Hi redditors. I'm Yvette, also known as ScienceBabe (http://www.scibabe.com/about-me/). I have a B.A. in theatre, a B.S. in chemistry, and an MSc in forensic science. You may have read my piece in Gawker on the Food Babe (http://gawker.com/the-food-babe-blogger-is-full-of-shit-1694902226). Head over to my twitter account (@sciencebabe) and facebook (fb.com/sciencebabe) for proof. I'm happy to answer your questions, so AMA!

EDIT: Thank you for your questions. I've enjoyed this very much, but I have to run. Please join me over at facebook.com/sciencebabe.

Comments: 385 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

ZydecoSucks147 karma

How do I get my shill bucks that Food Babe supporters have accused me of receiving? By their reasoning, I'm owed exactly $64,800 which is $0.60 times 108,000 comments against her.

SciBabe141 karma

You don't know the triple secret handshake? Meet me at the secret lair, code word: Syngenta.

Leoparda135 karma

First off, thanks for being a kick-ass woman in science! I'm always happy when I see a woman being featured in the news for her brain :)

Question: If you were to speak to a class, (middle school or high school age) what would you say to them to help inspire a love of the STEM fields?

SciBabe102 karma

The biggest thing I do is remind people that you can still be you- be funny, subversive, sassy- and be a scientist. I had so much fun working as an r&d chemist at my last job and I think the impression people get about scientists is that the job is boring. It couldn't be farther from the truth. Stay fun and bring that to science.

PhobosInAllOfUs134 karma

Hi Science Babe.

I want to ask, would you ever challenge Food Babe to a debate?

In other words can you please challenge Food Babe to a debate. :)

Keep up the good work.

SciBabe153 karma

I spoke to a professional on this who did some asking around for me.

He said she would never do it. So I'm open to it, but it's never going to happen.

ChanaC93 karma

I know Vani is teaming up with "scientists" like Dr. Oz, so can you team up with another real scientist like Bill Nye or Neil Degrasse Tyson? You're already super awesome, but if you get the other two on your side you might alter physics to form a supernova of awesomeness!

SciBabe181 karma

If Dr. Tyson calls me, after someone wakes me up from passing out, I will gladly team up with him.

mightychip85 karma

Have there been any negative repercussions professionally as a result of your campaign against Food Babe? I often worry people like her can turn around and impact future employment prospects for those that campaign against them.

SciBabe137 karma

Not so far! My career has only gotten better because of this.

apanda108432 karma

IMO, that would weed out employers I wouldn't want, being in the science community.

SciBabe66 karma

I was trying to make SciBabe work as a full time job, and this actually turned it into a full time job. This was my first professional piece and it pretty much launched my career.

iamstandingbehindyou81 karma

What's the most effective way of dealing with the "you're just a paid shill" argument that many, including Food Babe, use against their detractors?

SciBabe181 karma

Quoting Rent, "Zoom in on my empty wallet."

I drive a 2009 Toyota Corolla with 207k miles on it. If I'm a paid shill, I'm overdue for a paycheck.

SerasGraves80 karma

I'll admit I was a FoodBabe fan for a while; she really came across as credible in the beginning. Thankfully it didn't last long, but I still feel ashamed I fell for it. Besides Wikipedia, where can I access credible information before I fall for another Woo Whisperer? And when looking around for information, how do I know what I'm reading is unbiased?

SciBabe120 karma

Not to plug my book too hard, but I'm writing a book on ten rules for BS detection. It'll be out in about a year and a half (I know, forever). There's Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit that gives you a good list of ways to think "is this for real," and there's also a good list over at quackwatch.org.

Diapic61877 karma

To the best of my knowledge, Foodbabe has lost a large amount of followers since your article. I think that it can be safe to say, that you shined a light on a subject that most people did not even realize they needed attention to be brought to. People believed they were doing the "healthy" thing. I sadly admit, I bought the Foodbabe book and got sucked into what she was preaching. I even contemplated buying a shower filter after reading in her book, "our tap water is laced with toxins, including pesticide runoff, pharmaceutical residues, and hormone impersonators". What a shame; thousands of countries don't have clean, safe water and she instilled fear about our water. I assume a great deal of former followers of Foodbabe, like myself, came across her page, or yours for that matter, because we are just looking for a way to get, be, or stay healthy. It appears Foodbabe may have capitalized on that vulnerability. What advice would you give to the former followers of Foodbabe who are just looking to improve their lifestyle related to food?

SciBabe113 karma

First, I'm very happy for you that you came around to science. It's hard to break out of that mindset.

Per your question- Eat more fruits and vegetables. I know it's tried and true, but it's hard to make common sense sexy enough to sell a book with it. That's the number one piece of advice I give to people looking to be healthy. Aim to buy most of your groceries in the outer aisles of the grocery store. That's what I do. Animal products in small amounts (I only eat meat a few times per week), and processed foods more as treats. A cupcake once in a while won't kill you, but it's not a source of vitamins. If you want more information, ask your doctor or a registered dietitian (not a nutritionist, that title is not protected).

People assume that because I'm against the Food Babe that I'm against healthy eating. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Her advice isn't about health, it's about making you scared of food.

Narwhalbebe57 karma

I really admire you and I'm glad someone is taking the battle with pseudoscience into a more public sphere. Did you ever think this would blow up to be such a big thing? How have your friends and family reacted to it? I have a lot of friends who, though well-educated, believe all the drivel about GMOs being the worst thing ever and think Monsanto is the devil. Is there anybody in your life you've cut ties with since your Science Babe persona has gained more traction because they believe woo like that?

SciBabe52 karma

Multiple questions!!! - I never had delusions of grandeur, I've been in a fog all week about this. Nobody expects their first professional piece of writing to turn into this. - My family and friends have, by and large, been amazing. - I really haven't cut any ties. I've changed a lot of minds though, and that's been sweet.

JoanofSpiders55 karma

Hey ScienceBabe! I just wanted to say that you're awesome, and have inspired me, as a pharmacy student, to be more active in the fight against anti-vaxxers. Hopefully you will soon be successful in your battles against Vani! Best of luck to you. :)

Also, a quick question that may require a long response: what first made you interested in science?

SciBabe70 karma


Second- I started playing with my brother's chemistry set when I was five, saw things changing colors (because what five year old doesn't love that), and decided science didn't suck. Then I wanted to be a veterinarian... and then I saw a horse surgery when I was 13 and it made me nauseous, so that was out. I re-discovered chem when I was 16 and I loved it. Then in college I was introduced to forensics and toxicology and that's where I decided what I wanted to study in grad school.

... to make a short answer long ;)

homunculus88852 karma

Would you do a piece calling out Autism Speaks for its lack of scientific validity in the way it presents autism as a a disease and something that can be cured?

SciBabe91 karma

I've written about autism within the realm of the anti-vax movement. I'm trying to figure out how to write about it in a way that's scientifically accurate and is respectful to people with autism. Thank you for the suggestion.

mariar21337 karma

Why the heck do people so passionately believe bloggers instead of actual scientists?

SciBabe82 karma

There are a lot of articles on this online. I think they give a comforting narrative. "You're smarter than your doctor, you can heal yourself without using dangerous chemicals." People believe because they're not trained to be skeptical and because they don't think this person would give them dangerous information. They leave out so much information in their narrative it's disturbing.

Please remember, when someone falls for one of these bloggers? It's not necessarily because they're stupid or ignorant. In a lot of cases it's because they were looking for good information and they accidentally stumbled across bad information instead. I try not to blame the victim, and these people are the victim of bad information.

CookingWithScorpion32 karma

Just wanted to say how much my wife and I enjoyed your homeopathy video.

Was it hard to take that many pills? My gag reflex would have failed me rather quickly.

SciBabe104 karma

The diet coke helped.

Also... gag reflex? What's that? ;)

saged8030 karma

What is the main reason, in your opinion, of the rise of the Anti-Science movement?

SciBabe47 karma

I think it's a combination of two things. First, people are given mis-information about science (vaccines, GMOs, diet, etc). Second, people have don't trust something they don't understand (science in general). If you have a lot of bloggers constantly demonizing chemicals, saying you can heal something naturally, and saying that organic yak's butter is the cure to MONSATAN!!!!11!!!!11, then eventually even the most rational person might think there's something to it.

Just have to learn to parse through for good information.

VenomousFeminist29 karma

Hey, SciBabe! What's the most dangerous/common false belief about health that you wish would die already?

SciBabe79 karma

It's either the anti-vax rhetoric or the fake cancer cures. These are actively causing harm and this is why I fight the anti-science movement.

sane_asylum28 karma

I don't mean to bring up a sore topic but I have to inquire about the email the foodbabe posted from a colleague of yours. I am a big fan of your work and really appreciate what you're doing - especially since I am a science major myself who happens to have a roommate that buys into a lot of pseudoscience. Her most recent health kick was to cut open onions and place them throughout the apartment because it "clears the air of toxins and keeps you from getting sick." -.- Anyways, do you have anything to say in response to the letter? I would like to get your side of the story.

SciBabe85 karma

He was not a colleague. We worked together as teenagers at summer camp, that does not count as a scientific colleague.

I was not fired from my last job. I was an adjunct professor at Emmanuel College for a year (my apologies if that was in any way misleading, it was not an attempt to by me or by Gawker). And as for publications, no, I am not published but the type of positions I've worked in don't generally do the type of research that leads to publishing. Claiming that I was fired though was ridiculous. They had financial downturn and I was in good standing when I was laid off. I've been back twice to visit.

Vani published a letter from a guy who I used to date. He was mad because I wouldn't take his advice on how to run my website. He even said that in the letter. Taking the word of a scorned ex? Libel is a funny thing.

dragonherr26 karma

in your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle to overcoming the spread of belief in pseudoscience?

SciBabe63 karma

I know that I'm not going to change everyone's mind, sadly. There are true believers in things like the anti-vax movement who could see a disease wiped out and still think vaccines are bad.

What I try to do is teach the signs of bad science so that people are able to detect it for themselves. It's the "teach a man to fish" model instead of debunking everything.

Jenleetee25 karma

Are you collaborating with any trained health/science communicators? (My M.S. is in Health Communication...I see a lot of opportunity for synergy between you and someone in that field.)

SciBabe29 karma

I have a small community of bloggers that I work with in the skeptic community. I'm so new to all of this that I'm just now being approached by a lot of people. I'm definitely open to collaborations!

ttj7924 karma

Any response from food babe?

SciBabe68 karma

Yep. And she published a letter from a guy I dated to say a lot of things that weren't true about me.

Because as usual, she can't do her research.

MGKey24 karma

I think you are so completely badass. Love everything you do. I have three daughters and one son and I read them the things you post a lot. They are learning to think critically through you.

Question: have you looked at JuicePlus? I have a friend who is getting involved in it, and it just seems so ludicrous. Thoughts?

SciBabe26 karma

Why thank you!

Everything about JuicePlus makes me think your BS detector is well armed.

HeyYouMustBeNewHere17 karma

Great piece on the FoodBabe. Your work is admirable in elevating science in the public.

Now that FoodBabe is largely discredited, what do you see next for your platform?

SciBabe58 karma

Working on a piece on a guy who used to be a doctor and now I think he plays one on TV.

bregitta16 karma

Do you think that people genuinely believe the factually incorrect statements that bloggers like FoodBabe make, or is it a product of scaremongering? And do you think there's a way for these individuals to change their minds?

It's sad to compare the comments on each of your Facebook accounts; FoodBabe is all about "the army" whereas yours is mostly congratulatory posts about genuine facts.

SciBabe33 karma

A bit of both? I think in some cases people go looking for information trying to be healthier and then stick with information from her blog out of fear of toxins because she tells them "THE INGREDIENT IN YOUR PIZZA THAT'S SILENTLY MAKING YOUR BALLS FALL OFF RIGHT NOW!!!"

I mean, who wouldn't listen? I want my balls to sta... I mean, I would want my balls to stay on if I had them.

Thank you for noticing the differences in the pages. A lot of these pages are "Only 17.99 for the secret to health." There's no secret, we're providing readily available science and facts. People keep listening to these charlatans out of fear. Look for the people promoting facts.

aliceroyal16 karma

How're the shilldren? Also, favourite element?

SciBabe26 karma

ScienceDog (Buddy) and #ShillCat (Lexi) are happily driving each other crazy. My Mom is in town and she is doting on both of them!

bythelake2314 karma

Hi Yvette, I am a recently graduated MD and I am very interested in pursuing #scicomm as either a profession or a serious avocation. Any advice re getting started? (I am also a big fan of the sceptic movement).

SciBabe17 karma

There's always a need for more MDs who are willing to talk to the public! Start a facebook page and a blog, we need more credible sources of information. Shoot me an email, we'll talk more!

SweetThursday42414 karma

Hi, another fan here! A couple of questions:

  1. Would you ever be willing to sit down and speak face to face with Food Babe or is a civil discourse pointless/impossible?

  2. After your article went viral, have you had people contact you to tell you've they changed their mind? How do you think we get people to "see the light" and move away from believing pseudoscience as fact?

  3. What's next after Food Babe?

SciBabe38 karma

  1. I don't think she would, but I'd consider it.
  2. I've had a few. They said thank you. Sometimes it made me cry like a bitch. ;) And I think approaching it with humor made the difference. Beating someone over the head with facts does nothing if they can't relate to you like a friend.
  3. Sky's the limit, but I'm aiming for a certain guy who used to be a heart surgeon and now I think he plays a doctor on TV.

zachrg13 karma

Recent attention has been saturated by the Gawker piece on Food Babe and its resulting ripples/fallout. Once the dust settles, is there a topic of your more typical rotation that you're anxious to get back to?

SciBabe42 karma

GMOs. I was planning on hitting that hard this year. I was also working on a piece on glyphosate when I was approached by Gawker to write the piece, so I'm hoping to get that out soon.

Also, there's a lot of porn backing up on the internet that I'm way, way behind on.

wartsarus13 karma

First of all I wanted to say congratulations for that excellent and hilarious piece on Gawker. I think you and my organic chemistry professor (at McGill) would be excellent friends by the way you both wittily mock pseudo-science bloggers.

I just have one question, what do you think is the best way to approach someone that is anti-science in person? I find when I try and explain these things to friends they get really defensive and just shut down all reasonable arguments or studies saying they're paid off by Monsanto and big Pharma. I end up just getting frustrated and have never succeeded at convincing anyone. Any tips?

SciBabe18 karma

The "true believers" are impossible, but I always approach this with humor. It's part of the reason why the Gawker article succeeded where more academic articles don't.

ro_buddi11 karma

Do you think that all this publicity will take down the FB or make her stop some of her foolish quakery? It hasn't worked that much for Dr. Oz. Any thoughts of the libel lawsuit?

SciBabe39 karma

I think she'll still try to do the same things. But the difference is that next time she goes on a campaign against a "toxic" ingredient, the media is going to call me.

gtiluke11 karma

When employing sheep bladders to prevent earthquakes, do they really need to be from organic non-gmo fed sheep or will any old sheep's bladder do?

SciBabe23 karma

I prefer llamas. Obviously.

Which yogi did you go to? Sheep?! What a rip off.

malackey11 karma

Considering you seem to have started out in the arts, what made you want to pursue a science education?

SciBabe18 karma

I double majored. :)

Raguleader11 karma

What are your thoughts on multivitamins? Good? Depends on the brand? Mostly crock?

SciBabe32 karma

From what I've read, the only vitamin that has proven effects from supplementation is folic acid for women as a pre-natal vitamin. I've also seen some studies that show biotin can help hair growth (but I want to look more into the veracity of that). But a multi? It makes expensive vitamin enriched pee.

If you have a specific need due to adsorption issues or deficiencies, talk to your doctor!

roastyandmalty9 karma

What's been the most surprising outcome of all this new found fame? Also, how do you manage self-doubt (I assume you experience at least a small amount of hesitation prior to publishing) when writing controversial articles?

SciBabe13 karma

The fame is the most surprising outcome. ;)

I think how fast it's all been has been most surprising. I thought I'd get maybe a few thousand new followers on facebook. This was way, way more than I ever imagined.

And I didn't doubt this one for a second.

1893Chicago9 karma

Why ad the "babe" to your name? Why not just work and be known on the basis of your scholarly merits and accomplishments?

SciBabe49 karma

I started it as a spoof on the Food Babe and the name stuck. It's turned into something much more than that as we talk about a lot of different areas of pseudoscience, but I regularly poke fun of the babe name. Taking that too seriously would be silly.

willbrojnr9 karma

Loved your interviews with the Nerd Church Podcast. How did you guys get together?

SciBabe14 karma

They found me and asked. I LOVE those guys. Any podcast that says "swear as much as you want" owns my nerdy, filthy little heart. <3

nucleophilicrxn8 karma

Any tips for a soon-to-be Ph.D. chemist looking to become a better science communicator?

SciBabe15 karma

First, congrats on your PhD! Second, what area of comm are you looking to work on, writing or speaking? We need more science communicators in both fields. There are majors specifically for science writers. If you're looking for science writing, there are classes for it. For speaking, toastmasters is a wonderful resource. I'm still trying to improve my public speaking even with a science background. Good luck, contact me via my site!

CapgrasX138 karma

When you look at the overall struggle between pseudoscience and science, which side do you think the momentum is currently favoring? Do you think that's changed recently? What can we, as laymen, do to influence the debate (further) in the favor of evidence-based science?

Also, how's Science Dog?

SciBabe21 karma

I think that when your friends say something about doing a detox, tell them not to waste your money. When they say something about toxins or using milk thistle or supplements, challenge them. Tell them. Speak out, because you have the evidence. Be kind, but speak the truth. They deserve evidence and science.

And Science Dog is chewing a magazine. He's happy.

lflesher8 karma

Congrats on your success. It is well deserved. I have a Jack Russell / Rat Terrier. What breed is Science Dog?

SciBabe17 karma

ScienceDog is a terrier/chihuahua. I call it a Chittier. He would hate it but he doesn't speak English very well.

reverendrambo8 karma

Hello! Thanks for the AMA! Do you think religion and science are able to walk hand in hand? Or will one always reject the other?

SciBabe43 karma

I'm an atheist. However, I also don't want to push religious people away from science. I think that as long as you accept scientific evidence at face value, there's room for you in science.

sheepy678 karma

Thanks for all that you do. Can you address the claims that glyphosate is evil? I know some people who say, "I'm not anti-GMO, but I don't want glyphosate on my food."

SciBabe14 karma

Glyphosate got a bad reputation solely due to it being associated with GMOs (and there's a LOT of misinformation about GMOs). It's less toxic than salt to humans, it's just not very good for weeds. No need to be afraid of it.

mrspistols7 karma

What would you do to correct science education in our public schools? Do you think poor basic scientific education leads to such fanaticism with pseudoscience?

SciBabe23 karma

I think it's possible. I think that starting students off knowing what the scientific method is early instead of just making a styrofoam volcano might help.

sowens747 karma

When you were a kid did you think that you would grow up to be any of those things?

SciBabe13 karma

I filled out a thing on what I wanted to be when I was 6. I wanted to be a singer or a veterinarian.

Then when I went to college, I double majored in theatre and chemistry because I wanted to be Yvette the Science Dudette (because nerd).

So... close enough?

itsmrssabotage7 karma

Is there anything you regret about the article or wish you worded differently?

SciBabe18 karma

I stand behind everything. I think I could have worded the part about spraying pesticides on airlines differently as I know in certain countries they spray and I was bombarded with emails about that. Other than that? I was very happy with the piece.

Imperiochica5 karma

I heard you're writing a book about detecting bullshit. When will that be out? That's something I'd actually buy.

SciBabe11 karma

SciBabe's Ten Rules to BS Detection, out in Winter 2016/Spring 2017.

sheplaysbass5 karma

Hi! I've been following you since the Homeopathic sleeping pills video, and I love how much traction you've been getting lately!

Do you plan on ever tackling chiropractic in addition to Homeopathy?

SciBabe14 karma

I did write a blog on it: scibabe.com/snakeoil

JohnMorgens5 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Has Vani contacted you since your article went viral?

SciBabe21 karma

She has not, just posted that insidious and false response.

I_eat_all_the_cheese4 karma

I need some new cute boots, what are your favorites right now?

SciBabe26 karma

Doc Martens. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

orgophd3 karma

As a undergrad science prof, I have been finding that even my science majors are getting taken in by the current-day snake oil salespeople, especially when it comes to health/fitness, because they don't take the time to verify the claims. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can light the fire of critical thinking and fact-checking in my students so they can be the next watchdogs of pseudoscience?

SciBabe13 karma

Tell them "before you spend money on something, demand proof."

Simple as that. They're broke college students. How much money do they have to throw away? How much money does ANYONE have to throw away?

the_one_who_taps3 karma

What motivated you to start your facebook page, I mean the persona of "Science Babe"??

SciBabe13 karma

I'd been posting on the page Chow Babe and it showed me how ridiculous some of the alternative health pages were. It made me start thinking that there might be a voice for me in the skeptic community. I just thought "if we're countering Food Babe and I'm a scientist... why not Science Babe?"

It really was just supposed to be a spoof, a place to put articles on science that I enjoyed. I never thought it was going to be a career.

Panda_is_Delicious3 karma

Firstly, thank you for doing what you do :) You are an inspiration. Secondly, what is your favorite thing to eat or drink that many people wrongly assume is bad for you?

SciBabe18 karma

Diet coke. I love it, and people keep sending me articles that it's bad for me. All of the "studies" are correlations.

Find me a causal link to ANYTHING, and I will stop drinking it. For now, hands off my goddamn Diet Coke. :-p

randomjohn2 karma

Who are your most influential and/or favorite science bloggers?

SciBabe5 karma

Orac, Kavin Senapathy, and James Fell (he's not a science writer, he writes about health but I love his style and it's all science based- check him out at bodyforwife.com).

beck16702 karma

Would you rather fight one Dr. Oz sized Vani Hari or one hundred Vani Hari sized Dr. Oz's?

SciBabe8 karma

I'm a lover, not a fighter.

zachrg2 karma

One of the earlier campaigns was CVS' selling homeopathic items, then just kinda disappeared. I assume it didn't pan out, but what exactly happened?

SciBabe17 karma

They basically responded with "what we're doing is legal" which was the polite equivalent of "screw yourself." But it was quite the bad year for homeopathy, and the regulations on homeopathic labelling is being revisited now. I don't know if my video had anything to do with the general public awareness on it, but I hope it helped. I also hope that if/when more clear labelling comes out, people see that they're buying sugar pills.

kedavo2 karma

There has been an increase in pseudoscience, at least an increase in its visibility.

Do you believe that media coverage of the pseudoscience believers works to spread it or shame it?

SciBabe11 karma

It shames the anti-vax movement but gives a free pass to supplements, detoxes and, in some cases, even the fake cancer cures. This has to end.

zachrg1 karma

How many tattoos do you have? What's your favorite?

SciBabe4 karma

Four. A Red Sox tatto on my hip, an arm band with the last two bars of the song yesterday (with the notes that go with "I believe in yesterday"), a crow and a butterfly on my left leg (from the Shinedown song The Crow & The Butterfly), and a flowery design on my right shoulder.

I'm looking for another one because why not.