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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sci Babe's BSpocalypse

Today we take yet another look at one of my favorite ultracrepidarians, SciBabe aka Yvette d'Entremont.  After noticing a pattern in her Facebook shares - I felt like some documentation was in order.

SciBabe makes a lot of posts about bees. In particular, honeybees. You may have heard about a phenomenon termed colony collapse disorder or CCD?

Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.

Managed honeybees in the US have had their share of difficulties. In 2006 some beekeepers began reporting losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. Some losses are expected but these numbers are extremely high. Losses continue to remain at a high rate, forcing beekeepers to split colonies and purchase new queens to compensate. This is why the number of honeybee colonies does not reflect the actual number of losses, nor can it account for the health of those bees. Pathogens, parasites, management stressors, and environmental stressors all play a role in this issue to one degree or another but the cause of CCD remains unknown.

Pesticides, specifically a class known as neonicotinoids (neonics), are another factor shown to cause harm to both honeybees and to wild pollinators - whose numbers have also been declining. Pesticides are poisons, so we can hardly expect them to be good for bees. Insecticides like neonics, are designed to kill insects, which bees happen to be. Whether or not pesticides are the sole driving factor in bee declines is irrelevant to whether or not they are actually harmful. Enough evidence exists to suggest that pesticides are indeed toxic to bees at both an acute level and a sub-lethal level. Pollinators being as important as they are to the ecosystem and to our survival, it really isn't unreasonable to be concerned about the current situation.

So, leave it to SciBabe to give us her own very special take on the pollinator issue.



 



A couple things going on here. First, it sure seems like SciBabe is intent upon absolving neonics of ANY implication at all in harm to pollinators, and second, she is using the number of managed honeybee colonies in the US as an indicator of losses.

Her overwhelming message seems to be 'bees are fine, neonics are not an issue.' By using the strawman argument of 'a Beepocalypse' she attempts to knock down any genuine concerns over pollinator health and numbers. Not everyone is guilty of using hyperbole, and even if they were, it does not change the fact that genuine concern and investigation is warranted. Her assertions that 'bee populations are growing' 'losses didn't continue' 'bee populations bounced back' and 'bee populations are rising' are flat out false - and she never even mentions wild bee populations.

This however, has not gone unnoticed by followers of her page.




And when Yvette is questioned about her extremely questionable sources, she doubles down.



Sometimes, sarcasm really says it best.


One can only speculate on the reasons for SciBabe's bias on this subject. Perhaps her past employment at Amvac Chemical Corporation is a factor, or perhaps her freelance speaking engagements at agricultural events influence what she promotes as 'facts'? We really don't know. What's evident here is that once again Yvette proves herself to be a biased and unreliable source for information.

In all fairness, she's not the only one promoting this misleading info on bees. In addition to Jon Entine of GLP and Julie Gunlock of IWF, fellow 'science communicator' and Social Skeptic Kavin Senapathy has thrown her hat in the ring on pollinators as well.

Notice any similarities? In this piece, Kavin is outraged about seed company advertising and marketing ploys (no irony there), calls pollinator losses 'perceived', uses Science 2.0/ACSH as a reference, bemoans hyperbole, and then uses it herself. But then, what do you expect from a woman who either can't grasp a relatively straight forward concept like the precautionary principle - or purposefully misrepresents it. From a Forbes article called "How Marketers Use Fear Of Chemicals For Profit: 3 Easy Steps":


The real precautionary principle is a bit different.

"When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action." - Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, Jan. 1998


Now I'm not claiming to have all the answers regarding bees, CCD and wild pollinator declines, but it seems rather evident that there is cause for concern regarding this issue. There is also plenty of cause for concern over the info SciBabe and her ilk are presenting to the public. Whose interests do they serve?



Not yours, not mine, and definitely not those of bees.

2 comments:

  1. SciBabe is a propaganda tool of the agrochemical industry. She was "created" from a pesticide industry employee to "take down" Vani Hari who branded herself as "Food Babe" because Vani was challenging the agrochemical industry.

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  2. There was always something a bit off with SciBabe to me. Taking down the Food Babe is fine but it seems like that automatically makes you an apologist for Monsanto for everything they do.

    Now I am I able to put my finger on it. She's not really pro-science as much as she is pro-giant corporation. She'll attack people that are anti-GMO but rarely anyone that is anti-global warming.

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