How much corporate journalism health informations published each day is as evidence-based as the graphic on my coffee cup below?

Nearly all of it. And like 100 years ago, it was designed to advance an agenda, not inform public health, but journalists promoted it because they were part of the tribe saying it. In this case, there was an effort to push back the ‘coffee invasion’ in Britain. Coffee houses were all the rage on the continent and Big Tea was scared.

Nothing drove that home like saying British men would become French.

The epidemiology was on their side then just as it is now.  Is French sperm motility down? Yes. While coffee consumption is up. That’s correlation, write the paper. Organic food is also up. Correlation. DDT use is down. Correlation. Find me a food claim of the last 40 years and I can find a crippling flaw in the methodology that made it. Gluten-free fads, low-fat diets, resveratrol, healthy chocolate, you name it and it had bad epidemiology at the core. No science.

In the hands of an activist epidemiologist, it can be claimed tea makes men more fertile. So does DDT. While organic food hurts the reproductive system since organic food’s rise in the last 25 years correlates to lower sperm counts. 

Think it’s a ridiculous exaggeration?  It is happening now. In 2023 we saw IARC use the same weird tactic to claim sugar-free gum causes cancer while our own EPA recruited epidemiologists who used shoddy methods to claim a weedkiller named atrazine was “correlated” to harm for aquatic wildlife if it could be detected at all. Epidemiologists pretending to be scientists were recruited to insist the level of detection needed to be the maximum allowed – so the Biden administration could go to the courts to ask the court to vacate a previous court order that EPA had requested so they could say ‘the court made us do it.’ 

The reason isn’t science, it may be politics. The corporation behind the weedkiller got bought by a Chinese company.

Both of those 2023 claims were promoted by corporate journalists who use ‘we are just reporting the science’ rationalization – no differently than journalists in the tribe do each year for trial lawyers like Environmental Working Group and their “dirty dozen” list of foods containing pesticides. Except missing are organic pesticides. And that is on purpose.(1)

Coffee turning men French was not science any more than food epidemiology is today, so this year make a New Year’s Resolution that’s easy to keep: Be more skeptical when reading epidemiology claims, especially by corporations who are get paid to write for whom advertisers sell to, and subscribers who want to read theirs bias. 

If you want to support scientists writing about science instead, you can make a donation here.

If you send us $50 it is tax-free, and it is enough that the IRS says I can send you this coffee cup for free. And I will.

NOTE:

(1) “Organic” is only a marketing designation inside USDA, it has no ‘standard’ that industry lobbyists and marketing heads don’t choose for themselves. Even the dozens and dozens of exemptions allowed while still using a “USDA Certified Organic” label. So organic farmers choose not to disclose their pesticide use unless forced to do so. California is the only state that forces all farmers to disclose pesticide applications regardless of market segment, so we know that it takes up to 600 percent more chemicals per calorie to produce organic food.

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