While 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.