Chemistry Professor Michelle Francl Takes on Pseudo Science

Posted April 28th, 2015 at 11:19 am.

UPDATE: Francl is interviewed by Al Jazeera America for a May 5, 2015 segment on this topic.

Chemistry Professor Michelle Francl recently appeared on the NPR program “On the Media” to once again debunk some of the claims made by Vani Hari, the activist and author known as “The Food Babe.”

During the interview, Francl talks about the role “processing fluency” plays in some people’s view that “natural” is always good and “chemical” always bad.

“We trust material that is familiar and words that we can pronounce. Lots of chemical terms come from the Greek so they have a lot of harsh sounding vowels and consonant mixes in them. Oxidane, methotrexate, they sound scary. But something like four-marvels powder sounds very safe.”

Francl has previously written about Hari for Slate. In 2013, she first wrote about chemophobia for Slate in  the article “Don’t Take Medical Advice from the New York Times Magazine.”

Read more from Francl on her blog The Culture of Chemistry.

To find out about Bryn Mawr’s Chemistry Department, visit their website.

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