I, like many of my fellow SciBlings, am less than ecstatic that PepsiCo now has a blog here at ScienceBlogs. It needs to have the Pepsi logo on it. It needs to be 100% clear that the content may be shameless advertising for a major corporation. Right now.
But what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? I’m not talking about Pepsi or its products, which have been shown time and again to be general detriments to health. I’m talking about this new blog. People are accusing them of all kinds of things including compromising the content here – but they haven’t written a single post.
Yes, it’s possible that Food Frontiers will be filled with barely masked advertising for Pepsi. But it’s also possible that it will actually be used how it says it will be – as an open line of communication between the R&D of Pepsi and scientists and the general public, as a window into a different side of science that is most often behind closed doors. Maybe, just maybe, they will actually talk about the science that is done behind the scenes by major companies like this. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually have something interesting to say.
I’m not saying I’m for this blog. I’m just not against it – at least not yet. I want to know what I’m supporting or deriding before I make my decision on it.
What bothers me far more than the presence of this sponsored blog is the mindset of commenters and non-Sciblings who have now decided to boycott ScienceBlogs for this. Boycott the homepage so that you don’t see anything from this new entity – go right ahead. Boycott this new blog – totally with you on that one, especially if they end up being thinly veiled advertising. But why stop reading the blogs that you know are good? Why hurt those who actually do a good job?
Just ask any animal behavior specialist. Negative reinforcement is a shitty way of changing behavior. If you just jump ship, you lose your voice in the matter all together. A better way to dictate content is to say “Hey, ScienceBlogs – this is what we like. This is what we will read. This is what you need more of.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Greg Laden on this one.
Some commenters have said they will never read another scienceblogs.com blog ever again because our credibility has totally collapsed because this blog exists. That’s like when a student told me that nothing I had said in lecture all semester could be believed because (according to his misguided understanding of something) I had gotten this one thing wrong. Those commenters will either calm down and keep reading the blogs they like, or perhaps stick to their guns and go away, thus making Sb a bit less stupid of a place, or so one might hope.
Boycotting is lazy and a copout. And even worse, it hurts those who haven’t done anything wrong, like the many fantastic bloggers here at ScienceBlogs.