Saturday, May 30, 2015

#1379: Mayim Bialik

Perhaps better known as the character Amy Farrah Fowler on the – frankly rank anti-science – TV show The Big Bang Theory, Bialik is quickly rising to become one of the leading voices of pseudoscience and denialism in real life. Bialik does, indeed, have a degree in neuroscience, and, when combined with her character in the aforementioned TV show, that apparently lends her a bit of credibility as a spokesperson for various scientific issues, opportunities she uses to spread misinformation, quackery and evil, in particular anti-vaccine conspiracies and support for homeopathy. It should be a cause for concern that she was invited as the 2014 featured speaker at the National Science Teachers’ Association conference.

Bialik is, for instance, a celebrity spokesperson for the Holistic Moms Network, an organization promoting “natural” parenting, where “natural” apparently means embracing every form of “natural” woo yet invented, sponsored by a range of quack institutions including Boiron (manufacturer of the homeopathic remedy for flu known as Oscillococcinum), the Center for Homeopathic Education, and the National Center for Homeopathy – heck, their advisory board include Lauren Feder, Barbara Loe Fisher, Peggy O’Mara, publisher of Mothering Magazine, “integrative” pediatrician Lawrence Rosen, and Sherri Tenpenny.

Most importantly of all, though, Bialik is anti-vaccine (though she has tried to deny it), primarily – it seems – because she views vaccines as “unnatural”. Somehow, though, she justifies not vaccinating her kids because it is, according to her, a “personal decision”, even though not vaccinating is a personal decision in the sense that texting while driving is a personal decision.

Diagnosis: A sad case for reason, science, and critical thinking. Apparently a real science education is no guarantee for understanding how reason or evidence works. Hysterically lunatic, and dangerous.


  1. I think the BBT phrase "Holy crap on a cracker!" is apt here!

  2. BBT, anti-science? Not even close. It's very pro-science and employs a science consultant. I'm sure that countless kids have gone into science because of its positive depiction on the show.

  3. The program may be pro-science but Dr. Bialik is a crank in the Peter Duesberg category.

  4. BBT ins't anti-science. If anything it's Pro-Nerd.
    And I mean I've met people sort of like that.

    Anyway, I'm sad to learn Ms Bialik is kookie about vaccines. That's very unfortunate and she really should know better.

  5. It may employ a science consultant, but that doesn't make the show any less anti-science, or really anti-scientist. There's an episode where they totally RUIN an experiment that they travelled to ANTARCTICA to perform?!?! No, nope, noooppeeee. That would not happem, and saying it does is suggesting that scientists are more than happy wasting tens of thousands of dollars on grant money!

    Sure, it's funny to portray scientists (especially physicists) as the classic stereotype - when I was in high school I found t kind of funny too (but just a little off in ways I couldn't quite explain) - but now I'm a 3rd year physics student who has completed several internships in various labs and I am so sick of people asking me "so everyone you work with is like sheldon?", "so you're like sheldon?", "have you worked with a raj yet? ["yet" implying at some point I will]" - all direct quotes. We're mostly normal, we just like our jobs more.

    Not to mention, Sheldon clearly exists many many many autistic traits and so really should be labelled as autistic and accepted as that, rather than the current way where they laugh at everything "odd" he needs and acts.

    One thing they did get right were the whiteboards everywhere. All physicists (especially theoreticians) like whiteboards....

    I would argue that no, countless kids have not. I would argue that it's more likely that kids with an interest in science have potentially been driven away - if all they see are people who behave in these insanely stereotypical, often totally ruining whatever they're doing not because they made a mistake but either intentionally (as discussed above) or simply because they were behaving like idiots, and they feel like they wouldn't fit in or they feel like they couldn't stand to work with people who behave like that, then they're LESS likely to go for it. The show depicts the physicists as kind of desperate, let's be honest here, and as a future physicist, I really don't want people to associate me with those characters.

    p.s I'm not attacking you for liking the show, I can see the appeal of it to non-scientists - it just kind of grates on us real (or soon-to-be-real) ones.

  6. Four years at Caltech, and I never met anyone as fundamentally stupid-seeming as these characters. Yes, there are many people there with meagre social skills, but they aren't like this, even if they're not relating well, their fumantally razor-sharp minds are obvious.

    This show appears to be 0.)an opportunity to make fun of nerds, and 1.)a chance to reässure normal people that very smart people aren't 'really' better-off, when as far as I can see we generally are richer, have more fulfilling lives, and have a level of consumerism-unfriendly meaning unknown to most people.

  7. Ayn Marx, your comment that the show is "a chance to reassure normal people that very smart people aren't "really" better-off,...", is spot on. I would add that the show relentlessly pushes the notion that really smart Scientists are maladjusted freaks who can be pitied and condescended too.

  8. And now Bialik has written an op-ed piece for the New York Times in which she blamed Hollywood's objectification of women on those it victimizes. To wit:

    As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.

    In other words, being sexually harassed is their own fault for being too pretty. How feminist of you, Mayim!