I’m a Science Babe/Big Pharma Shill

Rob_SchneiderWhile I work on a more detailed post this week on the continued terrible job the media is doing on reporting science, I have been sidetracked by a little Facebook activism. While what I am doing might border on slacktivism, there are times when using similar tactics to the anti-science crowd (like the Food Babe for example) both feels good and might actually do something good in terms of getting out the message of science. So watch for my detailed post next week—for now I will tell you what I have been doing this week.

This week on Facebook I started following the Science Babe and the Chow Babe. Both are communities that started this year and I can assume were partially inspired by the Food Babe, Vani Hari. These two pages actually promote legitimate science and critical thinking about science and nutrition topics. It is wonderful to see them not only refute the claims made by pseudoscience and anti-science peddlers like Hari, but they employ some of the same tactics in spreading their message, which sometimes feels like the only way to get through to some people in the age of information.

This week the two pages teamed up to campaign against Rob Schneider’s appearance in ads for the insurance company State Farm. Their suggestion was to go to the Facebook page and post on the ads featuring Schneider and question how a company selling health insurance could in good conscience hire someone who is so vocally against a basic health-care measure like vaccines. Perhaps using the same tactics as the Food Babe, we could pressure the company to change its practice and maybe even issue a statement showing support for vaccination. While Hari has had more time to build her audience, it is nice to see the number of supporters of science posting to the various ads.

I have responded many times to one ad in particular. If you have a few spare minutes and use social media, please support science by liking the Chow Babe and the Science Babe. Also, please tell State Farm that anti-science is not OK with you. It may seem a little desperate, but anything we can do to get out a proper scientific message, I think that’s a win—even if the anti-science people call me a troll and a big pharma shill.

Edit/post-script: The Food Hunk contacted me to let me know he started the idea. Using a parallel style as Hari, he takes a humorous approach to dealing with nutrition and health ideas pushed by anti-science people by Hari. He did indeed appear to be the first to suggest contacting State Farm about Schneider. The Science Babe took an active role in this by making multiple posts about it, which is why I likely saw it on her page first. Give the Food Hunk some love and a follow as well!

Update: It appears as of today, State Farm is going to stop using the Rob Schneider ad as part of their campaign. While it might not change the mind of those who feel like science is not trustworthy, it will hopefully start a conversation about how science works and maybe prevent more people from falling for fear mongering. 

Science Babe Call to Action

A call to action by the Science Babe.

About Eric Hall

My day job is teaching physics at the University of Minnesota, Rochester. I write about physics, other sciences, politics, education, and whatever else interests or concerns me. I am always working to be rational and reasonable, and I am always willing to improve my knowledge and change my mind when presented with new evidence.
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9 Responses to I’m a Science Babe/Big Pharma Shill

  1. billkowalski2014 says:

    It horrifies me we have arrived at a point where the twiddle-twaddle spouted by vapid C-list former celebrities such as Rob Schneider or Jenny McCarthy actually matters enough to spur us to refute it.

    • Bill says:

      Alternatively, first- and second-grade celebrities are not generating twiddle-twaddle, and the third-grade celebrities are the only people we can refute.

  2. Larry says:

    The push back we are seeing is unfortunately brought on by the very science oriented people trying to better health. We need to get back to good clinical medicine (which I hear is lacking today) and we have to rid of conflicts of interest between the (BUSINESS) aspects of medicine and good medicine (since we are talking about vaccinations) and good science. The Rob Schneider’s of the world are coming out of the wood work because of the often disconnect between good science and medicine and the absolute critical need to drive the quarterly numbers and feed the stockholders. It used to be that we would target a need and research and fulfil it. Now we make needs to drive revenues and are now into pushing off label drugs to kids and to people that were never approved for their use. Increasing the number of vaccinations regardless of the absolute numbers that require it. Listening to the pipeline as opposed to what do we need to do to promote good science. Eric I like your approach and your insight and agree with most of it. But when you tell me that we can’t control what people eat over a period of time to decipher whether GMO food is causing any adverse effects on epidemiology , the wheels of our great science begin to fall off and allow the Mercolas, Haris and Smith’s to come to roost. If we really want to rid of them, then we have to take a step back and see that buried in the “good science” is a heap of crud propagated not for the purpose of “good science” but solely for the purpose of perpetuating the million dollar bonuses of the top brass controlling the money needed to promote “good science”. And to take a stance that they are all psuedo scientists is also biased as several things they mention as being healthy or unhealthy have lots of good science to back it just as vaccinations, medical screening and medical treatments are not all bad or good.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Larry – I don’t disagree that we need to always be cautious when it comes to science. Medical science especially has, in the past, brought about some real failures that harmed real people. We also should be wary of companies with large amount of money at stake to make sure short-term profit doesn’t overshadow long-term safety.

      With that said, I am here going to just address vaccines. Vaccines are not highly profitable for drug companies. In fact, drug companies would profit much more by finding treatments for diseases than preventing them. For example, the rotavirus vaccine was developed by Paul Offit not for profit, but because he watched a child die from it early in his career. I am sure he made a nice little chunk when he sold it, but for 25 years work I don’t think money was the motivating factor. The chicken pox vaccine was developed by a university professor in Japan because of a similar concern seeing kids be blinded and older people suffer from shingles.

      Of course we need to be careful. But the vaccines contained in the current US schedule have an overwhelming amount of evidence for their safety and efficacy. I have no problem getting behind a campaign to support that.

      • Seeker says:

        If evidence exists about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, why has the BMJ and Cochrane Review repeatedly stated that no evidence exists for the efficacy if the influenza vaccine, for example. Why has William Thompson, a CDC scientist who did the work for examining the link between MMR and autism in 2004, come forward to say that they intentionally omitted data indicating a 340% increase in autism in black children administered MMR at 36 months or younger…? These are rhetorical questions, of course.

        I’m not going to berate or belittle in this reply. I’m going to suggest all readers of these so-called “pro-science” websites fully examine the contentious issues from both sides. It’s frightening. I don’t think you’re going to like what you find, but you owe it to yourselves and others to be fully informed.

  3. Science Babe says:

    Chow Babe just shot me a message about this post. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this, I’m still surprised that my page has taken off and really happy that this is getting traction. These people aren’t just spreading a personal point of view, they’re spreading dangerous misinformation that can and has endangered lives. Let’s de-legitimize them and take away their platform. Just have to keep hitting them.

    Thanks for linking to that picture. I hit their twitter and facebook walls a few times a day.

    -Yvette, aka Science Babe

  4. Woofighter says:

    Please add the video to this article! It was the flash point for the campaign.


  5. You all sound like a bunch of religious fundamentalists. Pathetic.

    • Eric Hall says:

      This comment is so productive, I have decided to approve it and let all see it for its glory.

      More seriously, I’m not sure what’s different than your stance (based on your avatars). You appear to be anti-GMO and based on your comment probably anti-vaccine. You have “proof” and we have evidence is the difference.

      I also want to point out something to you. Go to your favorite anti-gmo website and see how many comments disagree with the articles. Now come to a scientific skepticism site like this and look at the comments. Here you will notice we do not delete or ban people for disagreeing. I wonder who has the stronger position?

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