Standing on the doorstep of 2017, we can only wonder which anti-science voices will be the loudest next year, as we consider how best to debunk their anti-science messages...
We were skeptical of the appointment of Mark Bittman to the faculty of Columbia's School of Public Health last month. This esteemed position will, undoubtedly resurrect his message from its death last year when he left The New York Times. Since leaving his position, we have had a brief respite from hearing the importance of eating vegan and labeling of GMOs. Mr. Bittman (not Dr. Mark Bittman, nor Mark Bittman, Ph.D.) is not only unqualified for such an esteemed appointment (one that academics spend their entire career working toward) but, his prescriptive views on food are simply not obtainable for anyone who lives outside of his elitist world.
But, as Mark Bittman is organizing his books and ironing his Columbia blue gown (the color is, indeed, named after the University) let's consider other potential faculty members who might be appointed to inspire the next generation to ignore the importance of science in this world.
Perhaps the Food Babe could take a position as a lecturer - offering classes on the meaning of the word 'toxin" or how a Pumpkin Spice Latte might kill you. Mike Adams (a.k.a. The Health Ranger) could run a semester-long course on the how to create a conspiracy theory with no evidence. Or, he could set up a class on how to cure yourself from any disease without drugs or surgery, as he claims that he did (from diabetes.) Or, Joe Mercola could open up a kiosk in the student center, selling his latest useless supplements.
David "avocado" Wolfe, could become a Dean somewhere - teaching students that almost any warm drink will cure them of every ailment that exists and will, most certainly, stop their aging. For example, he claims that honey and cinnamon, when drunk together, will
- Aid In Weight Loss
- Improve Your Heart Function
- Lower Your Blood Sugar Levels
- Help Your Body Fight Bacterial Infections
- Help Prevent Premature Aging
Similarly, Tumeric and Lemon will
- Improve Your Digestive System
- Protect Your Liver
- Support Brain Health
- Help Protect Your Body Against Cancer
- Strengthen Cardiovascular Health
- Protects Against Aging
Oh - and don't forget to learn the science behind herd immunity at Jenny McCarthy's symposium entitled, 'How I learned everything I need to know about vaccines and autism while living at the Playboy mansion.'
However, the reality is that all of these people have a big enough voice already. They have millions of readers on their websites, sell books that top the bestseller lists and get paid handsomely for public speaking. People listen to them and believe them. And, although we at ACSH will never completely understand why it is so easy to be convinced of the myths that GMOs are dangerous or vaccines cause autism, we hope that academic institutions reject these people's ideas and thoughts.
And, although Mark Bittman is, by far, the least concerning of the anti-science people listed above, his appointment at Columbia raises the point that we don't need loud voices with strong followings pushing an anti-science agenda in the halls of academic institutions. Those should be a stronghold to learn the skill of critical thinking based on facts and data - a tool that we all need in this increasingly complex world.