By Erin K Costello
My first memory of falling in love with science was when I over heated a mercury thermometer while trying to get out of school one morning and causing the end to pop and the mercury to pour out on to our hard wood floor. It wasn’t the shiny, silver liquid on the floor that amazed me. It was how the droplets sought each other out and bonded into one bigger droplet. It was at this moment I became hooked. It was the closest thing to actual magic I had ever seen.
As an adult I attended courses in mixology, and professional bar tending. I became a certified mixologist and bartender, which is a fancy way of saying I learned the different characteristics of different liquors, weight differences of each one, and how to manipulate other liquids to be able to create and design layered cocktails, designer cocktails, and change colors and textures to present a certain image and drinking experience. I also learned how to calculate accurate inventory for private parties. All these skills made it possible for me to make a career as a professional bartender, both for establishments and for myself. Doing this for almost 15 years I realized how I was both so wonderfully and horribly fascinated by human behavior. The behavior wasn’t always due to alcohol either. In fact, being sober or drunk didn’t usually matter in most situations. In times of both great celebration and great sorrow people will do some extreme and crazy things, and in even the most applicable of break ups most people will inevitably do the most devious and underhanded shit to the other party, and especially the other party’s new love interest. It was then I knew I had to learn more, to understand why we do the things we do. It’s in this field of science that I’ve read and learned more than other fields, and discovered you could audit college courses on-line for free.
In one way or another I’ve been an activist to some degree for most of my adult life. I really hate bullshit, injustice, and seeing others feel powerless, and feeling that way myself. Shortly after I joined Facebook I began joining groups, meeting people, and planning actions to combat the powers that be for whatever the cause was at the time. I became mostly involved in activism, both on-line and off, shortly before the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO. It was during this time videos of police brutality became more and more widespread. With each new video posted to Facebook I began to make a database of city/town, county, and state police agencies across the country complete with contact information for each one. This way I could easily post the email, phone numbers, Facebook page links, and Twitter handles to each posted video for the people who can’t, who are afraid to, or simply don’t want to take to the streets in protest, yet still desire to do SOMETHING. I referred to this as on-line activism and started a Facebook page centered around this. The page never turned in to anything though. I’ve since unpublished it and shared my agency contact database with other more successful activism pages in this community. I still did and do contact agencies when warranted, share a video or posting about the latest injustice, and attend the local protest when planned. People have more power than they realize, especially in numbers. It’s not just voting and jury duty, although those are both two of the most awesome parts of civic duty!
Right about the time Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy for POTUS I found myself on Facebook more often posting on his behalf. This led to an unexpected discovery of an entire community I had no idea about, but felt as though I had been a member of forever. I felt like I finally found “my peeps.” in life. It began with the Food Babe, which was very quickly followed up with the Facebook group Banned By Food Babe. From here I found and fell in love with Scibabe, which led to finding other notable names in this fight against pseudoscience, as well as many Facebook pages. Oddly enough though, I still hadn’t learned about MAM. I ended up discovering her while I was typing “Banned By Food Babe” in to the Facebook search bar, and I seen the group name “Banned By MAM” listed as an option. Naturally I was curious who MAM was, so I went to her website. You know how AVers talk of the moment they became “woke?” Well, it was reading MAM’s website content that became the moment I too was “woke,” only I woke up to the dark side and downfall of free speech, and one’s right to become and remain ignorant. I will always support the right to free speech, I fear losing it more than having it, but I don’t always have to like it. Especially when I learn people like her have a bit of a following. Once I seen this, I knew I had to try and understand the mind of an AVer, or at least condemn it. I went to her Facebook page, was quickly banned, then joined Banned By MAM. I didn’t post in the group much at first because I foolishly thought I should try and make a difference by convincing AVers how wrong they were. I not only realized how wrong I was, but learned I wasn’t informed enough on this subject to make adequate rebuttals. I then made a point to learn all I could about their claims, and how they were right or wrong depending on the issue. By the end of 2016 though I needed the comic relief and became a more active member of BBMAM by reading posts and commenting. The group quickly became a daily habit. I then learned about sock accounts, MAM’s group, and the other AV groups and their popular leaders. So in early 2017 I assigned an old acct to becoming my first sock account, and sent out join requests to a bunch of AV groups. I was quickly accepted to every one, and began reading the really crazy shit first hand. The more bullshit I read, the more I had to read and learn the facts about vaccines, government agencies, clinical trials, studies, and natural remedies. As I became more confident in my ability to responsibly become a loud and active fighter on these issues, I started contributing to BBMAM with screen shots of my own. I also became fully active on other pages and groups. I was no longer just member of this community, but was now a contributor to this community, and I loved every minute of it, until June of that year.
Sadly, in June of 2017 BBMAM was brought to an abrupt end when MAM ordered her faithful followers to come after the group, and the page, with reports of all kinds. First they took down the page, then the group. BBMAM was no more on Facebook. We were all very bummed by this. Eventually a new group was formed but since it’s now listed as a secret group I am unable to name it here. Before this new group was established though, a fellow BBMAM member reached out to me to tell me she started a Facebook page and added myself and another fellow BBMAM member as page admins. I happily accepted the role and have been thankful and grateful ever since. At the time of it’s creation though, I think we only seen the page as an outlet for no longer having BBMAM, and didn’t imagine or desire to turn it in to some kind of success. I think we just wanted to have fun and vent on a public venue about our frustration with the idiocy and danger of MAM and those like her. But with more and more page likes and followers we realized there were a lot of people out there who felt the same way as we did. We then expanded to Twitter, added more admins, and have now started this website. We have also collaborated with other similar pages thus allowing most of us to post to all pages, and now have a Facebook group that represents this collaboration called The Science Juice
I can’t speak for the other admins, although I do believe most or all share some of my feelings and interests in this regard. I love having been a part of forming this brand named What’s The Harm?, and actually look forward to putting in the daily time, work, and effort to both maintaining and expanding this venture. I am lucky to have this opportunity to work at something that combines my love of science and my fascination with human behavior, as well as satisfies the activist inside me that’s always looking for a fight. We may not make any money doing this, but I still feel like it’s my dream job. I’m able to work at something that makes me feel content, excited, and fulfilled by the possibility that I could be making a difference, even if only a tiny one. I’ll continue to do this, and continue to invest money when needed in to this (so far like $20 lol, but we have bigger ideas coming), without ever needing to see a dime back. I do confess though, I wouldn’t be upset if I could someday say that we succeeded in turning Facebook fighting and internet trolling into a sustainable career. But money isn’t our goal, making a difference by combating the dangerous lies and misinformation spread by ignorance is our goal. Well, that and the trolling.