Monday, November 21, 2016

Standing By for Retaliation

As a public scientist I'm deeply committed to providing research, teaching, and outreach to help broaden our understanding of farming and food.  One leg of that stool is to connect with the public and help them understand the current scientific literature, and help them make evidence-based decisions. 

Last week a glossy brochure was published by the fear factory called Food Democracy Now.  Despite the name, it is much less democracy as it is a cult. Their deceptive self-published report featured hyperbolic images of babies juxtaposed with herbicide bottles and Cheerios.  The meat of the report was a table that claims to find parts-per-billion levels of the herbicide glyphosate in an array of common grocery products. Even if it was true, such levels would be biologically meaningless. 

I've discussed the technical limitations of their analysis here and on my podcast.  The bottom line is that this is statistically underpowered, they are likely reading noise, and the work has not been subjected to rigorous peer review.  I suggest you learn what is done well and not well in the report so you can engage friends and relatives that are afraid of perfectly safe food thanks to this report.

They feel they are victims of a "U.S. Media Blackout" which is partially true-- when an activist group deceives and scares the public with marginal data and false claims, that's not news.

Like any cult, these folks must insulate their true believers from any information critical to their cause. It is important to disrupt the cognitive and self-protective mechanisms of their followers. It fits well with the definition of a "fervent community"-- a group that means well but becomes abusive to maintain order and adherence to its beliefs.  Now, they know they have no standing based on the data and techniques used.  So they attack the messenger, a familiar, defamatory endeavor I've weathered with them before. 

I've asked questions and they cannot answer them. So they blame Snopes, and call in the wicked people in their defamation team like Ena Valikov, GMWatch, Shiva and Mercola.

Like any structured aggressive belief system these groups must insulate their followers from outside information that challenges the core tenets of the movement.  Such groups also keep order by retaliating and committing character assassination of anyone that provides information counter to their message. 

Note above how it says, "Discredited scientist."  I think they fail to realize that their attacks have actually made me a much more visible voice for science and reason. Not discredited at all, but actually quite well acknowledged. 

They also loop in @wikileaks which is an obvious call for illegal hacking of my personal accounts.  The usual desperation. 

At this point I'm standing by.  The Food Babe Vani Hari, USRTK, and others have received something like 27,000 pages of my private emails.  And just like Eric Lipton, Alison Vuchnich and Brooke Borel assembled highly-manipulated, agenda-driven hit pieces based on them last year, you'll see it again here.

I was hesitant to comment on the glyphosate brochure.  I knew it would put me in the cross hairs of evil people with a mission to scare people about food.  

But how do we let them continue the misinformation campaign and an asymmetrical attack on science and reason? 

Now we wait.  Storm clouds on the horizon.  

I have a good umbrella.