The Job I Always Wanted

I’m in the position of having the job I always wanted. 

And what am I doing? Working really damn hard to not fuck it up.

I went to school to study chemistry and theatre joking that I would be Yvette the Science Dudette. 

(So… close enough?)

It was a joke of course. It’s not like I was ever going to start a website. If I started it, maybe a few hundred of my friends would follow it, right? I’m just a loudmouth without a microphone, who was going to listen? I was just… me.

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I look reputable here, right? 

Give a loudmouth a microphone. The sound resonates.

Within the course of six months I went from being Yvette, the analytical chemist whose name nobody knew, to… well, here we are. I’ve had a few articles and videos go viral, assisted a large company or two make more science conscious decisions, and I even had a puppy named after me because I’m a “famous scientist.” 

Me. Famous. Well, fame-ish. Or at least I have a microphone.

Life as Science Babe isn’t always charmed, but it isn’t bad. In the process of going from a laboratory chemist to somewhat of a public figure practically overnight I’ve lost privacy, but I’ve been given so much in return (not the life for everyone, but it’s worth it for me). I’ve spoken with scientists who I deeply admire, and I get emails regularly from people saying that the information I’ve presented has convinced them that GMOs and vaccines are safe. Those emails make me cry every damn time. 

It’s different than fame; it’s trust. And it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

I check my sources carefully, my articles take a good deal of  time to write, and you’d be hard pressed to find subjects posted on my page with an absence of widespread scientific consensus. This is a bigger microphone than I expected. Time is rolling on and it’s only getting bigger.  With that knowledge, the standards for what get posted to the site are staying as strict as they always were: reputable peer review to back up my claims every single time. It’s what people deserve.

And what do I want?

A bigger goddamned microphone.

Two reasons. One, courtesy of Carl Sagan:

CarlSagan

I can’t not do this. I love this.

The other reason? When it comes to a platform to speak about science, not all people take this responsibility with the weight it deserves. And one person with a huge microphone flailing aimlessly with whatever shit comes to mind seems to wipe out all the words that science carefully researches.

Part of what enables me to do work is that I’ve been trained to recognize reputable proof. Although I do a good deal of debunkings with an f-bomb or twenty, they’re a means to an end. Teaching people to recognize the hallmarks of good science has become the main focus of the site. If you can recognize real science, you can both appreciate how wonderful it is… and you can recognize and avoid bad science.

And if you have a platform that enables you to communicate science to the public, you have an enormous responsibility.

If only everyone had the same perspective. There’s a reason a job like mine is necessary. It’s because of this:

James Inhofe brought a snowball to the senate floor to prove that global warming is bullshit. 

The doctors of the allegedly reputable show The Doctors featuring anti-vax Dr. Jay Gordon in the name of “balance.”

Michele Bachmann claims, based on an anecdotal piece of data, that a vaccine can cause “mental retardation.”

Michele Fiore, representative from Nevada thinks cancer is a fungus.

David Suzuki, geneticist, promotes the view that GMOs are untested and unsafe

Clayton Fiscus introduces a bill to allow “all theories” as to the origins of life to be discussed in the classrooms.

A lot of politicians saying things like “I’m not a scientist, but…” before saying things that way, way disagree with science. 

Mayim Bialik using her credibility as a scientist to promote homeopathy and anti-vaccine rhetoric. 

Bill Maher, in almost every episode of his cable show, espousing views which are anti-GMOs, anti-vaccines, anti-modern medicine and generally anti-science.

Even Bill Nye the Science Guy- whose job it is to promote science- held anti-GMO views for a long time, but we’ll get back to that in a minute. 

That’s quite the list, and that’s just what google will give to me before the second cup of coffee. 

*gets second cup of coffee.*

*pauses to enjoy cup… give me a minute, this is good coffee.*

*decides the list is long and depressing enough and you’ve gotten the picture.*

Before anyone points fingers, look at the list as a whole. I picked these people because they can seem reputable to someone without a scientific background. They’re from all points of the political spectrum, some of them are scientists, some of them are politicians, some of them are actors who studied science. What do they have in common?

A big fucking microphone.

It’s causing real harm. 

Public officials and people who appear to have reputability in science espousing views that are in direct opposition to scientific consensus provide the illusion of debate within the scientific community. Debate is best left for the political arena. In science, all that matters is what you can and can’t prove. 

We can show proof that vitamin K shots for infants prevent complications with bleeding disorders Presenting this as debate is causing real harm

We can show proof that cancer is caused by a variety of things; geneticsenvironmental factors, occasionally viruses. It’s not caused by a fungus, congresswoman. 

We can show proof, over and over again with a preponderance of evidence, that climate change is real. Don’t conflate weather with climate when you want a visual of a snowball introduce views that don’t permeate a world view that’s cohesive with science.

We can goddamn prove that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism. I’m still seething with anger that presenting this as a debate allowed disease to start at my hometown and travel across the globe

We’ve shown proof, over and over again, that GMOs are safe. To ask questions about it is to be a skeptic, but to make claims that are anti-science embolden people to do things like burn fields of golden rice that was designed to save people from vitamin A deficiency. 

Do you see the trend? Communicating false scientific claims is causing tangible harm. As science communicators, we don’t take oaths to do no harm. However, the havoc that can be wreaked by just one study being communicated inappropriately to the public is so far reaching. We can do better. 

We need to do better.

If you’re fortunate enough to have this job with a big microphone, do what I respect Bill Nye so much for doing. Remember that we don’t have stances on science, we accept evidence. So be willing to change your stance on a subject like GMOs when your position is challenged by evidence. Learn to look for reputability. Question your positions. Above all else, remember your audience holds you up as an authority and you owe it to them to deliver more than an opinion. They deserve science.

It’s the job you always wanted. So do your fucking job.

*drops mic*

 

-Science Babe

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About SciBabe 79 Articles
Yvette d'Entremont, aka SciBabe, is a chemist and writer living in Los Angeles with her husband and their four pets. She bakes a mean gluten free chocolate chip cookie and likes glitter more than is considered healthy for a woman past the age of seven.

24 Comments

  1. i was in the anti-gmo court until I was enlightened by my son, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and you. Thanks for being one of the rational in a sea of ridiculous.

  2. You. Nailed this. Causing real harm, indeed. There are no easy answers to challenge people’s world views. I accept that people hold different views than mine. But science and evidence are not ‘views’. They…are. They simply are. When I read about helpless autistic children being forced by their own parents, people who are supposed to love and protect them, to take bleach enemas, I feel sick inside. This needs to be stopped. This is anti-science, anti-HUMANITY. It’s tough to remain calm in the face of something this horrific, but if there’s any chance in hell of changing these parent’s minds, if even ONE parent stops today because of a loud microphone, I, too, will cry.

  3. There might be an article worth developing on woo in the library world. Librarians are supposed to be experts at evaluating and classifying information, but the culture is so full of woo that it’s astonishing. Yes they are supposed to provide access to all sources, good and bad, and there are reasons why astrology books are on the shelf. But they believe in and promote (through informal talk) cleanses, chiropractic, the cult of the gluten-andfree million other kinds of nutritional quackery,

  4. Yvette, I have a major lady crush on you. It’s like you’re speaking directly to my psuedoscience hating heart. I recently changed my major from Elementary Education to 5-9 Science Education because the anti-science folks have lit a fire in me. If I can help even one kid learn how to think critically and learn to see through the twisted anti-science rhetoric, I will retire happy someday.

  5. My eldest son is autistic and I just want to thank you for doing what you do! We are very much in need of voices that shout real science in the midst of all of the misinformation and alternative medicine “treatments” out there on the web. You are making a difference in the world for my son and so many other kids and adults like him. Thank you!

  6. Unfortunately there has been a great deal of bad science that has decreased our level of trust. Those with morals and ethics would not conceal facts. However, this does happen. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. How else do I decide what is right for MY life? I am pro science, but I don’t follow ANYTHING blindly.

  7. Yvette, you are awesome (and not just because you share the same name as my maternal grandmother)

    Keep doing what you do and I’ll keep reading and sharing what you post.

    Best.Site.Ever

    #shillarmy

  8. i LOVE SCIENCE! But in the case of GMOS, the problem is the unethical companies developing them. Their shady business tactics are deplorable. Also GMOS are a fairly new science (20 years), things change. Studies are disproven after more thorough lengthy research is conducted. If we were still fighting cancer the way we were 50 years ago that would be a travesty. One must be flexible in his thinking.

    • GMOs have been around much longer than 20 years. Also, Monsanto isn’t perfect, but it isn’t the monster that it’s been made out to be. The rumors of farmer lawsuits are drastically overblown. Please re-consider your stance on it by looking at more research. The preponderance of data supports that GMOs are safe. There isn’t a single reputable study showing anything wrong with them.

      If there were even a few studies or some debate, I’d look into it. But there’s overwhelming scientific consensus that they’re fine.

  9. I was done with Facebook – but since I’ve always been a geek girl, and a “tomboy” who was proud of what that term meant in my childhood, I chose to explore FB before I wrote it off. You were a newbie then and I was delighted with you but devastated to suddenly see the anti-vax, the Food Babe, and the “natural moms” putting children through agony.

    But I’ve also been a Woo Watcher for a few decades so I sucked in my grammy sensibilities and just watched what was posted online.

    I am thrilled at how you’ve evolved, and the team you’ve chosen with Credible Hulk, Go-Kaleo, and so many more. It’s important that those who get science, medicine, nutrition, and So Much More, have a place where they can share their Face-Palm moments.

    What you are doing is great. I’ve liked watching you expand and applaud your pink wig.

  10. Well done. I also hold a bachelor’s in chemistry and theatre and a master’s in chemistry. Exciting to find someone with the same background!

  11. Where’d you go to school? When did you start? When did you graduate? Seems weird you’re hiding your credentials while touting them constantly.

  12. Yay, Scibabe! Someday you’ll have your very own TV show, just like Dr. Oz! He Hee… Oh, not funny? Well, blame it on my Massachusetts upbringing. (Abington). Seriously. I love reading your stuff.

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