Thursday, May 5, 2016

My Email Goes Off to Vani Hari

IMPORTANT.  I was reluctant to make this information public because I do not want anyone to harass, intimidate, troll, or give any grief to Ms. Hari.  That's her game.  Those who condemn her tactics are not to use them.  We must define the high road. 

I provide the information in this blog because I want everyone to understand the ongoing abuse of public records laws at incredible public expense.  I want everyone to see the scope of innocent people that will be potentially affected if/when she makes this information public. There are consequences of handing over 2707 pages of private correspondence to someone that has a goal to destroy you-- because you dared to challenge her with science and evidence. 

Share the story.  Don't flame her or her followers.  Share it with science journalists, science enthusiasts. Let others know that this is happening, but NO RETALIATION, NO ABUSIVE COMMENTS, please LET HER CONTINUE TO SINK ON HER OWN.

Today at 9AM EST over 257 MB of PDF, containing 2700+ pages of my personal email, goes to Vani Hari, aka The Food Babe.  

I was reluctant to write about this or even pay it a second thought. She is a small annoyance and has been a willing participant in propagating vicious lies about me. What do we expect?  I'm costing her lots of money!  When we talk about what science is, how technology works, and what chemistry does, her fear-based message becomes less influential.  Viva Educacion! 

But it is important to make this invasion of my privacy public.  Here's why. 

The Food Babe, Vani Hari, is convinced that I work for Monsanto.  She only has to check my statements against a scientific record, a scientific consensus, then check a mirror, and she'd see who really is making mountains of money from false claims.

I've dreaded today. I've been disturbed coming up to it.  The anxiety I experienced before is back, I'm on the edge of breaking down when I talk to people about it.  

Because I did nothing wrong.  

I did my job.

I helped people understand science and decipher popular web-driven myth, perpetuated in part by Hari. 

The huge stack of emails shows nothing inappropriate, nothing breaking rules, nothing breaking laws.  Nothing harming others.

But if history is a lesson, when you provide thousands of personal emails to people that want to destroy your three-decade career-- they will find a way to manufacture a narrative that is not true, purely to destroy you. 

One thing is for sure.  There's little about her, other than my discussions with reporters looking for a scientific perspective on her claims.  She was mentioned often, but nobody really cares about her personally.  But what will she turn it into in retaliation for my criticisms?

Here are some nuggets:

Prepping Fraley. 

For instance, there is email in there about Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto Chief Technical Officer, coming to deliver a public seminar on my campus. I was appointed to be the host.

That alone will be portrayed as high collusion between me and Monsanto.  

While he was here he was prepping for the Intelligence Squared Debate, and asked me if I knew the points that Chuck Benbrook (another debater) usually makes.  I did know.  I sat in two events with Benbrook in the previous few months and knew exactly what points he raised.  He has made many claims without any data (such as how "new science" says GE crops causing autism, food allergies, ADHD and asthma) I disagreed with him, but found him personally quite a nice guy.

I did refer to him and Margarent Mellon as "cold fish", speaking to their combined charisma and likability, which eventually played out true to prediction. 

So I gave Fraley a note on the things he might hear (you'll see it was not a priority, as they badgered me to send it for weeks).  That will be portrayed as additional evidence of my "strategic position as a key advisor to Monsanto's highest executives" if her previous posts about me are any guide.

Work-Related Discussion

The vast-vast majority of this stuff has nothing to do with her.  There are discussions between me and others about important personal issues, employee problems, or work related to my job as a Department Chair.  At the end of that business, someone would chime in with something like, "Read your note on that Subway-Food Babe thing, wow is she clueless..." 

That whole conversation, not about her, is now in her hands.

I had a discussion with a dean about a faculty member we were hiring and were trying to determine what the salary might be.  It's all in there!  Why?  My dean included a link to an article about Vani Hari at the end of one of the emails. 

That entire email is now going to her.  She may decide to make the personal info public to harm this other scientist or the dean for criticizing her. She may write to the new faculty member about how his salary was determined.  She has their names, their email addresses and phone numbers. They may even be subject to FOIA investigations. 

Students' Requests for Assistance

But the worst part-- students.  I received many emails from students after her talk here at my school. They were redacted if they were from my university, and there are many blacked out pages.  But if you were a student from Purdue, Berkeley, or University of Arizona (yes all of you, and many others), I'm so sorry to report-- you are in there. 

You must have mentioned her, like "Thank you for standing up to people like the Food Babe."

Your email address, your name and other personal information are now in her hands.  

I'm hoping she will defer to her higher angels.  

It is bad because with a posting on her website you may be harassed and taunted by the Food Babe Army.  She may smear you the way she did me-- all I did was criticize her too. 

But there's another problem.  I pride myself on being a professor that reaches beyond my university. I've offered career advice to thousands of students, just to respond to an email. I give career advice and guidance. 

If you were a student, and wanted help from Prof Kevin Folta, would you dare ask him, knowing your personal information will now be handed to those that want to destroy scientists? 

I think that is a problem. 

Discussing Books and Interviews

I saw a friend that works for Springer Publishing and he asked me if I had any good book ideas.  I told him that I had a manuscript started for Al Quesadilla- The Rise of Food Terrorism and that part of it was about Vani Hari.  He asked me for a proposal.  You'll see that. I didn't have time, so I never did it.  I used part of it for the work with Kavin Senapathy et al's book Fear Babe.  I also was in in places where I could stop in and talk about food, technology and farming and be a guest on radio, TV, podcasts, etc.  I always check if there's an interest to talk.  Some of those are in there too. 

My guess is that these will be described as some desperate attempt to market Monsanto lies for profit, if the past is a guide. 

Other gems in the pile--

Not much, pretty much nothing.  However, you'll see me use unbecoming language and other things that are not consistent with my usual professional demeanor, but are lapses I have when shooting a note to a friend. 

So here we go.  What do you think will happen?  Another Eric Lipton smear piece that can be twisted into visible claims of corporate fraud and collusion... or will she just read it and say, "This guy's a good dude"? 

Time will tell.  But if my blood pressure, heart rate and headache are any indication, I'm expecting the former.  Fight or flight has kicked in, and I'm afraid that because I spoke scientifically against a charlatan, I will be punished, hard.  

I don't want to go through that again. 

Perhaps I won't have to.  She may receive this package, look through it, see there's nothing there and toss it in the trash. However, her current website suggests that this will be a retaliation for speaking science and criticizing her.  I will be happily surprised and grateful if she opts to do the right thing, and will thank her accordingly.  

Based on her rationale and endless smear of me, I'm not holding my breath.

A Response to Carey Gillam