Paige Wolf is a publicist and activist who promotes almost every biomedical myth in existence. The author of a health guide for parents called Spit That Out!, Wolf lacks expertise on every subject she writes about and seems repelled by the opinions of scientists, because she so often ignores them.
Wolf: The “Green-Living” Expert
Wolf claims to support vaccination and denies any financial relationship with anti-science groups or companies, though this picture tells a different story. Her work is full of false claims and scare tactics that mislead parents about the safety of products that they should buy for their children without fear–like diapers and sippy cups.
Like many anti-chemical activists, Wolf lacks any real credentials, so she bills herself as a “Green-Living Expert” and cautions against using thoroughly-tested products that she erroneously claims are harmful. Beyond using buzz words like “volatile organic compounds” and “toxins” she seems to know very little actual chemistry.
One example should serve to make the point. Wolf frequently repeats long-debunked organic industry claims about “chemical sunscreens,” suggesting that Oxybenzone and other sunscreen ingredients are endocrine disruptors. The American Academy of Dermatology disagrees, but Wolf nonetheless encourages her website visitors to buy organic sunscreen, which you can conveniently get through her Amazon Affiliate link.
We’re unsure what makes this sunscreen the environmentally conscious choice, since it’s shipped all over the world in fossil-fuel guzzling trucks and airplanes. Maybe Wolf will get around to explaining away her hypocrisy someday, since she claims to be a big believer in the science of climate change.
Wolf’s Book: An Encyclopedia of Junk Science
While Wolf describes Spit That Out! as “lighthearted yet authoritative,” the book was published by an activist press with a history of releasing scientifically suspect titles. At 192 pages, it’s hardly a comprehensive treatment of the complex subject it tackles and wasn’t subjected to any sort of serious peer review. It was endorsed by dozens of celebrity parents, however.
Spit That Out! demonizes every chemical typically despised by anti-science activists; BPA and phthalates being two of Wolf’s favorite examples, though both are safe so far as the evidence shows. Wolf also likes to substitute references to large numbers–“There are…84,000 chemicals on the market and only about 1 percent of them have been studied(!)”–for actual arguments. Nowhere on Wolf’s blog or in her book is there a careful analysis of the products she attacks, nor reference to the thousands of studies vindicating their use. The FDA’s consumer products safety standards are extensive, after all.
Wolf to Science Community: “Why can’t you leave me alone?”
At the end of June 2017, Wolf picked a fight with the science community, retweeting a link from U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), which suggested that the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) is a front group that sells their expertise to industry. When pressed for evidence of ACSH’s collusion with industry, Wolf simply referred her critics to USRTK’s website and stood by what she retweeted. She also blocked ACSH staff from responding.
These conflict of interest accusations against ACSH have been thoroughly debunked over the years, including on this very website. Wolf, sadly, took the word of her friend Stacy Malkan (USRTK’s co-founder) without bothering to do any research. Then complained that she was being picked on.