Does Baby Gizmo Have A Pseudoscience Problem?
Visit Babygizmo.com and at first glance you’ll find exactly what you’d expect from a site that calls itself as the “premier baby product resource” on the web. A review of a Melissa and Doug train table. A giveaway for a rockaRoo. A Youtube instructional video for mummy-esque Halloween mini-pizzas.
And then there was the toothpaste.
Lee Biernbaum started reading the site for the reviews. “Like many, I’d discovered Baby Gizmo based on their well-regarded reviews (and videos!) of carseats and strollers. I didn’t always agree with their conclusions (I’m not the suburban minivan type), but they often had the facts first on new models. Their reputation also led me to trust the information presented in their video demonstrations of car seat installs when we were selecting a new seat for my daughter.”
One day Biernbaum noticed a post for a product called Earthpaste — “a toothpaste so natural, you can swallow it!”
Incredulous at the sheer number of fallacies packed into that one tag line, Biernbaum left a comment on the site. He pointed out that any toothpaste you can swallow is largely ineffective, fluoride is critical to dental health even though large quantities of it should not be swallowed, and, finally, fluoride itself is natural (as are many other things that shouldn’t be swallowed).
When the comment was promptly deleted by the site without explanation, Biernbaum decided to bring the argument to Twitter where Holly Schultz, founder of Baby Gizmo, tweets @BabyGizmo.
Rachel Erickson, another apparently skeptically-minded Baby Gizmo reader, also joined the conversation to share her frustrations with the site. In the comment section of a post for Now for Mothers Healing Mix, Schultz (posting on behalf of the site) stated that GMO-free and organic wheat, unlike conventional wheat, does not pose a problem for people with celiac or food allergies.That statement is patently false, and Erickson left a scathing comment on Baby Gizmo’s Facebook page. Baby Gizmo essentially responded with a non-response: “I understand that you are passionate about wheat and celiac disease…I just think that social media and especially a YouTube comment isn’t going to give you the answer you are looking for.”
Erickson was disappointed: “When I first started following this page I was excited to see reviews of toys, car seats, and other kid’s products. That is where your expertise lies, not in nutritional supplements, biology, or genetic engineering. ‘Mommy blogs’ would be so much better if people would stick to what they actually know and leave science to the real scientists.”
As for Biernbaum, he never received any kind of response. “This sours me on the good judgment of this site. Why should I trust ANY recommendation from Baby Gizmo when this kind of potentially dangerous information is posted by a Senior Editing Manager?”
What other sorts of backed-by-pseudoscience products can be found at BabyGizmo.com? A quick click on the “natural parenting” tag reveals recommendations for products like amber teething necklaces and essential oils for treatment of colds and sleeplessness, neither of which are supported by credible scientific evidence.
We reached out to Schultz for a comment but received no response. According to its press packet, Baby Gizmo has 1.2 million page views per month and 800,000 unique visitors. With that kind of reach and influence, Baby Gizmo’s persistence in publishing inaccurate information has serious and wide-ranging impact.
Featured image by flickr user Mike Linksvayer
Excellent work, Jenny!