Not all heroes wear capes. Some fight food myths with science.
This post was originally published on GMO Answers' Medium page.
The Washington Post recently published a piece that sheds light on some of today’s most prevalent food issues: fearmongering and misinformation.
Finding health information online is easy. Avoiding pseudoscience and getting the facts is hard. Take the common myth about non-GMO water for example. If water doesn't have any genes, how can it be a GMO? It can't. Myth-busters encourage you to fact-check and ask questions.
Fearmongering has become the villain of today for consumers because it leaves them more confused – and less informed. Whether the message is coming from a celebrity making an absurd health claim or is being fueled by a new, potentially dangerous fad, like raw water – this wave of misinformation has permeated mainstream conversations and is negatively shaping perspectives on food.
But an uptick of science heroes has emerged, debunking the most egregious food myths online and informing consumers with evidence-based facts. Four valiant “myth-busters” who are cutting through the online clutter of pseudoscience were highlighted in the article. Here’s their take on the issue.
- Yvette d’Entremont (a.k.a. SciBabe), writer, analytical chemist and forensic scientist.
“Where there’s a huge magnitude of bad info, there needs to be a huge magnitude of good info coming out to counter it…The public needs to know that certain people aren’t credible sources of information. We’re not saying not to read them, we’re saying to look at them with a bit of skepticism and see where their info comes from.”
- James Fell, a blogger at Body for Wife and a syndicated fitness columnist.
“I want to expose scientifically why this bunk is all wrong, and I want to give people good advice instead. We want dialogue and want people to be critical thinkers.”
- David Gorski, professor of surgery at Wayne State University and managing editor of Science-Based Medicine.
“A lot of the people promoting pseudoscience are pretty good at the ‘Gish Gallop.’. That’s when a dishonest charlatan lists many misleading items to leave their opponent flustered by heaps of pseudoscience. It looks like the dishonest speaker wins the debate because the scientist can’t possibly reply to all of the junk. The charlatan provides no references, and ignores the scientist who requests them. If you see this kind of battle, it’s a red flag that bunk is afoot.”
- Timothy Caulfield, professor and research director at Health Law Institute of the University of Alberta.
“Celebrity opinions used to be seen as harmless entertainment, but that’s changing in the era of fake news. Policymakers are seeing the harm from bunk and are taking it more seriously than they did 10 years ago.”
Scientists, farmer, doctors and educators are not the only ones equipped to take on these myths. The best weapon anyone can have to fight fearmongering and misinformation is fact-based evidence. GMO Answers, along with many other myth-busters, can help you understand the science and combat the wave of bad nutrition claims coming your way.