of course, her ability to “research” is devoid of science or even minimal knowledge of chemistry and consists mainly of poring through lists of food ingredients to find scary chemical names, which she then Googles to cherry pick claims that can be used to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD), ignoring all the usually copious evidence that these chemicals and ingredients are safe, as well as the valid reasons there are for using them. Her skills at “analysis” consist of determining the best way to use these terms to whip up hysteria in her “Food Babe Army,” the better to aim their ignorant fury at whatever target she in her self-righteousness perceives to be endangering the health and well-being of America.

More accurate is a recent article about Hari by Duane Stanford entitled, Food Babe’s Ingredient Attacks Draw ‘Quackmail’ Backlash. In particular, she views herself as a scientist, but is utterly incapable of answering reasonable criticism or to think on her feet. I suppose this isn’t too surprising about a woman whose rule about food ingredients is, “When you look at the ingredients [in food], if you can’t spell it or pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t eat it,” which is painfully dumb. In any case, here’s what I mean:

After a friendly introduction and a clip of The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart spoofing Subway’s yoga mat bread, the public radio host says: “Now, you are not a scientist.”

“Well, I’m a computer scientist, so I had to take a lot of engineering courses for that,” says Hari, with an awkward laugh. He bores in. “But you are not a food scientist. You’re not a chemist. You’re not a scientist in that aspect.” Then he quotes an editorial, in which a Yale School of Medicine neurologist calls the Subway claims “the worst example of pseudo-scientific fear-mongering I have seen in a while.”

Hari’s feet fidget under the desk. When the host asks if she bullied Subway into action, her voice cracks.

“Actually, the only person that’s bullying anyone here is Subway, by telling us we’re eating fresh,” she says.

Hilarious. She thinks that being a computer scientist is the same thing as being a chemist. (It’s all science, right? Wrong.) No wonder there have been spawned so many pro-science parody versions of the Food Babe, including Chow Babe (my favorite), Science Babe, and the Food Hunk. Also, that Yale School of Medicine neurologist, in case you hadn’t already guessed, is Steve Novella. Unfortunately, we also learn just what we skeptics are up against:

FoodBabe.com attracts between 2.5 million and 4 million unique visitors a month, according to Hari. Comscore estimates Hari’s July web and mobile audience at 795,000 unique visitors in July. That compares to almost 14 million visits for Starbucks’ multiple web sites and mobile apps. Discrepancies aside — due to imperfect and complex measurement systems — Comscore’s data shows Hari’s monthly audience, dominated by women, has quadrupled in the past year with peaks and valleys along the way. It hit a peak in February and March, when she targeted Subway. New investigations predictably spike traffic.

The investigations drive readers to Hari’s Monthly Eating Guide, which she says is her primary source of revenue. For $17.99 a month, customers can download a full-color Food Babe Starter guide that teaches them about “organic living from the inside out.” The 38-page booklet lists “9 nasty ingredients to avoid,” tips on avoiding genetically modified organisms and advice on navigating restaurants.

As I put it before when discussing Hari: And she thinks we skeptics who criticize her are in it for the money? I mean, seriously:

Hari is just getting started. She has signed with a production company to create her own TV show and she’ll publish a book called “The Food Babe Way” in February detailing her journey and philosophy. Maintaining a business means the investigations have to keep coming. Inevitably, they will also have to get bolder. That means the retorts are sure to get louder and more hostile, too.

Rats. I predicted that Hari would be on TV soon, and unfortunately my prediction appears to have been correct.

In any case, not surprisingly, there was a backlash against EL when it featured Hari and her “Food Babe” empire as its cover story for the October issue. It’s understandable. For a magazine that claims to be about “no gimmicks” and “no hype,” featuring someone like the Food Babe, who is all about gimmicks and hype, on its cover seemed a bit out of sync with the magazine’s self-proclaimed image and mission, to say the least. I’ve never read EL before; so I have no idea whether it is prone to woo, but the reaction of its readers seems to argue that at least a significant minority of its readers are part of the reality-based community.

Now, I contrast the reaction of EL’s publishers to the criticism over their decision to feature Hari on their magazine’s cover with how State Farm reacted. After all, I once compared the Food Babe to antivaccine activist Jenny McCarthy, because they are about equally grounded in science, although these days the Food Babe seems better at self-promotion that Jenny McCarthy has been. Given that Rob Schneider seems to want to match or exceed Jenny McCarthy as a celebrity antivaccine activists spouting pseudoscience, comparing the Food Babe to Schneider seems appropriate, and comparing the reaction of EL to criticism also seems appropriate.

So, to recap, State Farm soaked in the criticism for a few days, and then it acted decisively. It dumped Rob Schneider’s commercial because it didn’t want to be associated with his dangerously antiscience message. EL, in contrast, went full mental jacket on its own readers:

Vani Hari – aka Food Babe – caused quite a riot on Facebook this week when Experience Life Magazine put her on the cover of its October issue. When faced with heavy criticism from readers about the magazine’s cover selection, Experience Life Magazine stated on Facebook that the comments are coming from “an industry-coordinated response — one designed to appear as though it is coming from individual consumers, but that is motivated and subsidized by a behind-the-scenes special interest.”

Here’s the actual Facebook post:

And, in case EL decides to delete it, here’s the full text preserved for posterity (such as it is) here at RI:

Over the weekend, we received an usually large influx of negative Facebook comments regarding our October cover subject, Vani Hari (a.k.a. The Food Babe). As a whole, these comments bear the earmarks of an industry-coordinated response — one designed to appear as though it is coming from individual consumers, but that is motivated and subsidized by a behind-the-scenes special interest. You can learn more about this phenomenon here: http://bit.ly/1rjdwNL.

In the meantime, we thank you for your patience and understanding.

Way to go full-on conspiracy mongering, EL! Of course, my only disappointment is that I haven’t been tarred by the anti-GMO Center for Food Safety as a food industry or pharma shill. I do so love demonstrating that I am no such thing. I do question, however, whether it’s a good idea to label your readers and other concerned citizens who complained as being somehow thralls of industry. It doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy to win friends and influence people unless the friends you want to win and the people you want to influence are conspiracy theorists and quacks. Indeed, a perusal of EL’s Facebook page indicates that many are still taking EL to task for accusing those who complained of being shills. No wonder it infuriated readers, who retorted with comments like, “This is the kind of response I would expect from ‘The Weekly World News.’ You are manufacturing a conspiracy because your chosen ‘expert’ doesn’t understand her topic of professed expertise. You can make this right by admitting a mistake or you can further indulge in this conspiratorial fantasy.” It’s getting so bad that marketing blogs like Tunheim are starting to take notice of EL’s reaction as a textbook example of how to create a social media crisis in response to criticism that will cause a long term problem for the magazine. That’s even leaving aside how EL has promoted quackery and pseudoscience by credulously featuring the Food Babe as its October cover story.

As Molly Gregas, PhD put it:

“Food Babe on the cover of a health and lifestyle magazine brings up two issues,” said Molly Gregas, Ph.D., in an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice. Gregas is a research communication specialist and a freelance science literature editor in Toronto, Ontario. “First, the pseudoscience and misinformation that Food Babe preaches that is not grounded in fact or scientific knowledge; her material takes advantage of many people’s lack of scientific knowledge and preys on their fears.

“Second – and most important – is the more broad-based problem of information literacy,” Gregas emphasized. “We live in a time that is rich in sheer volume of information, but much of that information is of poor quality. The ability to evaluate sources of information and validate them or discard them based on critical thinking ability is a crucial skill for all citizens and consumers in today’s society. The Food Babe actively undermines information literacy by encouraging people to react emotionally based on inflammatory rhetoric and by avoiding follow-up questions and fact-checking against easily available primary sources. People want to be able to make good decisions for themselves and for their families, but one can’t make good decisions with bad information. Food Babe is a source of bad information, and by placing her on their cover, Experience Life has run up against the risk of alienating their readers.”

If there is any justice in the world, EL will pay a price for its decision to endorse the Food Babe’s pseudoscientific activism. Or it could always go full Alex Jones and go after that demographic. Let’s just put it this way. When you start to sound like antivaccine diva reporter Sharyl Attkisson after Rob Schneider’s ad was dropped by State Farm, you might want to rethink your PR strategy:

Ditto if you start sounding like Age of Autism ranting about “State Pharm” in the wake of State Farm’s decision to nix its commercials featuring Rob Schneider.

EL might find, however, that the appeal of New World Order conspiracy mongering and promotion of quackery is a bit more—shall we say?—limited than the appeal of straightforward health and fitness stories.

RSCHNEIDER

There’s one final issue, as well. As vile as I find EL’s use of the Food Babe on its cover to sell magazines and stir controversy, I do not question that EL has every right to do so. It’s free speech. So is my harsh criticism of the editors of EL for having made that choice. Similarly, State Farm had every right to choose to use Rob Schneider as a pitchman for its insurance, just as I and critics of Rob Schneider had every right to criticize State Farm for its decision. Cranks, however, frequently get the concept of free speech wrong.

Enter Rob Schneider again. Take it away, Rob:

No. Not quite. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences due to that speech. In the US, all it means is that the government can’t suppress what we say. It doesn’t mean that private companies have to allow cranks who represent them to say whatever they want. Nor are people exercising their freedom of speech to complain to companies who make bad mistakes in choosing their pitchmen or deciding whom to feature on the cover of their magazine “suppressing” the free speech of cranks, and labeling them as being shills is a painfully transparent ploy to poison the well, as I’ve described many times since I first coined the term “pharma shill gambit” nine years ago. It’s an obvious ad hominem attack designed to poison the well. In the end, unfortunately, cranks like the Food Babe, Rob Schneider, and apparently now the editors of EL like free speech, as long as it’s speech they agree with. Criticism, they don’t like so much.

chosepoorly

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

226 replies on “The Food Babe and Rob Schneider: When companies choose poorly”

The “pharma shill gambit” got me thinking about global warming deniers.

Many people struggling against climate disinformation assume that the people they’re up against in the comments section are paid trolls, but I tend to disagree. What’s happened, I think, is that the PR disinformation campaign has brilliantly manipulated folks, mostly on the right, into believing their nonsense, and their troops do the work for free.

I think in general it’s a mistake to assume that one’s adversary is a shill, though in a few cases they obviously are. Sometimes op-ed pieces are written by people on the payroll of a PR organ — e.g., James Taylor’s amazingly bad op-ed pieces at Forbes. One also occasionally runs up against a denialist troll who is just oh-so-slick and might be a pro. But it’s pretty rare.

“Well, I’m a computer scientist, so I had to take a lot of engineering courses for that,” says Hari, with an awkward laugh.

Something I’ve noticed about global warming denialists is that many of them are engineers, and they exploit lay people’s confusion between scientists and engineers to advance their propaganda. Thus, for instance, a few years ago they were circulating a list of 700 “NASA scientists” who were opposed to global warming–almost all of them were engineers, and only one of them had anything even vaguely resembling a background in atmospheric science. Even as engineers, they are in Dunning-Kruger territory: there is a basic principle called “conservation of energy” which predicts that, if the Earth is absorbing more energy than it radiates (which is the expected consequence of adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere), the heat content of Earth should increase until it radiates as much as it absorbs.

So it is with the Food Babe. She’s exploiting her engineering background to make her argument appear to be from authority. And the Dunning-Kruger is strong in this one, too. Good on that public radio host for calling her out on it.

You know, this reminds me of a bit from the second Big Bang Theory episode this season, where Sheldon looks down on Howard because he’s an engineer, but Howard can answer most of the questions Sheldon put to him. Later Sheldon answers engineering questions, but is stumped by one.

The difference between the two is applied science versus more theoretical science. Engineers tend to use the findings of science as a tool to..well…engineer and make things. In other words, they look at scientific findings in terms of how they can be used to make things. Scientists tend to think in terms of the scientific findings more in terms of the scientific method, what is known, and what questions remain to be answered. In this, doctors tend to be more like engineers, using the sciences relevant to medicine to treat people.

One thing I’ve observed over the years is that engineers often seem more prone to Dunning-Kruger than scientists. I’m not sure why, but I’ve seen a lot of engineers try to claim the mantle of being a scientist and fail spectacularly. Ditto doctors, unfortunately, particularly with respect to evolution.

When you work in theoretical science you have to prove one HUNDRED times what you are doing for your work to be accepted. You are not “well it’s correlate” but more like “I need causality”.
Engineer don’t need to do that, either it work or not. They might think the science this way and be wrong (sitting on correlative effect).

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences due to that speech.

I don’t understand why this bit is so hard for people to get. Rob and Vani are perfectly free to say whatever stupidity they want without government interference, and we are free to call them out on their stupidity without government interference. It’s just that simple.

Snap, I tried to put fake ‘Bass-o-matic’ HTML markup around the last sentence, and forgot to put in the ascii tags…

It doesn’t mean that private companies have to allow cranks who represent them to say whatever they want.

Oh, but it does mean that. What it doesn’t mean is that they can say any dumb thing and continue to represent the private company.

One of the reasons a company might choose badly- I’m especially thinking about Ms Hari- is that her message, however wrong, is trendy. We know that places that sell organic foods make money, putting labels that characterise a product as ‘healthy’ helps lead to healthy sales, ‘no additives’ also is an attention getter.

I recently read that about 2/3 of people who live in the US, UK and AUS are overweight. News reports bombard audiences with tales of childhood obesity, diabetes and hypertension: OBVIOUSLY woo-meisters stir up an alarming blend of the reality-based as reported and their own whimsical science about pollution, toxins and food produced in the lab, not on g-d’s green earth.

To a certain degree, the Food Babe is fashionable, a self-marketting phenomenon which appeals to a particular demographic so why wouldn’t a magazine enshrine her lovely visage on its cover?-btw- I’ve never heard of EL before. Oh right, why would I look to a ‘hype-free’ outlet when I search for hype-spouting alties!

At any rate, Orac is SO correct ( and what else is he ever?) when he mentions that the alties forever label SBM advocates as money hungry, when in truth, that epithet is best reserved solely for them- I think that I can explain that well- as you know ( well, you should anyway) that USUALLY adolescents learn how to understand people who have different values and ideas from their own HOWEVER our most esteemed woo-meisters cannot seem to understand that because they are moitvated by the bottom line and celebrity not everyone else by necessity feels the same- thus they see shills everywhere.

Oh, but it does mean that. What it doesn’t mean is that they can say any dumb thing and continue to represent the private company.

I thought that latter part was rather obviously implied.

eric @2 — I work in a physics department; and some of my colleagues work in areas (relativity, cosmology, fundamental physics) that traditionally attract unsolicited contributions from cranks.

A remarkable number of said cranks are “retired engineers”.

I hear those peppers the Food Blab is carrying contain 2-Oxo-L-threo-hexono-1,4-lactone-2,3-enediol. We need to alert the science army to this danger!

Does anyone have a link to that NPR interview you quoted? I’d love to listen to the entire interview-just hearing her squirm would be worth it.

@ Guy Chapman:

Heh.
Chemical names scare them BUT they absolutely adore labels like resveratrol, proanthocyanadins, isoflavons, quercitin et al probably because they show how* vegetable-y* and *natural* they are.
Ascorbic acid sounds so *Lab-ish*.Maybe call it *Sunlight drops* – or is that vitamin D?

“… there’s nothing like freedom of speech to help you identify the people who should be avoided like the plague…”

– Liz Braun (Toronto Sun)

I still have trouble believing that such unadulterated woo is still taken seriously by so many people, but – sadly – it is. However, thanks to orac, I have now been thoroughly versed in those verbal cues that allowed me to give these people a wide berth. Not so easy when you’ve been treated for breast cancer; though. If one more person tells me that I should drink oatgrass to kill any residual cancer cells, I’ll go postal. I absolutely refuse to drink something my cat used to woof up hairballs, I don’t care how natural it is!

They’re putting (3β,5Z,7E)-9,10-secocholesta-
5,7,10(19)-trien-3-ol in Milk. Foodbabe, help!

“Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences due to that speech.”

Or, more simply, it means one is not required to pay to promote speech or speakers I disagree with.

It’s a funny(tragic?) coincidence that you’d compare EL turning into Alex Jones-level of conspiracy mongering in defending Vani Hari, when she has already multiple interviews with him on his show. Fearmongering is probably the cheapest, most effective tactic known to generate a response. It’s such a shame.

This is kind of not very nice, but I’ll just go there anyway.

Have any of you noticed the tendency of anti-immunization types to ramble on and on, and on, like, fuh-ev-ahh? Read some of the stuff on AoA, and it’s completely logorrheal–and they *all* do it. Look at Sheryl Attkinson’s tweets about the “whistleblower” nonsense, and you can see that she can barely contain herself, like she’s interrupting a conversation with herself. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

sadasd @23 — In advanced cases, they appear to have no idea whatsoever of how to break a 4000-word screed into, uh, paragraphs.

Vaccines, This story tells me the same rhetoric and methods and how the truth will out.

EPA knew pesticides were killing honeybees in the 1970s but punished those who spoke out

For decades, top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (PEA) were aware that a compound approved for agricultural use in the United States was wiping out the honeybee population, but they chose to ignore the compound’s effects in deference to pressure from agri-giant corporations.

Worse, the agency reacted harshly to anyone within the EPA who attempted to bring the issue to light, including through firings, forced reassignments and other actions.

According to a scholarly 2014 study [PDF] compiled by researcher Rosemary Mason, “on behalf of a global network of independent scientists, beekeepers and environmentalists,” and published on the website of MIT, “We have found historical and chronological evidence to show that the herbicide glyphosate (or other herbicides that are used as alternatives) is responsible for the transformation of garden escapes into super-weeds (in the UK these are termed ‘invasive species’).”

d Canada Ban Flu Vaccines – Spirit of Change
6-European-Nations-and-Canada-Ban-Flu- Vaccines
Nov 6, 2012 … Flu vaccines have recently been suspended across Europe and Canada as reported by Dr. Joseph Mercola this morning. Read the full report …

Why Japan banned MMR vaccine | Daily Mail Online
Nov 6, 2012 … Flu vaccines have recently been suspended across Europe and Canada as reported by Dr. Joseph Mercola this morning. Read the full report …

Why Japan banned MMR vaccine
Daily Mail Online
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article…/Why-Japan-banned-MMR-vaccine.html‎

Sep 7, 2014 … The triple MMR jab was banned in Japan in 1993 after 1.8 million … the MMR vaccine seven years ago – virtually the only developed nation to turn its …… up to nearly-nude male dancer to open her European tour with sauciest …

Have any of you noticed the tendency of anti-immunization types to ramble on and on, and on, like, fuh-ev-ahh?

That’s not fair. Some of them — like A above — cannot string together a coherent sentence at all, and are reduced to copy-pasting great slabs of spam from other websites.

sadasd: And as soon as you said that, a prime example shows up. Or at least, A would be, though I suspect it’s a spambot.

A: Learn to source. Anything by Mercola or the Daily Mail is automatically wrong.

Read some of the stuff on AoA….

Speaking of which, the Dachelbot is sporting an uproarious failure to understand the concept of “matched controls” today.

Uh, A, do you even read the sh!t you copy/paste?

“virtually the only developed nation to turn its …… up to nearly-nude male dancer to open her European tour with sauciest …”

6-European-Nations-and-Canada-Ban-Flu- Vaccines

And how long did that last?

One gets the distinct impression that you’re not very bright. I would be interested in Japan’s being the only developed nation to turn its up to nearly-nude male dancer, though.

@ sadasd:

Right, it is the written equivalent of *pressured speech* which is a symptom of psychopathology wherein the speaker continues frantically at a feverish pace, without stopping for what seems like _fuh -ev -ah_…
ACTUALLY if you ever tune in to PRN you might catch a listen to this phenomenon in the wild as the manic, grandiose founder and host launches into another sputtering, breathless rant.
It is the spoken equivalent of a Mike Adams post and USUALLY heaps derision upon the government, corporations and the media as well.

There are meds for this -btw-.

– btw- while I’m here…
sadasd, about that ‘nym ( and sadmar, too) , you’re more than just SAD, you have other qualities including your name, nickname, abiliities, peculiarities, ability to snark.
So why not? Just a thought, please don’t take it wrong.

DW: Don’t be too hard on sadasd; sometimes people get attached to particular nyms regardless of what else is going on in their lives.

@ PGP:

I know: perhaps it even means something else ( “Smart @ss Dave Mar /tin”?).
But it might be accentuating something/ over-identifying at the cost of something else. Just a thought as I said.

I’ve been a Samuel Adams Whitewater IPA kinda consumer-of-liquid-bread these past couple years..Lots of folate.

Pricewise, it’s … um … a good bit more expensive than Milwakee’s Best and a good bit less than Founders.

As for Food Babe; The microbrewers did get a bad wrap. Rarely, are fish bladders used to floccate and clarify these days (too pricey) and they’re not usually left floating around in the bottled/casked product in any case. The ‘propylene glycol’ is not *supposed* to be in beer and usually only is when the cooling jacket has corroded/ruptured into it. Usually. I *think* there are a few incidents of it being intentionally added.

GMO does suck.

Food Babe is still wrong.

According to all the engineers around here, and as near as I can tell from their description description of the dielectric, *isenglass* is nothing more than good ol’ mica. Which weighs more than fish bladders. So, it sinks. And, you can also build a bridge out of it. A shiny one. With dichromic properties, and stuff.

p.s.

I *think* Blue Moon is InBev now. Anybody slurping up that stuff has got more to mull over than just a couple doses of homemade lava lamps.

Am I seriously the only one who thinks of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” anytime I hear the word isenglass?

I feel old…

A: “Sep 7, 2014 … The triple MMR jab was banned in Japan in 1993 after 1.8 million … the MMR vaccine seven years ago – virtually the only developed nation to turn its ……”

And guess what happened. There were over eighty dead kids due to measles. From Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan:

According to an infectious disease surveillance (2000), total measles cases were estimated to be from 180,000 to 210,000, and total deaths were estimated to be 88 [11,12]. Measles cases are most frequently observed among non-immunized children, particularly between 12 to 24 months.

So, A, do you think that those preventable deaths were a good thing?

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences due to that speech. In the US, all it means is that the government can’t suppress what we say. It doesn’t mean that private companies have to allow cranks who represent them to say whatever they want. Nor are people exercising their freedom of speech to complain to companies who make bad mistakes in choosing their pitchmen or deciding whom to feature on the cover of their magazine “suppressing” the free speech of cranks, and labeling them as being shills is a painfully transparent ploy to poison the well, as I’ve described many times since I first coined the term “pharma shill gambit” nine years ago. It’s an obvious ad hominem attack designed to poison the well. In the end, unfortunately, cranks like the Food Babe, Rob Schneider, and apparently now the editors of EL like free speech, as long as it’s speech they agree with. Criticism, they don’t like so much.

Just to be crystal clear about it:

I totally agree with every word of the above.

But one of those examples is not like the other. The Rob Schneider spot didn’t promote or endorse anti-vax views. It promoted State Farm and endorsed the Richmeister character.

To me, that’s a significant difference. I mean, inoffensive things done by people who also hold offensive views aren’t traditionally regarded as a proper object of criticism.

As I understand it.

@Denise Walter: Truthfully, I just randomly punched in a username when I started commenting here, but on further reflection, it seemed oddly apropos, so I stuck with it. And admittedly, it’s a bit chickenshit to throw bombs at parents of children with developmental disabilities semi-anonymously. A feller’s got to blow off some steam now and again.

Of course, parents of children with autism aren’t to blame for their child’s disorder. Of course; of course. That would be awful.

But maybe…maybe people who are totally f’ed in the head to start out with tend to have kids that end up having problems. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

@ MI Dawn
#42

Am I seriously the only one who thinks of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” anytime I hear the word isenglass?

No, I also thought of that.

Ann: The Rob Schneider spot didn’t promote or endorse anti-vax views. It promoted State Farm and endorsed the Richmeister character.

Here’s the thing though: It wasn’t and isn’t clear that State Farm was unaware of Rob Schneider’s views until the net exploded on them. To anyone in California, or who IS aware of Schneider’s views, the hiring looks fishy. To the point that people might start thinking: Oh, State Farm is anti-vax or that this was a sneaky way of announcing that their insurance no longer covers vaccines.

When I voted, the leading answer was “We’re going to boycott State Farm over this!”

Sore losers are highly motivated, is all I’d guess that means.

That notwithstanding:

He was playing a character that’s entirely unrelated to his anti-vax advocacy, which is how he earns a living. An honest living, afaik. And if anyone can explain to me either:

(a) how State Farm was associating itself with more than that; or

(b) how associating itself with the character constituted a bad choice in a public-health-pertinent context

I’d be much obliged to them.

Because I don’t see it.

And if that makes me sound like Sharyl Atkisson, it’s in the ear of the beholder. What I’m saying is reasoned.

@ sadasd:

Well, I’m glad to hear that you’re not miserable.

AND I don’t think that it’s wrong or chickensh!tish to write anonymously- it’s SMART because more than a few vaccine/ SBM supporters I can name ( from RI and other places) have been “given a hard time” in RL because of their views.

I chose to use my own name but leave off my second last name- HOWEVER there’s a woman with exactly that ( spelled the same) as her name/’nym from Tasmania so I hope no anti-vax loon/ hiv- aids denialist has bothered her because of me.

If I had to do it over, I’d probably use one or the other last name as they are both masculine first names- i.e Walter or ‘Howard’- alone. Or DW, DWH or suchlike.

@ Tim

Blue Moon is Coors, Coors is now MillerCoors. One of the larger competitors left against InBev. I think BM is pretty bad compared to good representations of the style. If you like Blue Moon try Allagash White. You should like it as it is the same style and it is much better. Founders rocks. I am going to have a Devil Dancer (triple ipa) either tonight if I can manage to stay awake or tomorrow. Founders is one of the best craft brewers out there.

It wasn’t and isn’t clear that State Farm was unaware of Rob Schneider’s views until the net exploded on them.

Did you perhaps mean “aware” rather than “unaware”?

Founders is one of the best craft brewers out there.

While I haven’t been overly impressed with the Founders entries I’ve tried, I’m curious whether anyone has sampled the “All Day IPA.” As I’ve mentioned before, 4.7% ABV strikes me as a bit much for the name (with Honkers at 4.2% and the unusual Bell’s Oarsman at 4.0%), but the local grocery store has 15-packs at $17.

MI Dawn, #42:

Am I seriously the only one who thinks of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” anytime I hear the word isenglass?

No. When I read or hear it, that old earwig starts up:

With isinglas curtains that roll right down
In case there’s a change in the weatherrrrrrrr.
Two bright sidelights winkin’ and blinkin’
Ain’t no finer rig, I’m athinking
You can keep yer rig if yer thinkin’ that I’d keer to swap…

Am I seriously the only one who thinks of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” anytime I hear the word isenglass?

Am I the only one who thinks of “Stoned Soul Picnic” when I hear “Surrey with the Fringe on Top”?

Narad: I did mean aware. I was in a hurry.

Ann: The thing is, if a company contracts with a celebrity, they get the *whole* celebrity, not just bits. If a company manages to snag Mel Gibson, they own his anti-semitism as well. They get Kelsey Grammer, they have to deal with his political leanings.
If someone has been acting dumb on the internet, like Schneider, the company owns that stupidity, whether or not the deed was done before the contract happens.

@ Narad:

I get it, right, because she sings,
“Can you SURRY, can you picnic?” –
hey, it’s Laura Nyro. It was the 1970s, no?
I’m still trying to figure out T. Rex lyrics seriously.
Hubcap diamondstar halo?

Denice: “sadmar” has no meaning. It was generated from my usual screen name (which does mean something, though it’s an inside joke) via a simple coding algorithm. It specifically has nothing to do with my history of depression. But I do appreciate your concern. Thanks!

MI Dawn: Yup, as soon as I saw the word, my brain sang “with isenglass curtains that roll right down, in case there’s a change in the wea-ther!” But I am old…
Tim: The question of what actual surrey’s had is complicated. Oklahoma! was not written with historical or geographic accuracy in mind.

palidrom: “Sometimes op-ed pieces are written by people on the payroll of a PR organ.”
Way more than sometimes, though not so much in major newspapers/magazines. Business publications probably go there on a regular basis, but are probably pretty up-front about it. I don’t read them, so I don’t really know.

It’s the smaller, more local publications where the PR ‘pseudo-news’ releases really score. These operate with the smallest ‘content’ staff they can get away with, and will pretty much publish ANYTHING that appears non-controversial, is written in grammatically correct English, and is FREE.

Orac: I looked at the Center For Food Safety .pdf, and though you may disagree with their agenda, their take on PR looks on the up-and-up to me. Pretty much every big corporation has critics of some kind, and uses similar tactics to counter them. Which is true regardless of who’s the ‘good guy’ and who’s the ‘bad guy.’

Basically, there are enough real, identifiable, unambiguous ‘front groups’ for the manufactured food industry, it would be stupid for the Center For Food Safety to muck up their argument by getting all paranoid Alex Jones/Glen Beck and pointing fingers at people who aren’t actually shills and can, you know, show evidence of that.

In fact, if I was with the Center For Food Safety, I would be righteously pissed as Ms. Experience Life for linking ‘us’ to a nutso defensive rant. In short, flooding comments threads is NOT how these ‘front groups’ work. The Pharma Shill Gambit (TM) here belongs just to Experience Life and Food Babe, and shows just how illegitimate and bankrupt of intelligence they are.

It doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy to win friends and influence people unless the friends you want to win and the people you want to influence are conspiracy theorists and quacks.

Ah, but Vainy Harhar is making a pretty penny, isn’t she? I just checked the EL archives on their website. The mag’s been around for over ten years, and seems to have been on the woo train from the get-go. “Detox” is a major heading on the subject banner. Under “Heal” you got your “Functional Medicine” your “Ayurveda” your “Accupressure” your “Qigong” and… wait for it:

“Integrative Oncology: A Healthier Way to Fight Cancer”

No immunization scare-mongering, but did you know Autism can be cured by a gluten-and-preservative-free paleo-diet!

Perhaps this is why Ms. Experience thinks she’s been Astroturfed. The commenters complaining about Harhar may not be her regular readers, and the spark was Vainy appearing on the cover. She’s less nutty than a lot of stuff they publish regularly. But on a quick scan of the earlier covers you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish EL from any other ‘lifestyle’ magazine. The most typical covers show someone doing something athletic, and blurb fitness-related stories inside.

I have the impression there’s a certain overlap between ‘fitness’ enthusiasts and ‘natural food’ types, and that’s the core readership, but they probably get readers who are mainly into exercise or mainly into woo and just ignore the other stuff normally. (A pretty common approach for magazines and their wider readership.) So maybe the comments come from non-wooian readers who are there for the fitness stuff and got pushed past their tipping point by the Food Babe cover. (???)

It’s seems the generally-moderate woo isn’t there as a calculated marketing device, but because the editors/publishers are true believers. So it makes sense that their response to the complaints didn’t make sense. But I’d guess when the dust settles, EL will go back to the ol’ jock on the cover, woo in the back pages mode, as I’ll guess that folks at more than one agency that buys ad space in EL read the Tunheim blog and have expressed their, uhh, concern.

Just like Rob Schneider, it’s always the money that matters the most. If you want to change the media, scare the sponsors.

And BTW, I vote for argumentum ad ickium which has won my Interwebz for the day!

ann:

A similar situation occurred in Ottawa a couple of years ago, when Jenny McCarthy was contracted to lead a fitness fundraiser for the local Cancer Foundation. There was an immediate shztstorm and, after a few awkward excuses from the organizers, the appearance was cancelled. I was involved in the protest. On the other hand, I did nothing when it was announced that she would be one of the cast members of The View.

Why the difference? It’s because McCarthy’s activism was a direct threat to the health of people undergoing treatment of cancer, as well as working against cancer prevention (HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines). Her appearances on The View would not have directly threatened the health of vulnerable people. I support State Farm’s action, since they have an interest in promoting health. Schneider’s activism directly opposes this. If Schneider was appearing in an ad for beer or copiers or whatever, I wouldn’t give a damn, apart from my usual disdain for this tool.

Ugh. Why do engineers (at least the ones that I tend to see on the net) think they are scientists? Maybe I’m inoculated to this by having worked for an actual prof and because of that know better then to claim proficiency (although it was fun to see the test output of the program I helped write being used to see if undergrads could figure out that it was nonsense).

He was playing a character that’s entirely unrelated to his anti-vax advocacy, which is how he earns a living.

One could also say that he was playing a character that is intimately tied to his identity, which includes being a public figure who invests so little thought in his public antivaccine presence that he’s willing to utter remarks such as “it’s against the Nuremberg Laws.”

I’m still trying to figure out T. Rex lyrics seriously.
Hubcap diamondstar halo?

Marc Bolan (T Rex) had a real thing about cars:
– Well you’re built like a car, you got a hubcap diamondstar halo
– Babe I’m just a Jeepster for your love.
– Just like a car, you’re pleasing to behold. I’d call you Jaguar, if I may be so bold.

Ironically, Bolan never learned to drive, and he died in an MVA when his girlfriend, who was driving, lost control and hit a tree.

“Am I seriously the only one who thinks of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” anytime I hear the word isenglass?”

If it makes you feel any better, no (I’m 59).

@Narad

All Day IPA is on the boundary of a session beer. Session is generally thought to stay 4.5% or below. The All Day is very good (according to Beer Advocate) and the BA. However, I trend to the high alcohol content brews (and drink many fewer). Founders is recognized for several of its offerings, perhaps none more so than the Breakfast Stout (rated as high as you can get by the Beer Advocate readers and the Bros). It is a wonderful Imperial Stout coming in at about 8% and having a nice balance of dark chocolate and dark roast coffee. The Kentucky Breakfast Stout version is about 11% and aged in bourbon barrels. I slightly prefer the original. There is another Imperial Stout they make called “Imperial Stout” and it is about 10% and a much smoother variety of the warming alcohol in the IS than in the KBS. I am more of an IPA guy and there are some better versions than the standard All Day made with different varieties of hops. The standard IPA, Centennial is very nice and world class (as noted above). Then the Double IPA is Double Trouble which is very good but the Centennial sort of tops their line of IPAs. The Founders brewers are fantastic and if you like Scotch Ales (and not that many people do) they make a Wee Heavy that is very nice, Dirty [email protected]$tard.

Cheers!

@Denice

Diamond Star was a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. You are on your own figuring out how hubcap and halo fit in there.

One could also say that he was playing a character that is intimately tied to his identity,

Well.

If what one meant by it was that he was known for playing that character on SNL, I think one would be better off saying that.

Because I don’t know what else one might mean by it.

But assuming that’s correct:

Stipulated.
.

which includes being a public figure who invests so little thought in his public antivaccine presence that he’s willing to utter remarks such as “it’s against the Nuremberg Laws.”

I agree that he’s also publicly and actively anti-vax and don’t doubt that he’s said many stupid things in connection with it.

Hey! You know what?

One could also say that since something was sometimes a neurotoxin, no iteration of it should be in vaccines.

And it would be the exact same argument you’re making.

@ BA:

Ah, it’s an actual product! I thought that the entire ensemble was just one of those free associated image-word conglomerates after a few too many smokes and drinks. so only half was as such.

@TBruce —

Jenny McCarthy is famous exclusively for being Jenny McCarthy. That’s all she does and the only thing she’s employed to do. With a few trivial exceptions, it’s the only thing she’s ever done.

So any endorsement of or association with her is exactly that. She’s a public personality.

Rob Schneider is an actor. He was playing a character.

@PGP

Ann: The thing is, if a company contracts with a celebrity, they get the *whole* celebrity, not just bits.

That makes zero sense.

hey, it’s Laura Nyro. It was the 1970s, no?

Nyro’s version appeared on the brilliant Eli and the Thirteenth Confession in 1968. Her songwriting actually tended to lead to hits for other bands, in this case, The Fifth Dimension (who also scored with “Wedding Bell Blues”; Three Dog Night also got “And When I Die,” Streisand “Stoney End,” etc.).

I’m still trying to figure out T. Rex lyrics seriously.
Hubcap diamondstar halo?

I actually had reason to think about T. Rex this afternoon, when I was in a store that was playing “Get It On.” It’s been a long time since I’ve had a copy of Electric Warrior, but I took a mental note of “inoffensive.” (By contrast, the next item was “Crazy Train,” which I noted as “insipid.”)

@BA

I am more of an IPA guy and there are some better versions than the standard All Day made with different varieties of hops.

As I’m not much of a hophead, that’s somewhat a pro in terms of my giving it a try. I don’t recall whether the IBU is listed. I’ve had the Dirty Bastard, which I found pleasant but unremarkable.

One could also say that he was playing a character that is intimately tied to his identity,

If what one meant by it was that he was known for playing that character on SNL, I think one would be better off saying that.

Yet you’re comfortable with asserting in nearly the next breath that “Jenny McCarthy is famous exclusively for being Jenny McCarthy”? Isn’t she also a newspaper columnist and a TV personality and an author?

I agree that he’s also publicly and actively anti-vax and don’t doubt that he’s said many stupid things in connection with it.

Hey! You know what?

One could also say that since something was sometimes a neurotoxin, no iteration of it should be in vaccines.

And it would be the exact same argument you’re making.

Only if what I said were utterly stripped of social context, which would again be an instance of trying to box off content for the sake of analogy.

^ Put another way, which other roles in Rob Schneider’s portfolio spring to mind when you think of him as actor qua actor?

Marc Bolan died in 1977. DiamondStar Motors was formed in 1985. The name refers to the logos of Mitsubishi and Chrysler respectively.

A lot of people have wondered what “hubcap diamondstar halo” means. Broadly, the lyric is taken as an example of car:sex metaphor that predates rock and roll, but is usually associated with Chuck Berry, to whom Bolan alludes: “Meanwhile, I was still thinkin'” But few are the attempts to decode the specific meaning — e.g. what does a hubcap diamondstar halo have to do with Getting It On? The most interesting interpretation I found:

The line “You’ve got a hubcap diamond star halo” used to baffle me… until I was walking through an art museum one day. In the collection of Renaissance art I saw painting after painting with the Virgin Mary as the subject, and without fail she was depicted with an elaborate, well engineered, glimmering halo… in fact they looked like hubcaps, adorned with diamond stars. Too much of a coincidence to my mind. In the song Bolan is describing a young woman who has both the air of innocence and flat out sexuality. So the allusion to the greatest virgin of them all is altogether fitting in the context of this song. .Al – Baltimore, Md

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