Respectful Insolence

Pepsigeddon claims Good Math, Bad Math

I learned with dismay this morning that blogchild Mark Chu-Carroll has decided to leave ScienceBlogs over our management’s incredibly bone-headed decision to host a blog written by PepsiCo. Given that Mark’s blog was the first (and, as far as I know, only) blog directly inspired by my efforts over the last few years, I find Mark’s departure especially saddening. Even worse, Mark’s joining a growing exodus that has led to some serious and not-so-serious speculation over who’s going to be left here when the dust settles.

I can honestly say that, as I write this in my hotel room in Las Vegas, awake and unable to go back to sleep at 5 AM because of the three hour time change, I don’t know myself, including my own case. Pepsigeddon happened at an odd time, and I’m at TAM8 right now, which means that I haven’t been paying as close attention to what’s been going on as I normally would have. Maybe this is a good thing, because I can wait and see how things shake out, free of obsessing over each little twist and turn in this fast-moving soap opera that’s less than two days old. On the other hand, although Seed has taken some steps in the right direction, I’m not sure it’s going to be enough. The damage to the brand is serious, and the good ship ScienceBlogs is listing heavily, all due to its captain deciding to have a smoke in the munitions storage area. Here’s a hint for Adam Bly and Seed: When a story like this about you makes the newspapers, it’s not a good thing for you, and it’s not a good thing for your bloggers. Oh, sure, in the short term it’ll probably boost traffic nicely, but that’s not the kind of traffic boost I want.

Management also clearly doesn’t get it, but some of us don’t get it either. In fact, some flaming moron here among us didn’t help matters by leaking Adam Bly’s e-mail to us to the press yesterday. I must admit, I was fuming after I read his e-mail, but leaking it served no purpose other than to publicize our problems and betray a trust to the point where management will likely never trust us again. On the other hand, the e-mail made it clear that to say that Bly doesn’t get it is akin to saying that Mike Adams doesn’t get medicine, a massive understatement, and its being out there now allows me to do what I couldn’t do before: comment on it. Seldom have I seen such a load of self-serving, self-righteous twaddle all built around incinerating a Burning Man-sized straw man argument (that we bloggers object to giving industry scientists “a seat at the table”). It’s so epic that it deserves its own heapin’ helpin’ of not-so-Respectful Insolence if I had the time and motivation. Trust me, I never thought I’d say that about Bly.

Meanwhile someone whom I respect, David Colquhoun, is out and out telling me that I must dissociate myself from ScienceBlogs for the sake of my credibility. Maybe he’s right, but I have a lot of history here, and I don’t really want to leave. I’ve never made a rash decision over something like this before, and I don’t intend to now, but damned if Bly isn’t making it very hard not to. Even so, I’m going to wait at least until after I get back from Vegas next week before I make any decisions. Who knows? Maybe management will manage to extract its cephalic regions from its rectum by then.

Comments

  1. #1 gg
    July 8, 2010

    “Maybe he’s right, but I have a lot of history here, and I don’t really want to leave.”

    It is such a murky situation, I can totally see the merits of both staying and leaving; hopefully most readers will appreciate it as well. I’m sure a lot of folks will stay at SBs because they see it as still being a net “force for good” even with the troubles.

    I’ve vowed to support the decisions of the bloggers, whether they stay or go; the real fault here lies with management for putting the bloggers in such an awkward and unclear position in the first place.

  2. #2 regis
    July 8, 2010

    I would appreciate it if you would stick with scienceblogs.

  3. #3 triskelethecat
    July 8, 2010

    I will follow the bloggers I enjoy reading, whether here or elsewhere. I read this blog and others for interest and amusement, and won’t quit them just because they are no longer on Sciblogs.

    I really think Sciblogs made a mistake, but, as I said in a comment on Food Frontiers (that did NOT get through moderation, for some reason – it had no obscene language and was less negative than others) basically, I am willing to wait and see.

    However, whoever leaked the email from Adam Bly was VERY wrong. I detest people who do that. I hope it’s not someone whose blog I enjoy, because I don’t think I could continue to read them knowing they could do something so underhanded.

    While David Colquhoun is a good person, his comment ordering you to leave Sciblog pissed me off. I admire you for taking the time to see what will happen before either jumping ship or staying aboard. There is nothing wrong with a wait-and-see attitude (and is very admirable in a surgeon sometimes….grin)

  4. #4 Pablo
    July 8, 2010

    Since this is the only blog I tend to read here, it wouldn’t bother me if you moved. Just let us know the new place.

  5. #5 Gus Snarp
    July 8, 2010

    You have a particular problem in that you often take on people who claim that “big pharma” controls you and ScienceBlogs in general. I don’t think your readers particularly care if your blog is hosted here or elsewhere, as long as it exists, but having Seed give a blog to a corporate mouthpiece makes it easier for some of the nutters to claim that you and ScienceBlogs are not independent of industry influence. They’ll easily forget that it’s not the pharmaceutical industry, and heaven forbid you find something to comment on in which the soft drink industry has been the victims of pseudoscience (it could happen), it will be very difficult to be taken seriously on that.

  6. #6 Stephen, Lord of the flies
    July 8, 2010

    There is nothing wrong with a wait-and-see attitude

    I agree completely. But what if we could get to the ‘see’ part without the ‘wait’?

    Try visiting the Pepsi hosted version of the blog and having a poke around. Note that the editor (both here and there) is “a member of the sustainability communications team” rather than an actual R&D scientist. Also note that the content of the posts can charitably be described as promotional material (I would prefer the less charitable PR drivel).

    Given that the SB blog is acknowledged to be an extension of this original one, that the editor is a PR lackey, and that the postings of pepsi scientists have been suspiciously absent of any science, do you still feel that ‘wait-and-see’ is the most appropriate response? I certainly do not feel that giving them the benefit of the doubt is the right response.

  7. #7 Bob
    July 8, 2010

    I have been active in many online communities over the years. Controversies, boneheaded management decisions, and/or poor communications are sadly common (why can’t people learn from other’s mistakes?!?!?!).

    SB seems to have done right by science bloggers for the most part over the past few years. Orac, I’m glad you’re not inclined to do anything rash.

    I think (*hope!!*) everyone will find PepsiGate isn’t as bad and not nefarious as anyone thinks and that its introduction to the SB community has simply been bungled horribly and poorly thought out — well hopefully. “I want to believe” :-) (that this will turn out OK)

    Frankly, I hope the blogger/researchers at PepsiCo (and their guest bloggers) come though with sufficient transparency and good blog posts that we find their content to be a positive contribution to the SB community.

    OTOH: if its just a bunch of marketing drivel that everyone fears well . . . . .

    Everyone, the SB community is quite a remarkable place, and all I can say at this point is lets all please not be too hasty. Communities like SB are remarkable, and they can handle change, but if everyone suddenly just quits, it will just die (the internet is littered with examples).

    Personally, I will reserve judgement until PepsiBlog has a dozen or so blog posts under their belt, how it plays out in practice (transparency & content) will show us what’s what, I will not let my fears about what might be rattle my cage in absence of the evidence of their actions.

  8. #8 triskelethecat
    July 8, 2010

    According to a post just now on Pharyngula, PepsiBlog has been Expelled.

  9. #9 Pablo
    July 8, 2010

    SB seems to have done right by science bloggers for the most part over the past few years.

    Is that really true? I have only been here a short time, and I have already seen a lot of squabbles among posters and the overlords with respect to the sponsorship. For example, right now I see an ad for a website called BestFoodSecrets with 7 Tips to Lose FAT that I don’t trust for the life of me.

    No, this appears to me to be more of the last straw, as opposed to THE cause. The overlords of scienceblogs have never shown any indication that they are all that concerned about their part in maintaining the credibility of the site. I can understand how contributors are tired of not getting support from the management.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    July 8, 2010

    Okay, here’s something really disturbing.

    Reading about all this Pepsigeddon controversy is making me thirsty for a cola. I’m not kidding.

    I don’t drink soda very often (maybe a couple times a month, tops — sometimes I go much longer without having any. It’s just too sweet for me) so this is an unusual craving.

    It’s already working. Yikes.

  11. #11 Scientizzle
    July 8, 2010

    I think Abel Pharmboy’s post today probably encapsulates well many of the conflicted feelings that have been expressed by the bloggers that didn’t immediately jump ship but are standing on the stern and judging the distance to the water…

    The Discover blogs group would be foolish not to try to snatch up some of the heavier hitters over here. Management 101: don’t undermine your own workforce.

  12. #12 lurker
    July 8, 2010

    If you move, at least a significant number of us will follow. Doesn’t matter if it’s all spread out, that’s what favourites/ bookmarks are for.

  13. #13 Bob
    July 8, 2010

    “Is that really true? I have only been here a short time, and I have already seen a lot of squabbles among posters and the overlords with respect to the sponsorship.”

    @Pablo Of course there will be squabbles, its endemic to this kind of an online community. Has SB made mistakes? Of course.

    My basic point is that on the whole SB is better than any other alternative for this kind of community and in the end usually does the right thing.

  14. #14 Pablo
    July 8, 2010

    My basic point is that on the whole SB is better than any other alternative for this kind of community and in the end usually does the right thing.

    So have they stopped accepting adds from woo peddlers? As I said, I suspect there was one right there when I posted that.

    And as for being “better than any other alternatives,” I don’t know. It is an experiment of 1 so far. Presumably, the bloggers here came for a reason that they thought gave sb an advantage over others. However, given the current picture, if they all moved on-masse to a new location with new overlords that won’t sell out their integrity, that it wouldn’t be better?

    Are PZ Myers and Orac popular because of SB? Or does it work the other way around? Myers will hold his audience wherever. Orac gets a lot of traffic from people who found him through vaccination queries. I think there are others who would be more than willing to organize them without the baggage that SB is bringing.

  15. #15 Kevpod
    July 8, 2010

    The objections are understandable. I’d note that corporations also support university research, and we don’t abandon them over corporate support and involvement.

    That said, where does it end? If the Pepsico blog succeeds. does that open the door to innumerable others?

  16. #16 Foster Disbelief
    July 8, 2010

    Well, since management has apparently “managed to extract its cephalic regions from its rectum,” I assume that you will be staying with SB now and this horrible mistake can fade into history.

    That being said, if SB would have kept the Food Frontiers blog, I think it would have been in your best interest to move to a new home. You are already the target of so many “pharma/corporate shill” attacks that staying, while perhaps not suicide for your reputations, would have definately been a repeated toe stubbing to your reputation.

    And not that one reader matters much, I do have to say that if ever you leave SB, I will follow. I read not because of the overlords, but because of the individual bloggers, and whether here, on SBM, or elsewhere, whereever the Orac blogs, I will be lurking.

  17. #17 mad the swine
    July 8, 2010

    “Reading about all this Pepsigeddon controversy is making me thirsty for a cola. I’m not kidding.”

    Drink a Coke instead. Mexican, if available; the Mexican recipe with cane sugar really does taste better than the American corn syrup version (which is a brilliant marketing strategy on Coke’s part).

    (And if Coke and Pepsi are owned by the same corporation, replace ‘Coke’ with ‘generic soda of choice’.)

  18. #18 daedalus2u
    July 8, 2010

    Orac, that is such a BS attitude. You didn’t gain credibility by being associated with Sb, you can’t lose credibility by being associated with Sb. Your credibility is independent of the platform you are writing on and being hosted by. Your writing would have exactly the same level of credibility if it was written in crayon on scraps of paper (but that would finally force you to be less verbose).

    It is exactly like peer review. Peer review doesn’t bless a paper and make it “science’s own truth”, it is a very coarse filter that still lets a lot of crap in.

    Sb has been setting itself up to be the “glamor mag” of science blogging. That is what for-profit companies try to do, make a profit by differential market placement and charging a premium for ad space.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, other than as a consumer of Sb blogs. I don’t see the big issue of a corporate blog, so long as it was clearly labeled, and so long as they had a comment moderation policy that was clearly stated and explicitly followed. The FF moderation policy said it would allow everything except material that was profane or defamatory. If they have been blocking comments that were not profane or defamatory but merely critical, then that is another matter and Seed should expel them.

  19. #19 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Pablo said,

    “So have they stopped accepting adds [sic.] from woo peddlers?”

    Actually, they do when it is pointed out to them:

    http://scienceblogs.com/obesitypanacea/2010/05/adieu_to_weight_loss_ads_on_sc.php

    “As I said, I suspect there was one right there when I posted that.”

    You suspect, but don’t know because you actually didn’t investigate anything that was said. Yes, advertisements are meant to get one to buy a product and will embellish their claims with smiling, photogenic people with happy families. That they use marketing tricks doesn’t mean that the product doesn’t work for it’s intended function.

  20. #20 Orac
    July 8, 2010

    Orac, that is such a BS attitude. You didn’t gain credibility by being associated with Sb, you can’t lose credibility by being associated with Sb.

    Straw man argument. I never claimed I “gained credibility” by being associated with Sb. That was not part of my argument anywhere. Look it up if you don’t believe me. You won’t find it anywhere.

    You’re also so completely wrong that you’re not even wrong, so to speak. If Sb were to do something that tarnishes its name very badly, rightly or wrongly, I could definitely lose credibility in the eyes of many. Let’s take an example intentionally constructed to be extreme and over-the-top.

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that Sb decided that as a matter of editorial content it supported Nazi-style eugenics as being good science and therefore started recruiting eugenicists as bloggers. If I were to stick around, there’s no way that couldn’t tarnish my image and destroy my credibility. Obviously, Pepsigeddon or the Pepsipocalypse is nowhere near that bad, but I used the example to illustrate a point: Whom we choose to associate ourselves with can have a huge impact on our image and credibility. It’s not always fair or rationale. Often it’s not, but that’s the way the world works.

    While I’d love to believe in the lovely albeit naive ideal that you seem to believe in, namely that Sb can’t affect my reputation and credibility, that is not how the world works. Whom we choose to associate ourselves ourselves with matters. Our associations matter.

  21. #21 DNA Lady
    July 8, 2010
  22. #22 Pablo
    July 8, 2010

    Actually, they do when it is pointed out to them:

    http://scienceblogs.com/obesitypanacea/2010/05/adieu_to_weight_loss_ads_on_sc.php

    So wait a minute.

    This says they are getting rid of weight-loss ads. It was claimed in May of this year. Yet, I encounter a weightloss ad on July 8?

    Why does it need to be pointed out to them? Don’t they know who is advertising here?

  23. #23 Pinko Punko
    July 8, 2010

    Orac,

    You simply must go, or perhaps suspend content until this is resolved. Sadly, Seed must be in trouble for them to even consider the Tech Central Station route. This is bad, bad news.

  24. #24 Dangerous Bacon
    July 8, 2010

    Now that ScienceBlogs has removed its cephalorectal impaction by deleting Food Frontiers, Pepsi can add this incident to its catalog of less than sterling public relations maneuvers.

    For some reason I found myself thinking of one of Pepsi’s all-time greatest celebrity “endorsements” – when Caril Fugate (companion of Charles Starkweather during his/their murder spree during the 1950s) was photographed in custody, contently swigging from a bottle of Pepsi:

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_neT8fdNk1Ls/Sa1M3Suu4LI/AAAAAAAANmA/oZHcx8bt_7w/s320/Caril+Fugate+(003).jpg

    Even better, the two dined on potato chips and Pepsi after the murders of her family. Thank goodness Pepsi is hard at work in the lab on healthier food alternatives. ;)

  25. #25 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Orac said,

    “Straw man argument. I never claimed I “gained credibility” by being associated with Sb. That was not part of my argument anywhere. Look it up if you don’t believe me. You won’t find it anywhere.”

    You may not have claimed you gain credibility, but you’ve implied you lose it by being associated with SciBlogs’ (now retracted) decision to allow Pepsico to publish a blog. This was daedalus2u’s point, and why yesterday I was pointing out this was a logical fallacy (i.e., the guilt by association fallacy). Here are some of your words:

    “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.”

    “I have nothing against PepsiCo personally. That doesn’t mean I want to be so closely associated with it.”

    “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.”

    “It’s the concept of the blog and [ERV’s] 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.”

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/07/blindsided_by_my_corporate_overlords_and.php

    To reiterate the point, that a company blogs on Science Blogs does not undermine your credibility and can bring no rational charge of conflict of interest. Your credibility is safe, unless you think the following is a rational argument:

    P1) Pepsico blogs on SciBlogs.
    P2) This exemplifies a conflict of interest on that blog.
    C) All SciBlogs have conflicts of interest.

    Or the following:

    P1) Wayne State University has received grant funding from Sanofi-Aventis.
    P2) Dr. Gorski works for Wayne University.
    C) Dr. Gorski has a conflict of interest.

    You made some good points yesterday, this guilt by association charge was not one of them.

  26. #26 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Pablo,

    That was not the claim. The claim was they are getting rid of “weight-loss gimmick” ads that are known to be gimmicks as exposed by the experts that blog there, not all weight loss ads. A system is in place to remove any offending ads, write to:

    travis at obesitypanacea dot com

    if you suspect you are seeing a weight loss gimmick.

  27. #27 Pablo
    July 8, 2010

    The claim was they are getting rid of “weight-loss gimmick” ads that are known to be gimmicks as exposed by the experts that blog there,

    So they are placing the burden of filtering out the woo-friendly ads on the bloggers and readers? This is a good thing they have done?

    Go to the site I mentioned. BestFoodSecrets. Is that a legit organization based on scientific principles? You tell me. “5 Foods that Fight Abdominal FAT” right along with the testimonials and a place to support.

    I’m not bothering to watch the videos. This could just as well be in my spam box. But they are concerned about my privacy, apparently.

    The bloggers here are putting up with the administration, true, but I don’t see those behind the scenes making much of an effort to help.

  28. #28 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  29. #29 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  30. #30 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  31. #31 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  32. #32 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  33. #33 Dan Weber\
    July 8, 2010

    Internet Drama!!!!1

  34. #34 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    I cannot tell you with confidence, as I am not an expert on these matters. Neither, presumably, is the Seed management, hence they turn to experts to evaluate the claims made.

    However, it sounds fishy, but sufficiently vague enough to prevent it from actually stating anything of substance (e.g., “may help you fight fat”). I have looked into this program in the past, and even watched the video. The video is vague and doesn’t actually make any recommendations, it’s just a testimonial. The site itself has articles that do. Like a number of weight-loss plans they do a lot to restrict calories, prescribe exercise, and then add their own non-substantial embellishment, like “5 foods that may help someone lose fat”. Individuals that follow the calorie and exercise recommendations lose fat due to the diet and exercise, but then ascribe it to the program, as it was part of the program that helped them. It’s not a complete sham, but it’s not the complete truth either. It uses some known principles about diet, like calories in and calories out, but then has some claims that are myths, like eating before bed time causes you to store more fat.

    You should take a snapshot, and send an email to travis.

  35. #35 Jojo
    July 8, 2010

    I’m glad to see that sb came to their senses. I would have stayed, but it certainly would have tarnished the credibility that Orac works hard to maintain if sb had kept the corporate blog.

    Now, off to get a Diet Pepsi because the Diet Coke is sold out. Again. Stupid vending machine company.

  36. #36 Ahistoricality
    July 8, 2010

    Now that Seed has pulled the Pepsico Blog, will they give Mark C-C and the others a chance to come back?

  37. #37 daedalus2u
    July 8, 2010

    Orac, I know you didn’t say you got increased credibilty because you posted at Sb. That was my attempt at making a point. If you don’t gain credibility by posting somewhere, then you shouldn’t lose credibility either. Your credibility should be independent of where you post.

    That was the point I was trying to make, we should judge people and bloggers by what they actually do, not what other people do. A writers credibility should stand or fall based upon what they write, not where they write it.

  38. #38 Scott
    July 8, 2010

    Credibility “should” be independent of the venue? Sure. Credibility IS independent of the venue? Utterly laughable.

    In the real world, it does matter.

  39. #39 Scott
    July 8, 2010

    Forgot to mention specifically…

    Guilt by association is a logical fallacy, true, but to pretend that people don’t actually think that way is ludicrous. And since credibility is by definition completely a matter of perception, guilt by association most emphatically DOES figure into credibility.

  40. #40 superdave
    July 8, 2010

    my two cents.
    I think you gotta leave.
    I highly doubt there was going to be many or any soda related posts coming soon, but on the internet credibility is everything and you can’t afford to have it shaken, especially given the pseudo-scientists penchant for attacking it.

  41. #41 FrauTech
    July 8, 2010

    If their real goal is to get industry bloggers, can’t they just recruit people who work in industry and blog? I know there’s kind of a double edged sword as probably these bloggers have to remain pseudononymous for their jobs’ sake, and can’t necessarily talk about specific things their company is doing (that would the place of an official company blog) but if that was Sb’s real goal it seems that’s the place to start.

  42. #42 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Daedalus,

    To a point. At some point we can gather enough evidence about a forum to conclude likelihood about the content presented there. For example, the Huffington Post’s health section. It is probable that an article written there is going to spout misinformation and dubious recommendations. Thus, if I’m ever linked an article related to science from HuffPo I’m extremely wary of the content. This is not unreasonable given the track record of the site. It would take some convincing from both the author of the post, and others, claiming that it really presented the science well, to actually give me the desire to read the article and not draw conclusions, based on prior knowledge about Huffington Post articles, about the author.

    The problem with the Pepsico fiasco was they never generated content so we couldn’t conclude it would just be an advertisement for Pepsi, and that it’s one example of a blog with a declared financial conflict of interest out maybe a hundred or so. How can we possibly conclude that it’s probable a Science Blog is a corporate shill from one, not very good, example?

  43. #43 Just Sayin'
    July 8, 2010

    Let’s say, hypothetically, that Sb decided that as a matter of editorial content it supported Nazi-style eugenics as being good science and therefore started recruiting eugenicists as bloggers.

    Says the guy who whines about strawmen one paragraph earlier.

    While I’d love to believe in the lovely albeit naive ideal that you seem to believe in, namely that Sb can’t affect my reputation and credibility, that is not how the world works. Whom we choose to associate ourselves ourselves with matters. Our associations matter.

    So are all corporations bad? And if not, which ones are “bad”, and which ones are “good”?

    Waiting for the avalanche of straw sure to follow…

  44. #44 JohnV
    July 8, 2010

    Orac I appreciate that at least for you (and maybe none of the bloggers in particular) it’s not an issue of being anti-industry. However if you peruse the comments you will see people unleashing “anti-industry” screeds. I’m too lazy to link them now, but I can later if desired, but one individual almost literally said they’re not scientists if they work in industry.

    Hopefully you can see why some of us might detect (or be overly? sensitive to it) an anti-industry bias given the following things:

    1) Statements alluded to above in the comments sections of the various blogs here
    2) the mostly unchallenged pro-woo outlook espoused to food over the last day or 2
    3) the pervading attitude in academia that if you go into industry you’re a failed scientist

    Like I said I appreciate that that’s not where you’re coming from. And before anyone suggests it, a few of us made this observation on Greg Laden’s blog prior to Bly’s letter being leaked. And I’m not trying to defend anything he did or did not do, just letting you know where some of us are coming from in our observations.

  45. #45 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Scott,

    First, you don’t understand the guilt by association fallacy. It’s not a statement that association never matters. It’s a statement that identifying an association between two things is not enough to conclude that one has properties the other has. You have to demonstrate the association is relevant for concluding the other also has those properties.

    Second, are you arguing that because people use a logical fallacy to justify their position that we should just accept it and act on their unreason? I’d get no where in fighting for my rights if I acted that way.

  46. #46 Scott
    July 8, 2010

    mkandefer,

    I understand it fully. It is, however, utterly irrelevant to the question at hand because people DO actually find others guilty by association despite the fact that it is a fallacy.

    And yes, I am arguing that because people use a logical fallacy to justify their position we should accept the fact that they do so, and factor it into decisions. They’re WRONG to do so, but that they do it is an objective fact. Denying it is therefore quite wrongheaded.

    Your last sentence appears to be claiming that willful denial of reality is a necessary part of “fighting for your rights” – any approach to such fighting that demands such willful denial is foredoomed to utter failure.

  47. #47 Jud
    July 8, 2010

    mkandefer writes:

    Your credibility is safe, unless you think the following is a rational argument:

    P1) Pepsico blogs on SciBlogs.
    P2) This exemplifies a conflict of interest on that blog.
    C) All SciBlogs have conflicts of interest.

    I don’t think that’s an entirely accurate formulation of Orac’s problem. It fails to take into account how this could affect preconceptions among some of the people Orac might hope to reach, especially if those people are subject to bombardment by others making the “corporate/pharma shill” argument, however inaccurately.

  48. #48 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    I never said that we deny them, my point was that we not try to act as if they were reasonable, which could have been admittedly clearer. I will, for example, educate, rather than flee. For example, many people at AoA thought it convincing that Dr. Gorski from SBM has a conflict of interest with Sanofi-Aventis, but did Dr. Gorski flee Wayne State University? No, he put up a rational argument in response, presumably to educate. If only Orac were equally as capable as Dr. Gorski, then he too could write a response to charges that he has financial ties to Pepsico because Science Blogs has another blog that has financial ties to Pepsico (i.e., point out that this association is irrelevant), rather than fleeing.

  49. #49 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Jud,

    Then those people shall be swayed, as if you aren’t up-to-date on Orac, they are already making those pharma shill accusations with other unreasonable associations. You really think someone not swayed by the already existing ones will be swayed by, of all things, the Pepsico association? Out of respect for Orac’s continued interest in remaining anonymous on SciBlogs I shall not link to hem, but you should easily find them.

  50. #50 Just Sayin'
    July 8, 2010

    And yes, I am arguing that because people use a logical fallacy to justify their position we should accept the fact that they do so, and factor it into decisions. They’re WRONG to do so, but that they do it is an objective fact. Denying it is therefore quite wrongheaded.

    Your last sentence appears to be claiming that willful denial of reality is a necessary part of “fighting for your rights” – any approach to such fighting that demands such willful denial is foredoomed to utter failure.

    Is that you, Chris Mooney? Or is it Matt Nisbett?

  51. #51 mkandefer
    July 8, 2010

    Jud, that would probably make a bit more sense if a comment awaiting moderation appered prior to it :)

  52. #52 Gray Falcon
    July 8, 2010

    Two scenarios come to mind. The first is if the PR guys had decided to publish an article that was not entirely accurately. What would happen if someone on ScienceBlogs decided to criticize it?

    Then there’s the following scenario, which would have been quite possible: Pepsico’s R&D department makes a discovery that is counterintuitive, beneficial to the company, but accurate.

  53. #53 Natalie
    July 8, 2010

    Just Sayin’, I don’t think you know what a strawman argument is. A hypothetical example can’t be a strawman, by definition.

  54. #54 Just Sayin'
    July 8, 2010

    Just Sayin’, I don’t think you know what a strawman argument is. A hypothetical example can’t be a strawman, by definition.

    Which “definition” is that?

  55. #55 E.V.
    July 8, 2010

    Sherlock Holmes or even Scooby Doo and The Mystery Machine™ wasn’t needed. There was nothing in the leaked email from Adam that couldn’t be deduced just linking all the dots – just the schizoid flipflop from Greg Laden was enough to go on.

    PepsiCo purchases scientific legitimacy by association to promote their nutrition/greenwashing efforts by blogging under the Sb™ banner while Sb™, rationalizing and pooh-poohing all ethical concerns, gets stable capital to keep the site afloat. In short: Nooyi’s new agenda for PepsiCo appears to be backed by academic scientists, SB™ is solvent – win/win.
    But nooooooo. Blindsided by bloggers with conscientious objections, science nerds spoiled all the fun. “Damned integrity! I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids!!“, Noori was quoted as saying as she snacked on a new Taco Bell® Fresh Menu item and Diet Pepsi®, “Oh well, back to the drawing board…
    Somebody send me the head of Don Pellegrom.

    There are unconfirmed reports of sounds of acute sobbing coming from the direction of Adam Bly’s office.
    And for god’s sake, will someone send Abbie ten cases of Mountain Dew®?

  56. #56 Dan Weber
    July 8, 2010

    Are we going to spend so much time on this drama that we forget that Dr. Wakefield is speaking tonight at 6pm in NYC?

  57. #57 Bite Me
    July 8, 2010

    The title of this post is a non-sequitur. “Pepsigeddon” didn’t “claim” anything. Rather, a self-important spoiled brat drama queen decided to throw a hissy fit and take his ball and go home because the world didn’t do everything he wanted the way he wanted NOW NOW NOW!!!!! Cry me a river. Good riddance to the pipsqueak, as far as I’m concerned.

  58. #58 Donna B.
    July 9, 2010

    Ironically, I got to this part of a long article on AI through a Research Blogging link on ScienceBlogs:

    “When advertisers talk about buying the networks, they are no longer referring to the big three– they mean buying access to your friends.”
    http://blog.steinberg.org/?p=11

    I think that sums up my take on the Pepsico blog as well as the other institutional blogs, such as Brookhaven.

    If I were a ScienceBlogs blogger, I’d be offended that ScienceBlogs thought it could sell my readers without consulting me first.

  59. #59 zoe237
    July 9, 2010

    What a pile of baloney that they were interested in having industry scientists blog, when they could have gotten individuals to blog rather than the corporation itself. I’m also assuming from the leaked email that SB was being paid by pepsi to host their blog? Strange, strange. Anyway, I already knew Orac was ethical, this only confirms it.

    Now if only the AAFP members would start pressuring the organization to stop its “teaming up” with pepsi/coke.

  60. #60 zoe
    July 9, 2010

    Actually, i changed my mind after reading the least pepsigeddon post. I still think you oughta leave given the GE and Shell blogs. To me, it has nothing to do with guilt by association and everything to do with an ethical problem with the core company accepting money to publish editorial content. It’d be like researchers paying Nature to publish their study rather than it being accepted on its own merits. I’d be more in favor of paying a subscription fee. I like diet coke too, but I don’t need a blog telling me how awesome it is.

    Come to think of it, I probably shouldn’t read here anymore. Crap.

  61. #61 Matt Roman
    July 9, 2010

    The problem with all of this is that the only purpose of a company (especially one that’s publicly traded) is to MAKE PROFITS. They can pretend that they care about the health of their consumers but that is all a front. Pretending to have corporate social responsibility, which is done in many ways, including blogging on SB, is profitable to them.

    Their goal is not the scientific method, its the business method. Two completely different things.

  62. #62 Denice Walter
    July 9, 2010

    I hope I’m not dreaming but… I clicked on the evil, new blog and got re-directed to page 3.14 and Adam sez : “We have removed Food Frontiers from SB”…..

  63. #63 a-non
    July 9, 2010

    I just think it is ridiculous when everyone threatens to leave over Pepsico having a blog on SB, while there was far less of an uproar over GE and Shell having similar blogs.

    To me, it was still less about principle and more about rank elitism. If this blog was sponsored by Pfizer, would there be as much vitriol? Maybe, but somehow I doubt it, because for many on SB Pfizer does “real science” while Pepsico doesn’t.

    And I hope people are ready for the unintended consequences.

    Because when you start talking about the “evil corporation” not being trustworthy, folks lump all corporations into that mix. So when you try to defend the pharmaceutical companies when it comes to something like vaccines, you open yourself to being hypocrites. “You said yourself that these companies are shills,” they’ll cry, and your response is going to look like little more than word parsing.

    This whole incident was entirely disappointing to me, because so many bloggers on SB couldn’t practice a lick of what they preach. And good luck getting “industry” to engage in the future, if that’s the response industry is going to get before they even post anything.

  64. #64 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    Their goal is not the scientific method, its the business method. Two completely different things.

    So you’re saying that pharma companies don’t practice the scientific method when developing vaccines / drugs? Pfizer, Bayer, et al are profit making concerns, after all. Do tell.

  65. #65 bluefoot
    July 9, 2010

    Is it bad that PepsiGate/Pepsigeddon makes me think of the old “Pepsi Syndrome” SNL skit?

  66. #66 Big Blue
    July 9, 2010

    “If this blog was sponsored by Pfizer, would there be as much vitriol? ”

    No. There’d be MORE. As an employee of MegaPharma, I can refer to no specific incidents that would identify MegaPharma or its fucked-up doings, but please trust me on this one. Everybody hates us. Hell, on the days when I have to spend four hours in court-ordered training because some salesdouche tried to bribe the Minister of Health in East Nowhere, Ex-colonystan, I hate us too. At least those asshats in Marketing who can’t seem to go through a damn day without screwing up something, somewhere–believe me, if prayer or karma worked on anything, those bastards would have died in a fire long ago, by the willpower of 100,000 enraged scientists, engineers, manufacturing techs, accountants and IT staff who had to sit through four hour training sessions because one marketing fool couldn’t STFU about some off-label shit he pulled out of his ass.

    We do make some good drugs, vaccines being one of those; we are wicked good at making biologics in general. For small molecules, we make some wonderful antibiotics, birth control (if you think that is trivial, you aren’t old enough to remember the bad old days when women used to buy dime store wedding rings to get any), and our cancer treatments have certainly come a long way.

    But please don’t confuse “Industry Science” with “PR Dude” or even “Leadership Team”. The assumptions folks are making in defense of Pepsi are pretty insulting, really:
    -That industry scientists don’t have their own blogs with good readership (many have been mentioned, many can be found via the blogrolls of Sb members).
    -That industry scientists can’t speak for themselves if they choose to. This is not so different from “industry scientists need a PR minder to Stay On Message”. Both are equally condescending.
    -That industry scientists have the same interests as their employers. Do academics give two craps about half the things that worry the administrators? I’m guessing not.
    -That industry scientists never say boo about the industry. Good FSM, we spend at least 15 minutes daily bitching about layoffs, whether near or far, and the incompetence of MBAs in general. You want to see an industry scientist go apeshit, ask them about Six Sigma, the most recent batch of resumes from the HR database, or CROs.

  67. #67 tsig
    July 11, 2010

    I read both Orac an PZ before they went to SB and for me the SB experience has been totally negative.

    Strange problems with logins, more crashes with Firefox and most of all too many post dealing with the SB drama rather than science.

    So I have to ask, “What is the attraction of SB?”

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