Best way to deal with nonsense scare claims about foodstuffs

You know - the stuff like ‘margarine is one molecule away from PLASTIC!’ - The internet is full of people blurting out scary claims about a wide variety of foods - be it meat, soy, salt, MSG, HFCS, sugar, artificial sweeteners, margarine, butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, palm oil, wheat, gluten, rice, whatever.

I make videos about food sometimes. It is literally impossible for me to discuss any kind of food online without someone saying one of the ingredients is satan. Now that’s not to say that none of the things people say about foods are ever true - some of them could be, but certainly most of them are wild and stupid exaggerations. If all of them are true, then nothing is safe to eat.

So is it time to just ignore such things? Is this a category of ignorance where fighting back is simply pointless? Has this battle been lost?

The battle has been lost. The hardest part of my job is dealing with freaked out people. I want to give them logical advice, such as “do this” but I have to assuage their fears or acknowledge their anger first. Unfortunately it’s harder to do this with food, one of the most basic needs. I suspect cavemen and cavewomen constantly feared eating poisonous mushrooms or dying after eating spoiled food.

If someone thinks that margarine is plastic or that beef kills one in five people by giving them cancer, I wouldn’t bother trying to educated them. They’re not your intended audience and they’re impervious to education anyway.

Hell no. It’s only lost if you give in to them.

If possible, time constraints and easy availability of resource permitting, such claims ought to be replied to with a link to a good debunking. That will allow people who are genuinely interested in information to educate themselves, and doesn’t waste your time trying to argue with true believers.

Of course there might be too many such comments to bother with, (one could possibly recruit other commenters to do the work), or the idea could be uniquely stupid and require a bespoke explanation of why thinking Uranus is relevant to your colon health is at best a bad typo, but just making additional real information available is the ideal.

There’s that, and the impression that may be generated by having lots of arguments in a very public and largely unmoderated forum - it gets messy

That’s why I suggest a “post one link and leave it” policy. Of course without heavy moderation you can’t stop others from having lots of arguments with the clueless, but we always have the option of policing ourselves.

Yeah, that’s sensible, thank you

The brief convincing debunk-and-out is a reasonable policy.

Not to sound like a broken record, but the way to deal with magical, non-critical thinking is to prevent it from becoming the default modus operandi, through education at an early age.

You can’t fix dogged, hysterically stupid.