End of the year lists are fun to peruse. From fashion to faux pas (Amy Pascal/Scott Rudin's fight for number one blunder comes to mind), top ten lists are a media favorite this time of year.
The most important list to read before the year's out is RealClearPolitics The Big Junk Science 2014. Now, let me tell you, whittling that list down to 10 could not have been easy. I mean, it's been a banner year for woo! From claims that essential oils cure Ebola to the various lies that GMOs cause all ailments, the purveyors of junk science have been busy this year.
Why is looking at this list important? Because it offers you a measure of security against the near endless claims of danger in the food, agriculture and manufacturing world.
I saw this very thing happen to a totally reasonable and intelligent woman the other day at a preschool function. A group of women were discussing the food our children eat and suddenly this woman says "I'm convinced that its the preservatives in food that cause all this ADHD stuff."
It never fails to amaze me that people make these sorts of statements without at first thinking about how hurtful they're being. First of all, did it ever occur to this woman that among the parents standing around, there might have been a parent with a child that suffers from ADHD? Does she not understand her comments are translated to "parents who stuff their kids full of crappy food are to blame for their kid's attention issues."
I decided I wouldn’t let this stand. I walked her back very quickly saying "now, now, let's not demonize every preservative and additive in processed foods. Remember, preservatives keep food on the shelf longer, which helps reduce costs, which means people who live below the poverty line have an easier time feeding their kids." I also explained that added nutrients can be viewed positively as they can provide picky eaters the vitamins they need and help struggling parents provide their children the necessary fruits and vegetables critical for healthy, growing bodies.
Of course, this mother seemed utterly clueless that the medical profession hasn't really come up with a consensus on what causes ADHD. Sure, there are theories and holy hell; there are about a billion opinions! There are a ton of studies pointing at different things but the reality is, it remains a mystery to the frustration of many parents. But hell, maybe this gal at the preschool function (who by the way has NOT A SHRED of medical training) should contact the leading experts since her "feels" on the issue were so strong. Because feeling matter so much more than evidence and science.
After my gentle reminder about preservatives and added nutrients not being allbad, this mom sort of agreed but I could see the look on her face: She thought I was an oddball. I could almost see her mutter “why is this hell woman defending BIG BAD FOOD.” I bet she drove straight to Whole Foods and bought some organic apples and homeopathic cream.
I might not have swayed this nervous mom but maybe I got to someone else standing nearby? Or maybe the only thing I did was made some moms think twice before saying these things in the future. I hope they’ll all remember there's another point of view.
That's exactly why the RealClearPolitics Junk Science list is important. It's important that junk science is exposed and even more important that people know they don’t' have to believe all the dooms day predictions. They should see that there is a significant push back on these junk science claims.
The best part of this list is that Vani Hari, best known as The Food Babe, made it to number one. I'm so glad to see this. Hari deserves to be pilloried by the press and to gain notoriety, not as a source of information about healthy earing but for what she is–a dangerous peddler of nonsense.
I've been writing about Hari for quite some time and I'm thrilled to see her fearmongering exposed to a wider audience alongside the many other alarmists exposed in this very useful top ten list.