We have evolved in order to survive reality, not to understand it. And it is a good thing that understanding and survival are not tightly linked as many people are apparently totally disconnected from the reality I inhabit, the one described by the natural sciences. When I started writing and podcasting about the SCAMverse I was under the impression that people who used SCAMs were simply misinformed. If people were made aware of the facts of the matter, they would see the error of their ways and put away their SCAMs as the childish thoughts they are.

Silly me. Reality, as I understand it, is often if little interest to proponents of SCAM. This was brought home by the Food Babe with an essay Should I get the Flu Shot? Spoiler alert. Her answer is “No, I’m not taking the Flu Shot. Ever.”

It is how she reaches that conclusion that is amazing. There are nouns and adjectives and adverbs and verbs and article and prepositions. They are strung together to form sentences and paragraphs, but somehow, though an almost magical alchemy, all that writing transmutes into content that is completely divorced from reality as I understand it. It is a tour de farce that reaches the definition of the Pauli Principle, where “It is not only not right, it is not even wrong.”

Who is the Food Babe? A blogger and media personality who has been all over the print and electronic media. I am increasingly aware of how out of touch I am, for I was unaware of the Food Babe. I will confess to feeling a little sympathetic for Jenny McCarthy. Many articles about her wackaloon approach to autism and vaccines make mention of her appearing Playboy, as if being naked or attractive makes her message less valid. Her being wrong about vaccines has nothing to do with either her attractiveness or intelligence. The few times I have seen her interviewed on TV she was funny and articulate, although she was not discussing vaccines. I have yet to see a correlation between being attractive and being intelligent. Or being intelligent and being gullible. They are three independent variables. So whether or not Food Babe is, in fact, a babe, I will leave to others as it is not germane to the content of her post, which is butt ugly.

Food Babe is a blogger who focuses on food and says she is:

most knowledgeable about harmful ingredients in processed foods and how to avoid them. For this reason, I have made it my mission to spread as much information as I can about what is in food, how to make the right purchasing decisions at the grocery store and how to live an organic lifestyle in this over-processed world.

She is evidently self-taught, having her undergraduate degree in computer science, and her essay on the influenza vaccine suggests her institution of higher learning forgot the science part in her degree.

I freely admit I do not care that much about nutrition. I do not use food as medicine and as such food is mostly overrated. While I try to eat reasonably and nutritiously, during the day food is mostly fuel for the neurons. At home and on weekends I see food as one of the great pleasures of life. Pooh sums it up for me:

’When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,’ said Piglet at last, ‘what’s the first thing you say to yourself?’
‘What’s for breakfast?’ said Pooh. ‘What do you say, Piglet?’
‘I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?’ said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. ‘It’s the same thing,’ he said.

As such I am not that interested in her blog entries on food, but I did notice that Food Babe has a curious approach to reality. Reading her website finds this thorazine-deficient paragraph as an argument to not use your microwave:

Last by not least, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who is famous for taking pictures of various types of waters and the crystals that they formed in the book called “Hidden Messages in Water,” found water that was microwaved did not form beautiful crystals – but instead formed crystals similar to those formed when exposed to negative thoughts or beliefs. If this is happening to just water – I can only imagine what a microwave is doing to the nutrients, energy of our food and to our bodies when we consume microwaved food. For the experiment pictured above, microwaved water produced a similar physical structure to when the words “satan” and “hitler” were repeatedly exposed to the water. This fact is probably too hokey for most people – but I wanted to include it because sometimes the things we can’t see with the naked eye or even fully comprehend could be the most powerful way to unlock spontaneous healing.

So that’s why my microwave-warmed coffee tastes off: the hitler and satan crystals. The problem is when I rewarm the coffee on the stovetop it makes boehner and bachmann crystals, which leave an exceptionally bad taste in the mouth and I do not like room temperature coffee.

And she dares, dares mind you, to cast aspersions on beer. Beer! Next up will be apple pie and mom. Evidently her article was not up to the standards reality and veracity that brewers would prefer:

Trawling through the bad grammar and typos (Not an issue for me, glass houses and all that -MC) was painful enough, but putting that aside, and dealing with the innuendo, misrepresentation, and blatant falsehoods made it doubly so.

Food Babe applies the same techniques to her analysis of the influenza vaccine and I suspect that there is not a single sentence relating to influenza and the vaccine that does not meet the above description. For the pedant in the audience, we will take it as given there is an inhaled influenza vaccine and refer to it no more. All that follows will concern the injectable vaccine.

She starts:

I want you to think about what you are directly injecting into your bloodstream.

I occasionally tell the house staff that precision of thought is reflected in precision of speech and precision of writing. God knows I have learned the hard way writing for this and other blogs what happens when I am not precise. I write for a tough crowd.

But really, that is just such cheesy innuendo. The vaccine is an intramuscular injection. The vaccine has to be absorbed into the bloodstream from the muscle. By the same argument, everything you eat is injected directly into the bloodstream. Sigh. This blog is not looking good for veracity.

She continues, jumping strait into the toxin gambit:

What’s exactly in the Flu Shot? To sum it up – A bunch of toxic chemicals and additives that lead to several types of Cancers and Alzheimer [sic] disease over time

See what I mean. All the components of a sentence but with zero true content, like a diet Coke. As we will see, Food Babe is, somewhat ironically, the aspartame of medical understanding. More the fool me, I thought the flu shot was predominantly proteins derived from the influenza virus grown in eggs or from recombinant technology selected for their ability to elicit protective antibody. And vaccines and their components cause neither cancer nor Alzheimer’s.

She then lists the components that ‘could’ be ‘lurking’ in the vaccine and mentions all the usual suspects save the most potentially fatal one:

Egg Products (including avian contaminant viruses), Aluminum, Thimersol [sic] (Mercury), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Chick Embryo Cells, Latex, Formaldehyde, Gelatin, Polysorbate 80, Triton X100 (strong detergent), Sucrose (table sugar), Resin, Gentamycin [sic].
I won’t eat any of these ingredients or even put them on my body.

There goes peas, carrots and beets, good sources of sucrose and probably no pana cotta for the Food Babe, which means more for me and Pooh.

As the 2000 year old saying goes, it’s the dose that makes the poison. As an example, blood levels of formaldehyde, a product of normal metabolism, are 2.74 mg/L , about 15 mg total in a normal adult. A vaccine has about 1/50 the formaldehyde of a pear and given the concentration in the vaccine, the gradient would probably pull formaldehyde out of the body and into the injection site.

Only the multidose vials contain thimerisol and no flu vaccine, that’s no as in none, zero, zip, nil, nada, contains aluminum. So crediting those molecules as the reason vaccines increase the risk for Alzheimer’s (they don’t) is disingenuous at best. One would think a computer scientist could manage the Googles to find out the ingredients in the flu vaccine. It took me less than a minute.

However, Food Babe did say ‘could’ and could is not ‘is’, so if there were a freak transporter accident involving a shipment of influenza vaccine and soft drink cans, aluminum could be found in the influenza vaccine. The odds of that occurring are about the same as Food Babe doing proper research.

I am surprised she did not include dihydrogen oxide, found in every vaccine, which kills 4,000 people a year in the US. That is about the level of the Food Babes arguments. It is evident she does not put resin in her body, although I thought it was spelled r-e-a-s-o-n.

Then she says, after reading “a couple of studies” that the flu vaccine does not work. I have discussed at length (see links below) the issues around influenza vaccine efficacy. It you were to read the most of the 2087 studies on flu vaccination efficacy instead of a couple you might conclude, as I have, that the vaccine prevents influenza, its complications (secondary infections, stroke, heart attack, spontaneous abortion) and decreases the chance of spread to vulnerable populations.

No, the CDC even admits it doesn’t protect you because the virus mutates every year.

CDC says that? It does really? Here is what I find the CDC says:

How effective is the flu vaccine?
How well the flu vaccine works (or its ability to prevent flu illness) can range widely from season to season. The vaccine’s effectiveness also can vary depending on who is being vaccinated. At least two factors play an important role in determining the likelihood that flu vaccine will protect a person from flu illness: 1) characteristics of the person being vaccinated (such as their age and health), and 2) the similarity or “match” between the flu viruses the flu vaccine is designed to protect against and the flu viruses spreading in the community. During years when the flu vaccine is not well matched to circulating viruses, it’s possible that no benefit from flu vaccination may be observed. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, it’s possible to measure substantial benefits from vaccination in terms of preventing flu illness. However, even during years when the vaccine match is very good, the benefits of vaccination will vary across the population, depending on characteristics of the person being vaccinated and even, potentially, which vaccine was used.
Each season researchers try to determine how well flu vaccines work to regularly assess and confirm the value of flu vaccination as a public health intervention. Study results about how well a flu vaccine works can vary based on study design, outcome(s) measured, population studied and the season in which the flu vaccine was studied. These differences can make it difficult to compare one study’s results with another’s.
While determining how well a flu vaccine works is challenging, in general, recent studies have supported the conclusion that flu vaccine.

I admire the way Food Babe can take a complex and nuanced topic and distill it down to an aliquot of pure error. It is a talent rarely seen outside of the Tea Party.

And she has a poor concept of vaccination and immunity and is under the false impression that vaccines are both lifelong and perfect:

Why do I have to get a Flu Shot every year? Aren’t vaccines suppose [sic] to immunize you for life? (Err, no – MC)…And this brings me back to my previous point – if the flu vaccine were truly a vaccine – it wouldn’t wear off. Think about it – Once you get chicken pox as a child, your body develops antibodies to strengthen your immune system from ever getting chicken pox again (Um, reinfections can occur and there is shingles – MC) This is how vaccines are suppose [sic] to work. But the flu shot doesn’t work this way.

Another perfect misunderstanding of reality with every assertion incorrect. Of course doctors do not suggest the flu vaccine because it prevents morbidity and mortality, but because big Pharma makes money from the flu.

Why are Flu Shots recommended for children, women who are pregnant and the elderly?

I thought it was because they are at increased risk of death from influenza.

Because that group of individuals typically have weaker immune systems and if they catch the flu and don’t treat it in time it can lead to other complications like pneumonia.
However, why would you give a group with already weakened immune systems something that weakens their immune system systemically further?

Because the flu vaccine doesn’t weaken “immune system systemically further?” It makes it more effective against the influenza virus by generating antibody against influenza antigen. It is, dare I say it, a real vaccine.
First she says that the vaccine doesn’t work because the virus mutates, then because it isn’t a real vaccine, but the real reason?

This is why the vaccine isn’t effective in the first place, because administering a drug that weakens the immune systems makes people even more susceptible to the flu!

Medicine by the Ministry of Truth:

The Ministry of Truth is involved with news media, entertainment, the fine arts and educational books. Its purpose is to rewrite reality to change the facts to fit doctrine for propaganda effect.

I hate to say Orwellian, but if the shoe fits. Finally she concludes the best way to get immune is to go out and get influenza:

You can build lifetime antibodies against the infection. Just Skip the vaccine, boost your vitamin D intake, and encounter the flu naturally. If you encounter the flu – rest, take care of yourself, understand that your body needs a break and focus on getting better – This type of immunizing yourself works amazingly better than relying on an artificial injection that has been proven ineffective. You’ll have these new antibodies for life that will ultimately protect you from similar strains of the virus better than any yearly shot could ever provide.

And perhaps die. Or get a secondary bacterial infection. Or a stroke. Or lose your pregnancy. Or pass it on to someone less able to handle the illness who will then die.

It is hard to find an example of a piece of writing where virtually every piece of information is wrong. And when there is a nugget of truth my first response is to question my knowledge. If Food Babe says it, it must be wrong.

An almost reality-free discussion of the influenza vaccine is, in a hideous kind of way, a thing of beauty. That people may make decisions based on this fictional account of the flu vaccine flabbers my gaster, any disclaimer notwithstanding. It is a good thing for Food Babe that understanding reality is not a part of being fit to survive, but I sure hope she is never exposed to influenza, especially if pregnant.

By the way, I have decided that henceforth I shall be referred to as the SCAM Stud. Sure, I am old, balding and slightly above my fighting weight, but I do not mean stud using the Urban Dictionary definition. No way will I ever meet that definition. No one can ever drink that much beer. I’m thinking more metaphorically, the 2×4 definition, the central support of a structure. Or maybe a boss… with a large head. I’ll let you decide on the preferred usage.

Finally, this was a hard entry to write. Thanks a lot, The Onion.

Further reading

My co-bloggers and I have written at length about vaccines in general, influenza and the influenza vaccine. For a further plug, there is an ebook, Science-Based Medicine: Guide to Vaccines, Vaccine Preventable Illnesses and Autism, that is a collection of the essays from the first 2.5 years of the blog, available on Kindle, iPad and Nook.

Here are links to some of my extensively-referenced essays on influenza and vaccines:

What are words for?

Toxic myths about vaccines

I refute it thus

Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Flu

One Flu Into the Cuckoo’s Nest*

Protect Yourself

Drinking from the Fire Hose: Odds and Ends on the Gasping Oppression

Random Flu Thoughts

Ososillyococcinum and other Flu bits.

Influenza Vaccine Mandates

Nine Questions, Nine Answers.

The Tamiflu Spin

Yes, But. The Annotated Atlantic.

Flu Vaccine Efficacy

More Flu Woo for You Boo Boo.

Herd Immunity

Flu Woo Hodge Podge



  • Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at

Posted by Mark Crislip

Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, from 1990 to 2023. He has been voted a US News and World Report best US doctor, best ID doctor in Portland Magazine multiple times, has multiple teaching awards and, most importantly,  the ‘Attending Most Likely To Tell It Like It Is’ by the medical residents at his hospital. His multi-media empire can be found at