SciBlogs caves to hysterics

All I ask from people…

All I fucking ask from people, is intellectual consistency.

And this seemingly simple request is apparently, impossible.

I dont believe a fucking word, of anyone, who has FREAKED THE FUCK OUT over the fucking Pepsi Blog. And heres why.

JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY/CONFLICTS OF INTEREST/POLITICAL BIAS OBSTRUCTING SCIENCE
In 2008-2009, we had a sponsored blog here by Invitrogen. As far as I know, Invitrogen had no apparent editorial control over what got posted there. As a result, the blog turned into an EPIC TRAIN WRECK, when several SciBloggers took it upon themselves to post anti-GMO rants. Now, none of these SciBloggers had any experience with GMOs in the lab. There was no science content in these posts. This was simply a platform for these people to use their position of privilege at ScienceBlogs to push a political agenda, completely devoid of science.

I was absolutely shocked, at the time. Not only at the blatant non-science anti-science that would have gotten an HIV Denier or anti-vaxer kicked off of ScienceBlogs was written proudly and confidently. I was mortified that these people were embarrassing me (and SciBlogs) with the money of a major biological corporation. If I were Invitrogen, I would have pulled the blog. And never invested in SciBlogs again.

But I did not threaten to flounce off in a huff in response to this crap. I didnt demand that the Invitrogen blog be pulled.

I wrote a really fucking nice post trying to start a discussion on this issue. Compare that post to my posts on anti-vaxers, or the WPI crew. *blink* But, OOPS. No one else really gave a shit about anti-science biases a year ago!

I didnt stop there, though. I plodded on. I actually suggested to the SciBlog Overlords that they add plant geneticists to combat this apparently widespread and accepted ignorance.

Hi Erin!

I just had an idea for some new blaggers– we dont have any food/crop people (do we?), and there are a couple good ones I read:
Genetic Maize – Navigating the maze of GMOs

The Inoculated Mind

I have no idea whether theyd be interested or not, but theyd at least be with us against HuffPo!

That request last year was met with silence (meanwhile, Karl and Anastasia have totally taken off with Biofortified, good for them).

Oh, but wait, we did manage to get Pam to join (amazing woman, only voice of reason on the Invtrogen blog)… and yet another anti-science ‘foodie’. A literature major. Who writes about food, but not that ‘hoity toity science crap’ that we are supposed to be pushing so PURELY on SCIENCEblogs, but more in the way my mom would write about the stuff she grows in our backyard. But less funny than my mom would be… And I still didnt start shit with her blog. I ignored it.

So all these ‘SCIBLOGS IS PURE AND GOOD SCIENCE NO BIAS!’ people DO NOT have a problem with hidden biases obstructing objectivity and science if someone isnt getting paid to hold those positions. They DO have a problem with the obvious appearance of bias on the Pepsi Blog, even though we have no reason to doubt the science they would have published.

That is bullshit.

WE CARE ABOUT HEALTH/NUTRITION/FITNESS
There is are a few people who would get a pass for using this excuse. Sci is one of them *nod*. Others? Not so much.

There are many bloggers here at SciBlogs that are overweight (obese?) or just plain out of shape. As someone hysterically pointed out in a comment, we are bloggers, who are paid to blog, to get people to sit in front of their computers all day, a non-healthy activity. LOL!

But I was genuinely distressed seeing Pal struggle with his weight, seeing his disordered eating and bad ‘advice’ from random people who fancied themselves experts (they lost weight at some point in their lives! they must be qualified to give other people advice!). He was a prime example of how people can be highly educated, medically trained individuals, who dont know how to get healthy themselves. We needed to fill that void on SCIENCEBlogs.

So I actively lobbied to get health/diet/fitness bloggers added to SciBlogs. While a few of us banded to get Obesity Panacea added (by brute force, I had been lobbying them for ages before they finally got the nod), my suggestions were met with derision from other SciBloggers.

And all these bloggers who are now oh-so-concerned about health, diet, and fitness… said nothing on the issue months ago.

The ‘point’ of my post on the Pepsi Blog fiasco was that you can enjoy ‘bad’ foods and still be healthy. I am not super-human. Being healthy and enjoying food and drink is an achievable goal for anyone. But some bloggers think Im some kind of wizard and you all are fat dumbshits that shouldnt even dream of not living a life obsessed about not eating BAD food and only eating GOOD food and beating yourself up every time you eat something you deem BAD… disordered eating. Those bastions of heath, diet, and fitness have to PROTECT you from TEH PEPSI BLAG MONSTER.

But they didnt give a fuck about this issue a few months ago.

Right.

Bullshit.

All of the people all worked up about the Pepsi Blog talk the talk, but they dont walk the walk. Far be it from me to suggest that these people are drama queens that are only ‘outraged’ when its fashionable, but I simply dont believe a fucking word theyve said.

That being said, I am impressed yet again with the rationality of my commentors, and their ability to have real, reasonable discussions, even when they dont agree. *nod* I like you folks.

EDIT 07-09-10– IM NOT DONE BITCHING YET.

I am so glad some of these pig fuckers got their spineless asses off SciBlogs.

1. Rebecca Sloot– Rebeccas blog, ‘Culture Dish‘, was essentially one big ad for Rebeccas book, ‘THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS’. We got to learn all this cool science from ‘Culture Dish’, like how Rebecca was going to be featured on ABC News, and how Rebecca sold out to Oprah/Ball/HBO to make it big in HALLYWOOOOD. She even got SciBlogs to send her book out to SciBloggers to be featured as one of our big, splash front pages “LOOK AT ALL THESE REVIEWS! BUY THIS BOOK!”

But then poor poor journalistic integrity Rebecca leaves because another blog might actually relay some mother fucking SCIENCE to people while advertising.

Dont let the door hit your ass on the way out, you ungrateful media whore.

2. Mark CC– Over on GM/BM fretting about how he doesnt TRUST SB anymore! OH he has to back up his posts ASAP cause they might DISAPPEAR TOMORROW! What a fucking two-faced ass. First of all, SB has always made it abundantly clear that no matter the circumstances we leave, they will leave our blogs up for us to back anything up. For Mark to say ‘Ohhhhh theyre gonna take me down any second now’ if a fucking lie. A manipulative lie.

And its hysterical Mark is soooooo worried about his blog being taken down without warning, when every fucking time Blogger (run by HIS EMPLOYER GOOGLE) takes down MY blog, or Steve Mathesons blog, or a fucking teenage kids fashion blog without warning, he buts in like fucking Porky the Pig saying “Bu-bu-bu-bu-but Google is duh-duh-duh-doing a good job! Monitoring blogs is HARD!” Heaven forbid someone at Pepsi actually like their job and genuinely want to defend what they do there, though.

PROJECT MUCH, ASS?

And you ‘dont trust SEED’? SEED fucking had my back 100% when a reader threatened me and them. I dont care where you take your BLAG Mark. Take it to BLOGGER cause you know people to put your blog back up when its randomly taken down. But whining about how mean and awful SEED is to get sympathy points from readers is PATHETIC.

3. One thing I did learn from Rebeccas ad blog, is how everyone was ‘threatening to leak’ the letter Adam sent us. BACK STORY– I dont go to the back forum, because people act like dumbshits, run off other bloggers with their dumbshittery, and they dont have the BALLS to defend their actions on the front page. I would call them out for this, but we have a rule, where back-forum topics are confidential. Greg Laden got in trouble on the back forums for a bit for ‘leaking’ something as basic as Arikia quitting. And EVERYONE was just SO PLEASED Greg was in trouble, because we need to feel SAFE in the back forums to talk about ANYTHING and its PRIVATE.

HYPOCRITICAL SHITS then decide leaking Adams letter, sent to us in confidence of confidentiality, is no big whoop. Now, it *was* no big whoop, because he didnt say anything wrong. The letter didnt say “HAHAHA! PEPSI PAID ME 10 BILLION DOLLARS! BOW BEFORE ME!! YOU ALL HAVE TO WRITE POSTS PRAISING PEPSI!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!”

This was akin to a labmate telling me his parents are getting a divorce, and thats why hes upset, but please dont tell anyone, then me running off to the Guardian screaming “HAHAHA BILLYS PARENTS ARE GETTING A DIVORCE!!” Its legal to get a divorce. Its not like his parents are George W and Laura Bush, and theyre getting a divorce because W caught Laura doing coke with naked stripper prostitutes– its a personal thing, and could you please not blab about it. Like Arikia quitting.

HYPOCRITICAL, SPINELESS SHITS.

FUCK.

Comments

  1. #1 lynxreign
    July 8, 2010

    Hey, at least Cassubon’s Book left over this and hopefully won’t come back. Were any of the people who wrote the anti-GMO screeds you reference people who are also complaining about this?

    Do you not see any difference in an independant blogger writing crap and a corporate entity maintaining an advertising blog under the guise of science?

  2. #2 Kemanorel
    July 8, 2010

    Do you not see any difference in an independant blogger writing crap and a corporate entity maintaining an advertising blog under the guise of science?

    So if Ken Ham decided to start a blog at scienceblogs, it’d be okay because that’s just one idiot trying to do something in the guise of science that’s be okay, but say Casey Luskin couldn’t start one for teh Discovery Institute because that’s be a corporation?

    Who cares? It’s all vacuous crap, and none of it should be here, but you don’t have to go and read it. Shit, I only read 2 blogs here regularly and a handful occasionally. That’ll just be another blog I’ll ignore.

  3. #3 daedalus2u
    July 8, 2010

    I heart abbie

  4. #4 Azkyroth
    July 8, 2010

    Which is kind of ironic because the number of glaring logical fallacies and level of willful misreading of other SB’ers stated positions deployed here in response to there being a controversy was kind of a slap in the face. :/

  5. #5 lynxreign
    July 8, 2010

    @Kemanorel

    I’m asking a question, not making a statement. I know what I think about it, I wanted to know what ERV though.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want Ken Ham, Cassubon’s Book or Greg Laden posting here as they don’t really belong on a site called Science Blogs. But who makes that decision as to who is sufficiently sciency? ERV has problems with the people who are currently making the decision as do other Science Bloggers, but for different decisions and different reasons.

    Ken Ham and Casey Luskin fall under the Cassubon’s Book grouping IMHO, as non-science blathering that sounds vaguely sciency. If the Discovery Institute started a blog with the express purpose, as Pepsi’s did, of expanding their corporate blog here and the corporate blog was nothing but shilling products while pretending to be science, that’s a different story altogether.

    I do think there’s a difference between posting idiocy and advertising or attempting corporate PR/whitewashing spin while pretending to be doing actual science.

  6. #6 efren
    July 8, 2010

    It is interesting to me that people who claim to the mantle of rationality and say that the evidence and quality of science should speak for itself, went and had an outrage orgasm before the first post even went up.

    Maybe FF was going to be a bad idea, with posts written in a Madison Avenue ad agency. But, we’ll never know, now will we? Because Food Frontiers wasn’t given the chance to present any, you know, scientific evidence for anyone to evaluate.

    Well, they defeated the EVUL CORPORATION. Let’s hope it wasn’t a Pyrrhic victory.

  7. #7 Keely
    July 8, 2010

    Abbie, I fucking love you.

    Yes, I think scienceblogs could have handled this whole mess better, but the hysterics, outrage, and mass exodus from the site is fucking stupid. This is NOT the first time Sciblogs has done something questionable… and even then, this is only QUESTIONABLE. They haven’t posted any fucking content yet, so there is no goddamn way to know how this was going to work out.

    This whole mess has been filling my feed reader with nonsense for two long now and I’m so fucking ready for it to be over. Enough posteuring and hysterics everyone… let’s get back to the fucking science.

  8. #8 regis
    July 8, 2010

    That was awesome.

  9. #9 Jacob
    July 8, 2010

    I like how you generalize everyone who had anything negative to say about the whole incident.

    And your prolific use of “fucking” makes your arguments sound much more valid.

    I for one have been reading SB for years and never new tht invitrogen or GE had a blog. If I had I would have raised my voice then as well, assuming similar circumstances.

    For many of those that cried out and took a stand, the issue is simple: pepsi simply purchased reputation by association with Sb blogs in a way that made Pepsiblog loom like another scienceblog. Some people feel that’s wrong and don’t wish to be associated with such an organization.

    I fucking mean fucking really fucking wrong.

  10. #10 denature
    July 8, 2010

    A personal benefit to me from the kerfuffle is that I didn’t realize that Pam Ronald blogged here, so I’ll be checking that out more frequently. Would love to see more plant science. What do you think the reaction would be if someone from Noble or Donald Danforth (nonprofits) blogged here?

    Dietary moderation seems a possible goal, but research on strict diets indicates strongly that people never stay on them.

  11. #11 Doc Bill
    July 8, 2010

    I’m pumped!

    I watch what I eat (see food diet) but I allow myself an occasional treat, and today is Taco Bell Day! In moderation Taco Bell can provide the essentials of a healthy diet.

    Oh, it’s also No Moderation Day.

    I’m going for the new giant tub of sour cream stuffed with tacos!

    Seriously, though, I remember not so long ago *cough*very long ago*cough* when I could eat anything and still maintain six-pack abs, buns o’ steel and pearly white teeth. I can’t blame completely Taco Bell for the subsequent ravages of time.

    (Wish I could!)

  12. #12 BeamStalk
    July 8, 2010

    Abbie, you are still one of my heroes.

  13. #13 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    Great post. You’ve really been a leader on this side of the argument.

    I’m seriously bothered by those who think food and ag companies are inherently evil.

    Food manufacturers churn out amazing amounts of reasonably-priced food to feed the world. Everyone can’t be expected to have the time, land, and expertise to grow their own food. Like most people, I choose to eat packaged oats because it’s easier and cheaper than actually growing my own oats in sufficient quantities. In this regard, mass producers of food have been instrumental in keeping people fed.

    GMO companies work to increase yields and resistance to pests, fungi, salinity, drought, and other factors that limit crop production. While they’re doing this for profit, it also has the benefit of helping to feed the six billion+ people in the world. All of these people can’t subsist solely on their cute organic back-yard garden (especially those in urban areas, apartments, or areas with poor agriculture).

    I for one was interested in hearing what PepsiCo scientists had to say.

  14. #14 Epicanis
    July 8, 2010

    I would, personally, actually love to see some good industrial/private-sector science blogging here. Doubly so for food-science-related themes.

    Still, it seemed pretty clear from the language in the press-release describing the PepsiCo “Food Frontiers” blog that it was more likely to be corporate PR rather than informative science. The announcement was certainly reeking of “framing” from someone’s marketing/PR department, at least as I read it. I can definitely understand people not wanting to be associated with it.

    If someone wanted to hire ME to run a corporate shill blog, I promise I’d at least be subtle about it. You’d think anyone as rich as PepsiCo® would be able to afford a marketing guy or two who were aware of “The Cluetrain Manifesto”…

    (Come to think of it, I think I’d actually LIKE to read a blog on the subject of “Corporate PR of Industrial Science”, perhaps even outright written by a corporate PR/science person who handles their corporate science press-releases, so long as it was informative and honest.)

  15. #15 Sheik Djibouti al Nayt
    July 8, 2010

    That being said, I am impressed yet again with the rationality of my commentors, and their ability to have real, reasonable discussions, even when they dont agree. *nod* I like you folks.

    And we like you too. And maybe your consistency argument does work to some degree. However, the notion that Pepsico, whose purpose is to sell junk food on a planetary scale could buy space on a highly reputed science blog site to tell us about nutrition is simply absurd.

  16. #16 Dale Husband
    July 8, 2010

    I find your defense of PepsiCo disturbing. What if representatives of the Catholic Church wanted to set up and run a blog here about Catholic views on science, including screeds about abortion and birth control? And censored any comments that were critical of Catholicism? Wouldn’t that infuriate you? I know it would me!

    I don’t drink Pepsi. And I certainly don’t own stock in PepsiCo. If I didn’t know you so well, I would assume you were a major PepsiCo stockholder and that was the reason for this post. And I’d stop reading your blog. I don’t beleive you are a sell out, but then again I can’t read minds, so……

  17. #17 Ahistoricality
    July 8, 2010

    It’s not about food; it’s about money and credibility. Yes, bad science hurts SciBlogs credibility. Yes, corporate money hurts SciBlogs credibility. It’s not one or the other.

    There are plenty of people at SciBlogs and elsewhere who write about their areas of expertise on their own time without revealing proprietary information or annoying their bosses. Find a real food scientist who is willing to do that, and you’ll have made a real contribution to SciBlogs. The Pepsico Blog was not a real contribution to SciBlogs.

  18. #18 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    Dale @ 16:

    I find your defense of PepsiCo disturbing. What if representatives of the Catholic Church wanted to set up and run a blog here about Catholic views on science, including screeds about abortion and birth control?

    Is the Catholic Church engaged in scientific research? I’m willing to bet they aren’t, but PepsiCo is, so your analogy fails.

  19. #19 efren
    July 8, 2010

    I find your defense of PepsiCo disturbing

    Well, you know, Abbie has an undisclosed conflict of interest and I am going to blow the lid on it right now.

    Pepsico has gotten a perfect 100 score from the Human Rights Campaign since at least 2006 for its treatment of GLBT employees. And, you know, Abbie knows gay people.

    CONFLICT! CONFLICT! EXPEL HER!

  20. #20 Just Sayin'
    July 8, 2010

    Is the Catholic Church engaged in scientific research? I’m willing to bet they aren’t, but PepsiCo is, so your analogy fails.

    Well, Notre Dame University is engaged in researching the science of how to win football games, so..

  21. #21 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    I was amazed at the opportunistic bullshitting by “free lance science writers” in this episode.

    For example….

    Neuron Culture:

    “Call me old-fashioned, but I can’t cotton to this.”

    “In August 2010, I’ll be moving to London for a year to work on the book.”

    What a load. Journalists talking about ethics or science or science ethics is like listening to a eunuch explain to a robot where babies come from.

  22. #22 lynxreign
    July 8, 2010

    @18 – Jeremy

    Is the Catholic Church engaged in scientific research? I’m willing to bet they aren’t, but PepsiCo is, so your analogy fails.

    Sorry Jeremy, you’d lose that bet. The Vatican has an official astronomer. He’s quite good and he’s a scientist, not clergy dolled up as pretend scientist.

  23. #23 Onkel Bob
    July 8, 2010

    I like you folks.

    Wir sind den Leute, wir sind nicht die Volk! :^)

    Thanks for enlightening me on the tempest a year or so ago. I must have been in the field.

    Anywho, you would think this group knows, and I mean knows, science is not a bastion of integrity and wholesomeness. One submission to a journal where the paper is in conflict or competition to the editor will make that perfectly clear. But no… scientists are the driven snow, their coats as white as titanium oxide, their morals and ethics incorruptible. Pepsi wanted a better location, they wanted to buy a corner store on a busy avenue. But no… the villagers could have any of that, that would bring down their property values, it would taint their reputation, and bring disrepute to the town. Kinda wonder, do they think their behavior was that much better? Are they truly that myopic? I guess among the believers, the ignorant, and the fooled this is a victory, but to this cynic with his jaundiced eye, it’s nothing new, it’s the same old, same old.

  24. #24 J
    July 8, 2010

    I might agree with this, if there had been any indication that the PepsiCo blog would be written by actual scientists with at least a nominal expectation of intellectual independence.

    However, the current incarnation of PepsiCo’s blog doesn’t inspire much confidence. It seems to be run by their PR team, not by scientists; it mostly seems to be retooled press releases; and oddly enough it doesn’t seem to ever say anything critical of PepsiCo.

    http://foodfrontiers.pepsicoblogs.com/

  25. #25 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    Ahistoricality @ 17:

    The Pepsico Blog was not a real contribution to SciBlogs.

    Of course it wasn’t a real contribution…it never had a chance to be a real contribution. They were shouted out of town by the local mob based on broad biases against anything corporate.

    I’m amazed that so many SBlings who make a living off evidence didn’t at least wait for some kind of evidence one way or the other on Pepsi’s contribution before going off the deep end.

    It may have been worthless, it may have been harmful, but we never had a chance to see.

  26. #26 qetzal
    July 8, 2010

    Dale @ 16:

    You’ve missed the point entirely. erv already said she would judge any such blog based on its content. Screeds about abortion and birth control, and censoring of critical comments = content.

    IOW, you’re not countering her argument; you’re restating it.

    I admit that I don’t think the Pepsico blog belongs here. But I also think erv’s right that some of the reactions have been way over the top.

  27. #27 Just Sayin'
    July 8, 2010

    What I find rich is the hypocrisy of PZ Myers whinging about “whitewashing content”, then proceeding to “ban” (is there anyone out there over the age of 10 who can’t figure out how to get around his ridiculous “dungeon”?) and delete comments from those who disagree with his position.

    Myers has become a parody of the parody of himself he used to be. At least 90% of the crap on his blog has jack-all to do with science. Unfortunately he didn’t choose to leave over this, so his rants and tantrums will continue to infest ScienceBlogs. Living proof that money talks, I guess.

    Cue the PZ sycophants and their childish insults.

  28. #28 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    lynxreign and Jeremey 18&22

    I think it would be really interesting to be able to ask some Jesuit scientists about their work. There are a lot of clergy/working research scientists out there and how they reconcile those callings is a fascinating subject.

    Why not?

    I wanted to hear about PepsiCo taking the hit to the tune of 30 million a year to take plants off grid and run them on landfill gasses and other alternative energy sources. Cool stuff has happened since they gave the nice Hindu lady the keys.

    But now I won’t get to hear about that because business is eeevilll and Pepsi turns poor minorities into big fatties. :(

  29. #29 efren
    July 8, 2010

    I guess among the believers, the ignorant, and the fooled this is a victory

    With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the for profit nature of Pepsico tainting the Scibloggers reputation and sullying science, you would think the protestors were as pure as the driven snow.

    They should take a look sometime at how their universities endowment is invested. Or investigate where those non-profit foundations righting their grants got the money in the first place. They might also stop to ponder the source of electricity, which may very well be fossil fuels, the next time they fire up their lab equipment. Unless they are The Professor on Gilligan’s Island making equipment from coconuts and palm fronds, it is likely that a significant part of their support is provided by crass commercial activity. Oh, the horror!

    Interesting that you would call them believers. My first thought when these folks were in full hissy mode is that they reminded me of those sanctimonious Christians who say shit like “I am in this world, but I am not of this world.” Yeah, right.

  30. #30 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    People keep citing PepsiCo’s blog on their current website as evidence that the SB blog would have been the same thing. It stated it was an “extension”, not a “carbon copy.”

    I would have expected them to provide more elaborate, detailed and interesting writing on this site, as it’s targeted to those interested in science and not general PepsiCo consumers. I could have been wrong. I’ll never know.

    Judging from the comments on Food Frontier’s first post, they weren’t being draconian in their moderation as some have accused. As far as I could tell, they only imposed restrictions on vulgarity and libel. That seemed reasonable to me.

  31. #31 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    Jeremy @#30

    “As far as I could tell, they only imposed restrictions on vulgarity and libel. That seemed reasonable to me.”

    As a libelous vulgarian, this was the only thing I found unreasonable about the PepsiCodevilmonsterblog.

  32. #32 lynxreign
    July 8, 2010

    @28 – Prometheus

    I think it would be really interesting to be able to ask some Jesuit scientists about their work. There are a lot of clergy/working research scientists out there and how they reconcile those callings is a fascinating subject.

    Why not?

    I wanted to hear about PepsiCo taking the hit to the tune of 30 million a year to take plants off grid and run them on landfill gasses and other alternative energy sources. Cool stuff has happened since they gave the nice Hindu lady the keys.

    So go to Pepsi’s blog, the one they said the Science Blog would be an extension of. If they’re not talking about it there, they wouldn’t have been talking about it here. Extension implies similar content. Not the same necessarily, but similar.

    As a reader, I likely would have ignored them like I ignore most of the blogs here until there’s something on the blurb page that gets me to check them out. After that I’d likely either start following them regularly like Starts With A Bang or ignoring them completely no matter what their blurb said, like Cassubon’s Book and Greg Laden.

  33. #33 jaranath
    July 8, 2010

    Okay, so maybe I’m the exception that proves Abbie’s rule, but:
    –I don’t recall anything about Invitrogen
    –Had I known, I’d be as against it as I am the Pepsi blog
    –I’m quite anti-anti-GMO, generally support P&T’s stance on fast food, and I don’t give a damn. I think this was wrong. If this is what Invitrogen did, it was just as wrong then.

    Of the few SB blogs I’ve read on this, ERV’s the only place that seems to make it about GMOs and food health. But I don’t generally read the sort of anti-GMO blogs Abbie would gripe about, so I could easily believe I’m missing lots of them. But it’s also clear Abbie has a bone to pick with some people over this Invitrogen thing, and dammit, I ain’t them.

    As for those complaining that Pepsi wasn’t even given a chance: Don’t you get it? I don’t give a damn! This is crosses a fundamental line in my book and many other peoples’. You don’t get into bed with an advertiser, with content, to this degree. I don’t care if Pepsi would have been a paragon of virtue, it still really is the “principle of the thing”. It is a bad precedent, let alone habit. And yes, I know stuff like this happens all the time with media. Pisses me off.

  34. #34 J
    July 8, 2010

    But now I won’t get to hear about that because business is eeevilll and Pepsi turns poor minorities into big fatties. :(

    Believe it or not, PepsiCo actually has other ways to communicate with the public besides Scienceblogs. If you want to ask them questions, why not write a comment on their existing blog?

  35. #35 J
    July 8, 2010

    Well, Jeremy, maybe there’s a lesson for PepsiCo here. If they had spent a few days retooling their existing blog to make it more science-y and less corporate-propaganda-y, maybe the attempt to move it over here would have gone more smoothly.

    The way it was actually handled, however, people had only two things to go by: PepsiCo’s reputation, and the actual content of their existing blog. Neither inspired much confidence, IMHO.

  36. #36 ecologist
    July 8, 2010

    To anyone who doesn’t understand the outrage many people felt about PepsiBlog, go back and read the announcement of its arrival (penned, I think, by the SciBlogs management). Read it carefully. It talks about the purpose of the blog being to describe good things about Pepsico. The concept of critical evaluation, certainly central to science, does not appear.

    The announcement read like a PR piece. If that was not there intention, then whoever wrote it had a woeful case of tin ear.

  37. #37 Benson
    July 8, 2010

    “The way it was actually handled, however, people had only two things to go by: PepsiCo’s reputation, and the actual content of their existing blog. Neither inspired much confidence, IMHO.”

    Or there was that inconvenient third thing to go by… the content that would have been on the blog. And if it had been corporate PR fluff, then I’m pretty sure the bloggers on ScienceBlogs would have been eager to tear it apart. Unless you’re telling me they are scared of PR fluff…

    The thing that didn’t inspire any confidence of ScienceBlogs for me was the draconian “purity test” and tantrums by bloggers on ScienceBlogs in the last 48 hours.

    Oh and one more thing, “Pepsipocalypse?” Talk about being a wee bit melodramatic…

  38. #38 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    “If you want to ask them questions, why not write a comment on their existing blog?”

    “So go to Pepsi’s blog, the one they said the Science Blog would be an extension of.”

    What are you guys, twins?

    This was to be the extension, to wit the R&D outreach/outlet.

    “Extension implies similar content.”

    No. It does not. It implies different or greater content than the original source or it would be a redundancy/mirror site.

    I go to their prospectus to get the expenditure and retooling data. There is a lot of stuff I don’t understand well enough to ask the right questions or, I am certain, questions I had not thought of and Scienceblogs participants as indicated by the comments on the now deleted blog are a pretty hot crucible for rarefying that kind of data.

    But that isn’t really the fucking point is it.

    I think the last 10,000 years of history will bear me out on this….when the choice is between speech or no speech you pick speech. If the choice is between ideas good/bad or no ideas you pick goddamn ideas.

    An opportunity was lost for reasons that were poorly articulated or as I said, opportunistic bullshitting to pretend to ethical superiority.

    The only genuine reason why panties were bunched is because the high traffic bloggers, who already dictate advertisers, control content, shuffle their preferences to the front of the line and gang up on dissenting voices on the back board, want more power and nobody asked their royal permission.

  39. #39 J
    July 8, 2010

    I think the last 10,000 years of history will bear me out on this….when the choice is between speech or no speech you pick speech. If the choice is between ideas good/bad or no ideas you pick goddamn ideas.

    PepsiCo has billions of dollars to spend on PR. They can buy all the speech they want. Does that mean we have to help them do it on Scienceblogs?

  40. #40 J
    July 8, 2010

    Benson writes: Or there was that inconvenient third thing to go by… the content that would have been on the blog.

    You’re right. It’s entirely possible that the content of “Food Frontiers” on Scienceblogs.com would have been entirely different from the content of “Food Frontiers” on Pepsicoblogs.com … despite the fact that they have the same name, the same logo, the same personnel, and the same mission.

    Who knows — the actual posts on the new blog could have been hard-hitting, independent investigations of critical issues in nutrition, obesity, and health, written with no regard for PepsiCo’s corporate image.

  41. #41 Sili
    July 8, 2010

    It’s interesting to learn how many people read ScienceBlogs and are worried about the penumbra of corporate sponsorship.

    I don’t read SB. I don’t fucking care about SB (hi, Jacob, you must be new here). I read Pharyngula. I read ERV. And so on. I’m not gonna read Isis or Zuzka or Laden or Nesbit just because they happen to be on SB.

    In fact I have repeatedly used the argument that fucking labels are not fucking definitions and bloggers get to write about whatever the fuck they fucking want to. BoingBoing (presumably) isn’t all slinkies all the time. Or are formulas forbidden on WordPress?

    That cuts both ways, of course. Casaubon’s Book (whoever the fuck that is) gets to write about whatever the fuck they want to, science or not science.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    “Does that mean we have to help them do it on Scienceblogs?”

    We don’t have to do anything. When the disclosure was up, I didn’t read anything about strapping J to a Clockwork Orange chair in front of the Pepsi blog and pumping a fine slurry of Capn’ Crunch and Tropicana Twister down J’s throat tube.

    Should you listen to speech before you reject it?

    If it doesn’t violate the terms agreed upon by the check cashing content providing contractors with Seed Media group pretending to be Vestal Virgins, Madam Curie and a hot house orchid rolled into a ball, then… well… yup.

    Maybe they should unionize and renegotiate under a banner of draconian censorship.

    Or ask to be nationalized by that nation on that planet. You know that one where science and science discussion is directionless, conducted in a cloud castle and there is no word for money.

    Also, science should smell like baby heads.

  43. #43 J
    July 8, 2010

    Look, you suggested that not offering PepsiCo a platform on Scienceblogs would somehow restrict their ability to speak, or to present their ideas. I pointed out that PepsiCo does not exactly suffer from a shortage of opportunities to communicate. Personally, I think PepsiCo’s sudden loss of an additional venue to promote themselves falls pretty far down on the list of global tragedies.

  44. #44 lynxreign
    July 8, 2010

    @38 – Prometheus

    “Extension implies similar content.”

    No. It does not. It implies different or greater content than the original source or it would be a redundancy/mirror site.

    Things can be different or greater while still being similar. Similar does not mean identical. If it wasn’t meant to be similar, there’d be no reason to link it back to their other site. If they intended for it to be unrelated, they would have said something like “Unlike our other site”.

    I think the last 10,000 years of history will bear me out on this….when the choice is between speech or no speech you pick speech. If the choice is between ideas good/bad or no ideas you pick goddamn ideas

    Sure, but that’s not the choice being made here. Pepsi has plenty of speech in plenty of venues. This isn’t a question of ideas or no ideas, it is a question of venue. This isn’t the appropriate venue, at least not without a better “wall” identifying it as a paid blog. If I publish a vanity press book, should Barnes & Noble be required to carry it?

  45. #45 JohnV
    July 8, 2010

    While Barnes & Noble need not be required to carry it, should other authors commit ritual suicide if they do? :p

  46. #46 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    “Look, you suggested that not offering PepsiCo a platform on Scienceblogs would somehow restrict their ability to speak, or to present their ideas.”

    Then I was unclear or wrong. Sorry. It restricts our choice to consider, confront or ignore their ideas/speech in the context of critical science bloggers and commentators. I’m worried about the marketplace of ideas, not Pepsi.

    Even if it had been the horrible dreck you predicted, it would have been an opportunity to reject them on the basis of content lack of merit etc..

    Or as grandma used to say, “Make sure you have clean hands before you throttle someone.”

  47. #47 J
    July 8, 2010

    Okay, JohnV … I’ll concede that if anyone committed ritual suicide over PepsiGate, that would have been a bit of an overreaction.

    Back in the real world, let’s keep in mind what actually happened here. PepsiCo wanted to buy some of Scienceblogs’s credibility. Sb’s management was initially happy with that. A lot of the people responsible for that credibility were less happy, and made their displeasure clear. Faced with a choice of losing PepsiCo’s revenue or losing a lot of their bloggers, Sb’s management backed down (or else PepsiCo backed out; we don’t know who saw the writing on the wall first).

    No violence was involved, as far as I know. Nobody was censored, no pitchforks were waved. People exercised their right to express their opinions and Sb management (or PepsiCo) made a practical decision about what was best for themselves financially.

    I find it mildly amusing that there are a small but nonzero number of people who think that the great tragedy here is an insufficient solicitousness towards the wishes of the PR departments of large multinational corporations.

  48. #48 J
    July 8, 2010

    Then I was unclear or wrong. Sorry. It restricts our choice to consider, confront or ignore their ideas/speech in the context of critical science bloggers and commentators. I’m worried about the marketplace of ideas, not Pepsi.

    Well, how about this for a compromise? If PepsiCo posts interesting science on their blog over at their own site, you should feel free to link to it and discuss it. Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, the marketplace of ideas is distributed, after all.

  49. #49 Meng Bomin
    July 8, 2010

    As a reader of some ScienceBlogs, I thought that this was largely a tempest in a teapot. Generally, I suspect that like me, most readers on ScienceBlogs have a limited amount of time to read the blogs here as well as a preference for some topics and some writers over others and thus pick and choose their reading material.

    Now, there may be some readers who choose brand loyalty over content, but it seems rather insulting to the intelligence of readers to suggest that they wouldn’t be able to discern good writing from crap. So, I would have no problem with giving PepsiCo. a blog, as long as readers knew what they were getting, and considering the fact that the blog’s title banner clearly marked that it was produced by PepsiCo., it meets that criteria. I probably wouldn’t pay much attention to it myself, but they might say interesting stuff. If they didn’t, that would be a good rationale to kick them off.

    Now, maybe I have a strange view. I don’t see ScienceBlogs as some sort of holy temple to science but rather as a hosting site that has many blogs covering issues related to science, which I as a reader can pick and choose. Same goes for the competing Discover blogs. If I think something is interesting, I’ll read it and having sites like ScienceBlogs and Discover to corral a lot of interesting content into one place is useful, but I’ve never thought of it as a source of authority in and of itself.

    On the other hand, this incident was very politically informative.

  50. #50 Jon H
    July 8, 2010

    “But, we’ll never know, now will we? Because Food Frontiers wasn’t given the chance to present any, you know, scientific evidence for anyone to evaluate.”

    They had the chance. They failed to have any substantive posts ready to go when the blog went live.

    Does that sound like a blog backed by a scientist excited to talk about her research? It doesn’t to me. To me the lack of any posts after the intro is suggestive that it was operating on the PR department’s press release schedule, rather than being driven by enthusiastic researchers eager to share and converse.

    It’s interesting that the for-profit-corporation-sponsored blogs at Sb have mostly been from industries with a PR problem and/or regulatory issues: oil, GMO, junk food.

    ie, their participation hasn’t just been to promote product sales. It’s reputation management.

  51. #51 Panda
    July 8, 2010

    Abbie is the /b/tard of the SciBlogs community.

  52. #52 WIll
    July 8, 2010

    Sure you can eat junk food and be healthy. You can also do drugs and be healthy. Health is a very personal matter. But drugs are illegal, for the reason junk food should be illegal, because it they are threat to public (and not necessarily personal) health. Willpower is not a popular characteristic. Cheap and easy food provided by industry and chemistry diseases a significant portion of the population.

  53. #53 Jon H
    July 8, 2010

    If Pepsi *really* wants to have a science blog, they can have host one for practically zero additional cost by branching it off their PR blog.

    If it’s any good, science bloggers will link to it.

    If it’s any good.

  54. #54 efren
    July 8, 2010

    To me the lack of any posts after the intro is suggestive that it was operating on the PR department’s press release schedule, rather than being driven by enthusiastic researchers eager to share and converse.

    Do you have any evidence for this? No? Didn’t think so. It just fits your chosen narrative.

  55. #55 JohnV
    July 8, 2010

    @J

    You’re not understanding what the non-zero number of us are objecting to. It’s mostly the lack of intellectual consistency that’s being espoused by some of the people involved, as opposed to actually being emotionally invested in pepsi losing a blog here.

    (Maybe in my case there’s also amusement that some participants at this website think so lowly of their peers that they would be unable to see through any fake science pepsi might have posted on their blog. Neat I can make up stupid things too.)

    Anyhow, to carry the bookstore analogy further… (sorry my exaggeration was somehow lost on you)

    Many of the bloggers who left actually do have books that they publicize on here. Making use of the scienceblog’s brand, built by people who aren’t them, to generate sales. That’s apparently ok for them to do. But if, in their mind, pepsi tries to do it RUH ROH NOW A LINES BEEN CROSSED.

    Even better, those same books ARE for sale at places like amazon and barne’s and noble which sell all sorts of terrible anti-science/anti-health books and products. But again, that’s apparently not a problem for them. Hell one blogger who quit here had no problem also blogging at huffington post despite the absolute cesspool of crankery and pseudoscience it is.

    Not to mention the absolute free pass that’s given to food woo here.

  56. #56 jaranath
    July 8, 2010

    “Even if it had been the horrible dreck you predicted, it would have been an opportunity to reject them on the basis of content lack of merit etc…”

    Isn’t that part of the objection, though? How do SB bloggers come on board? I assume (no?) they don’t buy their way in? Why did Pepsi have to?

  57. #57 Jon H
    July 8, 2010

    “Do you have any evidence for this? No? Didn’t think so. It just fits your chosen narrative.”

    I haven’t tried to get data on the mean time between introductory post and first science posts for new blogs, but I figure most new entrants to SciBlogs want to make a good impression and show their stuff ASAP. They might duplicate a recent post from a prior independent blog, or work up a good debut post.

    At a minimum, the lack of substantive posts from Pepsi suggests that it wasn’t a high priority for the participants.

    Bloggers generally have the enthusiasm required to generate a good number of posts at the start. It’s only later that they tail off into hibernation.

  58. #58 Bruce
    July 8, 2010

    Abbie, in trying to follow the links, the Invitrogen (http://scienceblogs.com/biotech/) takes me to the Sb home page, and I can’t find it in the pull down menu either???

  59. #59 Jon H
    July 8, 2010

    Interesting, Sb pulled the long-dead Biotech blog.

  60. #60 efren
    July 8, 2010

    At a minimum, the lack of substantive posts from Pepsi suggests that it wasn’t a high priority for the participants.

    Do you have any evidence for this? No? Didn’t think so. It just fits your chosen narrative.

  61. #61 Pat Cahalan
    July 8, 2010

    A corporate-sponsored blog doesn’t belong here, any more than a corporate-sponsored journal should be accepted a priori as a legitimate scientific journal.

    This is not because corporations are teh weevil. It’s because the opportunity for conflict of interest is embedded, and there’s no reason to leverage a situation that enables that to occur.

    There’s no substantial benefit to it. If Pepsi is sponsoring legitimate science (and I have no doubt they do), they can submit their stuff to journals like anybody else (and I’m sure they do). If a scientist employed by a for-profit corporation (or a non-profit with a political agenda, for that matter) wants to blog here, there’s no reason for that to be a problem, either. They disclaim their relationship in their sidebar and post whatever they want.

    This isn’t that sort of a relationship.

    Put another way: if your Senator is on the board of a corporation that currently receives a couple hundred billion dollars worth of government contracts, and that Senator gets appointed to a committee that oversees that corporation’s industry, the Senator should decline the seat, or resign the board.

    Not because (s)he’s automatically going to be doing something nefarious, but because there’s no benefit to their constituents for them to be executing both responsibilities simultaneously, and they have a primary duty to their constituents.

    Same deal here.

    If a Pepsico-sponsored study showed a benefit of a GMO, it would be published. If a Pepsico-sponsored study showed drawbacks to a GMO, it might be published… but then again, Pepsico has a *ethical obligation* to its shareholders to protect their share value. As a shareholder in Pepsico (guess what, if you contribute to your 403b you probably are, too), I expect them to execute that responsbilitiy.

    Pepsico does not have an ethical obligation to share scientific knowledge.

    A Pepsico-employed scientist may feel that ethical obligation, and the SB editors may feel that obligation, but they are not the sole arbiters of what goes under the Pepsi-sponsored banner.

    That’s an inescapable conflict of interest.

    Now, conflicts of interest are often inescapable, and sometimes the benefit of enabling them is worth the necessity of auditing the conflict.

    How in any way is that the case in this instance?

  62. #62 ERV
    July 8, 2010

    Bruce, Jon– Working, dont have time to comment, but I have no idea who/why they did that, but LOL!

  63. #63 john C. Welch
    July 8, 2010

    I love the whole “Well, Pepsi scientists can post here on their own if they want”

    Based on the reaction to their employer, why, oh WHY would they do so while they work for pepsi?

    It’s not like they could hide that for long, and if they did, you’d all scream ASTROTURF.

    The first time they posted something you didn’t like? SHILL

    I think anyone working for Pepsi would have to be an acephalic masochist to even THINK about contributing to SB now.

    Way to go guys.

    Way

    To

    Go.

    And yeah, Abbie pretty much had the sole sane opinion on this.

  64. #64 Prometheus
    July 8, 2010

    j@#48

    “Well, how about this for a compromise? If PepsiCo posts interesting science on their blog over at their own site, you should feel free to link to it and discuss it. Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, the marketplace of ideas is distributed, after all.”

    Only if you are okay with then inviting them back, not making them wear an ADVERTORIAL collar and paying them to be here if they have interesting content and lots of hits just like the self promoting “science journalists” blogs.

    If not it isn’t a very honest proposal for a compromise.

  65. #65 Christophe Thill
    July 8, 2010

    Can you enjoy bad food and still be healthy? It seems you can.

    Is junk food an important contributing factor in the rise of obesity in the Western world? And is advertisement an important booster of the “efficiency” of this factor? The answer is…

    Oh, never mind. I won’t say it. Just take a look at what a doctor specialized in nutrition has to say…

    http://www.weightymatters.ca/

  66. #66 Barn Owl
    July 8, 2010

    The link to the Invitrogen/Biotech blog worked this morning – there were several ZOMG EEEVULL GMO!!11!!! posts, from the bloggers other than Pam Ronald. Really enjoyed reading this post and the Mountain Dew one, Abbie, as well as some of the comments.

    Now excuse me, time’s a wastin’, and I need to sustainably harvest the grains growing from seeds crapped onto the roof of my rammed earth shelter by non-GMO free-range doves and grackles, lovingly hand-grind them (the grains, not the birds), and bake a loaf of bread in an oven powered by fairy farts, elf sighs, and unicorn burps.

  67. #67 Badger3k
    July 8, 2010

    What fracking credibility does Scienceblogs have? It’s a fekking blog-hosting site, and the only time I ever hear of Scienceblogs is when someone gives the general website for a particular blog. The site had Mooney, and (last I heard) still has Nesbitt, and many others who are full of shite. If Sb had no credibility problem before (or rather, if the bloggers who have their blogs hosted here did not suffer a loss of credibility) due to the crap spewed out by some members….well, WTF? Discover still hosts Mooney, even with his promotion of frauds and lack of journalistic ability. Does Carl Zimmer lose credibility for being on the same site? If someone (or some organization) looks at Sb as a whole

    This isn’t some crap-filled site like HuffPo or the DI, there’s a mixture of good and bad here, and you take each blog on their own merit. Not everyone likes what everyone else says. Not everyone is as trustworthy, reliable, or credible as everyone else. That’s life. The bizarre sense of privilege that some of the bloggers seem to have is incredible. I’m not sure if any of them ever actually worked for a real business, or been in the military, where unless you are in management or on the board of directors, well, you don’t have a voice in business decisions, no matter how valuable you think you are. We all want to feel wanted and valuable, but seriously, learn how the real world works so you won’t get your feelings hurt.

    Hopefully the kids who didn’t like the new kid moving into the neighborhood will take their toys and find a new sandbox, and for myself, I think I read one. Maybe they can take all the readers who do not evaluate each blog and post on its own merit.

    Feh, that’s enough of this drama for me. I gots me a nice thick steak cooked up, and a nice ice cold pepsi throwback to wash it down with, to get to.

  68. #68 tamakazura
    July 8, 2010

    Actually, some of the more recently added blogs have done more to tarnish my image of ScienceBlogs than the Pepsi blog could.
    Echoing one of the previous posters, if I worked for Pepsi I sure as hell wouldn’t be posting here.
    Anyway, didn’t regularly read any of the blogs that left, and I found some of the science-journalists’ works to be a little too quick to fall in line with the mores with a certain subset of the hipster demographic.
    One last anecdote–
    I have a relative who works for a big oil company. He’s convinced that the “progressives” are out to crush the oil industry regardless of any efforts that the industry might make to be more environmentally friendly or better global citizens. In fact, he was at a meeting on the day of the BP spill and told me that all of the people in the meeting were really stressed about it. It wasn’t his company’s problem, though his company has contributed a large amount to cleaning up the spill. But in the eyes of a large part of the populace, one big screwup is the fault of the entire company and everyone in it, is the fault of every company in the industry, is the fault of corporations in general, so people at his company were worried about the backlash against them.
    When I informed him that not all progressives think like this, because *I’m* a Progressive, he told me that I was not a real “Progressive”.
    Anyway, I think it’s kind of sad that so many educated people are such knee-jerk reactionaries against anything having to do with the corporate world.

  69. #69 jaranath
    July 8, 2010

    With all due respect to your relative, tamakazura, I’m getting the impression that BP’s vulnerability to this particular screwup was typical for the industry. If that’s true, then it probably IS his company’s problem, and they SHOULD be really stressed about it. Awful as it is, I care a lot less about this current spill than what will be done to prevent and/or plug the next one as this sort of drilling expands.

  70. #70 The Curmudgeon
    July 8, 2010

    This is an outrage! I was encouraged by Pepsi’s blog here, because I was hoping for one of my own so I could sell Veg-O-Matics to all you folks. Now my plans have come to naught.

  71. #71 Bite Me
    July 8, 2010

    Anyway, I think it’s kind of sad that so many educated people are such knee-jerk reactionaries against anything having to do with the corporate world.

    Could it be because most of them haven’t worked outside of academia since they were undergraduates, if at all?

    Naaaahhh….

  72. #72 Adela
    July 8, 2010

    I’m wondering how many actually talked to management directly about their concerns over this before the screaming and flounces. Nothing undermines an ethics argument more than throwing an impatient toddler style fit in public especially if that was your first course of action.

  73. #73 tamakazura
    July 8, 2010

    Hmmm.
    The impression that I got was that it’s widely known in the industry that blowout preventers have a fairly poor success rate and that a good well design would have included more than one of them, and perhaps more than two.
    From reading “The Oil Drum”, I got the impression that BP chose not to monitor the backflow of mud while pressure testing the well. The mud was instead being pumped out of the mud rooms as it emerged from the well and into a tanker. Observing the level of the backflow is standard practice for detecting the efficacy of the well and whether a blowout is immenent. I might be misunderstanding this, but it is well known in the industry that this is cutting a pretty damn big corner. If cutting this corner were NOT an anomaly but a standard practice, all our beaches would be filled with oil.
    I have a strong opinion on this because my relative’s job involves work safety and overviewing plans for potential hazards, and I know no-one who takes their job more seriously.
    That being said,I think that there is a lot that could have been done to plan for such an emergency that wasn’t. There could have been computer simulations which predicted that ice crystals would have formed on the initial well-cap. We can simulate fluid dynamics and the simpler physics required for this.
    The lack of preparedness for disaster seems like an industry-wide problem, but how much better would things be had they prepared for such a disaster? Perhaps there’s a point at which nothing can be done to mitigate the damage.
    Once you send a guy up into space, there’s not a whole lot ground control can do if the spacecraft breaks in some way. We’re reduced to trying to find a McGuyver solution with a high probability of not working. The best practice might be to make doubly and triply sure things are not going to break before you send the guy into space. BP evidently didn’t do this. It doesn’t mean it’s an industry wide problem.

  74. #74 Rorschach
    July 8, 2010

    Being healthy and enjoying food and drink is an achievable goal for anyone.

    And none of your oh so sharp commenters calls you out on this incorrect piece of young white healthy employed person privilege BS.

  75. #75 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    Rorschach @ 74:

    What, broccoli and apples are prohibitively expensive? It costs money to go running? Water costs more than pop now?

  76. #76 Jack
    July 8, 2010

    @75
    What, broccoli and apples are prohibitively expensive? It costs money to go running? Water costs more than pop now?

    Actually, there are several studies in public health journals showing strong evidence that – in lower-income neighbourhoods – fresh fruits and vegetables are either less accessible or more expensive than processed foods.

    An investigation of the potential existence of “food deserts” in rural and urban areas of Northern Ireland

  77. #77 john C. Welch
    July 8, 2010

    Much love for you Abbie:

    http://www.bynkii.com/archives/2010/07/this_was_going_to_be_far_snark.html

    Anytime we’re ever in the same place, i’ll buy the beer. (now, if they’re serving Mt. Dew black, i’ll hip-check you out a window to get to that. but, you know, priorities.)

  78. #78 jaranath
    July 8, 2010

    I agree with a lot of that, tamakazura, and I certainly don’t know what’s possible in planning and mitigation here. But things like the corner-cutting you mention and the simple fact that apparently, if a blowout preventer fails we have no other option but to wait months or more for a final fix, suggest to me that planning and mitigation weren’t taken seriously. Of course, I’m a bit biased since planning and mitigation are my job (in a wholly unrelated field.)

  79. #79 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    Jack:

    There may be evidence in that study from Northern Ireland. I’m skeptical of the same being true in Detroit, and likely other US cities.

    My folks run a small-time family produce farm in SE Michigan. They sell their goods at a large market in inner-city Detroit to predominantly inner-city residents.

    Their prices (and the prices across the market) are dirt cheap, notably less than supermarkets. Since they’re the producers there are no grocery middlemen to mark it up. We’re talking sweet corn for $1/dozen versus $3-4/dozen, cabbage for 50 cents a head, whole crates of collards and kale for a few bucks, peppers, tomatoes, various melons and squash, all of it less than half of grocery prices.

    I can tell you there’s no shortage of cheap produce around downtown Detroit. I suspect this distribution structure is common throughout much of the US.

    I don’t buy the claim that urban residents have limited access to cheap fruits and vegetables, at least around here.

  80. #80 Mike Haubrich
    July 8, 2010

    Abbie, I, too had tried several times to get Anastasia’s blog added here; Genetic Maize was a great place to go to for information on the actual science of GMO and BT’s (and modified trees that clean up toxic waste dumps!)

    Good post and I agree with you. There was a very quick, emotional and not rational jump from SB. I am not a pepsi shill, either. I drink Coke.

    Cue the PZ sycophants and their childish insults.

    Posted by: Just Sayin’ | July 8, 2010 2:11 PM

    Relevance, please, Just Sayin’. Or are you another of YNH Will’s sockpuppets?

  81. #81 Jack
    July 8, 2010

    Jeremy,

    I used the Northern Ireland study as an example. An American study using participants in the food stamp program (from across the country) found that distance from a food store was negatively correlated with intake of fruits. This was found in food stamp users, not in high-income families. So it would seem that you’re right that access to “healthy foods” is not about income but about vicinity to a good market.

    But wait! A study done in Toronto (my home) looked at the prevalence of food insecurity (as defined by Health Canada) in low income areas. They found that 2/3 (!) of households surveyed met the criteria for food insecurity. Further, there was no correlation at all between food insecurity and distance to a market.

    So what to make of this? Clearly there is a correlation between poverty and unhealthy eating. The reason for this is still debatable. Is it because of supermarket vicinity? Is it actual lack of financial wherewithal to buy healthy foods? This is a large area of research and it is not directly within my realm (paediatrics) so I am far from an authority. I’ve really only skimmed the surface with my quick lit review but it would be nice if one of our resident public health experts on this blog could shed some light.

    Food store access and household fruit and vegetable use among participants in the US Food Stamp Program

    Assessing the relevance of neighbourhood characteristics to the household food security of low-income Toronto families

    *I’m sorry to link only to abstracts but the full texts are all behind pay-walls. These papers should be available through most university libraries.

  82. #82 Jeremy
    July 8, 2010

    I’ll take a look at them, Jack. Thanks.

  83. #83 pam Ronald
    July 9, 2010

    glad I said something reasonable about the invitrogen blog, which I cant even remember.

    and I TOTALLY agree that we need Anastasia and Karl over here. They are both extremely dedicated to science-based information and blogging about it.

    Thanks ERV

  84. #84 Jeremy
    July 9, 2010

    Jack:

    Although the first paper out of Tulane found an inverse relationship between fruit consumption and distance from a market, there was no significant correlation with vegetable consumption. So according to this study “healthy foods” are still available regardless of distance to market, as long as you consider vegetables “healthy food.” I do concede, however, that fruits are also essential.

    As you pointed out, the Toronto study supports the position that market distance isn’t the issue here.

    I recognize there’s a correlation between poverty and lack of healthy eating. What these studies seem to have been unable to show is that market distance or lack of income completely precludes low-income people from healthy foods. I think if they really wanted to eat healthy, they could.

    I suspect there are other factors at work, possibly lack of health and nutrition education, or the simple fact that twinkies taste better than carrots. Maybe the daily reality of inner-city survival prohibits putting much thought into health and nutrition (a la Maslow’s Hierarchy).

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone studied poor health and nutrition among middle- and upper-class people? Surely Rush Limbaugh’s obesity isn’t caused by lack of income or distance from a market.

  85. #85 Jack
    July 9, 2010

    One reason for a discrepancy between the studies may be a difference in their measurement of “distance to market”. The Tulane study analyzed 3 groups: <1 mile from market, 1-5 miles from market, and > 5 miles from market. They only found a statistically signifcant result for those more than 5 miles from market. The Toronto study only divided their population into two groups: more or less than 2 km from a market. Maybe given the methodological differences, we shouldn’t be surprised by different results.

    Unfortunately, this is the reality of many epidemiological and clinical studies. There just aren’t enough data to be able to find the inflection point so an arbitrary grouping is used. Often the choice of groups is based on some prior research – more or less an educated guess – but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    Interestingly, the Purdue study also found that those who own a car actually eat fewer fruits and vegetables – which totally goes against the distance hypothesis (although this finding lost signifcance when run through a multivariate analysis). The other significant finding was that those who said their attitude toward diet was “important” ate more fruits and vegetables – not especially surprising.

    I think the real point here is that those below the poverty line have poorer diets. The study out of Toronto (which has been replicated elsewhere) is evidence for this. Again, I don’t know most of the literature so maybe the reason for this phenomenon is actually well described and we just haven’t seen the study. However, it’s important to note that it is not as easy as we would like to think to improve the world’s nutritional status. We can lecture about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and laying off the saturated fats until our faces turn blue but the problem will persist.

    To bring this back to ERV’s original post, I think she and her readers should realize that there is more to public health than individual choice. Maybe ERV can “enjoy ‘bad’ foods and still be healthy” but that doesn’t really add anything to the discourse when a large swath of the population doesn’t seem to be able to achieve the same.

  86. #86 Aj
    July 9, 2010

    So what the people on the pro-pepsi-sponsored-blog side seem to be saying is “don’t be a pussy”?
    http://unmotivationalposters.com/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=515&g2_serialNumber=2

  87. #87 IanW
    July 9, 2010

    The fact that a complete psycho like you ;-) has been one of the few rational voices here at sci-blogs over this Pepsi crap is as weird as it is heartening. I haven’t been a huge fan of yours in the past but I’m a bigger one now.

    I think it’s really revealing that so many science bloggers here have been precisely the opposite of what science bloggers are supposed to be at heart: rational!

    Instead, all-too-many of them have flown off the handle and been judging the experiment and announcing the result before the experiment has even been performed. These are the very same bloggers who chide the media for doing that selfsame thing. Go figure.

    Keep up the good work (pretty please!). Now that this appears to be blowing over, let’s hope that science blogs will get back to that from which it has begun to stray more and more: science blogging!

  88. #88 Marichi
    July 9, 2010

    Anyway, I think it’s kind of sad that so many educated people are such knee-jerk reactionaries against anything having to do with the corporate world.

    That could have to do with, you know, being educated

  89. #89 Onkel Bob
    July 9, 2010

    That could have to do with, you know, being educated

    And apparently, once educated, there is nothing left to learn…

  90. #90 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    Relevance, please, Just Sayin’. Or are you another of YNH Will’s sockpuppets?

    And one of the sycophants just has to show up on cue and prove me right! Priceless!

    Poor Mikey! Did I piss on your idol?

  91. #91 carlsonjok
    July 9, 2010

    That could have to do with, you know, being educated

    Ahh, of course. Since anyone who is educated would never go to work in the private sector. Why sully themselves with icky commerce (and have to actually associate with the proles) when they can sit back in their ivory tower and suckle of the collective teat of those poor dumb schmucks and lecture us as to how we should live our lives.

  92. #92 Jeremy
    July 9, 2010

    Jack @ 85:

    Maybe ERV can “enjoy ‘bad’ foods and still be healthy” but that doesn’t really add anything to the discourse when a large swath of the population doesn’t seem to be able to achieve the same.

    Unable or unwilling? Diet and exercise require effort, effort that a lot of people (regardless of class) don’t muster for whatever reason.

    Sure distance to a market or lack of income *could* be factors (though the evidence seems inconsistent at best). It could also be that unhealthy people won’t get off their ass and actually do something about it. Why do you think there’s such a market for magic weight-loss products? Most people don’t want to put in the effort. They want it easy.

    I think erv was correct with her assertion that people can be healthy if they choose to be. No one’s getting tied up and having sugar and lard shoved down their throats. Blaming one’s lack of personal responsibility or discipline on income or class is a cop-out.

  93. #93 Bruce
    July 9, 2010

    ]“Rebeccas blog, ‘Culture Dish’, was essentially one big ad for Rebeccas book, ‘THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS’”

    Yep, since January of this year, 13 post with HeLa in the title and 2 about the why this is all so distressing and an assault on her credibility (15 total posts this year). Only having posted 59 times since her start in December of 2008 by my count of post with HeLa in the title (17) a 40% PR campaign is apparently ethically acceptable.

    “… and yet another anti-science ‘foodie’. A literature major. Who writes about food, but not that ‘hoity toity science crap’ that we are supposed to be pushing so PURELY on SCIENCEblogs, but more in the way my mom would write about the stuff she grows in our backyard. But less funny than my mom would be…”

    You would have to take the courses she promotes on Sb and co-teaches with her dashing astrophysicists husband to get the science.

  94. #94 Josh in California
    July 9, 2010

    Awesome post, Abs.

    It does seem pretty cowardly to shout them down before even seeing what they end up posting. Had their posts turned out to be bullshit, I don’t think they would have stuck around for long since they would have had half a dozen sciencebloggers calling them on it on a daily basis.

    Speaking of rage-fueled mega-rants, do you have anything to say about the Colgate Twins and their involvement in the You’re Not Helping fraud? =)

  95. #95 Jack
    July 9, 2010

    Jeremy,

    The very fact that there is a discrepancy in diet between different socioeconomic classes shows that there is more to this than individual choice. The Purdue study even showed that ~79% of their sample described dietary habits as “important” so I don’t think attitude is the major factor.

    I know that there is literature directly comparing the diets of people in different income groups. I’ll try to find it for you when I get a chance.

    By the way, maybe your parents can open up a store near me? I would definitely be a repeat visitor to a place with prices like theirs.

  96. #96 leonids11
    July 9, 2010

    Coca Cola was invented in 1886; Pepsi Cola, 1898. Since then, life expectancy in the industrialized world has risen dramatically.

    The only compelling health argument I’ve ever encountered against the consumption of soda pop (in moderation, of course) is that it might contribute to tooth decay, if drinkers don’t regularly brush their teeth.

    Sodas contain sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate. We need carbohydrates. Sodas also contain water. We need water. We can derive pleasure from drinking sodas. Pleasure can be healthy and help reduce stress levels.

    If you are truly worried sodas are unhealthy, a simple solution exists: save your money and drink tap water instead.

  97. #97 Jeremy
    July 10, 2010

    Jack:

    The Purdue study even showed that ~79% of their sample described dietary habits as “important” so I don’t think attitude is the major factor.

    I think a lot of people willfully do things they know aren’t good for them. The instant benefit of consuming something bad *now* may be more important to them than the potential repercussions *later*.

    By the way, maybe your parents can open up a store near me? I would definitely be a repeat visitor to a place with prices like theirs.

    They don’t own a store, it’s a sort of street market where they rent a lot and sell from the back of a truck. The market’s quite large, with hundreds of farmers selling produce, flowers, and other plants. It makes sense to a lot of produce farmers to congregate in cities where population density (and customer base) is high. They also supply a lot of small grocers in the city.

    I imagine large farmer’s markets like this are present in nearly every reasonably-sized metropolitan area (I know of others in Lansing, Jackson, Toledo, Fort Wayne, etc.) Small towns tend to have small versions of them. I suspect there must be one in your area, unless you’re perhaps in the southwest, the mountains, or another area with limited regional agriculture.

  98. #98 Tyler DiPietro
    July 10, 2010

    I’m amazed at how self-important bloggers can be. People act like their little hobby of frequently publishing amateurish writing on the internet is too pure to be corrupted by commercial interests. Seriously, just grow the fuck up.

  99. #99 dexitroboper
    July 10, 2010

    But they are SCIENCE bloggers.

  100. #100 Hank Fox
    July 10, 2010

    Posted elsewhere:

    ……………………

    One thing I DO take away from the thing: There were a number of wait-and-see comments throughout the blogs among the readers. Being a journalist, I can excuse non-journalists for failing to immediately understand the point, and it’s completely okay with me that they felt cautious.

    What I can’t forgive is those commenters who acted like the rest of us with strong feelings about the incident were insane or hideously overreacting.

    I suspect some of them may have been PepsiCo sock puppets assembled on short notice to quash the conflict, but I’d bet some of them were authentic readers of ScienceBlogs.

    They’re welcome to their opinions, then and now, but they’re NOT welcome to my respect after having done what they did — treating people (who, as it turns out, knew more about the true nature of the situation than they did) as if they were crazy.

    One who sticks in my mind was a certain “dewey” among the commenters at ERV. Nasty little prick.

    And just as a side note, I thought the blogger at ERV was a bit of a dick for his/her approach to the thing, calling some of those who left “spineless” and “pig fuckers,” etc. in a post titled “SciBlogs caves to hysterics.”

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