Science is Culture

Science is Culture

After hosting blogs for four years, it’s about time I started my own. So, welcome!

Let me begin with a bit about me and what I believe.

I believe that science has the unique potential to improve the state of the world. I think this potential is being hindered today by a lack of science literacy around the world and by the largely closed and restricted nature of the world’s scientific information. Two connected topics (ie. Science Literacy and Open Science) that I care passionately about and will delve deep into on this blog. I also believe that science can be more than a subject; it can be a lens through which to look at the world — a lens that is desperately needed in these times — and a way of life through which to change it.

These convictions led me to start Seed and everything since. They are what drive me.

I’m a scientist at heart. I learned about science when I was five or six from my backyard neighbor growing up in Montreal, Dr. Laszlo Kato. Dr. Kato was an eminent microbiologist who taught me about science with a piano and a gardening spade. His science was a way of life, not just what he did from 9 to 5. And ever since, science has meant the same for me.

I was a science fair nerd (I think probably many of us on SB were! Maybe we’ll share stories one day). I did my first science fair project on paper airplanes when I was 13, and my last on cell adhesion when I was 17. That last project, entitled The Molecular Zipper: Fusion of E-Cadherin cDNA to Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), landed me the Grand Prize in Biochemistry at the Intel International Science and Engineering Festival and a bench at the Biotechnology Research Institute of the National Research Council of Canada where I was a Guest Researcher working on the relationship between cadherins, cell surface receptors, and cancer cell metastasis. I skipped class to be in my lab and I loved everything about it — from the smell of agar in the morning to the thrill of finishing up an immunofluorescence experiment at 2am and sitting alone at the confocal… I do miss the lab — and have been trying to find a way to run gels again.

These days, I spend a lot of time talking with scientists, governments and NGOs about how to advance science towards the betterment of society — how we fix the research web, science education, and the public’s engagement with science. Last week, I had the chance to go home to Montreal to talk to 400 science teachers (including the one who inspired me to pursue science in high school, Yofi Sadaka) about science literacy and learn about the challenges to science education in Canada.

I’ve had the honor of being invited to speak at the National Academy of Science, the Royal Society, and the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World. I sit on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum along with several people whom I highly respect including Susan Hockfield, Francis Collins, and Shirley Ann Jackson. Last year I got to work with some amazing designers and architects on MoMA’s first exhibition about science, and I’ve spent the last 100? weekends editing my first book, called Science is Culture, that will be published this fall by HarperCollins.

That’s enough about me. More than anything, I’m looking forward to personally joining the conversation on SB as a fellow blogger. I start each day reading ScienceBlogs, as I know so do many of you.

I want this blog to be a place where we can have a thoughtful conversation about the future of ScienceBlogs. I’ll offer some thoughts on what’s happened over the last few days (I’m reading through hundreds of comments) and ask for your feedback on ideas we’re incubating. We’ll obviously begin with a discussion about the place of industry in science and ‘advertorials’ on SB while my colleagues over on 3.14 will be hosting discussions about science journalism, including the issue of conflicts of interest. And we’ll go from there…

Welcome! And thanks for reading…

UPDATE: I figured out how to disable comment moderation with a little help from Mike and Bora. Like on other blogs around these parts, all comments will be published so long as they are not anonymous, ie. the commenter either includes their URL or affiliation.

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    July 8, 2010

    Welcome to … ah, Science blogs! And it feels really strange saying this to you!

    When I was a kid, my room WAS the science fair. Special things had to happen before the house was sold.

  2. #2 Mike Dunford
    July 8, 2010

    Heh. I was just putting the finishing touches on a post that’s perhaps slightly more than mildly critical of the way you’ve been handling things here. It looks like I’m going to have to modify it slightly before it goes up. (Only slightly, though.)

    I’m genuinely thrilled that you’re making this effort.

  3. #3 Jason G. Goldman
    July 8, 2010

    Welcome to the trenches! (You have your blog helmet ready?)

  4. #4 Deborah Byrd
    July 8, 2010

    Adam, keep on keeping on, buddy. You are fighting the good fight.

    - Deborah

  5. #5 PalMD
    July 8, 2010

    This could be interesting…

  6. #6 Mattir
    July 8, 2010

    Being more visible to the scienceblogs horde will be a good thing. I’m assuming, of course, that the past 2 days have significantly thickened your skin, if it wasn’t totally impervious already.

  7. #7 Daniel Brown
    July 8, 2010

    It’s kind of exciting to see who’s behind that curtain. Er…welcome.

    One thing that is obvious from the past few days is that a LOT of people truly love ScienceBlogs, myself included, and all we perceive that it stands for – hence the high emotions. I am also among the hordes that begin and end every day with a quick run through the latest posts.

    Here’s hoping you can continue to make this place the bastion of science thought and discussion it deserves to be.

  8. #8 Mike Dunford
    July 8, 2010

    I think Daniel makes a very good point about the level of emotional involvement that a lot of people – both bloggers and readers – have for the community. It’s something that I hope you keep firmly in mind over the next few weeks.

    The level of anger that boiled to the surface over the whole Pepsi thing is in many ways a very good sign, because it demonstrates the fierce emotional attachment and involvement that so many of our regular readers have for this site. If the bulk of the reaction had been “meh” or “figures”, we’d be in a hell of a lot more trouble.

    Setting up somewhere that a more open discussion about the future of Sb can take place is a very good idea, as long as there’s solid follow-through, and you stay engaged. Jumping into a discussion in the comments is one way to do that, but it’s not always compatible with a busy work schedule. There’s a blog that you might want to look at if you’re looking for an approach that might work well without being too much of a time sink to deal with. A couple of years ago, Major General Mike Oates set up a blog while he was commanding the 10th Mountain division. (http://www.taskforcemountain.com/mountain-sound-off). He didn’t post much, but he did use it as a way to ask how his troops felt about various issues. He made it clear that he genuinely wanted to hear all opinions, and frequently got a very wide range of views in the comments.

    But elephant-thick skin is definitely going to be an absolute must. Either that or lots of scotch.

  9. #9 Adam Bly
    July 8, 2010

    Greg: I had rotifers growing in petri dishes off our kitchen!

  10. #10 Adam Bly
    July 8, 2010

    Thanks Jason, Deborah, and Daniel.

  11. #11 Adam Bly
    July 8, 2010

    I’ll check out that blog, thanks Mike. Highland Park 18yr, in case you were wondering…

  12. #12 george.w
    July 8, 2010

    Welcome! ScienceBlogs has been very meaningful to me, and the last two days quite an eye opener. I bet you can say the same to a very large exponent.

  13. #13 "GrrlScientist"
    July 8, 2010

    good first step, but too little, too late? after 4.5 years here, working very hard on my blog writing, patiently and faithfully being an active part of the community and working hard at being a “team player,” i am cynical. as a very wise man whom i hold in great esteem once said, “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” in this case, this idealist has been disappointed many MANY times by Scienceblogs/SMG.

  14. #14 pam ronald
    July 8, 2010

    Welcome Adam! When I was a kid in California, there were no science fairs… especially for girls. Mostly I had my nose in a book or my feet in the wilderness. I am delighted that there is a place like ScienceBlogs where scientists can interact with the general public.

    Keep up the good work. Lets keep this thing funded and open and fantastic.

  15. #15 Mike Dunford
    July 9, 2010

    Grrl:

    Fair question, and it’s one that I think each of us needs to answer independently. I’m almost always a fan of the conciliatory approach (but I’m guessing you knew that already). More importantly, I think that what we’ve been – are – trying to do here is important enough that it’s worth risking the pain of being burned again if there’s even a hint of a hope of getting there this time.

    I guess my usual view is just that if there’s any forward progress at all, it’s probably not too little, and as long as the EKG isn’t flat it’s not too late.

    YMMV.

  16. #16 Isis the Scientist
    July 9, 2010

    Welcome Adam and best of luck with the blog.

  17. #17 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Thank you Isis, Pam, and George.

  18. #18 baryogenesis
    July 9, 2010

    I just read Dunford’s blog and ended up here. I’m a lurker who very rarely comments. I’ve been alive long enough to see how short-lived idealistic movements end. Relatively short-lived. Maybe it’s human nature in this type of society to have expectations of some remuneration. Monetary pressures haven’t been addressed in any of these discussions, whether for Seed’s survival or a blogger’s expectations. Seed needs to remain solvent and bloggers surely enjoy a bit of reinforcement beyond the often great commentators and readers. This needs to be addressed (not necessarily publicly). It’s quite hot here and I’m going with some sort of iced alcohol (not Scotch), so hope this is clear. I have enjoyed following many bloggers even though I don’t have a science background. I check in many sites every day and continue to learn. Thanks to all. Hope it can survive.

  19. #19 baryogenesis
    July 9, 2010

    Crap, I just reread my post and want to be clear that in no way did I support the Pepsico involvement. Just wishing aloud that there could be a resolution, a solution. Don’t think it’s that simple, but do hope that established standards can be maintained.

  20. #20 Donna B.
    July 9, 2010

    “how to advance science towards the betterment of society”

    Science IS. It doesn’t have a goal. It especially doesn’t have a political goal which is what the “betterment of society” is.

    It is obvious to anyone who reads a variety of SB blogs over a period of time that each individual blogger may have a goal (or set of goals) and that is fine. I’ve never run across an individual blogger who tried to hide his or her goals.

    More importantly, most of the bloggers here who actually blog about science generally don’t try to twist the science to fit their goals. The only drawback (for me) to ScienceBlogs is the stable of bloggers who blog mostly about their goals… whether it be eradication of religious superstition or the advancement of feminism or the eradication of human consumption of meat or sustainable living or their general political preference. More often than not these bloggers don’t back their blogging up with any scientific evidence at all.

    A few do both and mix up them up in a way that is quite frustrating. Those are the only individual bloggers you need worry about dirtying up the brand.

    But every single institutional blogger you sell access to comes here with a goal and it is by definition not a wholly scientific one. This applies not only to those like Pepsico, but also to Brookhaven, Weizman, Science & Engineering Festival, and SETI.

    None of the individual bloggers have PR departments to define their goals and restrict their thinking. All the institutional bloggers have this restraint.

    Individual goals can compete with each other politically, but not with institutional goals.

    The bottom line is: If ScienceBlogs, as an institution, has a goal that involves anything other than discovering what science IS, it is misnamed. A few days ago, the majority of the blogs here were science oriented. It’s interesting that the majority of those that have “defected” mostly blogged about science rather than goals for society.

    It’s also interesting that this holds true of most of the defections to other science venues over the past 2 years that I’ve been an SB reader.

  21. #21 JafafaHots
    July 9, 2010

    This is interesting.
    Based on your CV, some people had you pegged as just a money guy, MBA, including me. Or maybe it was JUST me.

    This post is informative, showing that you have had a long interest in science. That may have been evident before and I just missed it – which would not be surprising, I miss a hell of a lot.

    But anyway, that means that the whole PepSci thing was not so much
    A. Money-grubbing MBA doesn’t care about journalistic or scientific ethics.

    to being instead maybe one of the following:
    B. Lifelong science enthusiast and supporter was kinda clueless about journalistic and scientific ethics…
    OR
    C. Lifelong science enthusiast was desperately trying anything he could to keep his dream project running and compromised himself due to that desperation…
    OR
    D. Whoopsie. My bad. What was I thinking?

    It will be interesting to see which one it turns out to be.
    Of course, I may be missing several other possibilities. Hell, I only have an 8th grade formal education, what the hell do I know.

    Still unsure about the future of Sb though. This was a very weird episode, though not without its entertainment value.

  22. #22 Martin R
    July 9, 2010

    Welcome Adam! You’re right to turn off comment moderation, but you’ll probably find a few commenters pushing fake Gucci handbags, raving about atheism, linking to Turkish porn sites and offering to extend parts of your anatomy. Give me a shout if you need help with the keyword spam filter.

    Oh, and don’t feel obliged to write long reasoned essays every time you post. A paragraph or two is perfectly fine.

  23. #23 rijkswaanvijand
    July 9, 2010

    Booze junkies?! You’re not sponsored by Highland Park now are you Adam?:P

  24. #24 Donna B.
    July 9, 2010

    So how’s that comment non-moderation working? Not so well, I’d say.

  25. #25 Lassi Hippeläinen
    July 9, 2010

    Thanks for coming out of the closet ;-)

    Sb is a good invention. A collection of blogs is more attractive than just a single blog. Metcalfe’s Law.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metcalfe%27s_Law

    If Sb would close now, something similar would emerge to take its place. Maybe not as a commercial enterprise. But if you can afford 18 yr Scotch in stead of bourbon, business can’t be that bad.

    The current blog roster is strong in biosciences, but quite weak in engineering. When you tried to open doors for industry researchers, you should have gone for engineers, not bioscientists.

  26. #26 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Not to worry JF and LH: SB is not going anywhere!

  27. #27 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Martin: Thanks. Have been trying to optimize the filters and the various settings and will email you for advice.

  28. #28 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Donna: I disagree. Of course, science is fundamentally and by definition directionless (unless you count the asymptotal relationship with truth!). That does not mean that (1) the output from science cannot and should not be directed towards positive social change and (2) that scientific methodology cannot be ported over to other domains outside of research towards the betterment of society.

    None of the other institutions you mention pay to blog on SB.

    Let’s not forget that scientists (even those who blog) are people. They are riddled with conflicts. We shouldn’t deny that. We should distinguish then between the communication of science and the act of doing research.

    Oh, and I think you’ll find plenty of diverse science among the 130 or so blogs (70+ in English) we publish around the world — how about trying 3 new blogs on SB next week and letting me know?

  29. #29 Onkel Bob
    July 9, 2010

    As someone passing through the village, I think it’s interesting that you popped up. (Look at Balloonjuice.com lexicon for definition of villager.) I rather like it; no, I really like it. It’s always good when the person at the top drives the conversation, not from a this is what I think and you should to, but rather this is what I think, do you believe it’s a good idea?

    As to the Pepsi generation, I understood what’s going on. Pepsi wanted to buy a store on a busy avenue in hopes of getting visitors. That’s the nature of commercial ventures and transactions, things are bought and sold. No problem from my point of view.

    Where I have a problem is the response that was, “oh their presence will sully my good name.” Spare me, your name is not dependent upon who is your neighbor. This canard that science is a bastion of truth and integrity is growing tiresome. Submit a paper to a journal that is in competition to or conflict with the editor’s position and tell me what response you receive. Science is a human endeavor, rife with all the fragility, meanness and glory that comes with them, and often amplified to 11!!!

    Finally, regarding Martin’s statement

    linking to Turkish porn sites

    feel free to pass those links on ;^)

  30. #30 Onkel Bob
    July 9, 2010

    Oh and another thing, since you’re at the top, you really need a cool banner. (Think bioephemera or A Blog around the Clock) I mean Arial, you used Arial to announce yourself? Man, you may as well just used Comic Sans…

  31. #31 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Haha, ok. But never Arial! It’s Helvetica Neue.

  32. #32 Bob Purinton
    July 9, 2010

    Hi, Adam,
    Thanks for giving us ScienceBlogs. I go to it first, every day. I’m learning a lot.

  33. #33 AJ Milne
    July 9, 2010

    Just three quick comments, covering some ground you probably already know pretty well, but anyway

    1) SB is a wonderful resource. I am quite confident you have already had a measurable impact in science literacy in general. The concept, in general, is excellent. Weaving science more into people’s lives–or making them better aware how it is already–is a vital effort. I could go on about whyinhell we do seem to have the odd separation we do now have in so many places–where people see science as something done somewhere else, somewhere they aren’t, and by other people–but leaving that for now: it need not be; it should not be. Bring your beakers to the party in the kitchen, and talk about them there; it’s where they need to be.

    2) Your making yourself more visible this way: also good, and in keeping with what you say you intended the spirit of SB and Seed should be. In another world, another medium, it might make sense for the CEO and money man to leave the writing entirely to others, but if what you write above is genuinely the ethos that drove this venture, this is of a piece, and even overdue.

    3) Backing off on the Pepsico move: also good. Going there in the first place: not so much. I have sympathy with Grrlscientist’s view of this–it didn’t look good, and some damage is already done. I appreciate the venture has to work financially, but there is this enduring tradition in publishing: reputable publications label advertising clearly as such. Hell, as you probably know, some jurisdictions have laws about the appearance of ‘advertorial’ content. Whatever your intentions and Pepsico’s intentions here, even appearing to cross the line can be very, very costly to your reputation.

    In any case, again, as others have written, odd as it sounds: welcome.

  34. #34 Mike Dunford
    July 9, 2010

    @Adam (#25):

    I wonder if this is a good time to bring up the general dissatisfaction with the blogging backend…

  35. #35 Nora Streed
    July 9, 2010

    Ha! I was about to note that it looks like Helvetica, not Arial, and I think it’s a fine choice (and a good name btw). But yeah, a better banner will be nice.

    This has been an interesting episode. I’ve been a regular reader of Sb (and Seed) since their beginning. I totally get it that advertising pays the bills; however Zuska is right to note the reality behind any information-dissemination venture in a capitalist market: advertising provides a potent opportunity for control and can in fact serve as an effective method for outright censorship.

    That’s the nature of the media nowadays and hereabouts. I don’t like it either.

    The information itself is not the product, so-called “content providers” (i.e., bloggers, in this instance) are not the producers, and the readers/viewers are not the consumers. And I think here is where a lot of us get uncomfortable.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, let’s just follow the money. A transaction is taking place; something is being bought and something is being sold.

    The purchaser in this media environment is the advertiser. The seller — the one who prepares and presents a product for sale and stands to either make a profit or not — is the corporate overlordship of the venture. The product? Well, ultimately it’s the attention of the audience. So where does the blogger come in to all of this? Audience bait? Exploited labor? Co-producer?

    Is the information or content to some extent also a product? Should it be?

    Certainly if there’s no interest in the content, no one will read it, and no one will look at the ads. No audience means no product of any value to advertisers.

    And — but what happens when the advertiser jumps into the role of content provider/blogger? To what extent is that deceptive? Who is being deceived? What is the difference to the audience?

    Yes, I know that there are other layers, other motivations to these crass capitalist transactions. It’s all complicated, and I guess that’s my point.

  36. #36 Dan M
    July 9, 2010

    I will follow with great interest. Science education and science communication have a lot of counterintuitive subtleties. It’s a very interesting problem!

  37. #37 Ashartus
    July 9, 2010

    I have a few thoughts about the Pepsi incident. Personally I believe that industry scientists, like any other scientists, could make valuable contributions to the science blogging community. I also think industry-funded science, or even science conducted directly by major corporations, can be valid. I also understand from a business perspective that getting paid money by a big corporation can be a good thing for keeping your site viable. Where I think the problems arise is when you combine the three – industry science being promoted by the scientists who conducted it, paid for by the corporation conducting the research.

    I think having some degree of independence is essential for ScienceBlogs to be credible. As a (small-scale) blogger myself, as well as a consultant who is paid to do science by various industries, I make a point of never writing about any subject where I do paid work to avoid any potential conflicts of interest or biases (or even the perception of bias); I think that’s a good rule to follow for any blogger who is paid by industry.

    Perhaps an alternative approach would be to have a completely separate forum (distinct from ScienceBlogs, even if affiliated somehow) where corporations could publicize their science. This science would be fair game for evaluation or criticism from independent bloggers. I also don’t see any problem with a scientist working for Pepsi (or another corporation) having a science blog, so long as he/she isn’t actually blogging for Pepsi on ScienceBlogs.

  38. #38 PurplehairedJo
    July 9, 2010

    I like the sound of your opening paragraph, and I look forward to reading more!

  39. #39 Nora Streed
    July 9, 2010

    I think that’s a good idea, Ashartus: a separate sub-site for corporate-sponsored blogs, with clear enough separation that the content doesn’t appear on the same feed as the non-corporate bloggers, and that the pages look different from the others (though I don’t think we need to make them use comic sans). I do think there is a place for that; I mean, hey, some of my best friends are scientists or journalists who have taken corporate/industry/PR gigs to make a living.

  40. #40 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    So, is SB going to cave every time PZ Myers and his numerous sycophants throw a tantrum?

  41. #41 Erika
    July 9, 2010

    Adam, glad to see you’re blogging. re: the Pepsi thing, I’m glad you made the decision to pull the plug before you got started. However, even that could have been handled better–in the interest of maintaining the online record, it would have been better to leave the original “announcement” post up, with an “edited to add” that the relationship has ended, and your 2nd announcement above it. Even when publishers retract articles (see Wakefield, A, Lancet, 2008), they make the original available with a big fat RETRACTED banner over it.
    http://eagledawg.net/fridayfoolery92sbfail/
    Thanks.

  42. #42 Sycophant
    July 9, 2010

    Just sayin’:

    Nice attempt at a straw man argument by a leading statement, but I’m sure PZ appreciates the misplaced credit anyway.

  43. #43 PZ Myers
    July 9, 2010

    It’s especially nice that I get credit when I took a middle road and wasn’t one of the principled people who walked out.

    But on to serious matters: Adam must talk about this article in the Guardian. Those are some damaging claims there.

  44. #44 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    The Guardian article is ridiculous. One of our editors will be posting a reply which I’ll publish here.

  45. #45 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    How much do you want to bet “Sycophant” is actually Paul Zachary Myers himself?

  46. #46 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    PZ Myers bleated:

    I took a middle road and wasn’t one of the principled people who walked out.

    No, but you did throw a hissy fit whining about content scrubbing and deleted comments from those who called you out on it (thus proving those comments correct).

  47. #47 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    Posted to the Guardian
    9 Jul 2010, 5:59PM

    Hi,

    I’m presently a writer and editor at Seed. I haven’t had dealings with Ms. Vince, but I wouldn’t consider her experience typical.

    First, it’s worth noting that the tangentially related furor over the now-defunct ScienceBlogs/PepsiCo deal unfolded as it did partly because Seed Media Group has a long-standing and clearly stated policy of editorial freedom for bloggers on ScienceBlogs (who are also paid as freelancers). The free outpouring of negative commentary from individuals on Seed’s payroll after the deal’s announcement reflects that policy in action.

    Additionally, I’d like to point out several articles on seedmagazine.com and scienceblogs.com that have been quite critical of industries and/or advertisers who have bought ad space (or might buy ad space) in various Seed Media Group ventures. It stands to reason that if the supposed editorial policies Ms. Vince claims are endemic here at Seed actually held sway, none of these articles would have ever seen the light of day.

    Here’s a seedmagazine.com article on GM seeds, with harsh appraisals of the activities of major corporations that manufacture them. It mentions, among others, Dupont, a Seed advertiser. http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/wanted_gm_seeds_for_study/

    Here’s one about bias and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry; several “Big Pharma” companies have advertised with Seed: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/industrial-strength_bias/

    This article reports on ethically questionable land-grabs in developing countries, and the public and private entities who perform them. Granted, none of these companies to my knowledge have advertised with Seed: http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/hungry_for_land/

    And here’s a quartet of ScienceBlogs posts on Bhopal and Dow that aren’t exactly flattering: http://scienceblogs.com/thescian/2010/06/bigger_than_the_us_oil_spill.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/worldsfair/2007/05/new_ads_at_the_worlds_fair_com.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/worldsfair/2009/12/a_horrific_spill_chemical_comp.php

    http://scienceblogs.com/thescian/2009/12/bhopal.php

    In closing, as a writer and editor at Seed I strive to ensure objectivity in my own work for the company, as well as in the work of my colleagues.

    Regards,

    Lee Billings

  48. #48 PalMD
    July 9, 2010

    While I appreciate and agree with much of what Lee has written above, I can’t help but remark that it is completely unresponsive to the question raised by the guardian article.

  49. #49 Martin Robbins
    July 9, 2010

    Adam Bly wrote: “The Guardian article is ridiculous.”

    In what sense? You’ve not actually addressed any of the substance of the Guardian article in the reply that you’ve posted.

  50. #50 PalMD
    July 9, 2010

    I would like to know if it is ridiculous because it was “simply an isolated incident” or because it was incorrect.

  51. #51 Adam Bly
    July 9, 2010

    If that’s an email that came from someone here, then it reflects an isolated mistake. I would suggest asking Ms. Vince’s other previous big employers in science media if they’ve made any.

    The Guardian article is not balanced, another important tenet of journalism. The editorial freedom that we (and maybe we alone!) provide here — BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN IT — has caused far far far greater business risk (and loss of revenue) to our company than the upside any ad contract could provide. We have had countless advertisers shy away because of it and let’s all recall the $15 million libel suit we had to defend because of this policy.

    For a small media company that has contributed so much in genuine pursuit of a social mission to be subject to this kind of malicious attack is just plain wrong and it deeply saddens me.

    That’s all for now.

  52. #52 Jonathan
    July 9, 2010

    I can’t help but compare how the whole Pepsi affair was mishandled with how Ars Technica collaborated with Intel a while back on a similar sort of project. If you’d let the community (bloggers and readers) know that this was coming down the pike and solicited their involvement, maybe used that to drive the sort of content that Pepsi would provide, then I doubt you’d be seeing the exodus of talent.

  53. #53 E.V.
    July 9, 2010

    Just Sayin’ :
    You’re a total ass. That said, I am not PZ Myers. I used “Sycophant” purely in an ironic sense, but alas, you have no sense of humor, just a rusty axe to grind.

  54. #54 E.V.
    July 9, 2010

    Perhaps Adam should check Just Sayin’s IP address. He sounds suspiciously like bilbo the sock puppet from The Intersection.

  55. #55 PZ Myers
    July 9, 2010

    Ah, now I get it. “Just Sayin’” is a disgruntled commenter fond of throwing editorial comment into the name field and changing identities: also known as “JustWondering” and “PZ Myers is a Moron” and “Global Warming is a Scam” among other identities. Banned some time ago. Obviously still cranky about it.

  56. #56 nat
    July 9, 2010

    If that’s an email that came from someone here, then it reflects an isolated mistake. I would suggest asking Ms. Vince’s other previous big employers in science media if they’ve made any.

    That letter from Lee Billings, and your comment, don’t really address Ms. Vince’s claims in anyway. Was her Bhopal column spiked by an editor due to advertising considerations? It’s also not terribly relevant if other science media types make mistakes. She didn’t accuse them of anything.

    The Guardian article is not balanced, another important tenet of journalism. The editorial freedom that we (and maybe we alone!) provide here — BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN IT — has caused far far far greater business risk (and loss of revenue) to our company than the upside any ad contract could provide. We have had countless advertisers shy away because of it and let’s all recall the $15 million libel suit we had to defend because of this policy.

    It sounds like you want it both ways, for people to believe you support editorial freedom, but to not actually have to ALWAYS deliver it. To me this is reflected in the attempt to slip the Pepsi PRblog into ScienceBlogs.

    As for whether it’s balanced, I can’t in any way see why it should be “balanced.” It’s an opinion, along with a claim of fact. SEED’s response should the counterbalance; Ms. Vince has no need to provide it.

    For a small media company that has contributed so much in genuine pursuit of a social mission to be subject to this kind of malicious attack is just plain wrong and it deeply saddens me.

    Again, the question is really whether it’s true or not, regardless of Seed’s supposed contributions

    That’s all for now.

    What, taking yourself out of the conversation just when it was getting good? That’s a shame, as I am very interested in what you have to say.

  57. #57 'Tis Himself
    July 9, 2010

    Welcome to the blogging community, Adam. May you enjoy your stay here.

    Now that the pleasantries are over, it’s time for me to do some whining.

    How about hiring a competent, full time IT tech? This person might be able to fix things like incredibly long comment load times, incredibly long thread load times, the inability of SB software to recognize log-on names from Google and Yahoo, and other suchlike annoyances.

  58. #58 Crudely Wrott
    July 9, 2010

    Welcome Adam!

    Here’s to your enthusiasm for science. May it remain and cause a detectable increase in the general population.

  59. #59 Crudely Wrott
    July 9, 2010

    “. . . in the general population’s enthusiasm,” of course.

  60. #60 Just Sayin'
    July 9, 2010

    Paul Zachary Myers sockpuppet “E.V.” whined:

    You’re a total ass. That said, I am not PZ Myers. I used “Sycophant” purely in an ironic sense, but alas, you have no sense of humor, just a rusty axe to grind.

    Sure, PZ, whatever you say. You are the one with no sense of humor, banning people who disagree with you, unable to get through a blog post without resorting to juvenile name-calling and throwing the mother of all hissy fits over a food blog. You have become the Rush Limbaugh of the left. One of these days you might realize that we are laughing at you, not with you.

    And it is indeed ironic that in the very next comment, you bleat:

    Perhaps Adam should check Just Sayin’s IP address. He sounds suspiciously like bilbo the sock puppet from The Intersection.

    Why don’t you give us your IP address, PZ?

    Then, you vomit forth the following:

    Ah, now I get it. “Just Sayin’” is a disgruntled commenter fond of throwing editorial comment into the name field and changing identities: also known as “JustWondering” and “PZ Myers is a Moron” and “Global Warming is a Scam” among other identities. Banned some time ago. Obviously still cranky about it.

    Evidence? Not that you will actually provide any (SOP for ol’ PZ). Obviously still cranky about being called on your tantrum. Oh, well, some people never grow up, I guess. I pity your children.

  61. #61 Crudely Wrott
    July 9, 2010

    @ Just Sayin’:

    Dammit, boy! You’re easily riled, ain’t ya? And easily amused it seems.

    PZ’s IP is no harder to find than yours or mine.

    You are also easily frightened; all it takes is the evidence that some people are smarter than you and they don’t get that smart by emulating you.

    From now on you’ll be recognized by the teeming millions of blog readers because your shtick is so familiar. Not that I don’t admire your dedication. I also admire the dedication of someone who is certain that they can move a mountain with a teaspoon.

  62. #62 Crudely Wrott
    July 9, 2010

    You there, boy? Hello! Just Sayin’?

    My apologies, Adam. I was sorely provoked.

  63. #63 skeptifem
    July 10, 2010

    Adam Bly- is there any way for any of us to independently verify the time frames for the various advertisers regarding when the anti-them articles were published?

  64. #64 Glendon Mellow
    July 10, 2010

    Great to see you blogging Adam, especially after recent events. I’ve been a fan of SEED since the first issue, especially your focus on design and imagery.

    I’m also a huge fan of many scienceblog.com bloggers, on both sides of the recent exodus. It’s an interesting summer online.

  65. #65 skeptifem
    July 10, 2010

    The editorial freedom that we (and maybe we alone!) provide here — BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN IT — has caused far far far greater business risk (and loss of revenue) to our company than the upside any ad contract could provide.

    If it mattered why the hell was pepsi allowed to buy a blog here in the first place? It isn’t like things like this are done thoughtlessly. Are we to take your word on what costs you more, despite the fact that SEED has not behaved consistently when it comes to that vital question? Are we supposed to think that the pepsi blog would have been removed if there wasn’t such an uproar?

    Your account of all this isn’t balanced either- many people pointed out how other corporate blogging of the past on SB went on without outrage. Most people were unaware of it. It isn’t like this was a one time lapse in judgment on the part of SEED on this issue, it has apparently happened a few times before, something you completely failed to mention in your defense- while in the next breath accusing the writer of the gaurdian article to be “unbalanced” for not reporting things that illustrate SEED’s journalistic integrity.

  66. #66 Adam Bly
    July 10, 2010

    Thanks everyone for your comments and also for all the amazing emails I’ve received. I’ll open another post for comments once I read through everything.

  67. #67 DrugMonkey
    July 11, 2010

    Check your Comment spam filter every so often. Genuine comments with links in them get trapped now and again.

  68. #68 Pen
    July 11, 2010

    I’ll be interested in reading your blog, Adam. As a Science Blogs reader who trawls through many of the blogs here when I have time, I seem to be pretty much your target audience. I don’t work in a science related field, I’m just an interested member of the public.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to say that the reason I come here is to read the opinions and ideas of individuals whether I agree with them or not. I like it even better if they write well. If I found a pretty plastic ‘corporate store front on a busy street’ with ghastly promotional language, as many feared the PepsiCo blog would be, I would soon go somewhere else.

    I read the Guardian article about Ms Vince a few days ago. I was both concerned and surprised that nobody at Science Blogs seemed to cover it much. From what I’ve read now, I feel as though some of them were trying to cut you some slack out of loyalty. I know they usually get to hear about what’s in the Guardian pretty damn quick. What seems to be particularly sad to me about this situation is that Ms Vince’s project sounded very interesting and I would have liked to have read her articles.

    In the end, in order to keep readers like me, you’re going to have to live with people writing the odd nasty thing about a big company, just as we have to put up with their nasty, tedious, ugly ads. I shouldn’t worry about the little darlings too much. They may prefer it didn’t happen, but as long as you have readers someone will pay you. If you let them turn off too many readers on the other hand, I suspect that advertising revenue will just dry up.

  69. #69 Roger M
    July 11, 2010

    I think that the Bhopal and Dow Chemicals claim – that Seed Group did not run a story on Bhopal because they were seeking an advertising deal with Dow – is more damaging that Pepsi blogging on ScienceBlogs. If this is true, then Seed Media is corporate scum, and the whole damn thing should shut down. Seriously.

  70. #70 Peter Beattie
    July 11, 2010

    » Adam Bly
    If that’s an email that came from someone here, then it reflects an isolated mistake.

    Ooh, I think I’ve never heard that excuse before. Even more interesting that you have apparently not even tried to find out whether that e-mail did in fact come from someone at SB. Shouldn’t you be keen to find out?

    I would suggest asking Ms. Vince’s other previous big employers in science media if they’ve made any.

    The finger-pointing alone would be suspicious, but again more importantly: the alleged incident is one of practically no barrier between editorial content and marketing. If that kind of thing happens even sporadically, you’re not serious about independence. Ideally, and I’m speaking from actual experience, there should be no contact at all between those two spheres.

    The Guardian article is not balanced, another important tenet of journalism.

    <WallaceVoice>Looovely Kool-Aid.</WallaceVoice>

    Oh, and that horrible article about how it was so bad of Dow allowing Bhopal to happen was so unbalanced for not mentioning that Dow also believe in being nice to kittens! For shame!

    The editorial freedom that we (and maybe we alone!) provide here

    Seriously? You even just maybe think that you alone provide editorial independence? Is this just an unfortunately garbled sentence or on its way to full-blown delusion?

    BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN IT

    Yes, shouting will make people believe it. Makes for a great substitute of evidence. Don’t like that anyway. Ugh.

    For a small media company that has contributed so much in genuine pursuit of a social mission to be subject to this kind of malicious attack is just plain wrong and it deeply saddens me.

    Yes, to accuse someone who has done so much good of a serious error is obviously just plain wrong and very sad. Okay, we’re very sorry for you. Better? Will you address the actual issue now?

    That’s all next to nothing for now.

    I believe that needed fixing. You’re welcome.

    Oh, and: this post left intentionally unbalanced.

  71. #71 Peter Beattie
    July 11, 2010

    » Adam Bly
    If that’s an email that came from someone here, then it reflects an isolated mistake.

    Ooh, I think I’ve never heard that excuse before. Even more interesting that you have apparently not even tried to find out whether that e-mail did in fact come from someone at SB. Shouldn’t you be keen to find out?

    I would suggest asking Ms. Vince’s other previous big employers in science media if they’ve made any.

    The finger-pointing alone would be suspicious, but again more importantly: the alleged incident is one of practically no barrier between editorial content and marketing. If that kind of thing happens even sporadically, you’re not serious about independence. Ideally, and I’m speaking from actual experience, there should be no contact at all between those two spheres.

    The Guardian article is not balanced, another important tenet of journalism.

    <WallaceVoice>Looovely Kool-Aid.</WallaceVoice>

    Oh, and that horrible article about how it was so bad of Dow allowing Bhopal to happen was so unbalanced for not mentioning that Dow also believe in being nice to kittens! How dare they!

    The editorial freedom that we (and maybe we alone!) provide here

    Seriously? You even just maybe think that you alone provide editorial independence? Is this just an unfortunately garbled sentence or on its way to full-blown delusion?

    BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN IT

    Yes, shouting will make people believe it. Makes for a great substitute for evidence. Don’t like that anyway. Eww.

    For a small media company that has contributed so much in genuine pursuit of a social mission to be subject to this kind of malicious attack is just plain wrong and it deeply saddens me.

    Yes, to accuse someone who has done so much good of a serious error is obviously just plain wrong and very sad. Okay, we’re very sorry for you. Better? Will you address the actual issue now?

    That’s all next to nothing for now.

    I believe that needed fixing. You’re welcome.

    Oh, and: this post left intentionally unbalanced.

  72. #72 Nat
    July 30, 2010

    *chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp chirp*

    Stupid crickets this time of year.

  73. #73 FGueneron
    August 6, 2010

    “Science without conscience is the soul’s perdition.” some replace science by business, some mixe both together.

  74. #74 John A. Davison
    November 30, 2010

    Adam Bly,

    Congratulations on discouraging anonymity, but is it sufficient for only you to know who your users are? I regard pseudonymy and anonymymity all too often as license for abuse. I don’t tolerate it on my weblog unless the comment displays the character of the abuser, in which case I allow it to stand with the warning that subsequent comments will be deleted.

    I am confident that if each user presented his full name, that the quality of internet communication would be vastly improved. It would also be useful to know something about his professional interests as well. But of course perhaps I expect too much.

    The reality is that those venues which have the largest followings and traffic are those which promote and tolerate anonymous users. They also tend to promote obscenity and character assassination, Pharyngula being the perfect example.

    Just some thoughts.

    jadavison.wordpress.com

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