Artificial Foods: Just the Facts, Ma'am

Aspartame contains wood alcohol, and a by-product causes multiple sclerosis and lupus.

The preservative in vaccines contains mercury, which has been shown to cause autism.

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys.

Within the last few months, I've read blogs containing these (or similar) statements, especially when the articles are shared on social media by my friends.

What do the statements have in common? They are all false.

My Thoughts    

As a scientist, I'm probably a little defensive when people give chemicals a bad name, so I have to be careful myself that I come to the discussion with an open mind.

And I am not saying that diet sodas, margarine, and artificial preservatives are not bad. The truth is, excessive amounts of those foods probably should be avoided.

On the other hand, people who say that natural is always better don't really believe that. After all, poison oak, tobacco, and arsenic are all natural products, but you won't catch me intentionally ingesting large amounts of them.

And as a blogger, these articles catch my attention, often because they are just recycled content from old emails, blogs, and forums. (A quick check on Snopes can be helpful.) At best, re-posting this material is deceptive, often because the "author" has something to gain. At worst, it's plagiarism.

Do the Ends Justify the Means?

We all have biases. We all know certain facts. But no matter how much we believe (or even know) something to be true, that doesn't give us a right to us falsehoods to back up that claim.

What bothers me most is when the people who share such articles are Christians. After all, they surely wouldn't think to use these tactics when evangelizing.

For example, we Christians would all agree that helping others believe in Jesus is our number when focus when it comes to others. However, does that mean we should . . .
  • tell someone that if they believe in Jesus, then nothing bad will ever happen to them again; or
  • make up a story about how they had a problem, and then Jesus appeared in a vision and solved their problem?
 Would the end (of evangelism) justify the means (of deception)? No way!

Just The Facts

I'm all for people eating healthier. And I'm all for a discussion with you about what constitutes "healthy" and "unhealthy." But when we discuss that, let's please talk from a basis of facts and science, not fear-inducing rhetoric.

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**image courtesy of jensoi via morgueFile


  1. I feel this way about a LOT of things that people re-post without verifying first. I consider it a form of gossip.

    1. I'll be honest. I've gotten caught up in emotion-inducing stories, too.