In this episode, I am joined by Natalie Newell and Chad Hayes, MD, hosts of the new Parenthetical Science Podcast, to discuss the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle fear-based marketing techniques used by the alternative medicine and organic-only lobby movement in the various food and healthcare products they want to sell to gullible and vulnerable people.

Our discussion covered Zooey Deschanel’s recent series of woo-based food videos, Gwyneth Paltrow’s kinky pseudoscience that advises putting things in every orifice to cure whatever ails you, the “clean food” craze capitalized on by brands such as Panera Bread, why Triscuit snack crackers do not in fact grow naturally in Midwest wheat fields (despite what its advertising slogans might tell you), the B-horror-movie-grade anti-GMO propaganda of Stonyfield’s organic yogurt advertising and how it backfired beautifully on them, the craziness that is homeopathy, whether Tide Pods are GMO- and gluten-free, and more. The central theme of the discussion that ties it all together is the question: What can consumers do to equip themselves to recognize pseudoscience in advertising?

Natalie Newell is the director and producer of the Science Momsdocumentary, holds a Master of Education degree, and for a decade worked in the field of Montessori education. She now spends her time raising two children, traveling around screening her documentary, and pursuing interests in the areas of science communication and secular activism.

Chad Hayes has a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical University of South Carolina and currently practices as a general pediatrician in Charleston. According to his website, he takes “a science-based, skeptical approach to medicine” and is “passionate about science communication and helping parents make well-informed decisions about their children’s health.” He authors a blog called Demystifying Pediatrics.

Relevant Links:

Natalie Newell on Twitter:

Chad Hayes on Twitter:

Parenthetical Science Podcast on Twitter:

Parenthetical Science website:

Science Moms documentary: and

Chad Hayes’ “Demystifying Pediatrics” blog:

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The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. Audio edited by Callie Wright of The Gaytheist Manifesto podcast and Answer Media LLC.

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Author Details
I am a freelance writer and podcaster. I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, where I majored in Journalism. My interests are many and diverse; they include investigative reporting, science, philosophy, history, and pop culture analysis. My motivation in writing and podcasting is to contribute what I can to the promotion of critical thinking among the public. My goal is to use my journalism training to be active in the secular humanist movement, helping more people come to an appreciation of philosophy and history, and analyzing dubious but popularly-believed claims involving the supernatural, the paranormal and religion.
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