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Picking out ice cream, sensationalized science, & misinformation: Episode 74

Food Bullying Podcast

Release Date: 12/21/2020

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Has an increase of leisure time during the pandemic made us more distrustful of science? Can we pick and choose what science we believe like we do flavors of ice cream? Michele and Eliz are joined by two scientists, Dr. Meghan Wulster- Radcliffe and Dr. Stuart Smyth to discuss science, misinformation and odd flavored ice cream.

Dr. Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe is the CEO of the American Society of Animal Science for the last 15 years, before working at ASAS, she worked in industry, government and academics. Her degrees are in Animal Science and, specifically, physiology. Over the course of her time at ASAS, she has been involved in every aspect of scientific publication for three journals, including starting two of the journals.

Dr. Stuart Smyth is an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan, where he holds the Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement Chair. His research focuses on sustainability, agriculture, innovation and food. Dr. Smyth publishes a weekly blog on these topics.

Key points:

Why is science not like ice cream?

  • the ice cream store has lots of options.  You can choose your favorite flavor
  • science is fact-based
  • science increases knowledge over time
  • the process of science doesn’t deviate
  • Animal Science is dedicated to providing nutritious, sustainable food for the world
  • Animal Scientists use the best science to support animal welfare

How is misinformation and disinformation about agricultural science spread?

  • sensational titles get attention - marketing people use this to their advantage
  • part of the credibility of science is NOT to be sensational — Ag science is very conservative and always has to provide primary sources
  • Misinformation and disinformation pulls attention from science messages
  • It is hard to debate when one side uses emotion and the other uses data
  • scientists talk about statistics - which aren’t engaging for most people
  • journalism has changed to be more emotion driven

Why should people believe in science?

  • science is doing great things: human life span has increased because of better food and medicine
  • we have to question why we stopped trusting science.  It has changed over the last 20 years.  We have more leisure time and more time to think philosophically
  • consumers drive how we accept science
  • universities need to train scientists to be great communicators

Dr. Meghan’s three tips to overcome food bullying:

  • Look for moderation in the statement: Never all wrong or all right
  • Examine the sources for marketing terms
  • Hunt down the original sources

Dr. Stuart’s 3 tips to vet information:

  1. Ask what information is being provided
  2. Who is providing it?
  3. What are they promoting? (If it is a product, be skeptical)

Links:

Dr. Meghan:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Dr. Stuart:

Website

Facebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

Food Bullying: How to Avoid Buying BS by Michele Payn

Embrace your Heart with Eliz Greene

Food Bullying Podcast’s Facebook Page