About Mark Aaron Alsip

Like it or not, we live in a technological society. I realize not everyone loves science, but a lot of bad people are taking advantage of this fact to mislead you. The consequences can be serious. For example, there are Facebook posts that can lead to the death of you and/or your children or adversely affect your health (vaccination/cancer/GMO issues) or entice you to vote for candidates who might sell out to industries that could poison your community. How do you make sense of this? I've been told I have a knack for explaining complex issues in a way that non-science lovers can understand. That is the purpose of my blog. I scour the internet and news looking for Bad Science and point out the problems with it, in hopes of helping the average person make sense of it all. My background: I majored in computer science and minored in mathematics and computer electronics. After I earned my degree I returned to university for an additional two years of pre-med studies. I'm not a doctor and don't dispense medical advice here, but I don't hesitate to quote scientific consensus. I write as a scientifically literate skeptic, and have penned articles for publications/organizations such as Forbes, Skeptical Inquirer, The National Center for Science Education, and Patheos. I recently co-authored my first book on scientific skepticism, "The Fear Babe", available from Amazon and other online retailers.

Trix Are For Food Babe

According to the old breakfast cereal slogan, “Trix are for kids.”

Vani Hari  (the “Food Babe”) has a new variation on this theme with her latest misinformation campaign: Tricks are for kids–and their gullible parents.

Let’s look at a Hari Facebook rant from October 2, accusing General Mills of targeting children with alleged carcinogenic compounds in General Mills’ Trix cereal.1  As we’ll see in a moment, Food Babe also targets children with products containing these very same chemicals, and has been doing so for at least six years:

food babe artificial colors targeting children

Food Babe sells the same falsely-labeled toxins in her Facebook post, ironically targeting children in the process.  (click/enlarge)

Hari asks if marketing artificial colors to children should be illegal.  An ironic question coming from a woman who markets products containing artificial colors to children herself.2  Not just any artificial colors, but the same “coal tar dyes” she rants about in her October 2 post.

Sherman, set the WayBack Machine to November, 2015, when I pointed out the (pink?) elephant in the room to Food Babe:

piggy paint sold by food babe contains artificial colors

Two years ago, it was clearly pointed out to Vani Hari that she’s selling to children the same class of “coal tar dyes”that she labels toxic.  From Bad Science Debunked, November 15, 2015.   (click/enlarge)

Yes, this children’s fingernail polish marketed by Vani Hari is made from the same artificial colors that are causing her Blue #1 sky to fall.  But the hypocrisy doesn’t end there.  Not that anyone in the #FoodBabeArmy seems scientifically literate enough to pick up on the fact, but this children’s product also contains an organic pesticide, neem oil.  Vani Hari is an outspoken opponent of pesticides, but apparently has no qualms about selling them to children.

Hari does not get a “get out of jail free card” because she’s lambasting a food product and here she’s hawking a cosmetic.  Thus sayeth the Food Babe:

“Your skin is your largest organ!  What you put on your skin, is absorbed into your blood.”–Vani Hari3

This is a common theme in the world of “all natural” product salespeople–it doesn’t matter if it comes from food or beauty products–it it’s a toxin, it’s gonna kill ya, whether you swallow it, inhale it, or get it on your skin.

But it gets worse for Ms. Hari.  Several of the dyes that she calls out by name, including Blue #1 and Yellow #6, were openly sold via her online “Food Babe Shop” for several years before being quietly pulled overnight when called out on her gaffe.4  These products were ingested by humans, as they included a dozen different shades of Tarte lipstick.  Placed on the lips, the very dyes Hari calls “neurotoxins” were happily and enthusiastically lapped up by every woman who licked her lips while wearing Food Babe-recommended cosmetics.

The third artificial color, Red #40, which Hari curiously links to hyperactivity?  It has been a mainstay in the Giovanni Hair Care products she’s been hyping on FoodBabe.com since 2011.7  You’re three-for-three Vani. Well done.  Well done, indeed.

Food Babe highly recommends Giovianni hair care products. There’s only one problem…

food babe red #40

Red #40, much maligned by Hari, is found in hair care products that she hawks in her blog. (click/enlarge)

Last but not least, Vani takes issue with the presence of genetically modified ingredients in Trix cereal.  Let’s rinse and repeat our investigative pattern for the #FoodBabeArmy crowd who are missing the obvious:  Food Babe has been selling you a product containing GMO corn long enough for Seralini to have faked a dozen more GMO cancer studies.6

food babe selling gmo corn

This product, featured on FoodBabe.com, is made from GMO corn. (click/enlarge)

As the commercial goes, Trix may be for kids, but Tricks are for Food Babe.

Let us then revisit the original, deceptive General Mills Trix cereal box graphic that Vani Hari presented in her October 2 Facebook post, and put it into proper context by comparing her alleged toxic ingredients with those she sells or has consistently sold for years:

food babe trix gmo food dye

Food Babe’s Babes “Box of Tricks” includes an online store pushing products containing every single ingredient she disparages in General Mills’ Trix cereal.  

Gentle reader, there’s nothing dangerous in Trix cereal, or, indeed, any of the products that Vani Hari “trix” her followers into buying by pretending that the alternatives are harmful.  Buy any of the products mentioned in this article with complete confidence they’re safe.  Just please… don’t buy them from FoodBabe.com.

 

References
(1) Food Babe Trix Post
https://www.facebook.com/thefoodbabe/posts/1696483297053041

(2) Food Babe Selling Pesticides, Coal Tar Dyes To Children
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/food-babe-selling-pesticide-coal-tar-dyes-to-children/

(3) So Fresh And So Clean–Skin Care Tips
http://foodbabe.com/2011/08/09/so-fresh-and-so-clean-skin-care-tips/

(4) Food Babe Slam Kraft Over Three Dyes But Sells Same
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/food-babe-slams-kraft-over-three-dyes-but-sells-same/

(6) Food Babe is Selling GMOs
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/12/18/food-babe-is-selling-gmos/

(7)  She Did It Again!
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/she-did-it-again-food-babe-linked-to-another-company-using-same-dyes-she-forbids/

Image Credits
Food Babe screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

“American Pie” imagery photoshopped/produced by the author, used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

“Trix/Tricks” imagery photoshopped/produced by the author, used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

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Eclipse Blinds Pets! (And Other Bad Science)

pool closed due to eclipse

The road to Science Hell is paved with good intentions.

As I anxiously await my ninth total eclipse of the sun here in Western Kentucky, I was shocked to see that the swimming pool would be closed during the event in the interest of public safety. Is our resort afraid people will lose their way in the darkness and fall in & drown, or has a viral Internet rumor been spreading that looking at an eclipse while immersed in water will cause blindness?

Egad.

Bad science abounds around eclipse time.  From people locking children indoors for “protection”, to religious leaders predicting the end of the world is nigh, something about losing the sun for a few minutes brings out the daft among us.

Knowing that I’m an eclipse buff, some well-meaning coworkers at the office passed along the following semi-viral internet meme, warning of the dire consequences of not locking your pets inside during the “Great American Eclipse” of August 21:

eclipse will not cause pet blindness

Bad eclipse science runs rampant on social media (click/enlarge)

Pets going blind because of the eclipse?  No.  Just no.

If you aren’t in the path of totality, staring at the partially eclipsed sun is going to be just as painful and counterintuitive for your cat/dog/guppy as it would be for you. Even with 99% of the sun blocked by the moon, as it will be near my home town of Lexington, KY, the sun will be far too bright to look at with the naked eye. So why, pray tell, would Whiskers and Fido suddenly feel the urge to stare intently at the sun and fry their retinas like bacon?

Answer: they won’t. The only odd behavior you might notice from a pet during this eclipse would be if you happen to own a critter that routinely feeds or beds down at sunset. Animals sometimes get tricked into thinking that the eclipse signals nightfall. Bessie the Cow might head for the trough, Trigger the Horse might head for the barn, but if you plan on putting either in the house to protect them from the eclipse, you’re wasting your time (and risking severe carpet damage).

The only animals who need to worry about protecting their eyes during this eclipse are humans. We know something special is happening, so we tend to do something unnatural and stare at the sun. Proper eye protection is de rigeur in this case during the partial phases of the eclipse.

Fido and the other pets will have no clue what’s going on, and will happily go about their business–unless some Facebook addict ruins their day by locking them in the house.

Anti-GMO Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones is Selling GMOs

Alex Jones pep band parody by Bad Science Debunked

 

We’re living in a strange new reality in the United States.  Our citizens are forced to deal with problems such as terrorist attacks that never happened (e.g. Bowling Green, KY) and life-saving vaccines causing problems that they don’t.  A large percentage of the population is happy to accept lies and contradictions without question.  Alternate facts seem to be accepted in more places than MasterCard, Visa, and Discover combined.

It should come as no surprise then that virulent anti-GMO campaigner and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is selling genetically modified (GMO) soy via his online store, while simultaneously and falsely claiming that GMOs cause cancer, infertility, IQ reduction, and deformities.1

The soy in question is found in a men’s health supplement named Prosta Guard,2 sold by Jones’ InfoWarsShop.com.  Knowing that nearly all soy grown in the United States is genetically modified3 and painfully aware of Jones’ “America First” attitude, I contacted the InfoWars store and asked if the soy used in this product was genetically modified.  The response, was, unsurprisingly,  “Yes.”  InfoWars customer service added that any non-GMO products sold by Jones’ haberdashery would be clearly marked.

prosta guard gmo soy from infowars/alex jones

Prosta Guard as advertised on Alex Jones’ InfoWars store web site.  The soy is highlighted in this screen capture.  (click/enlarge)

I don’t give a tinker’s damn if the soy is genetically modified or not, and experts agree that consumers have no reason to be concerned either.  There’s no evidence that genetically modified foods are anything but safe, nutritious, and a boon to agriculture.  But arguing the point with conspiracy theorists is an exercise in futility.

Consider, if you will, that Alex Jones believes that the government uses chemicals to create homosexuals as a form of population control, Michelle Obama is a man who married Barrack to prove a point on transgender rights, the United States Government has a secret weather control machine, and the “new world order” is opening thousands of portals to allow demons to pour out onto Earth.4,5  How do you debunk a reasoned argument when one is never presented?

Irony of ironies, InfoWars also spreads fear and paranoia about food-based chemicals believed to disrupt the human endocrine system.6   Yet they completely ignore the fact that the soy in their Prosta Guard contains naturally occurring compounds known as phytoestrogens, which are (wait for it)… endocrine disruptors.  Alison Bernstein, who runs the outstanding science page Mommy PhD, authored an excellent article7 on endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) science and associated paranoia.  Using soy as one example, Bernstein expertly picks apart the Appeal to Nature fallacy displayed by those such as Alex Jones, who eschew BPA food containers only to consume the very class of chemicals they’re trying to avoid.

In his blatant act of marketing hypocrisy,  Mr. Jones joins a host of other hucksters whose scholarly and ethical compasses arguably don’t exactly point north. For over three years, anti-GMO campaigner Vani “the Food Babe” Hari has sold a skin care product made with GMO corn despite warning that the “toxic” ingredients can be absorbed by the skin and into the bloodstream.  Mike “the Health Ranger” Adams of NaturalNews.com peddles wares containing GMOS here, here, and here, even though his web site contains over twenty pages of search results falsely linking GMOs from everything to cancer to farmer suicides to the destruction of agriculture in Africa.

Jones’ followers stare at his hypocrisy like a deer in headlights, blissfully ignoring the truckload of truth bearing down on them, a blaring horn of facts trying to warn them off the roadway.  It’s a scene growing ever more common in a country that once took pride in science, reason, and truth.  There’s nothing to fear from the GMO soy in the Prosta Guard sold by the InfoWars store, but many reasons to avoid funding the store’s owner, who spreads dangerous anti-vaccine propaganda that endangers public public health.

Buy Prosta Guard if you must.  Just please don’t buy it from Alex Jones.

References
(1)  “GMOS=HUMANITY’S DEATH SENTENCE (Cancer rates, Autism and other medical tragedies are spiraling out of control)”
The Alex Jones Show/InfoWars

(2) Prosta Guard (with ingredients) via InfoWars Store
http://www.infowarsshop.com/ProstaGuard_p_1547.html

(3) USDA: Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the US
(Recent Trends in GE Adoption)
https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

(4) Comprehensive Guide to Alex Jones Conspiracy Theories
http://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/12/01/comprehensive-guide-alex-jones-conspiracy-theorist-and-trump-valuable-asset/214668

(5) Is Hilary Clinton a Witch? Some of the Worst Alex Jones Conspiracy Theories (Salon)
http://www.salon.com/2017/02/09/is-hillary-clinton-a-witch-rank-some-of-the-worst-alex-jones-conspiracy-theories/

(6) “ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS ARE IN YOUR FOOD, TOO”.  (InfoWars.com)
https://www.infowars.com/bpa-free-not-enough-endocrine-disruptors-are-in-your-food-too/

(7) “A Chemical is a Chemical is a Chemical”. (Dr. Alison Bernstein, PhD)
http://www.crediblehulk.org/index.php/2016/03/29/a-chemical-is-a-chemical-is-a-chemical/

Image Credits
Alex Jones pep band parody image by Mark Alsip/Bad Science Debunked uses elements from Hormel, Alex Jones/InfoWars, and YouTube under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Alex Jones/InfoWar screen captures used in compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Edit History
This article was modified on March 28, 2017, to reference material from “A Chemical is a Chemical is a Chemical”.

Mike Adams’ GMO Addiction

mike adams gmo hypocrisy parody

Author’s note: I’ve been contacted by Health Products Distributors, the manufacturer of the product mentioned in this article, and asked to reaffirm that, as mentioned in the original writeup, the reformulated product no longer uses soy–it uses non-GMO sunflower oil. There is a disagreement on when the sunflower oil formulation went into use in the Natural News store. HPD now says 2013, though when contacted for the original version of this article, they said it was still being phased in, and the Natural News labeling still clearly showed soy. I’ve reached out to Natural News for comment and will provide an update here when it’s available.

Wasn’t it just yesterday we were pointing out that Mike Adams of Natural News was still selling GMOs while simultaneously claiming they would kill you?  Well, OK, it was two days ago.  But who’s counting?

Actually, I’m counting.  And I’m up to three–three times the Natural News Nattering Nabob of Nonsense has told you GMOs will eat away your innards, then turned around and sold you products containing GMOs!  Ladies and gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, we proudly present Rejuvenate Plus, the current batch made with GMO soy, available from Mike Adams’ Health Ranger store:1

Rejuvenate Plus, from the Health Ranger store

Rejuvenate Plus, from the Health Ranger store (click/enlarge)

I emphasize “current batch” in the preceding paragraph because the manufacturer, Health Products Distributors of Tucson, Arizona, informed me during a phone call that they were switching from GMO soy lecithin to non-GMO sunflower lecithin.  But, for now, here’s what Ranger Mike’s been pushing on his unsuspecting customers:

ingredients in health ranger gmo product

Ingredients in Health Ranger’s Rejuvenate Plus. Note the GMO soy lecithin (click/enlarge)

As we all know by now, there’s nothing to fear from genetically modified organisms and/or products derived from them.  Mike Adams and his #NaturalNonsense store make a small fortune bilking innocent people out of hard-earned money by selling them expensive items that contain the very same ingredients that they lie about being dangerous.  In fact, Natural News recently published a story falsely claiming GMO food was turning pigs’ stomachs to mush and hilariously suggested that it would do the same to humans…2 all the while selling GMO food to humans here and here.

Why, the only way Natural News could possibly recede any further into the Twilight Zone would be by publishing a serious article warning of an actual pending zombie apocalypse.  They wouldn’t.  They couldn’t.  Would they?

Oh Sweet Jesus and bless their hearts, they did.  Judge their integrity for yourselves, dear reader:

natural news zombies

This is a real Natural News headline. Mike Adams sanctions this tripe, along with harmful anti-cancer nonsense and GMO propaganda. Be an educated adult in 2017. Say no to #NaturalNonsense.  (click/enlarge)

 

References
(1) Rejuvenate Plus from the Health Ranger Store
https://www.healthrangerstore.com/collections/health-concerns/products/rejuvenate-plus-500-g?variant=16538979393

(2) GMO feed turns pig stomachs to mush! Shocking photos reveal severe damage caused by GM soy and corn
http://www.naturalnews.com/040727_GMO_feed_severe_inflammation_pig_stomachs.html

Image Credits
Natural News, Mike Adams/Health Ranger, Health Product Distributors screen and product snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

The screen capture from the film The Sixth Sense  is used under parody provisions of the same Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Natural News, Mike Adams Selling Even More GMOs

Mike adams (the health ranger)

Natural News founder Mike Adams is vehemently opposed to products that contain genetically modified (GMO) ingredients, so why do we once again find him selling GMOs?

Consider, if you will, Ultimate Protector, made by Health Products Distributors of Tucson, Arizona, and offered by Adams’ Natural News online store.1  This “cell protection formula” uses genetically modified black soybeans.  Even though the bottle itself is labelled non-GMO,  I spoke with three Health Product Distributors representatives by phone, and again by email, and they confirmed that the company does indeed use GMO soy in several of their offerings, including Ultimate Protector.

 

ultimate defender from Natural News

Ultimate Defender capsules as seen on NaturalNews.com (click/enlarge)

As my grandma always said, you can’t swing a dead cat in the Natural News market without hitting a product that the self-styled Health Ranger falsely claims will harm you.  We already found him peddling GMOs back in July, 2016.2  In that same month, items that (by his definition) contain formaldehyde were found on his virtual shelves,3 even though he links the preservative to brain damage, cancer, and seizures.

label of Mike Adam's Ultimate Protector, showing the soy content

Yes Virginia,  Mike Adams’ products are made from GMO soy  (click/enlarge)

I used Natural News’ online chat utility to ask the company about their GMO sales, but the representative I spoke with was double parked in the no comment zone.

As we all know, there’s nothing to fear from GMOs, and Health Products Distributors (HPD), who Adams unintentionally and falsely maligns through his scientific illiteracy and poor research, should not be penalized because he happens to stock their wares.  HPD reps  were very open and patient with me during our phone calls and didn’t hold back when answering questions.  I’m skeptical of some of the “science” they quoted (such as being able to “strip antigens from the GMO ingredients” before adding them to the mix), but let’s not punish them for Mike Adams’ sins.

No one has ever shown GMOS to be dangerous, and let’s remember that the man claiming otherwise has graced us with “news” goodies such as a recent thermonuclear missile launch near Los Angeles:

FAKE NEWS from natural news and mike adams

THIS NEVER HAPPENED–but the Truth Train doesn’t make regular stops at Natural News Station.  Are you going to take advice on cancer from this site? (click/enlarge)

We can (and should) laugh at Mike Adams’ ridiculous claims about nukes, but what about  his fake news that leads innocent cancer patients away from real doctors, and into his den of deception (aka the “Health Ranger Store”).   Here, it’s time to get angry.  It’s not funny when someone loses a life, but that’s the path down which Mike Adams is leading us.

Join me in making 2017 the year of the #NaturalNonsense hashtag:  pledge not to share articles from NaturalNews.com, the web’s most blatant fake news web site.

Let’s close this piece with a laugh: head over to YouTube and watch Mike Adams and a puppet sing about not eating the very same GMOs they’re selling online!4

gmo song by mike adams

Don’t want to eat GMOs?  Take the damn things out of your store then Mike! (click/enlarge)

References

(1) Ultimate Protector capsules on Natural News
https://www.healthrangerstore.com/products/ultimate-protector-180-vcaps?variant=16535585793

(2) Mike Adams and Natural News are Peddling GMOs
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/mike-adams-and-natural-news-are-peddling-gmos/

(3) Unnatural News: The Health Ranger Sells Formaldehyde
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/unnatural-news-the-health-ranger-sells-formaldehyde/

(4) The (very hypocritical) Mike Adams GMO Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEVw5Jl4c2g

Image Credits

Natural News, Mike Adams/Health Ranger, Health Product Distributors screen and product snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.I can’t find a source for the original snake oil salesman snapshot that I Photoshopped with Adams’ image. I’m legally using it under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, but would love to credit the source if anyone can help me find it. A Google image search returned over 3 dozen hits, none with a definitive source

Thrive’s Plethora of “Poisonous” Powders

thrive cosmetics coupon

Today we continue our series probing the hypocrisy of Thrive Market, the putative all-natural online store whose products often contain the very ingredients they claim to be toxic–but apparently only when found in competitor’s offerings.

In “The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup”, Thrive Market Lifestyle and Beauty Editor Dana Poblete calls out titanium dioxide in cosmetics for its possible carcinogenic properties.  She cautions readers to avoid makeup containing this compound, especially in pressed and loose powders, where inhalation is possible.1  Poblete cites the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) “Skin Deep” database as an authoritative reference on cosmetic ingredients and, not coincidentally, goes on to refer potential shoppers to Thrive’s own collection of makeup as an alternative (“No more nasty chemicals to mess up your makeup game!”).

Right then.  Thrive Market tells us to avoid titanium dioxide in cosmetics, especially in powders.  Got it!

Let’s go shopping at Thrive:

Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, "Deep 3"

Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3” for sale on ThriveMarket.com. (click/enlarge)

 

Above is a snapshot of Thrive’s Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3”.2  I wonder what’s inside?

deep 3 ingredients (thrivemarket.com)

“Deep 3” ingredients. Wake the kids and phone the neighbors: there’s titanium dioxide! (click/enlarge)

 

Zut alors! Did you catch it?  Let me zoom in for you:

ingredients closeup thrivemarket titanium dioxde

Yes, it’s titanium dioxide. Thrive is selling us the very compound they linked to cancer, in the same product where they warned it could be hidden!  Lulled into a false sense of security, shopping on an “all natural” web site backed by the astroturf “research group” EWG,3  frightened shoppers are duped into forking over hard earned cash for a Xerox copy of the chemicals they were told could kill them.

“But surely this is just a one-off mistake!”, I hear the all-natural crowd cry.  Au contraire mon frère:

Mineral Hygenics at thrive market contains titanium dioxide

Mineral Hygienics Foundation, on offer at Thrive Market, also contains titanium dioxide, which the web site disingenuously links to cancer in humans. (click/enlarge)

 

A second powder on offer from ThriveMarket.com (above) is Mineral Hygienics Fair Mineral Foundation.  Without further ado, let’s look at the listed ingredients:4

Fair Mineral Foundation from ThriveMarketOops!  Titanium dioxide again!  “But… but… but…” the organic apologists mutter, “the good people at Thrive are only human.  So they just slipped up twice!”  Hey, I’ve got you covered:

harmony blush on thrivemarket

Harmony Blush, sold on ThriveMarket.com, also contains titanium dioxide, which the site links to cancer–but apparently only in products they don’t sell. (click/enlarge)

 

Strike three.  Act now, my friends, and you can save 31% on this nice Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush from our good friends at ThriveMarket.com.  Just ignore the titanium dioxide(or like Bill Clinton, don’t inhale):13

mineral fusion harmony blush on thrive market (ingredients)

I could go on (I really could), but I’m sure you get the point: Thrive’s little shop of horrors is loaded with the same chemical cocktail they claim can kill you if you buy it in a competitor’s product.

To add insult to injury, before you can purchase from Thrive, you have to buy a yearly membership.6  Bend over and grease up–you’re about to get screwed.

Just to throw a little science and logic at you: there’s nothing really dangerous about any of these products.  There is no evidence that titanium dioxide causes cancer in humans.  The woomeisters who attempt to push it as a carcinogen seem to be referring to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) list of Group 2B carcinogens,8 which, for perspective, includes pickled vegetables, the profession of carpentry, and caffeic acid,10,11,12 a compound found in the Roasted Dandelion Tea sold by Thrive.9  The IARC lists these agents as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.7  That doesn’t mean that they are.

But if Thrive argues that an ingredient is linked to cancer as a way to scare us away from certain products, why is their store loaded with items that contain the same additive?  And their store is loaded.  Perhaps because of my series of articles pointing this out,  a kind reader recently wrote to ask if I had a vendetta against Thrive.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Of the one hundred articles published on this blog since its creation in 2014, only four have mentioned this hypocritical market.  They’re no worse–and no better–than any of the other snake oil pushers I’ve written about (Vani Hari, Gwyneth Paltrow, Dr. Mercola, Dr. Mark Hyman, David Avocado Wolfe, etc.)

Thrive has my attention at the moment partially because their hypocrisy is so easy to spot–just read their labels–and partially because of the underhanded way some of their vendors are propping up their own brands through disingenuous research by non-scientific groups, such as EWG, that they themselves fund.  As we’ll see in an upcoming piece, the Environmental Working Group isn’t the only firm with financial ties to markets such as Thrive.  If you have’t heard of U.S. Right to Know and the Organic Consumer’s Association, get familiar with the names.  Along with EWG, they’re being funded in part by the labels you see on the virtual shelves of your favorite online organic vendor.

Stay thirsty (for knowledge) my friends.

 

References
(1) The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding in Your Makeup (ThriveMarket.com)
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/noxious-chemicals-in-makeup

(2) Mineral Fusion Pressed Powder Foundation, “Deep 3” Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/mineral-fusion-pressed-powder-foundation-deep-3?utm_source=nextag&utm_medium=pla&CAWELAID=120220540000112219#Ingredients

(3) Environmental Working Group/ThriveMarket Deal
https://thrivemarket.com/partner/ewggift

(4) Fair Mineral Foundation Ingredients (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/fair-mineral-foundation#Ingredients

(5) Mineral Fusion Harmony Blush (Thrive.com, retrieved 05 Aug 2016)
https://thrivemarket.com/mineral-fusion-harmony-blush#Ingredients

(6) How Thrive Works
https://thrivemarket.com/how-it-works

(7) IARC Monograph on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/

(8) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–112
http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

(9) Thrive Market Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Tea
https://thrivemarket.com/traditional-medicinals-roasted-dandelion-root-tea

(10) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH.  Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009
http://www.imjournal.com/resources/web_pdfs/0409_yarnell.pdf

(11) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17062364

(12) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)
http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/689043

(13) Bill Clinton: I Didn’t Inhale
http://swampland.time.com/2013/12/03/clinton-i-never-denied-smoking-pot/

 

Image Credits
Thrive Market screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Thrive Market coupon parody by Mark Alsip/Bad Science Debunked.

The Thrive Market/Environmental Working Group Connection

thrive ewg bronner gmo

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”. Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto VI, XVII

In days past, we’ve browsed the virtual shelves of Thrive Market and found astounding examples of hypocrisy: deodorant containing aluminum sold by the very store that links this combination to cancer,1 and products containing derivatives of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), although Thrive’s raison d’être seems to be the eradication of all GMO crops from the face of the Earth.2

Mentioned, but not deeply explored in those articles, is that Thrive Market is being aggressively pushed by the pseudoscientific Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG, although they apparently do no actual scientific research, have set themselves up as an authority on food and product safety.  You’ll often see EWG’s “research” quoted by online vendors such as Thrive.

There’s a problem here: a vicious circle in which money, advertising, and pseudo-research circulate in a complex “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” cycle. It goes something like this:

  • Organic companies like Bronner’s and Organic Valley donate to EWG to fund their work.
  • EWG publishes non-original, cherry-picked “research” that makes their donors’ products look superior.
  • The donors offer their wares on ThriveMarket.com.
  • EWG launches an email campaign pushing Thrive, touting membership discounts, and citing cherry-picked “research” to guarantee product safety.
  • Thrive cites EWG as an authority when advertising ThriveMarket.com products, claiming superiority over competing brands.
  • Feeling assured by all the supposed research, the unsuspecting public purchases the donors’ products from Thrive.  After Thrive gets its cut, proceeds from the sales go back to the companies who donated to EWG… who promoted Thrive.  Dizzy yet?
  • To add insult to injury, the public doesn’t realize many of the products they’re buying contain the same ingredients they were told were harmful.1,2

To be honest, I get confused reading it too.  Here’s a pretty picture: (click to enlarge):

thrive/ewg relationship

Follow the money: Thrive Market and the Environmental Working Group. (click/enlarge)

How widespread is the problem?  It’s hard to say.  The Environmental Working Group is tight-lipped about their donors, publishing only a small subset online.3  Not all of the organic companies listed on the EWG funding page can be found selling in the Thrive Market (yet),4,5 but that’s just one store, and, as we’ll see in upcoming article, this isn’t the only way EWG props up companies who are friendly to their cause.

Thrive’s love affair with the Environmental Working Group is evident in the rampant quoting of EWG’s so-called research throughout the market’s web site,6 and, to be blunt, when watching Thrive founder Gunnar Lovelace praise EWG President Ken Cook and his company’s work, you want to tell tell the two to get a room.7  Really guys.  Please.

This tangled web will get even more complicated in upcoming days, as we look at the financial involvement of faux “consumer advocate” organizations such as U.S. Right to Know and the Organic Consumers Organization which, via the Environmental Working Group, have a tenuous link to Thrive Market.  The upshot of all this is that it’s easy to sell products when you create your own astroturf-like research research and advocacy organizations and quote them liberally.  Sadly, not enough of mainstream American media is aware this is happening.

Tomorrow though, we’ll return to the lighter side and look at a rather horrific blunder by Thrive: after warning shoppers to avoid a particular form of cosmetic ingredient and claiming their store is free and clear of it… [insert ominous sounds of thunder].

 

References
(1) Thrive Market’s “Toxic” Deodorant: I Smell A Rat (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/thrive-markets-toxic-deodorant-i-smell-a-rat/

(2) Anti-GMO Thrive Market Sells GMOs (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/anti-gmo-thrive-market-sells-gmos/

(3) Partial List of EWG Funding Sources
http://www.ewg.org/about-us/funding

(4) Dr. Bronner on Thrive Market
https://thrivemarket.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=dr+bronner

(5) Organic Valley on Thrive Market
https://thrivemarket.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=organic+valley

(6) Thrive Market, Articles Tagged “EWG”
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/tag/ewg

(7) Thrive Market: What You Can Do To Shed Light On Bizarre Ingredients In Your Food
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/watch-can-shed-light-bizarre-ingredients-food

 

Image Credits
Thrive, Dr. Bronner’s, Organic Valley, and EWG product/screen snapshots are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.