Respectful Insolence

There’s a problem brewing and ScienceBlogs, a disturbance in the Force, if you will, and it’s a doozy. It’s a darkness that’s distubed several of my fellow ScienceBloggers to the point where I fear that some of them may leave. Indeed, it’s a spectacularly tin-eared and idiotic decision on the part of management that is leading me to start to wonder about my continued relationship with ScienceBlogs.

All in all, this is most definitely not good.

It all started when PalMD and I noticed something popping up on the ScienceBlogs newsfeed. It was a new blog in the collective announcing itself thusly: Welcome to Food Frontiers. That’s odd, I thought. We just added a couple of food and fitness blogs (Obesity Panacea and Tomorrow’s Table). Then I saw this and was not pleased:

On behalf of the team here at ScienceBlogs, I’d like to welcome you to Food Frontiers, a new project presented by PepsiCo.

As part of this partnership, we’ll hear from a wide range of experts on how the company is developing products rooted in rigorous, science-based nutrition standards to offer consumers more wholesome and enjoyable foods and beverages. The focus will be on innovations in science, nutrition and health policy. In addition to learning more about the transformation of PepsiCo’s product portfolio, we’ll be seeing some of the innovative ways it is planning to reduce its use of energy, water and packaging.

And this on the left sidebar:

PepsiCo’s R&D Leadership Team discusses the science behind the food industry’s role in addressing global public health challenges. This is an extension of PepsiCo’s own Food Frontiers blog. All editorial content on the blog is overseen by ScienceBlogs editors.


This is a problem. A big problem. Leaving aside what the heck it means that all editorial content on the blog is overseen by ScienceBlogs editors, what we have here is a corporate blog on ScienceBlogs. I realize that this isn’t the first time we’ve hosted corporate blogs before, but there’s something about this one that bothers me. For instance, there was Collective Imagination, which was sponsored by GE. There was also Next Generation Energy, which was sponsored by Shell. No big deal, right? What’s the difference between the PepsiCo blog and those previous corporate blogs? If those blogs didn’t bother me, why does the PepsiCo blog disturb me? There are a few reasons.

One reason is that these prior blogs were sponsored by a corporation, but the corporation didn’t take primary responsibility for writing them. In the case of Collective Imagination, one of our own, Greg Laden, participated in writing the blog, along with some GE scientists. In the case of Next Generation Energy, the blog was written by a combination of ScienceBloggers and guest bloggers. In contrast, Food Frontiers appears to be written entirely by R&D scientists employed by PepsiCo, leading me to ask: Why does PepsiCo need ScienceBlogs? Doesn’t the company have its own resources sufficient to produce its own blog? Does it need us to do the following:

We have some exciting things planned for this project, including a video series that will begin with a look at the role the food industry plays in health issues, and how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can improve health outcomes around the world.

I would answer that it does not, nor does ScienceBlogs require such material to provide interesting, educational, and entertaining blogging for its readers.

Look, I get it. I knew from the beginning that ScienceBlogs is a business. I knew from the beginning that one of its goals was to turn a profit. I knew from the beginning that it would be advertiser supported. I’m not averse to advertising, even after the occasional ad has embarrassed the hell out of me because it was for alternative medicine quackery or some other pseudoscience. In general, our Benevolent Overlords would rapidly banish such ads when they were pointed out. There was also the understanding that the right bar and the top bar belonged to ScienceBlogs and existed for advertising, while the center bar belongs to individual bloggers. For the most part, that deal held. Even better, ScienceBlogs did something that is very rare in any sort of commercial website. It exercised no editorial control over what I wrote.

Let me repeat that. ScienceBlogs and Seed never exercised even the most minimal editorial control over my blogging or that of any other ScienceBlogger. If you don’t believe that, ask yourself: Would any blog network or magazine that exercised editorial control over content permit the desecration of a Catholic host as an anti-religion protest, as P.Z. Myers did a couple of years ago.

I think not.

It wasn’t just that, either. In the beginning, at least, there was a real sense of community among those of us chosen to be ScienceBloggers. Oh, sure, there was the occasional internecine dust-up, sometimes pretty nasty. But Seed sponsored blogger meetups and tried to keep a sense of community. True, the last couple of years there haven’t been any meetups, thanks to the economic downturn and the increased number of bloggers (at least, those are the reasons I suspect) and the sense of community has clearly eroded, but even so this remains a pretty decent gig. Those of us lucky enough to be invited to blog for ScienceBlogs don’t have to worry about technical upkeep of our blogs; we get paid a bit based on our traffic; and our corporoate overlords by and large don’t interfere with what we write. What’s not to like?

The blurring between advertising and blogging is not to like, at least not right now. What Seed has done is to set a dangerous precedent that goes beyond earlier corporate blogs. It has taken what is in essence advertising material and placed it front and center as a blog that’s coequal to me, not to mention to all my fellow ScienceBloggers–no, more than coequal. After all, it’s a corporate blog, written by scientists working for the corporation and edited by Evan Lerner and other ScienceBlogs editors. We don’t get that kind of attention from our management. But then we don’t pay what is likely a tidy sum to blog for ScienceBlogs. On the other hand, we drive the traffic that allows ScienceBlogs to attract a company like PepsiCo to spend money to promote its message through our blogs.

I admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the corporate blogs that preceded Food Frontiers. In retrospect, I now realize that I probably should have, because if I had I’d have probably seen this sort of thing coming. More importantly, my failure to pay attention to these precursor blogs was probably due to parochialism. GE is not a medical or pharmaceutical company, nor is Shell. It didn’t concern me. I recently made a snarky comment in the comments of PZ’s blog about how he didn’t decide that he was “done with” The Huffington Post until it started spouting what bugged him, namedly creationist nonsense. Maybe I’m the same way. I didn’t notice that Seed was getting a little too willing to let corporations spread their message through blogs rather than through ads on ScienceBlogs until it let a company responsible for producing huge quantities of junk food and arguably promoting the obesity epidemic have its very own blog. In other words, I was a “shruggie” until it was my ox that was gored. Now I’m left wondering: What’s next? The Merck Blog? The Sanofi-Aventis Blog? (If you’ve been paying attention to the antics of a certain member of the anti-vaccine movement you’ll know why I chose that latter one.) Here I am, trying very much to make sure that I can’t be legitimately charged with being a shill for pharma or the food industry, and Seed just cut my legs out from under me and left me open to all sorts of ridiculous charges by the loons in the anti-vaccine movement.

Worse, it came completely by surprise. Would it have been too much to give us ScienceBloggers a heads-up? No one in management sent out a notice that this was coming, and I discovered it only when the blog first popped up on my newsfeed yesterday afternoon. I e-mailed blog bud PalMD with a puzzled and dismayed “WTF?” and pretty soon there appeared to be a revolt brewing, with blogchild Mark Chu-Carroll deciding to stop blogging for ScienceBlogs for a while, to see what happens, referring to the deal as “sleaze” and Grrl Scientist writing about “sucking corporate dick.” ERV, on the other hand, appears to have no problem with the arrangement, going as far as referring to those of us who do have concerns about it as “arrogant idiots” and:

…snooty assholes who think that they look more educated or forward-thinking or refined because “they don’t drink ‘soda’ or eat Doritos” is unimpressive. Its simultaneously intellectually lazy and condescending.

I for one do drink pop (we’re in the midwest here; to me it’s pop, not soda) and I happen to love Doritos and other Frito Lay products as well as Lipton Iced Tea (although I have to admit that I much prefer Coke to Pepsi; alway have.) In other words, I’m a junk food junkie, and I have nothing against PepsiCo personally. That doesn’t mean I want to be so closely associated with it. DRV is free to snuggle up to her heart’s content with Pepsico; I don’t really care. But ERV would feel differently if she were a physician, like PalMD or myself, and were trying to promote science-based medicine. One of the most persistent false charges used by quacks and cranks to try to discredit us is the charge of being a pharma shill or a corporate shill. I myself just suffered having a bunch of loons from the Age of Autism try to get me fired from my job for made up conflicts of interest that I allegedly didn’t disclose. That ERV so blithely and sarcastically dismisses legitimate concerns about this situation does not speak well of her at all. My estimation of her just dropped a couple of notches. (Whether she cares about my opinion of her or not, who knows?) It would have been one thing if ERV had simply said she disagreed and stated why, but she went out of her way to show contempt for those expressing their concerns, and for that it’s highly tempting to go all Orac on her. Let me just point out that obesity is one of the biggest drivers of chronic disease, including certain cancers, and as a cancer surgeon I find it disconcerting–to say the least!– to see my corporate overlords applying lips to corporate anus in so shameless a fashion.

Now don’t get me wrong. As I said, I don’t object to advertising per se as a means of supporting ScienceBlogs. I do object to advertising being given coequal status to my blogging–greater than equal status, actually. What I do object to is the blurring of the line between advertising and content. At the same time, I do acknowledge that Food Frontiers is clearly labeled as being the product of PepsiCo. What bothers me is that it isn’t represented as advertising.

For the moment I’m willing to take a wait and see approach. I’m also going to be paying close attention to this new interloper. Just because it’s Seed-supported won’t inoculate it from a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence. What happens next will also guide what would seem to be a mandatory reevaluation of my relationship with Seed and ScienceBlogs. Seed and ScienceBlogs have built up a lot of good will with me; so I’m inclined for the moment to give them the benefit of the doubt, although I remain disturbed that this project wasn’t announced to us before it caught us by surprise. My font of good will isn’t bottomless, however. Like Mike Dunford and Jason Goldman, I’m not reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to the mere concept of a corporate blog. After all, I didn’t react one way or the other to the two or three such blogs that preceded the PepsiCo blog. Nor am I necessarily planning to leave ScienceBlogs just over the concept of a blog like PepsiCo’s blog, but I am going to be watching it very carefully.

Comments

  1. #1 Blake Stacey
    July 7, 2010

    I scheduled my last post to go up later this morning, and I e-mailed in my notice. Even if all this works out, there’ll just be another idiotic management blunder in six months or a year, and I don’t intend to stick around for it.

  2. #3 razib
    July 7, 2010

    *sigh*

    hope this gets worked out. that was a mighty thorough post orac.

  3. #4 Nick
    July 7, 2010

    I tried to post a comment on PepsiCo’s Food Frontiers blog, only to find out that it has a very strict approval process. Seems alien to me considering Orac (among many others on scienceblogs) allow essentially everyone to post without a approval/censorship process. That even includes trash like Sid Offit, Jen and Dr. Smart. Really horrific trolls.

    My guess is my comment is never posted, and the Food Frontiers heads toward Age-of-Autism style censorship to prevent the masses of angry sciencblog readers from overrunning the blockades.

  4. #5 Harbo
    July 7, 2010

    pity, I quite liked the odd P’max.

  5. #6 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 7, 2010

    The writing can be entertaining here, but the idea that this blog has any real import is foolishness and nothing more. I have as much contempt for the anti-vax people or peddlers of woo as anyone else, but this blog has been an extended sermon to the converted and little else. So please get over Pepsi’s blog. There are far more important things in this world than the location of a blog.

    (And PZ Meyers is hardly the intellectual rebel demonstrating the independence of Scienceblogs. He’s more of an overgrown freshman seeking attention. Seen it before.)

  6. #7 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    I neither condemn nor condone the fact that PepsiCo has a blog here. But I will note that the comments that have been approved there do straddle both sides of the fence. It kind of shows they are trying.

    Eh! It is a big multi-billion dollar food enterprise that has to deal with farming issues (traditional versus integrated pest management), to product creation (okay, fat versus flavor?), to distribution (local versus centralized?). So they could have lots to say… or nothing.

    My personal soda addiction is Diet Coke. I don’t eat chips, and I actually cook food without much in the way of short cuts (so I made “Hot Tamale Pie” today, I used canned tomato sauce, canned black olives and frozen corn, plus purchased ground beef… but I chopped onions and red peppers, plus oregano from my garden… the corn bread topping was not from a mix!).

    I will have to see how it goes.

    PS: Gopherus Agassizii, you would have garnered more respect for your comment if you had spelled PZ’s last name correctly. And you lost all credulity when the link on your name went absolutely no where. Next time, don’t be so idiotic.

  7. #8 Glaxo PharmaBase Orbital
    July 7, 2010

    ———– MESSAGE BEGINS

    Shills and Minions,

    This is most disturbing. You newer shills and minions might not know that Pepsico is a front for the Kkkaxxkk (to pronounce their name correctly, make a sound like clearing your throat whilst swallowing thumbtacks, that’s the closest a human can get to it). The Kkaxxkk Demipentium are a troublesome insectoid species that zip about this sector trying to make the natives of their target worlds fat and quiescent. We don’t bother them and, as a rule, they don’t bother us, but this turn of events vexes us here at PharmaCOM Orbital HQ.

    We of the Glaxxon Reptilian Corpus will not tolerate them moving into our “science” gig. We will have the Orac unit keep special tabs on them to make sure that they don’t horn in on our planetary domination plans. They are free to sell sweet, colorful snacks to the monkeys, but they’d better leave the really profitable stuff to us . . . or else.

    Enough of this distraction, let’s all to get back to work subduing the pharmaphobic wackaloons at AoA and enslaving the planet for your reptilian overlords.

    Enduringly yours,

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

    MESSAGE ENDS ———————

  8. #9 Beaker
    July 7, 2010

    “The writing can be entertaining here, but the idea that this blog has any real import is foolishness and nothing more.”
    Agassizii, where did Orac say he has a major impact on the whole quackery debate? People will be more likely to take your criticism seriously if it actually criticizes what people say.

  9. #10 Big Blue
    July 7, 2010

    Lord Draconis:

    Am in receipt of the Package and awaiting further orders. When I have assembled the Infinite Monkey Machine, do I press the Tuscan Red button or the Toasted Merlot button? Instruction manual is unclear.

    Please send my thanks to Lady Astra. The knitted tentacle warmers are so convenient in this weather!

    Best,
    Big Blue

  10. #11 warhelmet
    July 7, 2010

    I find myself asking the question:- What would Jesus do?

  11. #12 jcwelch
    July 7, 2010

    Or could much of Erv’s snark be because you, PZ and everyone are condemning the blog before it even starts?

    Maybe let it get a few posts besides the “hey great to be here” one before you decide what the content will be?

  12. #13 jcwelch
    July 7, 2010

    Also, before everyone decides that no critical comments will be allowed, y’all MIGHT want to go read the current comments. They are neither nice, nor pretty, and honestly, most of them are pretty goddamned petty and juvenile, what with proclaiming the DOOOOOOOM of Scienceblogs and how they’re all taking their balls and going home. yeesh.

    I had no idea so many twihard tweens read Scienceblogs.

  13. #14 Orac
    July 7, 2010

    Not so much condemning the blog itself. Who knows? It might be a perfectly pleasant read, and I already wrote above that I have nothing personal against PepsiCo. It’s the concept of the blog and her blithe dismissal of the idea that there might be a real concern and a real conflict of interest that could undermine the credibility of ScienceBlogs in general and bloggers who concern themselves with medicine in particular.

    Try reading what I actually wrote next time, rather than what you want me to have written or think I wrote.

  14. #15 george.w
    July 7, 2010

    Agassazii, while a blog may not be John Kennedy’s “go to the moon” speech, it is a chance for people like me to read expert views without vapid journalistic filtering. That’s pretty damn significant.

    As for the Pepsi blog, it should have the Pepsi logo on it, or a disclaimer like the “Special Advertising Section” that adorns every issue of MIT Technology Review.

  15. #16 ERV
    July 7, 2010

    Ive been trying to get fitness, nutrition, and plant-science bloggers here on SciBlogs for *years*.

    My suggestions have been *ignored* (Obesity Panacea got here via sheer brute force), but we get a Pepsi Blog?

    If anyone should be annoyed here, its me.

    But Im not.

    Because they havent posted anything.

    And considering the weird crash diets PAL has blogged about in the past, I simply cannot believe his ‘Im just concerned about health!’ line. *shrug* And then there was that intensely negative reaction I got from other SciBlings for suggesting we add fitness/diet/plant-science bloggers in the past, which PAL said nothing about (despite the fact he is ‘so concerned with patients health’, right?)…

    And then theres that pesky fact that Pepsi makes more products than just… Pepsi…

  16. #17 Deech56
    July 7, 2010

    And I find myself asking the question – What Would the Revere’s Say?

  17. #18 Simon
    July 7, 2010

    Bit surprised you said GE isn’t a medical company because they make a hell of a lot of money from medical products! Have you so quickly forgotten that they sued a radiologist for libel because he commented on an association between GE’s contrast medium and a particular form of nephropathy with skin involvement (the names escape me)?

  18. #19 Orac
    July 7, 2010

    nd considering the weird crash diets PAL has blogged about in the past, I simply cannot believe his ‘Im just concerned about health!’ line. *shrug* And then there was that intensely negative reaction I got from other SciBlings for suggesting we add fitness/diet/plant-science bloggers in the past, which PAL said nothing about (despite the fact he is ‘so concerned with patients health’, right?)…

    What negative reaction? Not from me. I did, as I recall, express concern that it would be really, really hard to find food/diet/exercise blogs that weren’t laden with quackery and woo and wanted to make sure that physicians here had a chance to vet such blog candidates in order to avoid inviting food woo promoters into the Sb fold.

  19. #20 PalMD
    July 7, 2010

    “Crash diets?”

    IIRC (and I do), I shared my struggle with improving my eating and exercise habits with my readers. The “crash diet” included decreasing my intake of crap (you know, like Pepsi products) and increasing my intake of real food. I also worked on increasing my exercise.

    For me, like many Americans, it’s a struggle, one that won’t be helped by having PepsiCo explain to us what good corporate citizens they are.

  20. #21 jay.sweet
    July 7, 2010

    how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can…

    Oh, they’re going to say, “can enhance marketing and drive profit,” right? That actually could be pretty cool… I’m interested in how they market their stuff, even if the effect on national health is disastrous. The science itself is amoral (not immoral, amoral), and it’s fascinating.

    …can improve health outcomes around the world.

    Oh. Really??? Pepsi is using “behavioral economics” to “improve health outcomes”?!? Um… I’ll believe that when I see it…

  21. #22 Broken Link
    July 7, 2010

    I’d suggest that everyone make a decision to never visit the Pepsi blog. Don’t even check on what they are saying. After all, if they are here because they want traffic, don’t give them traffic. They might just go away on their own.

  22. #23 ERV
    July 7, 2010

    So why can I enjoy a multitude of Pepsi products and maintain a healthy lifestyle? Some Pepsi products are actually an integral part of my diet (I drink so much Gatorade and eat buckets of Quaker Oats). Apparently I am some kind of wizard? Member of the X-men that can actually enjoy ‘BAAAAD’ food in moderation, thats my super power?

    Throwing Pepsi under the bus because they make *Pepsi* and blaming them for your unhealthy diet is intellectually lazy.

    And judging the Pepsi Blog before they have published anything is unfair. It might turn out to be total crap, but there are a lot of blogs here that are crap. You know what I do with crappy blogs? Ignore them.

  23. #24 Orac
    July 7, 2010

    I’m sorry you don’t understand. Perhaps if you were a physician you would. Even though you aren’t a physician, I would have thought you might. After all, the vast majority of those who are objecting are not physicians who rely on their independence to help their credibility. Many of them aren’t even scientists. Yet they understand that this PepsiCo corporate blog crosses a line when it comes to advertising. Some are even more vehement about it than I am. Mark Chu-Carroll could very well end up leaving Sb over this. Blake Stacey (who is a scientist but not a physician) appears already to have left.

    In any case, it’s disappointing that you dismiss with such contempt legitimate concerns of your friends who happen to disagree with you. Would your attitude be the same if it were a pharmaceutical company doing this?

  24. #25 Greg Fish
    July 7, 2010

    Or could much of Erv’s snark be because you, PZ and everyone are condemning the blog before it even starts?

    The blog seemed to make it quite clear that its existence was all about promoting Pepsi’s RP projects. They’re going to be showing feel good informercials. Do we really need a PR flack to English translator for this sentence?

    We have some exciting things planned for this project, including a video series that will begin with a look at the role the food industry plays in health issues, and how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can improve health outcomes around the world.

    Translation: sit back and watch us show you that we’re such goody two shoes who really care about the environment and the people. This way, you can feel good when you down a 20 oz bottle of sugary carbonation.

    Oh and yes, I drink pop (yeah, I’m also in the Midwest like Orac), and eat chips. But I also have the good sense to know when someone is trying to butter me up for a PR and branding effort and I know from my education and the lamentations of those who tried this kind of blogging work that it’s a DOA venture. All corporate blogging efforts end up as an excercise in bland, transparent PR.

  25. #26 MikeMa
    July 7, 2010

    It really is easy to ignore input that is poorly organized, poorly presented or conflicts with your own interpretation of evidence. Pepsi could present a lot of food science. They could present a lot of (poorly aimed) marketing. They could present a target rich environment for discussion, insolence, or even engagement.

    OTOH, I couldn’t possibly read all the blogs here and function in society. I monitor and comment on 6 blogs regularly and I will not likely add Pepsi’s to that list. It is convenient that 5 of the 6 are at SciBlogs. I really should add PalMD to the list as my weight struggles seem to be mirroring his but Pepsi sharing space wont affect my day one bit.

    Before condemning the enterprise, it would seem prudent to see what they do with their spot.

  26. #27 Rene Najera
    July 7, 2010

    Their blog has the look and feel of the “special sections” in some magazines, where I am tricked into reading it halfway before I realize I’m reading an advertisement… I was tricked once by a certain energy drink that lasts 5 hours. I will not be tricked again.
    If I want to read about food science, I’ll go check out the Ag school’s newsletters.

  27. #28 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    GE is not a medical or pharmaceutical company, nor is Shell. It didn’t concern me.

    Huh??????? I’m surprised no one slammed you on this one because guess what. GE is a medical company.

  28. #29 Todd W.
    July 7, 2010

    @Adam_Y

    Perhaps Orac was thinking strictly in the drug sense and forgot about medical devices. Or perhaps because they are most known for their kitchen and laundry appliances and other home electronics.

  29. #30 L
    July 7, 2010

    I used to work at a video production company where one of our producer clients worked on many a piece for Tropicana / Pepsico.

    I’ll never forget watching a sales employee training video as I was dubbing it. It basically told the Pepsico sales people how to strongarm schools into putting their vending machines in, then how to threaten them if they decided to remove the vending machines later on. They cut to a shot of a boy no older than 5 or 6 walking through a cafeteria line with a slice of greasy pizza bigger than his head and a giant grab bag of Doritos and a big gulp-sized Gatorade. All the kids had huge bags of junk food and jumbo-sized Pepsi products. It was disturbing, to say the least. But most disturbing was the very blatant and knowing way they justified putting kids’ health at risk for profits. I thought for sure they’d be a little more discreet about their intentions, but apparently not.

    This Producer would also do “News Reports” that were for all intents and purposes advertisements for PepsiCo products or Iams Dog food and such. It always revolved around some medical or scientific study that showed, say, dogs need X in their diet and products such as Iams brand “plus X” dog food contained it. These tapes would be delivered to news stations and if it was a slow day, they got aired.

    Now I enjoy chips and pop (yes, pop) and I let my kids eat junk sometimes. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or a “all unnatural products are toxic” kind of gal. However, given what I have seen, I can conclude this “blog” probably isn’t scientific at all. Pepsico just sees a new avenue to spread their message.

    Orac is right – they should have their own blog. Because people trust that scienceblogs is made up of researchers and scientists who are doing what they do for the love of science, not to convert readers to their corporate agendas.

    Soon enough, where can we go? Who can we trust?

  30. #31 Calli Arcale
    July 7, 2010

    I gotta admit, it does seem very weird for Pepsi to have a blog here. Why do they need it? I always saw Science Blogs as a place for individual bloggers, or small blogger groups, rather than someplace for large corporations. I didn’t know about the GE or Shell blogs. I would venture to say there is precedent, and if ScienceBlogs wants to do it, fair enough. But I’m not sure we need industry to have a voice here. The people who work in industry, yes. The scientists who work in industry, especially. But the corporations themselves? They seem to have an awfully big voice already.

    Mind you, I am a Pepsi fan. My morning beverage of choice is Mountain Dew Voltage. Yeah, it’s a weird shade of blue, but it tastes wonderful. And my favorite tortilla ships are Doritos. All in all, I’m more of a Pepsi fan than a Coke fan. (Heck, Coca-Cola is the absolute biggest trigger for my acid reflux. Gave it up in high school because of that. I’m not sure why Pepsi Cola doesn’t trigger it so much. Admittedly, I prefer Dr Pepper to any cola.)

    I wouldn’t recommend leaving Science Blogs over this. You can do your part to keep up the quality of the rest of Science Blogs. In the meantime, I have little interest in visiting Pepsi’s blog.

  31. #32 mkandefer
    July 7, 2010

    I sympathize with your concerns, but I’d treat this as any other exposed conflict of interest (i.e., initial skepticism, but not out right dismissal). I also understand your point, and it is a good one, that this places other bloggers as targets for various “shill” attacks. You being a M.D. is not unique in these respects. We all know conspiracy theories pop up around other industries besides medical practices, and they come from communities that even ERV should be concerned about, like the AIDS denialism groups.*

    * – ERV posts about HIV related research, and she can be just as easily targeted as being a pharma-shill for aiding in the development of anti-retrovirals for HIV, a class of virus the AIDS denialists believe to be non-existent and manufactured.

    A charge of conflict of interest is dispelled when it lacks evidence and there is reason to believe the target has none. For an example of how a great M.D. handled conflict of interest charges, see the following:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5627

    Anyone that believes all the science bloggers have conflicts of interest because one blog has a declared conflict of interest* are neither reasonable, nor an audience you should seek to entertain with your blog. An intro to logic course is more appropriate for them. I look forward to any not-so respectful insolence you may have for actual blog content the new blog publishes.

    * – Though I think a reasonable request would be to have said disclaimer at the bottom or top of each post, since the website can show up in Google News, and people may not read the side bar to see the author.

  32. #33 WLU
    July 7, 2010

    @ERV

    “So why can I enjoy a multitude of Pepsi products and maintain a healthy lifestyle?”

    Um…you’re a graduate student? And probably genius-level intelligence with considerable ability to offset the immediate pleasures of channel surfing with an understanding of long-term consequences? Though the picture of your abs was quite nice, kudos to you.

    If somehow they invent a way of making quick, convenient food that is healthy, of high nutritional density and does not promote obesity, someone is going to have make it and chances are it’s going to be Pepsi or a competitor. Much like a drug isn’t good or bad because of the company that makes it (it’s either effective or not, with a documented risk:benefit profile) the food will be neither good nor bad – it’ll all depend on its biochemistry and who is eating how much in proportion to the rest of their diet. However, that information, risk:benefit, effective/not, how much:rest of diet, that all comes out from research after the fact (assuming they can make mac & cheese with cauliflower that doesnt’ taste like ass). If this blog is about products it will almost certainly be prematurely hyping them beyond what is warranted. If it’s about the absolutely fascinating work of food preservation, nutritional enhancement, flavour improvements, making something convenient without making it taste horrible/incredibly fattening (i.e. basic science of food and nutrition) it could be interesting. Much basic work gets done in corporations, by smart people – most graduate students don’t go on to professorships – and these people are still potentially valuable bloggers. It depends on how they use it, as a genuine blog with independence from the company and the ability to criticize their own products, or as a blatant shill for how extreme their new flavour is. Time will tell, and one can always ignore it. I see advertising as a means of supporting the sites I like – if ScienceBlogs gets money for it and can keep publishing ScienceBlogs, great! If it’s worth reading, I’ll read it. And if it’s not, I’ll ignore it and happily freeload off of its presence.

  33. #34 Mike
    July 7, 2010

    I surprised that you are so upset about a food science blog by food scientists employed by a company. There are so many better targets for you here on scienceblogs of people espousing quackery and being food science denialits. The promotion of food science denialism through organic foods is widespread on scienceblogs. Yet, you seem all too willing to let this quackery go and instead target a blog by corproate scientists.

  34. #35 ERV
    July 7, 2010

    Orac– Yet they understand that this PepsiCo corporate blog crosses a line when it comes to advertising… Would your attitude be the same if it were a pharmaceutical company doing this?
    Yes. Ive gotten to hear numerous scientists who have invented vaccines speak. Im sure it would be just as interesting to read about it on a blog sponsored by their respective companies.

    I would also think it was neat to read about the history/science of beer on a blog sponsored by a beer company. Or the history/science of video games from developers at Nintendo.

    Mark Chu-Carroll could very well end up leaving Sb over this. Blake Stacey (who is a scientist but not a physician) appears already to have left.
    Two grown adults who are capable of making their own decisions and life choices. But I find theatrics as impressive as scapegoating on this issue.

  35. #36 ERV
    July 7, 2010

    The promotion of food science denialism through organic foods is widespread on scienceblogs.
    THIS.

    Which I do write about myself, btw.

  36. #37 Jojo
    July 7, 2010

    one of my posts from yesterday…

    compared to the normal woo you reference Orac, this isn’t all that bad. He has a point about lifestyle being a significant concern in health. I have three problems with this. You highlighted the false dichotomy as well as actually finding successful ways to get people to make lifestyle changes. The other thing that bothers me is that he doesn’t even give a hint about what the average Jojo can do to make those changes. Instead, he provides his web address which can direct you on how to buy his books, how to contact him for speaking engagements, how you can buy his DVDs (In Spanish too!) and how you can sign up for a weight loss program after you provide your personal information. Just who’s welfare is he looking out for here?

    Well…um…never mind?

    It was bad enough when Pepsi took over the vending machines at work and forced me to walk to another building to get my damned Diet Coke, but now they are tainting Science bloggers with the appearance of conflicts of interest too. It’s nice that they disclose that it’s Pepsico, but I really think there needs to be a special advertising tag at the top of the blog.

  37. #38 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    Or perhaps because they are most known for their kitchen and laundry appliances and other home electronics.

    Not if you read their blog….
    A charge of conflict of interest is dispelled when it lacks evidence and there is reason to believe the target has none. For an example of how a great M.D. handled conflict of interest charges, see the following:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5627
    Ooo I love that blog. Orac should go blog for them.

    I didn’t know about the GE or Shell blogs. I would venture to say there is precedent, and if ScienceBlogs wants to do it, fair enough.

    Don’t forget the government blogs.

  38. #39 Orac
    July 7, 2010

    Two grown adults who are capable of making their own decisions and life choices. But I find theatrics as impressive as scapegoating on this issue.

    And I find dismissing such concerns as “theatrics” or “scapegoating” and referring to people who express such concerns as “arrogant idiots” and “snooty assholes who think that they look more educated or forward-thinking or refined because “they don’t drink ‘soda’ or eat Doritos” to be even less impressive than anything I’ve read thus far on this issue, quite frankly.

  39. #40 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    Egads…. I screwed up the blockquoting.

  40. #41 attack_laurel
    July 7, 2010

    Orac, I understand exactly why this is so disturbing. While not in the same league, this feels a bit like Nature deciding to run ads disguised as scientific articles. Thw fact that ScienceBlogs is willing to put a straight advertising blog in their line-up taints the real science blogs by association, which can have lasting repercussions for the scientists that write here.

    It also casts a heavy pall of suspicion on the motives of SciBlogs themselves – are they really interested promoting scientific inquiry?

    Reputations can be permanently soiled by questionable associations, and I feel for you. Personally, I’d get out if SEED cannot be convinced that a PR blog masquerading as science will make SB as a whole seem less trustworthy.

  41. #42 mkandefer
    July 7, 2010

    Last I checked guilt by association was a logical fallacy… Nope, still is:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy

    You need more than an association, you need a REASON the association is relevant.

  42. #43 Todd W.
    July 7, 2010

    @ERV

    You appear to be venturing awfully close to concern troll territory. Go back and read Orac’s post and you will see that, while he has voiced reservations about what they may produce, he is taking, to quote, “a wait and see approach”.

    Myself, their description of what the blog will be sounds uncomfortably similar to those full-page newspaper ads for Amish furniture dressed up to look like news articles.

  43. #44 Blake Stacey
    July 7, 2010

    The fact that PepsiCo sells stuff which some people consume in unhealthy quantities has nothing to do with why I left. I’d feel exactly the same if an extra-crunchy granola firm bought themselves a blog here.

    Don’t breach the firewall between editorial and advertising. It’s that simple.

  44. #45 Vera
    July 7, 2010

    Don’t have much to comment on the issue here, much has been said already. But if you leave here, I hope you keep blogging elsewhere and let us know where you go.

  45. #46 bluefoot
    July 7, 2010

    Considering all the recent controversy about climate change emails, etc in the MSM, one would think that SEED and ScienceBlogs would be extra careful about maintaining their reputation. Using the ScienceBlogs reputation for independent science blogging as a stamp of legitimacy for a corporate blog – no matter who the corporation is – permanently damages and detracts from the reputaion that makes (made?) ScienceBlogs a valuable resource.

  46. #47 squirrelelite
    July 7, 2010

    I’ll wait and see myself and take a close look at the first few posts. They may actually find it a convenient venue to try to provide some reasonable, useful and accurate information on diet and nutrition to food consumers.

    But, as Blake Stacey said, it does breach the firewall between editorial and advertising. Or, as Orac put it, it blurs the line between advertising and content.

    I get irritated enough by infomercials running at 3:00 in the morning. I would hate to turn on the tv at 8:00 in the evening to watch one of my current favorite shows or perhaps even get some useful content on one of the better PBS shows and get fed an infomercial instead.

  47. #48 knotfreak
    July 7, 2010

    All very interesting. Just would like to add that I think PepsiCo is very insidiously trying to position itself as “part of the solution” instead of part of the problem.

    They have recently endowed a lab and fellowship program for MD/PhD’s at Yale, and have something going at Robert Wood Johnson among other “ventures”. See Michelle Simons blog here:

    http://appetiteforprofit.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-06-03T21%3A45%3A00-07%3A00

    Pepsico turns up in every other post she has put up lately. This is a large and concerted effort on the part of Pepsico to “green” and “science-up” its image. This effort reflects well on the reputation of SB, but I find it insidious, nonetheless.

  48. #49 Vicki
    July 7, 2010

    Guilt by association is a logical fallacy, but it’s also part of how humans work. Guilt by association, and innocence by association: you’re more likely to trust someone introduced to you by a friend than someone who just walks up to you in a bar or on the bus. Pepsico wants to be here because Science Blogs has a good reputation. If someone told you that I was a friend of Osama bin Laden (I am not, and have never to my knowledge met the man) you would likely take my arguments less seriously, because you’d wonder about my motivations. And some of the bloggers here are already spending time explaining that no, they are not tools of some conspiracy.

  49. #50 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2010

    I respectfully suggest that leaving is not the answer — that would only leave the field to the enemy.

    Offhand, I’d say the most effective response would be to relentlessly question every assertion the PepsiWhores make. Post rebuttals on their own turf (as well as yours, of course), and if they censor criticism, bombard them with so many critical posts that they get tired of wading through all of them, and either start letting criticism get through, or start banning critics so indiscriminately that their bias becomes transparently obvious to everyone. Fight their BS every step of the way until their dishonesty, and your fight against it, becomes the news. Above all, do not EVER let them frame the debate or dictate the tone. And don’t ever forget that this is a long-term campaign — a marathon, not a sprint.

    Treat these propagandists like we treat UD, AoA, or any other blog dedicated to spreading dangerous lies and shouting down differing views. The mere fact that this particular bunch of propagandists are on the “inside,” while galling and disgraceful, doesn’t change the appropriate response to their dishonesty.

  50. #51 kittywhumpus
    July 7, 2010

    In my perception, Science Blogs giving PepsiCo a blog does not validate PepsiCo, it taints Science Blogs.

    I add that Orac is not just preaching to the converted. His posts about the anti-vaccination movement have helped some on-the-fence parents as well as parents like me who let the propaganda get to them. His input has been invaluable.

  51. #52 Adrian W.
    July 7, 2010
  52. #53 mkandefer
    July 7, 2010

    Vicki,

    That humans “work” this way, does not mean we embrace unreason. Also, declaring how I would act is bad form, it is more appropriate to ask how I would act.

    If you said you knew Osama Bin Laden, my first thought would be that you were mad, but if you provided convincing evidence, I would not dismiss anything you said out of hand without it being unreasonable to do so. Here is probably what I would do though:

    1) I would suspect you of having ties to a known terrorist, as you have just declared them.
    2) I would watch you more suspiciously in light of this evidence. Are you placing brief cases around in places they shouldn’t be? If you say you forgot it, I’d be less likely to believe you and call the authorities. Are you talking about making a big move, but packing lightly? I would probably not believe you, and call the authorities.

    I would do these as these are RELEVANT conclusions/actions to make when someone declares they are associated with terrorists.

    I wouldn’t:

    1) Dismiss your claim that you ate a jelly donut this morning.
    2) Dismiss your claim that sunscreen helps prevent sunburn.
    3) Dismiss your claim that you flew around in an intergalactic spaceship, because of your terrorist ties.

    I wouldn’t do the above because these are not relevant, as far as we know, to terrorism. Maybe people with ties to terrorists don’t eat jelly donuts, but I have never seen anything to convince me of this. :)

  53. #54 dk
    July 7, 2010

    someone get ERV some apostrophes, stat!

  54. #55 OleanderTea
    July 7, 2010

    Pepsi creates food? Actual food, like my great-grandparents would recognize as food?

    If it needs R&D, it’s probably not food as such.

  55. #56 ponderingfool
    July 7, 2010

    ERV they are not promoting science. They are promoting themselves. They are clear:
    “We have some exciting things planned for this project, including a video series that will begin with a look at the role the food industry plays in health issues, and how industry research into chemistry, physiology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, medicine, and nutrition can improve health outcomes around the world.”

    Why focus on industry research? If it was a science blog you would focus on all research on the topic. You focus on what industry is doing to help the industry. They are upfront this is a PR move. They just frame it nicely.

  56. #57 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 7, 2010

    If you have a problem with ScienceBlogs, you need to leave. I’m not trying to be nasty or snarky. I’m just stating the obvious that shutting down this blog is really not a big deal.

    Pepsi’s blog is clearly going to be an attempt to justify the garbage their machines churn out. If that is some kind of threat to your reputation, then move on. Again, this blog is entertainment for you and the people who come here. It might have its stage on a scientific foundation, but it is still primarily a show.

  57. #58 JohnV
    July 7, 2010

    OleanderTea would your great grand parents recognize your computer or your car or your internet connection? Would they recognize anything in a modern hospital?

    If some asinine “eastern medicine” person came here and said “chinese medicine is great because they’ve been doing it for 10,000 years its obviously the best because its been around longer than western medicine” they’d be mocked for having such a viewpoint.

    Please don’t act like a woo practitioner.

  58. #59 Passerby
    July 7, 2010

    Junk food + sedentary habits + environmental pollutant exposure = major public health meltdown = budget busting public medical expenses

    You have the perfect opportunity to work on a truly devastating bit of ‘woo’, the fast food industry.

    They’re happily exporting addictive foods to the Third World, the HaveNots.

    It used to be true that the Haves, with their Improved Diets and Advanced Medicine could easily afford to tackle infectious disease in impoverished Developing countries.

    First, the Industrialized Nations introduced chemically managed farming, and then they threw in medical interventions, including drugs and vaccines, to ‘fight’ the number one controller of aggressively population growth.

    What that got us was the shortest estimated doubling time in all of history: less than 30 years, almost all of that growth occurring in the poorest regions, Africa and Asia.

    That got us a vast number of HaveNots who WANT more – exactly what is desired if you have the Have Nations on long-overdue credit controls – you need to expand your consumer base.

    In the 1980s, the Have Nation global industrial giants decided that labor pools should be moved closer to cheap raw natural resources, and so the majority of the manufacturing base that had created Have Nation wealth moved overseas. The side-effect was to damage the tax bases of the Haves, a pattern that would manifest as mid-20th century population boom age cohorts began to retire. They too feel very owed. Unfortunately, they are also creating public debt through irresponsible personal habits – including food addiction.

    That has made the public health service industry boom, and transferred a lot of wealth internally.

    Thus, in the past twenty years, the balance of economic power and growing disposable income wealth has shifted to the HaveNots.

    After the most recent economic meltdown, its tacitly clear: the Haves can no longer afford to feed, cloth and medically treat the HaveNots when Things Go Bad.

    You can see what is happening here: the tobacco and fast-food industries see $$$$$ in the growing disposable income in HaveNot nations.

    You have pounded out week after week of woo-bashing on vaccine/autism/alternative medicine.

    There is a much better target to be had.

  59. #60 Mu
    July 7, 2010

    Looks like SEED got the message, according to 3.14 the Pepsico blog will carry a “disclaimer: This is a sponsored blog” in it’s sidebar, and the authors will also have a “I work for Pepsico (or not)” in their byline.

  60. #61 Vicki
    July 7, 2010

    Mkandefer–

    That was a generic “you,” a description of how most people react. I apologize for the confusion.

    That said, consider things like “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Not a question about actual harmful activities (espionage, sabotage) nor about beliefs, but a form of guilt by association. No, association with Pepsico is not likely to tarnish anyone’s reputation to that degree, but the mechanism is similar.

    This is also one of the methods con artists use. For example, they will seek out and defraud people who will see them as “one of us”: the recent immigrant conning other members of the immigrant community, or the member of Religion A approaching people after services and getting them to invest in a ponzi scheme.

  61. #62 Erika
    July 7, 2010

    This is awfully close to the incident last year w/ Merck paying Elsevier to create a vanity journal. Although at least ScienceBlogs is being upfront about the association.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/business/14vioxxside.html
    http://blog.bioethics.net/2009/05/merck-makes-phony-peerreview-journal/

  62. #63 Elly
    July 7, 2010

    I’m with you Orac – my degrees are in Food Science, and I was trained to work in the food industry. I’m a member of IFT. Thus, I’m about as sympathetic to the industry as anyone currently working on the front lines of health and fitness (I’m a recreational bodybuilder and consumer advocate) could be. Nonetheless, when I stumbled across the “Food Frontiers” blog the other day, I too, found the idea creepy.

    Don’t get me wrong – like it or not, Pepsi et. al. will be part of the solution to the obesity crisis, if a solution is to be found at all. And it’s not as if you can’t get solid information from corporate sources. Nonetheless, the way in which they present health info can be positively Orwellian. For example, you can learn all about how Snickers and Starburst Fruit Chews can fit into your “healthy lifestyle” from the Mars Corporation ( http://www.marshealthyliving.com/whats-inside ); and how salt is necessary to life from Cargill ( http://salt101.com/#/intro ). However true these propositions are, it is also true that most people are not nearly active enough to afford near-empty calories of candy into their “healthy lifestyles” on a regular basis. Likewise, most do NOT need Alton Brown’s encouragement to add more salt to diets that are already replete with the stuff.

    In short, the “creep” factor comes from the level of distrust – there’s typically an agenda behind whatever facts you’re given by your friendly neighborhood mega-corporation. And – as Orac points out – Pepsi doesn’t need Scienceblogs to get its message out… but the fact that its here anyway adds to feeling that there’s no place that’s even remotely free from corporate voices.

  63. #64 Anonymous
    July 7, 2010

    The Guardian “ScienceBlogs, we have a problem”
    by Alok Jha

  64. #65 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2010

    And – as Orac points out – Pepsi doesn’t need Scienceblogs to get its message out… but the fact that its here anyway adds to feeling that there’s no place that’s even remotely free from corporate voices.

    Their intent may be twofold here: get their voice shoehorned into a forum of their critics; and gradually erode the credibility of this forum to the point where it is no longer seen as a go-to source for realiable information that is contrary to their propaganda. The Republicans did the same things to the entire MSM, and now Pepsi are adapting the same winning strategy for themselves.

  65. #66 Tobias
    July 7, 2010

    We’ve had a few industry sponsered blogs hosted on the German scienceblogs.de site over the past two years, however never an entire corporate blog. Currently there is one sponsored by L’Oreal: http://www.scienceblogs.de/beauty-full-science/about.php

    Usually, these blogs are listed separately in the left side bar of SB.de. They tend to get ignored by readers, at least they don’t usually get that many comments. We were explained that the money generated from banner ads is not sufficient to keep the project afloat and these sponsored blogs would by far generate more revenue.

  66. #67 D. C. Sessions
    July 7, 2010

    I respectfully suggest that leaving is not the answer — that would only leave the field to the enemy.

    Sometimes that’s the most (or only) effective action you have. IMHO the “resignation in protest” is not nearly common enough in public life; I can only recall a couple of instances in the last 40 years aside from the Saturday Night Massacre. I suspect we can all think of several times in recent years when it should have happened, and probably did behind scenes but was whitewashed for public consumption.

    It comes down to “if you can’t be part of the solution, you can at least refuse to be part of the problem.” Not quite as attention-getting as seppuku on the steps of the Capital, but still effective.

    In fact, it would take a Hell of a lot to stop me from voting in a later election for someone who had resigned in protest. Putting principle ahead of career or loyalty is that rare these days, and despite cynical abuse of the word by the Right, character really does count.

    I will note that once upon a time, I quit a job (without blowing the whistle, although I should have) with dependent kids because I couldn’t live with being part of what they were doing. One of my more treasured recollections of someone dear to me was her “and this is why I’m out of here” letter of resignation from a job despite having nowhere else lined up.

    So, yeah, it’s more than drama. I won’t advise anyone one way or the other, but I’ll damned well defend the honor of the “resignation in protest” with hearty wishes it were more common and less often appropriate.

  67. #68 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2010

    Here’s a suggestion for any SciBloggers thinking of leaving in protest: wherever else you go, maintain updated and prominently-placed lists of each other’s locations, so that those who follow one of you can also stay in touch with all the rest. That — for me at least — is the major benefit of having all SBers under one roof. If you can arrange to keep that benefit while moving elsewhere, then leaving this place will likely do the PepsiWhores more harm than it does us.

    If you want Seed Media to listen to your demands, they need to know you can go elsewhere and still get what they provide here.

  68. #69 mkandefer
    July 7, 2010

    Vicki,

    I think you acknowledge my point. We ask such questions of people, like party affiliation, because we can make likely inferences based on them. Certain party affiliations carry with them certain beliefs, and certain associations cause conflicts of interest. However, many associations do not. We have to first establish the association is relevant to what we are concluding. I was not arguing that associations NEVER produce correct inferences.

    To merely state that Pepsico is associated with Science Blogs does in no way mean all Science Bloggers now are suspect as having conflicts of interest. To make such as statement is a logical fallacy. It would be like making the statement that Dr. Gorski from science based medicine has a conflict of interest because he is associated with a university that receives funding from a pharmaceutical company, despite that fact that Dr. Gorski’s research is not directly funded by the pharmaceutical company. To argue in this manner is unreasonable. To argue that people now can reasonably conclude all science bloggers have conflicts of interest because a handful of them have known conflicts of interest is also unreasonable.

  69. #70 Hank Fox
    July 7, 2010

    This is a repeat of my comment on Greg Laden’s blog. I tried to post some of it on the Food Frontiers site but my comment was never approved. Go figure.

    ………………………..

    “In the mean time, let’s keep an eye on it and see what interesting things develop.” (Greg Laden)

    Yeah, and especially notice the crappy — and inevitable — side effects.

    The sweet guy handling the blog is already censoring comments deemed, in his loving corporate opinion, to be “profane” or “defamatory.”

    I can say FUCK here. PZ can create Crackergate on Pharyngula.

    By contrast, I’ll bet you PepsiCo already has a policy in place for censoring comments, deleting comments, and permanently banning people who say things they don’t want said there. It’s a no-brainer to say there will be no controversial content.

    It won’t end there. The financial pressure and corporate control will leak out from Food Frontiers and taint the rest of ScienceBlogs.

    It will also drive a wedge between the commenting public. I’m already seeing comments — yours among them — asking the equivalent of “let’s all keep an open mind and welcome this poor, downtrodden multi-billion dollar corporations into our midst.”

    They’ve found a way to use open-mindedness as a corporate weapon. And don’t think some bright young Karl Rove hasn’t brought up the point in exactly those terms.

    I come here for the science, and the pro-science, pro-reason opinion, not the soda.

    As to your comments about other bloggers, this is not some blogger partially funded by PepsiCo. THIS IS PepsiCo. This is PepsiCo advertising.

    Jeezus, sometimes it seems that every frickin’ flat surface in the world is covered with advertising from some goddam corporation. Certainly I long ago recognized that TV is really about advertising, and EVERYTHING else on there is the sweet bait to draw in the viewers.

    This is not some accident. It’s … hell, it would be moronic to assume that it was anything BUT the end result of decades of deliberate effort by corporate advertisers.

    I think you’re wrong, Greg. You’re not thinking this through.

    What we’re witnessing is not some fluffy good-willed experiment, it’s a shameless, cynical, heavily-bankrolled effort to take control of whatever piece of ScienceBlogs they can get, up to and including the entire damned thing, to deliver those readers into the hands of PepsiCo.

    If enough people like you roll over to have their tummies rubbed, THEY’LL GET IT.

    I comment on the ABC News site fairly often. About half the time, my comments get deleted, and I have never yet figured out just why. You can post a strong on-topic, profanity-free opinion about George Bush and have it vanish the same day, or never get posted. I’m assuming some reader flags it as “inappropriate” and ABC, just to be on the safe side, deletes it.

    Ten years from now, ScienceBlogs will be a very different place from what it is now, a place exactly like ABC News. Critics will say it has “matured” – all the loud, random, argumentative content will be controlled by editors hired to shepherd the formerly-troublesome bloggers into safe corporate channels, and all the annoying commenters will be required to follow strict rules of staying on topic and using “polite” language.

    The camel’s nose is in the tent.

  70. #71 Glaxo PharmaBase Orbital
    July 7, 2010

    ———– MESSAGE BEGINS

    Minion Blue (@9),

    Toasted Merlot, of course. Sorry about the instructions, they try to make them comprehensible to a plethora of species, meaning that nobody can understand them at all. Did they leave out that little plastic bag of iso-thermocapacitors? They always do that. Ring Cindy if there are any problems and she’ll send a tech down.

    And I’m certain that Lady Astra would be most gratified that you found the tentacle warmers to your liking. I’d let her know, but she’s heavy with hatchlings (again) and has a tendency to bite when disturbed. On an ironic note, I must report that she does crave New Nacho Cha-Cha Doritos™ and Blue Mega-Ultra Dew™ upon waking. At least until her blood gets up to room temperature.

    I fear it’s going to be a long breeding cycle . . .

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

    MESSAGE ENDS ———————

  71. #72 elly
    July 7, 2010

    “Their intent may be twofold here: get their voice shoehorned into a forum of their critics; and gradually erode the credibility of this forum to the point where it is no longer seen as a go-to source for realiable information that is contrary to their propaganda. The Republicans did the same things to the entire MSM, and now Pepsi are adapting the same winning strategy for themselves.”

    “Erode” wouldn’t be my word of choice to describe their intent… I think “co-opt” is probably closer to the mark. Of course, “erode” is certainly a conceivable result – particularly if this becomes a trend.

    And so it may. FWIW, it seems to me that Scienceblogs has crossed a line. Today it’s Pepsi Co. Tomorrow, it may be Archer Daniels Midland, Unilever, or… even R.J. Reynolds, Monsanto and/or Dow. Maybe BP would like to start an environmental science blog, too… and why not? You can read all about the company’s efforts to promote the environment here: http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9032626&contentId=7059885

    Thus, the established bloggers here have a perfect right to look askance at the current arrangement. A Pepsi-sponsored blog – by itself – might not be that big of a deal… but where does it stop?

  72. #73 Scientizzle
    July 7, 2010

    I, for one, will be withholding my judgment pending the actual content of the blog. I will say that when I first learned of this, I made the puckered, squinty, sideward-glance facial reaction that hallmarks my involuntary response to an internal bullshit-detector silent alarm…

    However, I want to see what they have to say. First, industry R&D–whether that industry is pharma, energy, food, electronics, or others–is a major force in scientific progress. The work performed by these R&D groups is often held close to the vest, generally a mystery to even those non-industry scientists working in the same fields, until the research has manifest itself into tangible products or outlived its useful shelf life.

    Industry R&D is a legitimate career path for many young scientists and engineers. I want a glimpse into the mechanisms of (and machinations behind) the development of products and their components as well as the post-marketing evaluations and adjustments. I think it’s likely we won’t get to see much (hard to imagine PepsiCo marketing allowing many closeted skeletons to be revealed nor valuable industry practices to be divulged), but it seems a largely untapped area for discussion and evaluation in a science setting. The history of how various products went from lab bench to grocery aisle could be enlightening and entertaining.

    Best-case scenario: The new blog provides a useful, insightful look at the development, manufacture, and distribution of food-based products and the science and technologies utilized. They are open to criticisms of their methods and respond to critiques with science-based replies. (Super-best-case scenario: open forum criticism leads to actual differences in PepsiCo product development/marketing/distribution for the generalized benefit of everyone and PepsiCo leads the market in a new wave of interactive consumable product development.)

    Worst-case scenario: The blog is purely marketing, providing little insight and mostly PR fluff. Critiques will be ignored (or moderated out of existence) and content will be almost entirely advertising videos or “debunking claims about PepsiCo product X” articles replete with dubious scientific claims.

    Likely scenario: We’ll see a few glimpses into how product development occurred; we’ll get some apologetics about how their products aren’t really the villain in the obesity wars. Mostly, we’ll get something that doesn’t fit well with the current SciBlogs culture and (following a few months of general dissatisfaction by the other content creators) the blog will be shut down before September.

    If anything considerably short of the best-case scenario occurs, I’d rather the bloggers who plan to, or are considering, leaving to do this instead: tear every questionable scientific claim apart the way you would if it was Age of Autism, Ken Ham, David Irving, Deepak Chopra, the Perth Group, Focus on the Family, Jenny McCarthy, David Icke, the Discovery Institute, Peter Duesberg, Bill Donohue, Dean Radin, Judy Mikovits, or any damn homeopath you can think of.

    This, I think, would produce the best outcome likely possible: heightened critical evaluation (from those who could be ‘stained’ by a perceived COI). We’ll find out quickly whether the content of that blog can live up to the standards currently set by the others published here; if it cannot, it should become apparent in short order to the management of Seed Media Group that they are undermining their own revenue stream by undermining their credibility.

  73. #74 Denice Walter
    July 7, 2010

    I’m not a physician but am very concerned about the rising levels of obesity I’ve been observing here in the US** since (probably) the ’80’s, as well as the complications that arise because of it. And it’s not just the statistics: it’s people I know. Sometimes our anecdotes reflect the larger reality, in this case, that heavier people, on average, suffer more debiltating illnesses, including CV, diabetes,and certain forms of cancer. Right now, I’m worried about 3 of my female cousins, aged 40-68, who are overweight/obese and have illnesses related to this condition.My late mother, who had a terrific 20 year career in fashion before I arrived,developed arthritis, gained weight,developed diabetes and its complications( *all of them*, save amputation). Both of my parents’ immediate and extended faimilies have many examples of the extreme elderly: *none* of them were heavy (thin to average “plus a bit”).These personal experiences reveal general medical priciples .I’m not a fanatic- I don’t eat like Mike Adams or exercise like Mercola or Null- but I really *watch it*.It’s not just aesthetics ( OK,to be perfectly honest, it’s probably 40% aesthetics).** (some regions are worse than others).

  74. #75 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 7, 2010

    @ Chris. I will spell Myers’ name correctly in the future and will be less of an idiot if you will please look up the word “credulity” and use it in a less ironic manner.

  75. #76 Thomas Joseph
    July 7, 2010

    ERV: So why can I enjoy a multitude of Pepsi products and maintain a healthy lifestyle?

    OMFG, your n of 1 is amusing, and so off base it’s not even funny.

  76. #77 augustine
    July 7, 2010

    Please give Pepsico a break. They are only here to talk science and problem solving. What’s a little “thought leading” going to hurt? Surely no one on here will be influenced and prescribe diet pepsi. I mean they are going to eat potato chips anyway aren’t they? Might as well be Frito Lay, the “scientific potato chip”. Engineered specifically for human health.

    Better living through chemistry, right?

  77. #78 Chester Burton Brown
    July 7, 2010

    Here’s my take on the Seed/Pepsi situation, plus my own personal experiences with Pepsi and corruption:

    http://imagination-sinkhole.wetmachine.com/content/pepsi-me< \a>

    Yours in shock,
    CBB

  78. #79 Jud
    July 7, 2010

    ERV writes:

    So why can I enjoy a multitude of Pepsi products and maintain a healthy lifestyle? Some Pepsi products are actually an integral part of my diet (I drink so much Gatorade and eat buckets of Quaker Oats).

    Not sure whether you were making the point that you maintain a “healthy lifestyle” regardless of what you eat, or that Gatorade and Quaker Oats are an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, but…

    – If the former, surely the goodness or lack of same of one’s diet is a factor in determining whether one’s lifestyle is in fact healthy, yes?

    – If the latter, then (1) In the current heat wave here in the Northeast, public health officials are asking people to dilute Gatorade by 50% with water due to Gatorade’s salt content; and (2) I doubt you or anyone else can eat “buckets” of oatmeal, filling as it is, but if you actually do, it’s 150 calories per 1/4 cup (various references on Quaker’s web site use 1/2 cup, various others use 1/4 cup – it’s 40 grams in both cases, which I’d estimate at closer to 1/4 cup). That’s 600 calories per cup. If you can manage to eat that much, it’s 3 Hershey bars’ worth. While that isn’t nearly the worst you can do with 600 calories, obviously anything in excess is going to either fatten you up or displace calories that could otherwise be part of a more balanced diet.

    Is the foregoing way more pedantic than your comment merits? Yep. But can’t you just see some handsome sweaty lady proclaiming “I drink buckets of Gatorade as part of my healthy lifestyle!”? Seems like it might fit right in with Food Frontiers as an ad or a post (if there’s a difference).

  79. #80 Raging Bee
    July 7, 2010

    Two early observations:

    1) Both of my (non-obscene but probably “defamatory”) comments have been stuck in the moderation hole for over an hour now; but other sharply critical comments did get through earlier.

    2) I’m seeing a pattern in the tone of the first post: no actual substance, just a vague promise of substance in the future, and exactly the same “look how polite and civil we are” routine we got from creationist liars like Salvador Cordova when they first came onto the scene. I predict there will be more of the same empty manipulation, and more of the same lack of any real substance (with or without actual lies), in the foreseeable future.

    And a conclusion: if Pepsico actually had something substantive to say, and wanted to get it across here, they’d at least start saying it, even in the first post. When I first started my own blog, my first post on each site was mostly introduction, but I did throw in some substantive issues commentary as well, because that’s what I wanted to write about. The fact that the Pepsi boy doesn’t even give us a specific prediction of what he’ll be talking about in the future (health issues of Pepsi? Warnings about Gatorade? Specific nutritional issues?) leads me to conclude he’s only pretending to have something to contribute to a scientific discourse. Like so many smooth-talking sciency creationists who blather about unspecified new findings that will soon destroy evolution for good, just you wait, this guy’s probably bluffing.

  80. #81 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    If the latter, then (1) In the current heat wave here in the Northeast, public health officials are asking people to dilute Gatorade by 50% with water due to Gatorade’s salt content;

    I’m calling bullshit. The last thing you want to do is start limiting your salt intake in this weather namely because you will end up killing yourself.

  81. #82 alareth
    July 7, 2010

    #38 Adam_Y

    Not if you read their blog…. A charge of conflict of interest is dispelled when it lacks evidence and there is reason to believe the target has none. For an example of how a great M.D. handled conflict of interest charges, see the following:
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5627
    Ooo I love that blog. Orac should go blog for them.

    I think my head just exploded.

  82. #83 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    I think my head just exploded.

    It was a joke. I’m the same Adam_Y that posted in that blog. Though ironically it did take me a while to realize why their writing style was so similar.

  83. #84 Jud
    July 7, 2010

    I wrote:

    If the latter, then (1) In the current heat wave here in the Northeast, public health officials are asking people to dilute Gatorade by 50% with water due to Gatorade’s salt content;

    In response to which Adam_Y writes:

    I’m calling bullshit. The last thing you want to do is start limiting your salt intake in this weather namely because you will end up killing yourself.

    Diluting Gatorade before drinking it is ‘limiting’ your salt intake like holding a hunk of pitchblende is ‘limiting’ your radiation intake. What is it about diluting one’s intake of additional salt that you (mis)understand as limiting intake?

    Oh, and also: It was just on the Philly news today (local ABC affiliate, lunchtime special report on the heat wave). So phone the TV station and the public health folks and call bullshit on them.

  84. #85 OleanderTea
    July 7, 2010

    JohnV said:
    OleanderTea would your great grand parents recognize your computer or your car or your internet connection? Would they recognize anything in a modern hospital?

    If some asinine “eastern medicine” person came here and said “chinese medicine is great because they’ve been doing it for 10,000 years its obviously the best because its been around longer than western medicine” they’d be mocked for having such a viewpoint.

    Please don’t act like a woo practitioner.

    Oh, FFS. Don’t be a pedantic asshat.

    My point is this: processed food, such as that created by PepsiCo, is crap. It is widely acknowledged — by actual medical doctors — that the best way to eat is to eat real food, unprocessed, like your great-grandparents would have recognized. Not dehydrated, from a box, and pumped full of chemicals, like pepsico “creates”. No matter how you cut it, Doritos ain’t food.

  85. #86 JohnV
    July 7, 2010

    “It is widely acknowledged — by actual medical doctors — that the best way to eat is to eat real food, unprocessed, like your great-grandparents would have recognized. ”

    Citations please.

    I’m sorry if calling you out on your woo makes me a pendantic asshat. If it had been posted on the food woo-friendly blogs here I would never have noticed and my pendantic asshattery would have never happened :(

    I will even go so far as to non-sarcastically apologize pending the nature of the citations you provide. Again, in the absence of that if we switched food for vaccines and illness your post would fit in extremely well with what the antivax people post here.

  86. #87 Dave
    July 7, 2010

    @85

    In addition to JohnV’s request for citations, I would ask what is the difference between the processing of food done by Mehmood Khan and that done by Wylie Dufresne? Both use dehydration, boxes and chemical additives.

  87. #88 Adam_Y
    July 7, 2010

    Diluting Gatorade before drinking it is ‘limiting’ your salt intake like holding a hunk of pitchblende is ‘limiting’ your radiation intake. What is it about diluting one’s intake of additional salt that you (mis)understand as limiting intake?

    Ooo you know the fact that you would have to drink abnormally large quantities to even come close to the salt intake that you would if you ate french fries. Hence your news report is wrong.
    http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/salt.html

  88. #89 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    To pile on about processed food: some food is not usable until it is processed. That includes cooking blue corn in a lime solution (brings out more protein), or processing the cyanide out of cassava root (also known as tapioca), shelling and cooking cashew nuts to remove the poison ivy like poison, and on and on (and my Norsk grandparent’s fave: treating fish with lye to create lutefisk!).

    Oh, and all cheeses are “processed” (I’ve made some at home by putting a bit of vinegar, another processed food, in milk and cooking at a very low heat… it was very nice, and added to ricotta made a very good lasagna!).

  89. #90 Steve
    July 7, 2010

    Conflict of Interest. Pepsi has a conflict of interest in the field of nutrition and thus it is about as useful as Imperial Tobacco for impartial information on Lung Health. This is the problem for what is supposed to be a science blog site. Conflicts of interest corrupt science. Censorship of comments compounds the issue.

    Just Go Away Pepsi.

  90. #91 squirrelelite
    July 7, 2010

    @Jud 79,

    I just checked the box on my shelf and 1/2 cup of plain Quaker oatmeal (40 g) has 150 calories. How much sugar and butter do you like to add to it? (I actually like a little.) But, the raisin bran I ate this morning had 40% more calories and 16 times as much sugar!

    Which leads us into confounding factors like adding sugar to the raisins because raisins without sugar soften the bran flakes.

    The changes in the American diet over the last 50 years have been influenced by a host of confounding factors which make blaming the problem solely or mostly one source (whether it’s the producers of prepackaged drinks and snacks like Pepsi or the introduction of high fructose corn syrup in foods instead of cane or beet sugar or regular corn syrup as someone did on Nightline the other night) extremely simplistic.

    Here’s my short list of a few:
    — Emphasizing food safety and quality leads to replacing an open barrel of apples in the store with prepackaged chips and other snacks that have been through a controlled sanitization and preparation process including adding plenty of preservatives like salt and sealed packaging to extend shelf life.

    — A massive nation wide dietary “experiment” was started about 30 years ago to replace fats, especially saturated fats, in the diet with sugars, starches and unsaturated fats. This let manufacturers advertise them as “light” and claim that they are “good for you”.

    — Pressure on small restaurants to compete with large, better known chain restaurants and on the chains to compete with each other leads to adding a little food to portion sizes, which doesn’t cost much, to encourage customers to spend more. Pepsi has contributed to this by introducing larger packaging like the ubiquitous 2 liter bottle, but they are not the only culprits. Thus, a hamburger has gone from a small patty (perhaps 3 ounces) to a 1/4 pounder to a 1/3 pounder and even half and full pound burgers.

    When I went on a major diet several years ago, I quickly discovered that healthy portion sizes were a lot smaller than I was used to eating. Also, it was harder to control and monitor the input when I ate out.

    All that being said, I still don’t like infomercials.

  91. #92 knotfreak
    July 7, 2010

    @Chris, #89

    The things you mention are very different by degrees to what most people are referring to when they use the catchall term “processed food” for products created in labs by the corporate conglomerates that also market these products for which there is little or no dietary benefit.

    I cook much of my food, “process” a lot of it (canning,drying, pickling), but I tell people in all honesty that I do not eat processed foods. By this I mean that I eat rolled (processed) oats that I cook, but I do not eat cereal bars, boxed cereal, or “instant” oatmeal. I use dried beans, but do not buy canned chili (too much fat and salt). I eat artisan and small producer cheese as well as pasturized dairy products, but I do not consume Cheez Whiz, Velveeta, or commercially prepared pizza (with a few exceptions for special restaurants). Nor do I eat cheesy extruded corn/soy/wheat products or chips.

    It’s all about processing to avoid harmful substances/organisms and the processing that PepsiCo dares to call “food”.

  92. #93 hat_eater
    July 7, 2010

    In Poland, where I hail from, there’s that guy who makes great ice cream, as his father and grandfather did. When he was pressed into a corner by big corporate brands, he sold his brand for a hefty sum, built an ice cream factory, took his time to train the staff (two years) and launched a new brand that captured a respectable part of the market just by being honest, pure and traditional. He makes his ice-cream out of milk, cream, sugar, natural vanilla, fruits, chocolate, coffee and so on. No artificial flavours or some such bullshit. His name is Grycan and if you ever visit Poland, do try any of his creations, for they are good.
    You can probably infer from the above that he is my hero among the businessfolk.
    If he paid SB to have his own blog I’d react with the same outrage as I did to PepsiCo.
    I’m purging the SB from my RSS feed, although I’ll be visiting from time to time to see if things have changed. I encourage all SB bloggers to find another platform for the time being.

  93. #94 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    knotfreak: what you just wrote is basically “splitting hairs.”

    You wrote your own definition for the word “process.” Cheese is processed no matter how you make it. Some just taste better than others. I personally like the ones with added molds (like a real nice soft cheese with added mold, like camembert).

    Being “unprocessed” even by your definition does not automatically make it healthier. My sister grew up being severely lactose intolerant, and now because of advances in soy processing she can have a cream cheese substitute made with tofu that is probably much healthier than any hand made artisan cream cheese. (note that the soy foods that are available make it lots easier to be a vegetarian, along with expanding my sister’s choices)

    Rolled oats are processed. The only processing they do to make it instant is steaming it a bit. Though, personally, getting instant oatmeal is sillier than buying instant mashed potatoes or five-minute rice. All it takes to cook rolled oats is five minutes in the microwave (Irish steel cut oats take about ten very careful minutes in the microwave, I’m still ironing out the method). Mashed potatoes and steamed rice each take about twenty minutes.

    Dried beans are in a sense processed. If you want unprocessed beans you are going to have to grow your own. If that included fava beans, then you will have to go through a series of processes to remove certain shell layers to get to the edible bean.

    Ooh, look, Quaker even makes grits. Do you know what goes into making the hominy corn before it is ground into grits? It is similar to blue corn. Yet, by your definition they would be “unprocessed.”

    And let us not even mention what goes into making tofu!

    The fact is that civilizations have been processing foods for centuries. Some have been for survival in making foods more edible (cassava and hominy corn!) and preserved for long storage (hence lutefisk, and also freeze dried potatoes by the Inca!). What you are doing is making a subjective decision on what kind of processing you personally like. That does not mean that brie, camembert or the lovely age Gouda cheese are not processed, it just means they are processed in the form you like (and no, I cannot stand Cheez Whiz, though I do enjoy another type of canned cheese: Cougar Gold).

    So really, what should be objected to about the Food Frontier blog is not the type of food, but the fact it is commercial advertising.

  94. #95 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    hat_eater, are those fresh vanilla beans straight from the orchid, or is the vanilla made from cured pods, which takes several months, and have they been made into an extract using alcohol?

    Is the chocolate straight from the cacao bean? Or has it gone through the curing and fermenting process that brings out the flavors. Again, a process that takes lots of time.

    Are the coffee beans raw and still red? Or have they been fermented, dried and roasted?

    I don’t see how anyone can call these three natural products “unprocessed.”

  95. #96 a-non
    July 7, 2010

    Hey, let’s dismiss any study that purports that vaccines are safe because that study might have appeared in a journal that had pharmaceutical advertisements or studies sponsored by pharmaecutical companies.

    How is this different?

    Perhaps the offended SB bloggers need to come out of their ivory towers and understand that their blog is part of a business run by people who want to make money. If letting Pepsi have a blog on their website helps them achieve that end, then so be it.

  96. #97 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    knotfreak, my long comment did not go through, and Orac is in Vegas. But the short version is that you seem to feel the term “processed” only refers to foods you think are unhealthy or over-corporate. It doesn’t work that way.

    Humans have been processing food for thousands of years. It is done both to make the food edible (cassava), and to preserve it for later (like the freeze dried potatoes done in the Andes mountains by the Inca).

    It is also not quite true that “processed” by your definition is unhealthy. My sister spent the 1960s growing up being about the only person she knew was severely lactose intolerant. No milk, cheese, and ice cream for her! These days she has a more expanded choice due to soy substitutes. I bet the cream cheese substitute made with tofu, which is actually quite nice, is much much healthier than any hand made artisan soft cheese.

    The issue is not the type of food sold by Pepsi, but the fact that they are a commercial outfit that may post advertisements instead of blog articles.

  97. #98 OleanderTea
    July 7, 2010

    I see that two people are now enjoying the game of Splitting Hairs. Which is actually ok, since I enjoy the game myself.

    To answer the overall questions, no, I’m not nibbling on freshly-picked stalks of wheat, nor am I sucking on unprocessed coffee beans. I’m not dunking a whole piece of sugar cane in a pile of cocoa beans, either.

    But, processing wheat into flour; drying and roasting coffee beans; plying the cheesemaker’s art; mixing up eggs, flour, and water and making pasta; and canning food is not the same as cooking dinner with Hamburger Helper or thinking that Sugar-Frosted-Coco-Cookie-Puff Cereal With Marshmallow Clusters is a healthy breakfast. And pointing that out does not make me some dietary woo-meister.

  98. #99 Isis the Scientist
    July 7, 2010

    Brother Orac, as an exercise physiologist I am also worried about the content of the Pepsi blog. I wrote about soft drinks several months ago when the American Heart Association released their new guildines on dietary sugar. Still, I am intrigued by the potential content of this blog and think it might be an opportunity for us to dissect the practices of this industry giant out in the open.

    I still haven’t worked out the personal conflict of interest yet and I will be interested to see how my Sciblings that I respect and admire deal with it.

  99. #100 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    Be honest: would this conversation be happening if Seed had decided to let Bob’s Red Mill or Burt’s Bees have a blog here?

  100. #101 Dave
    July 7, 2010

    @97

    Wow! Your response seems to be completely lacking in citations as requested by Chris and totaly non-responsive to my question. You appear to have merely re-asserted your earlier claim. Perhaps that doesnt necessarily make you a woo-meister, but its damn similar to the way woo-meisters respond to questions.

  101. #102 NP
    July 7, 2010

    I’m intrigued to see what the PepsiCo blog will have to offer, even more so than before the brouhaha. I think some of the bloggers on this site need to get off their high horse. I say give them a chance – why does everyone presume it’s going to be chock full of pro-Pepsi, pro-Doritos articles?

  102. #103 Mondoterrifico
    July 7, 2010

    “why does everyone presume it’s going to be chock full of pro-Pepsi, pro-Doritos articles?”

    Why are they on Scienceblogs at all? The entire premise is absurd. They sell sugar water. Shit can I get a blog too? If not why not? I am equally as unqualified to talk about science as Pepsi.

  103. #104 a-non
    July 7, 2010

    Why are they on Scienceblogs at all? The entire premise is absurd. They sell sugar water. Shit can I get a blog too? If not why not? I am equally as unqualified to talk about science as Pepsi.

    Ah, now we’re getting to the crux of the matter.

    Because it’s not that a corporation has a blog. It’s that it’s not a highbrow pharmaceutical company or an industry giant like GE. It’s PepsiCo, makers of junk food and sugary soft drinks. Having worked for a large consumer products entity in the past, I take offense to the concept that a company like PepsiCo would have nothing to offer in terms of scientific discourse.

    Hey, if they turn the blog into a paid advertisement, then so be it. The critical amongst us will be able to see it for what it is. But please don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting that this is some noble fight against Big Industry influence on ScienceBlogs. It’s really just rank elitism.

  104. #105 Mondoterrifico
    July 7, 2010

    “It’s really just rank elitism.”

    Yes you throw that word around like it is a bad thing. Science isn’t a democracy. Corporate shills shouldn’t in any sane world get equal billing with scientists on a Science blog. Sorry you feel otherwise.

  105. #106 Passerby
    July 7, 2010

    >why does everyone presume it’s going to be chock full of pro-Pepsi, pro-Doritos articles

    Because they haven’t read the Scienceblogs ‘Terms and Conditions’ fine-print:

    ‘”Venues”…including, but not limited to, bulletin boards, chat rooms, blogs, surveys or invitations to e-mail Seed Media with questions or comments’

    ‘The Venues shall not be used for any commercial purposes. You will not submit any Submission to solicit funds or to promote, advertise, or solicit the sale of any goods or services.

    Seed and Co. reserve the right to change that fine-print at any time (meaning it’s up to you to review it frequently, as bloggerheads), but as it reads presently, PepsiCo would not be allowed to promote their goods via Scienceblog posts.

  106. #107 jcwelch
    July 7, 2010

    Not so much condemning the blog itself. Who knows? It might be a perfectly pleasant read, and I already wrote above that I have nothing personal against PepsiCo. It’s the concept of the blog and her blithe dismissal of the idea that there might be a real concern and a real conflict of interest that could undermine the credibility of ScienceBlogs in general and bloggers who concern themselves with medicine in particular.

    Try reading what I actually wrote next time, rather than what you want me to have written or think I wrote.

    Bullshit. that’s the word to describe that.

    Bull.

    Shit.

    bullshit.

    You bitch about the “blithe dismissal of the concern that there could be a conflict” and then bitch that I should “Try reading what I actually wrote next time, rather than what you want me to have written or think I wrote.” and yet, you decided based on me saying that maybe, just maybe a *SCIENTIST* or a GROUP of *SCIENTISTS* should, perhaps, maybe, just maybe, rather than going into some kind of fucking twihard frenzy over what MAY happen, what COULD happen, wait for a few, and see what happens.

    Gather evidence.

    Act upon actual real data.

    I know that’s a pretty radical idea, you know, waiting to see what will happen, then acting upon that, but what the fuck, beats taking your ball and going home as a reaction, right?

    Or not, fuck, maybe it’s y’all’s turn to have your little lack-of-evidence-based twihard fit.

    Oh, and what makes me call it a twihard fit?

    There’s a problem brewing and ScienceBlogs, a disturbance in the Force, if you will, and it’s a doozy. It’s a darkness that’s distubed several of my fellow ScienceBloggers to the point where I fear that some of them may leave. Indeed, it’s a spectacularly tin-eared and idiotic decision on the part of management that is leading me to start to wonder about my continued relationship with ScienceBlogs.

    IIITSSS A DAAAAAAARKNESSSS

    Yeah, that’s some calm, rational, mature reaction to something that hasn’t happened yet.

    or this shit:

    I would answer that it does not, nor does ScienceBlogs require such material to provide interesting, educational, and entertaining blogging for its readers.

    How the fuck do you know what everyone wants? I may not always agree with what Pepsi does with the work of its scientists, but I find the process of creating “sugar water” and the like to be pretty damned fascinating, just as I find the science showing why consuming many Pepsi products is bad for you in anything but small amounts is pretty damned fascinating.

    What, only science content that you and a few bloggers approve of is “acceptable” for the “purity” of Scienceblogs? Do you get a nosebleed on that high horse?

    Then of course there’s the requisite dose of goodolddayism for a few paragraphs. More bullshit. you sound like my dad trying to convince me the Depression was a goddamned paradise.

    but then the capper, the fucking Capper:

    For the moment I’m willing to take a wait and see approach. I’m also going to be paying close attention to this new interloper. Just because it’s Seed-supported won’t inoculate it from a heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence. What happens next will also guide what would seem to be a mandatory reevaluation of my relationship with Seed and ScienceBlogs. Seed and ScienceBlogs have built up a lot of good will with me; so I’m inclined for the moment to give them the benefit of the doubt, although I remain disturbed that this project wasn’t announced to us before it caught us by surprise. My font of good will isn’t bottomless, however. Like Mike Dunford and Jason Goldman, I’m not reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to the mere concept of a corporate blog. After all, I didn’t react one way or the other to the two or three such blogs that preceded the PepsiCo blog. Nor am I necessarily planning to leave ScienceBlogs just over the concept of a blog like PepsiCo’s blog, but I am going to be watching it very carefully.

    If this is your idea of a “wait and see” post, what the HELL do you call reacting instead of responding? setting the servers on fire?

    got news for you sparky. this post, and all the other tween crying going on, before you have any fucking proof, or data?

    That’s a knee-jerk reaction. it may in fact be the *definition* of a knee-jerk reaction. you’re all bemoaning the decay of sb, and pining for the good old days, and already writing the eulogy for sb, and all the rest, and you’ve not one bit of any valid reason to do so.

    The least you could do, *as a scientist* is to give them the chance to hang themselves, or not, and then respond based on facts.

    But no, y’all aren’t going to do that, and instead, you’re bagging on Erv for calling you out on your crap.

    Want some cheese with that whine?

  107. #108 JohnV
    July 7, 2010

    oleandertea I’m still waiting on citations for your “by actual medical doctors” statement.

    mike adams and the ilk do not count.

  108. #109 Chris
    July 7, 2010

    Dave, I did not request citations. That was JohnV.

    I am surprised at the lack of understanding many people have in what goes into making food. Also, that it seems to this assumption that if it is made in a big factory it is automatically bad. Just ask anyone who cannot digest certain foods about the range of choices they had now versus twenty years ago.

    What I asked is if there would be the same conversation if it were another more politically correct company or two.

  109. #110 knotfreak
    July 8, 2010

    For those of you defending, or even taking a wait and see approach, take a look at this, and some of the other entries on this blog regarding PepsiCo’s recent PR activities.

    http://appetiteforprofit.blogspot.com/2010/07/how-did-pepsicos-ceo-inflitrate-robert.html#more

    One of the comments from the article referring to PepsiCo being given comment space in an obesity report by Robert Wood Johson Foundation;

    It would be the equivalent of providing a forum for the tobacco industry to espouse their “personal responsibility” message in reports on smoking-related deaths.

    This is pretty close to Orac’s message I think.

  110. #111 Chris
    July 8, 2010

    So I guess that answers my question on whether knotfreak would react the same if Seed had an advertising blog for Bob’s Red Mill. He would not care one bit. It all about whether the company passes some political correctness bar.

    I really hope knotfreak that your rolled oats are not from Quaker Oats. And I am pretty confident that you have never eaten grits.

  111. #112 Glaxo PharmaBase Orbital
    July 8, 2010

    [LEFT ON THE DEMIPENTIUM'S BLOG THIS EVENING]

    ———– MESSAGE BEGINS

    Representatives of “Pepsico” aka The Kkkaxxkk Demipentium:

    We welcome our insectoid cousins to ScienceBlogs, but we are troubled. We of the Glaxxon Reptilian Corpus exist here to mock those of conspiratorial, paranoid and magical thinking bent—those who accuse the posters and bloggers of ScienceBlogs of being “shills” or “minions” are our usual quarry. I must admit that we don’t know exactly what to do with you because you actually are shills and minions.

    Your products are hardly poisonous. They are relatively innocuous in small doses. That said, they are, as your hatchlings say, “totally lame” in the overall monkey nutrition department. While they are of little interest to us (we would be much more likely to consume the cans your beverages come in than the beverages themselves) the locals here are a young, undisciplined species and labor under the constant genetic influence of their early millennia in the grasslands. It was in that distant past where their ravenous appetites for carbohydrates were forged, years marked by predation and deprivation on the lonely savannas of Africa. This was a scant hundred thousand years ago and many of them still can’t say no to your highly concentrated, sugary, fatty offerings.

    No, you are not the victimizers of the humans, but neither are you a benign influence on this backwater planet. We shall not offer you a blade-claw in hostility, but neither shall we extend the g’chthaak of amity. You have much to prove and we frankly have little hope that you shall be totally forthcoming as regards the Demipentium’s more malign offerings (the “Double Down” comes to mind) . You have one thing going for you, at least you aren’t the Altrians.

    Yours in the cordial spirit of the Treaty of Saaktzen IV,

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

    MESSAGE ENDS ———————

  112. #113 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 8, 2010

    The Appetite for Profit is a nice blog and deals with Pepsi’s inroads into the areas of legitimate science and nutrition professionally. It is nice to read someone who sticks to an intelligent discussion of the matter and does not throw a fit and threaten to take her toys home if someone lets that fat bitch Ashley into the tree house. (Orac and others should take note.)

    Anyone waiting on the good folks at Pepsi to produce some good science on nutrition is probably also willing to wait on the scientists at The Discovery Institute to produce some quality research on evolution. Tigers and stripes, boys and girls.

  113. #114 EKoh
    July 8, 2010

    It’s fascinating that some people act as if attacks on Food Frontiers blog or Pepsico is a personal attack on them.

  114. #115 hat_eater
    July 8, 2010

    re: Chris
    Please note it was you that used the word “unprocessed”, not me. What I meant, and I feel silly having to explain that, is that even if the most ethical company in the world bought their own blog on SB, I’d react with equal outrage. Keyword being “company”, “bought” and “blog”.
    While I may concede that this is perhaps technically a lie (me being human and outrage being a feeling hard to stir up on reason alone), I sincerely hope that at least my conscious reaction would be the same; that is, purging ScienceBlogs from my RSS feed.

  115. #116 Jud
    July 8, 2010

    squirrelelite @ #91 writes:

    @Jud 79,

    I just checked the box on my shelf and 1/2 cup of plain Quaker oatmeal (40 g) has 150 calories.

    Well the whole thing was a bit tongue-in-cheek anyhow, but umm, squirrelelite – didja happen to read this part of what I wrote?

    [I]t’s 150 calories per 1/4 cup (various references on Quaker’s web site use 1/2 cup, various others use 1/4 cup – it’s 40 grams in both cases, which I’d estimate at closer to 1/4 cup).

    So Quaker lists both 150 calories per 1/2 cup and 150 calories per 1/4 cup on its site for different packages of exactly the same food, 40 grams of plain ol’ “natural whole grain oats.” Is 40 grams a 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup of oats? Guess it depends what oats weigh; my guesstimate is that it oughta be closer to 1/4 cup. Those who happen to have gram-calibrated scales could help us out here with a little home data gathering.

    Now, Adam_Y, writing re Gatorade:

    Ooo you know the fact that you would have to drink abnormally large quantities to even come close to the salt intake that you would if you ate french fries.

    Well, that was pretty much my point – considering the amount of salt in the average American diet, diluting Gatorade before drinking should hardly pose a danger of “limiting your salt intake in this weather namely because you will end up killing yourself,” which is what you wrote in #81.

    So I suppose you’ll want to decide which of your two contradictory positions to settle on: Is diluting Gatorade a danger to health in hot weather because it limits vital salt intake (#81), or is it basically a mere blip compared to our total dietary salt intake (#88)?

  116. #117 Dave
    July 8, 2010

    Chris,

    My apologies, you are right, it was JohnV who asked for citations. That said, OleanderTea still didnt come up with any. And I agree with you re the assumption that if its made in a big factory, its automatically bad. That was the point of my question regarding what Pepsico does, in the person of Mehmood Khan, who will be a part of the blog and what Wylie Dufresne, a leader in molecular gastronomy, does. Is it because Wylie calls his workspace a kitchen, while Mehmood calls his a lab?

  117. #118 Kristen
    July 8, 2010

    So I suppose you’ll want to decide which of your two contradictory positions to settle on: Is diluting Gatorade a danger to health in hot weather because it limits vital salt intake (#81), or is it basically a mere blip compared to our total dietary salt intake (#88)?

    Just wanted to mention that diluting Gatorade would be a problem for actual athletes training/ competing in hot weather. There would be a very real risk of hyponatremia. I know this is not the main market for Gatorade, but it does have legitimate uses. Arguably Jud and Adam_Y could both be considered right depending on the situation.

    Regarding the Pepsico blog…I am in shock. This is definitely not something I would have expected from scienceblogs. But all in all it doesn’t change much for me. Although, I would be pissed off were it my reputation that was being sold >:(

    All in all; leave or stay, I will be following my favorite blogs. I don’t care one iota whether I follow them here or elsewhere. And I won’t presume to question a blogger’s decision one way or the other.

  118. #119 squirrelelite
    July 8, 2010

    @Jud 116,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I happen to have a scale that reads in g, oz, lb, and kg although I don’t have any standard weights to calibrate it with. However, as we used to say in the Air Force, it’s close enough for government work. I.e., it’s not accurate enough to do real science, which most of us had done a little of in earning our Master’s Degree’s, but good enough to be useful for the purpose we needed it for.

    I measured 1/2 cup in a vinyl measuring cup. Irregular objects like dog food and Quaker oats are harder to measure exactly than sugar or water, but I weighed it at 44 g. My box says 1/2 cup should be 40 g, so that is probably within the acceptable error bounds. In fact, if you round it off to one significant digit, it is 40 g.

    The next time I get to a grocery store, I’ll have to look and see if I can find some cereal that is 1/4 cup for 40 g. That sounds more like Grape-Nuts in density.

    For comparison, I checked Cream of Wheat which lists a serving of 3 Tbsp or 33 g for 120 calories. It also has less fiber and protein than oatmeal, which in my pedantically scientific mindset worldview makes it less nutritious than oatmeal.

    Enough pedantry, on to pleasantry.

  119. #120 squirrelelite
    July 8, 2010

    @Chris,

    Thanks for your comments on food processing. (Isn’t that what you do to food in a food processor?)

    But actually, I think there are a couple of factors leading to these simplistic complaints about processed foods.

    One is, as you mentioned, that most people nowadays (at least in the West) don’t do much of this direct food processing work themselves. So, they draw the processed/unprocessed line (splitting hairs) a lot further up the food processing chain than you or I do.

    Which reminds me of a time many years ago when I saw a box of Velveeta on the shelf and next to it was a store brand imitation. It was labeled “imitation pasteurized processed cheese food product”! :)
    I think I actually tried it once because it was cheaper and it tasted terrible. But, when you see that many words used just to state what a food is, it’s easy to say to yourself, “this isn’t REAL food!”

    The second factor is a kind of linguistic laziness or just language drift. When the shift in shelf content that I mentioned earlier was fully under way, a lot of people complained that these more processed or highly processed foods were actually less nutritious tham the foods they were replacing. But, it was easier to say processed than to say highly processed, so over the years processed came to mean highly processed, at least in the minds of lots of people.

    One last little tribute to processed foods.

    A few months ago, I finished off a jar of lime pickles from the last batch my mother made. She’s still alive, but can’t do this sort of stuff anymore. They were a couple of years old, but still sealed and the vinegar kept killing the germs so they were safe. And, they tasted great! I like lime pickles because the lime that is added to the brine balances the sweetness from the sugar and gives them a tarter taste without the dry herbal taste that I don’t like in dill pickles. I kept them in the refrigerator and enjoyed them all by myself! Actually, my wife is diabetic and can’t eat them and my kids don’t like pickles. And, like so many other pickle recipes, they are practically impossible to find on regular grocery store shelves.

    In this case, I think processing definitely improves the raw cucumbers.

  120. #121 augustine
    July 8, 2010

    Wow! All of the infighting is interesting. Arguing over terms and definitions? Why wouldn’t you just define your terms? But then you wouldn’t to get be argumentative just to be argumentative.

    Pepsi scientist needs to put out a good vaccine article to unite the perceived objectivity of scienceblogs. They should have strategically made public alliances with the Bill Gates Foundation and announced a massive vaccine campaign fund before this announcement.

    If anything Pepsi is guilty of not knowing its audience. Scienceblogs is just a business. Why not take Pepsi’s money?

    The main reason the bloggers are so mad is because aligning oneself up with a large corporation publicly is indefensible to their ideals. When your schtick is self-perceived objectivity this is huge blow to credibility.

  121. #122 Jud
    July 8, 2010

    squirrelite writes:

    I measured 1/2 cup in a vinyl measuring cup. Irregular objects like dog food and Quaker oats are harder to measure exactly than sugar or water, but I weighed it at 44 g.

    I stand corrected. :-)

    Enough pedantry, on to pleasantry.

    OK, best guess, where’s LeBron wind up?

    Kristen writes:

    Just wanted to mention that diluting Gatorade would be a problem for actual athletes training/ competing in hot weather. There would be a very real risk of hyponatremia.

    Interesting. What did athletes do before Gatorade? Can’t imagine everyone was pounding salt tablets (which I used to do at a summer job in a steel mill). My admittedly very vague layperson’s recollection is that the whole science of sports drinks is not an exact one – I believe there was a NYT article a month or two ago about the relative merits of pickle juice and some research that indicated possible efficacy of dilute vinegar.

  122. #123 Kristen
    July 8, 2010

    No doubt, there are alternatives. I know some marathoners who like to eat pretzels and drink water. Personally, I don’t care for sports drinks, but I will put up with them because they are a convenient way to get the calories and electrolytes I need during a long run.

    I am not saying that Gatorade (BTW not my choice of sports drink) is wonderful, or even necessary, but that diluting it could be dangerous if it is relied on for athletic hydration (especially for those exercising at high intensity in heat for longer than an hour).

    So very sorry for trying to be diplomatic. I truly enjoyed your smug sarcasm but it would be better to have a convincing argument to back it up.

  123. #124 Andrew
    July 8, 2010

    Rather than bloggers looking at whether they should leave, perhaps they should be asking whether they would join. A thought experiment: ScienceBlogs is new, with just a blog from a corporate entity called just for arguments’ sake PepsiCo. Would you, as a scientist looking for a blogging forum, join that blogging group?

  124. #125 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 8, 2010

    The idea that diluted Gatorade is a “real” threat to health is foolishness. It is quite clear that this place is filled with fat people who read too many stories at the Daily Mail and have no idea about what endurance athletics is about.

    Folks here might want to consider such incredibly obvious factors such as the differences in hydration needs between a 320 lbs. offensive lineman sitting in the sidelines during practice on a cold day versus a 105 lbs. woman trying to win the LA Marathon on a hot day and looking for something to drink at mile 23. Factors such as perspiration rates and nutritional practices in the days leading up to the exercise event are also quite important, but are clearly beyond this group.

    I do not personally have much of a problem with Gatorade diluted or otherwise. It’s basically sugar water with some minerals tossed in. Those can be nice during 20 mile run but water can do the trick too. Making blanket statements about how diluted Gatorade is a “real” threat and “could be dangerous” is dumb, just plain dumb.

    Anyone who runs into a problem because he or she drank diluted Gatorade during a one hour workout should not be working out for an hour. It’s that simple.

  125. #126 squirrelelite
    July 8, 2010

    It’s okay, Jud.
    As for Lebron, the hot buzz on my cell phone text was that it would be someplace “hot”, but I have better things to worry about.

    As for athletes before Gatorade, mostly they did drink water. For more severe cases, like hiking in the summer time, salt tablets were popular. The first broadcast episode of Star Trek, The Man Trap, is an example:

    http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/the-man-trap/17u00ex5k

    But I don’t think there was much good research and even in my Boy Scout days (about the same time as Star Trek), there was some debate over whether they really helped.

    I think I’ve seen some recent stuff indicating that mostly you just need the water and the minerals can wait. I think there was a study comparing it with Gatorade or something like it but I forget where.

    So, I would guess that since dehydration is mainly a loss of water problem (that is what it means), diluting Gatorade by adding more water might be an effective strategy. It would certainly help stretch your dollars.

  126. #127 augustine
    July 8, 2010

    “The idea that diluted Gatorade is a “real” threat to health is foolishness. It is quite clear that this place is filled with fat people who read too many stories at the Daily Mail and have no idea about what endurance athletics is about.”

    Trekkies and sci-fi experts speaking from authority on exercise and performance. LOL. Maybe they’ve read about these extreme cases of hyponatremia or they’ve read an exercise physiology text. I just don’t see all of these sci-fi experts having any practical experience in this area. But they can talk about theory with the storytellers.

    Transfer of authority. It happens a lot.

  127. #128 Chris
    July 8, 2010

    Dave:

    That said, OleanderTea still didnt come up with any.

    Yes, but he/she brought up Hamburger Helper. Um, PepsiCo does not make that, it is a General Mills product. And it did leave me to wonder if the problem was the company, and not product. I have not had Hamburger Helper since I was in high school over thirty years ago… but I cannot imagine it being any less healthy than the quick dish I make with fresh fettuccine pasta, butter, cream, lots of fresh Parmesan cheese, bits of left over ham and peas. Especially since all Hamburger Helper is dried pasta, dehydrated dairy products and dehydrated vegetable products (onions, etc).

    I believe that if the company were Kraft Foods or General Mills there would be the same reactions to PepsiCo, but not if it was Bob’s Red Mill or Kashi (which also makes snack bars and chips). It is because there is a perceived good versus evil on what the company makes.

    I think the issue should not be which company bought blog space on Scienceblogs, but that Seed sold blog space. But no one seems to be discussing that.

    (ooh, and the side topic of sports drinks, Gina Kolata’s Ultimate Fitness mentions several sports specialty drinks and snacks, including the gels used by extreme athletes — that is a whole other industry)

  128. #129 JohnV
    July 8, 2010

    So after all this time there’s still no support for OleanderTea’s food woo (but some goal post shifting). Yet only a couple of us called him on it. That’s depressing, given the typical anti-woo nature of the readership of respectful insolence.

  129. #130 Jud
    July 8, 2010

    Kristen writes:

    So very sorry for trying to be diplomatic. I truly enjoyed your smug sarcasm but it would be better to have a convincing argument to back it up.

    Yow, not at all how I intended to be understood, and my apologies that it came off that way.

    My comment that I had an “admittedly very vague layperson’s recollection” regarding the state of sports drink science (and the associated specific question of how much salt intake is necessary/healthy in situations of intense heat and/or exercise) was absolutely sincere. So was my question regarding what people did before Gatorade (just seemed logical to me to inquire, assuming the additional salt content in sports drinks over and above what’s in the rest of the diet is necessary to stave off hyponatremia, did we see lots more cases of hyponatremia before sports drinks, or if not, why not?).

    Again, sorry if you thought I was being smug or sarcastic – very definitely not the case.

  130. #131 Kristen
    July 8, 2010

    The idea that diluted Gatorade is a “real” threat to health is foolishness. It is quite clear that this place is filled with fat people who read too many stories at the Daily Mail and have no idea about what endurance athletics is about.

    What, exactly is your expertise on this subject?

    I happen to be an endurance athlete, asshole. I am no expert, but I do know what happens when one loses too much sodium from sweat and only replaces the loss with water (been there).

    The problem is that athletes have been told to over-hydrate (“if your thirsty your already dehydrated”). Sports drinks don’t contain enough sodium to replace that lost from a hard effort over a long period, but they replace some, all water does is dilute sodium more. It is not perfect, but it is what it is. I make my own, and only drink commercial when I am participating in a race.

    You are correct in saying that when a person who is not working out for a long period of time sports drinks are simply soft-drinks. More or less everything else you said it meant to cause argument, especially since the points you argued against are not points I made.

  131. #132 Kristen
    July 8, 2010

    Jud,

    Yow, not at all how I intended to be understood, and my apologies that it came off that way.

    My apologies. I jumped to a conclusion. Sometimes I find sarcasm where it doesn’t exist.

    Very sorry, thanks for setting me straight.

  132. #133 Sock Puppet of the Great Satan
    July 8, 2010

    “Enough of this distraction, let’s all to get back to work subduing the pharmaphobic wackaloons at AoA and enslaving the planet for your reptilian overlords.

    Enduringly yours,

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ”

    Is there any hope that AoA would deduce that if Seed Media is pimping themselves out to Pepsi that the BigPharma $$$ must not be appearing to influence Orac? I mean, soda sales are chump change compared to Pharma sales.

    Mind you, it’s hard to find a currency bureau to change the gold drakklons from Lord Draconic Zeneca.

  133. #134 Gopherus Agassizii
    July 9, 2010

    Great stuff. In this discussion alone, I’ve been called an “idiot” for putting one too many “e’s” in the name “Myers” by a guy who does not understand the word “credulity,” and now I’m an “asshole” for pointing out that diluting Gatorade really is not a threat to public health by a woman who has previously apologized for being “diplomatic.”

    I am guessing Orac turned off the irony filter. No matter.

    @Kristen. My expertise with endurance athletics is nothing impressive, but I have seen far too much lousy advice given out to athletes over the year. Your idea that diluting Gatorade on a hot day is “dangerous” is just the most recent dollop of dopeyness I have seen.

    To prove your idea by referring to your own experience just makes your point even more worthless, especially at a blog that is supposed to be frequented by people with something akin to scientific training.

    The risks of hyponatremia for most people are very small. From your description, you are most likely a slower runner and drank far too much water during your experience with the condition. You seem to have learned what works for you, but you need to stop there and let other people learn what works best for them. This happens to be one of those issues where there are good studies that give us some worthwhile guidelines, but it is also an area where individual differences are quite pronounced.

    The vast majority of runners, fast and slow, simply do not have an issue with hyponatremia because they do not wash out their guts in gallons of water during their long runs or athletic events. Hydration and electrolyte replacement is an individual issue and needs to be approached with some dexterity and flexibility.

    Some people might call it woo, but many athletes know this as “listening to your body.” Mine often calls me an “asshole” too, but it also tells me to drink mostly water.

  134. #135 Chris
    July 9, 2010

    Dude, grow a spine.

  135. #136 Kristen
    July 9, 2010

    I’m an “asshole” for pointing out that diluting Gatorade really is not a threat to public health

    This is a straw-man. Nowhere did I say any such thing, I was very specific. You are looking to cause an argument, and making assumptions about me personally. This is why I call you an asshole, and I stand by my assessment.

    I welcome correction on points where I am mistaken. But if you really wanted to correct a misstatement by me you would have been less inflammatory. You have no interest in correcting misconceptions. Just an interest in getting in your digs so you can make yourself look smart. Once again, asshole.

    If the shoe fits sort of thing.

    If it makes you feel better, you can think of me as a fat, slow runner who downs gallons of water because I don’t know better. But don’t sit there expressing shock when I call you an asshole.

  136. #137 DW
    July 9, 2010

    Check out page 3.14 and Adam Bly.(BTW, thanks, Lord D.)

  137. #138 k
    July 10, 2010

    @chris: Kellogg owns Kashi. Clorox owns Burt’s Bees. Colgate-Palmolive owns Tom’s of Maine. Many of the homey-sounding used-to-be-little/regional brands are owned by corporate behemoths, including Stonyfield Farms (Groupe Danone), Horizon Organic (Dean Foods), Odwalla (Coca-Cola, also owner of Glaceau), Cascadian Farm (General Mills).

    Why buy Gatorade? Make your own, costs less, tastes better, and you can alter the recipe to your taste. (Disclaimer: I need the salt to avoid a particular drug toxicity.). For 1 gallon of water, use 1 tsp KCl (salt substitute), 2 tsp NaCl, 2 tsp citric acid*, 2 pkg unsweetened drink mix (e.g. Kool Aid, Klass – if you live near a Mexican supermarket – has great flavors, including passion fruit, cantaloupe, guava, and others), 6 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp xylitol.

    *omit if using lemonade, tangerine, or similar flavors

    Note 1: Use brewed tea (I’ve used mugicha – Japanese roasted barley tea, Morning Thunder, and oolong) instead of water and use lemonade or similar for an “Arnold Palmer”.

    Note 2: I’ve not experimented with sucralose (don’t care for the taste), aspartame (meh), saccharin (never seen it sold except in those miserable packets), or acesulfame K (this tastes fine to me, but I’ve never seen it sold as an ingredient at retail).

    Note 3: I’ve seen recipes using baking soda, but I don’t care for the taste much.

  138. #139 Chris
    July 10, 2010

    Kristen:

    But don’t sit there expressing shock when I call you an asshole.

    Yeah, I noticed he went nuts over an honest late night typo. I couldn’t figure out what put a bee under his bonnet when I said he lost “credibility”… but I made a type. He went ballistic over one word (I guess he just thought he had to fill in the website box, possibly because there is no indication that it is optional). Because of his reaction he has even less credibility.

    k, thanks for that. It kind of proves Brian Dunning’s statement at Organic vs. Conventional Agriculture:

    Nearly 100% of organic food in supermarkets comes from a producer owned by one of the major food companies that also sells regular food. Don’t think for a minute that any well-managed food company has not already been on this bandwagon since it started rolling.

    Still, without knowing the corporate pedigree some would try to argue that those supposedly politically correct companies are more welcome than PepsiCo. Unless one plans on growing and processing their own food (like this), they are going to have to buy stuff from some company.

    Good idea on electrolyte drink, I cannot evaluate whether is works or not. My sport is swimming, and I don’t think I need to replace my electrolytes after swimming 2000 yards. I am usually hungry, so I usually plan to some form of food and a beverage (fruit, a sandwich and juice, perhaps even a soda). I vaguely recall that one way from close to thirty plus years ago to prevent or treat heat stroke was to drink bouillon and/or juice instead of plain water. But that may be a faulty memory.

    But I do know there is an entire industry catering to sports nutrition. I read about the high calorie sport gels in a Gina Kolata book. That is how I knew what I found when a depleted gel tube was discarded in my yard waste bin. Some yahoo had thrown it in there instead of carting it to their own car, which was probably parked on my street so they could do their extreme run or cycle stint on the trail that goes by the end of my street (I am highly amused by the folks that live ten blocks away who drive and park in front of my house to run/bike the trail!).

  139. #140 Anna Haynes
    July 11, 2010

    Related, from 2003, re Tech Central Station – Confessions of a Former Protein Sheath
    (“…the whole kit and kaboodle is an engineered media virus with the honest convictions of all blogger-contributors composing a sort of protein sheath.”)

  140. #141 Chris
    July 11, 2010

    (by the way, I do think it is ironically funny that I did have a typo when I chided him on using a common misspelling of a blogger’s name, I just don’t stress or obsess over things like that)

  141. #142 Bo
    July 13, 2010

    I’ve been trying to understand what the big deal is about Pepsi getting a blog. This is the best I came up with. Many of us have come to believe that ScienceBlogs provides unbiased science-based information to its readers. The concern of having a corporate blog is that it can either (1)not be unbiased or (2)cannot be science-based. Although a clear conflict of interest (COI) exists, one cannot cast blanket dismissal of any potentially science based claim. This is basically the same argument that alt med people use against pharmaceutical research. COIs are good reason to be more suspiciousness and critical but are not alone reasons to reject an argument. The COI has been made public, so all of you bloggers are aware of it and can farther scrutinize their posts.

    Besides this basic argument, others I’ve heard are that it would ruin the reputation of SB. This is a typical “poisoning the well” logical fallacy. It is not a reasonable criticism.

  142. #143 Bo
    July 13, 2010

    I’ve been trying to understand what the big deal is about Pepsi getting a blog. This is the best I came up with. Many of us have come to believe that ScienceBlogs provides unbiased science-based information to its readers. The concern of having a corporate blog is that it can either (1)not be unbiased or (2)cannot be science-based. Although a clear conflict of interest (COI) exists, one cannot cast blanket dismissal of any potentially science based claim. This is basically the same argument that alt med people use against pharmaceutical research. COIs are good reason to be more suspiciousness and critical but are not alone reasons to reject an argument. The COI has been made public, so all of you bloggers are aware of it and can farther scrutinize their posts.

    Besides this basic argument, others I’ve heard are that it would ruin the reputation of SB. This is a typical “poisoning the well” logical fallacy. It is not a reasonable criticism.

  143. #144 Leni
    July 15, 2010

    I hope it never comes down to you leaving, Orac. I really like your blog and have learned a lot from your posts. Of course I’d still check in if you weren’t part of Seed, but probably not as often.

    And this

    I myself just suffered having a bunch of loons from the Age of Autism try to get me fired from my job for made up conflicts of interest that I allegedly didn’t disclose.

    is just insane. I can understand your concerns.

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