Saturday Shillery: Quaker Oats

Here at SciBlogs, there are apparently very specific rules we have to follow for shillery.

Scientists writing about their presentations and conferences, radio programs, debates, books, etc: GOOD
Science 'journalists' writing about their books, appearances/signings, TV shows, movies: GOOD
Mark CC writing about Google and Google products: GOOD
Pepsi scientists writing about the science of products at Pepsi: BAD

Well I feel left out. Ive never written a book or worked with Alan Ball or big HALLAYWOOOOD directors. No one even asked me to be in EXPELLED. So I cant shill for any of that stuff. And Ive never worked for a big company. And there are few virology-based pop-culture items I can shill for (are there any? do condoms count?). So Im just going to shill for random products/companies/programs I like, for basically no reason. I mean, sure Im not a researcher for Pepsico or anything like that, so I cant write about any science here, but opinions being devoid of science has never stopped anyone from expressing those opinions here at SciBlogs before. Why start now?

QUAKER OATS
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Its normally my biggest meal of the day, and I regularly end up having breakfast foods for dinner. Eggs (a million different ways), bacon, sausage, french toast, waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, omelets, muffins (BREAKFAST CAEK!!!), cream of wheat, and, oatmeal.

I love oatmeal.

I love Quaker oats.

Im not a *huge* fan of their flavored microwave oatmeal (though I always keep it on hand on mornings Im really in a rush), but I make this SUPER NOMMY granola using Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats. The one morning food I dont totally like is cereal. I mean, it tastes fine, and its enriched with vitamins and minerals and stuff, but I am inevitably hungry an hour after I have 'just cereal' for breakfast. But not when I make Alton Browns granola (bonus shilling for the Food Network!)!

I actually go to a foo-foo grocery store to get lots of different raw nuts and seeds, and unsweetened dried coconut to cut down on the sugar/salt content, and increase the nutrients (pumpkin seeds are loaded with iron). And then with some fresh fruit cut up on top, this stuff is friggen awesome. Dont leave out the coconut, though. The way it crisps up in the oven, LOVE IT (bonus shilling for the coconut industry!)

This granola is also great for my dad, who is on a low sodium diet. He is normally a big-time snacker (crackers, nuts, pretzels, etc), but hes had to cut out a lot of his favorites due to his restricted diet. But this granola is super crunchy and satisfies his snacky-needs, without a lot of sodium (I leave it out, even in batches just for me), AND it helps his cholesterol.

YAY QUAKER OATS!! Your product is worth a shilling! LOL!

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Gotta love your attitude ERV.

*sweet* coconut, not *unsweetened*

That's why no cash flows yr way... follow the recipe!

But if you just made it with evil ol' HFCS, I am sure you would be set for the shillery. :)

Are you really so fucking stupid that you don't see the difference between a blog operated by a HUMAN FUCKING BEING and a blog operated by a FUCKING CORPORATION? This was not scientists who happen to work at Pepsi operating a blog. This was Pepsi employees operating this blog as part of their job duties on behalf of Pepsi. ScienceBlogs has never hosted such a blog before.

CP-- Youre making excuses for why its okay for your friends to get away with behaviors you now say are 'unethical' for other people.

It is possible other people work for companies they actually like and believe in, and were happy to write this blog for a science-literate audience, and not just promotional materials. Quick Google search turned up this really cool research (GOOGLE SHILL!). I would like to learn about this from a scientists perspective, not just lowest-common-denominator PR, or bottom-line business.

That would have been cool.

I also think it would be really cool to learn about the science of video games from developers, even if it were a blog sponsored by Nintendo.

I also think it would be cool to learn about vaccine development from the scientists who do that, even if the blog were sponsored by Merck or GSK.

My ethos is simply not fragile enough to be bothered by a sponsored blog, or any of the crap other bloggers do.

I'd shill for a shilling
But no one is willing
To pay for the things that I write.
I'd rant and I'd holler
For minimum dollar
But no one is offering, quite.
A couple of euros
To stuff in my bureau's
Sufficient for verses like these;
Though some call it whoring,
I'm begging--imploring--
Come, sully my principles, please!
If someone would shell out,
I'd promise to sell out--
My standards, I'll keep in my purse--
For now, though, I'm sighing
Cos no one is buying...
And all I can write is Free Verse.

My ethos is simply not fragile enough to be bothered by a sponsored blog, or any of the crap other bloggers do.

More like you just don't have a reputation that can easily be harmed by this sort of thing. Those of us who objected do.

FOR REALZ!

Whats a girl gotta do to be a whore around here?? Well, besides work for Pepsi.

*pout*

Maybe if I got Arnie a pimp hat...

The fucking blog was not SPONSORED by Pepsi. It was OPERATED by Pepsi. Jeezus motherfuck, try to keep this shit fucking straight. How can you possibly talk sensibly about this shit when you are conflating such basic concepts as that?

Tell me exactly how a Pepsi Blog (that once again, for the record, did nothing wrong) 'hurts your reputation', Orac.

Corporations are legally obligated to make decisions that would be considered sociopathic if made by individual human beings. This is because the directors and officers of a corporation have a fiduciary obligation to maximize the profits of the shareholders, and if they make decisions on other basesâthings like decency, charity, sympathy, intellectual honesty, etcâthey will have the living shit sued out of them by the shareholders.

While individuals within corporations may act from these bases, the corporation qua corporation simply cannot.

Oh comrade, how cute you are when you try to justify an ignorant jihad. Would you have reacted the same way had the name on the blog been Pfizer instead of Pepsi?

Oh, i think not, because Pfizer does "real" science.

Had that blog been from a "proper science" company, all you screaming mimis would have been quiet as fucking church mice at a cat convention, because then you wouldn't feel all 'sullied'.

Lame.

and of course, it's perfectly fine for 'real scientists' to have a significant chunk of their 'science' blog posts be nothing but a fucking travelogue and pean to how popular they are, because after all, they're reeeeeeal scientists, so shilling for themselves, that's okay.

and then the even more hypocritical fuckwittery of "if they'd been scientists who HAPPENED to work for Pepsi, we'd welcome them like any other."

BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...that's the biggest pile of bullshit since Babe ate all those jalepenos. You'd have done no such thing. You'd have monitored everything they said for a SNIFF
of "shillery" and as soon as they did anything but curse their employer to high heaven, you'd have shit all over them.

That line of b.s. is almost as funny as it is sad.

oh, and on the food thing...

Love me some quaker granola cereal in the morning, and if you try to take away my Dr. Pepper, you'll pull back a bloody stump.

Exchange the word 'sponsored' by 'operated' in my sentences then, CP. My opinion doesnt change.

I would expect a video game blog 'operated' by Nintendo to focus on Nintendo games.

I would expect a vaccine blog 'operated' my Merck to focus on the vaccines they manufacture.

I would expect a Pepsi blog to focus on their products and developments.

That does not mean that the science these scientists would discuss is not valid.

That line of b.s. is almost as funny as it is sad.

Yes, the imaginary line of b.s. that you pulled out of your own ass and put in the mouths of other people. I'm glad you are having such fun amusing yourself with your own fantasies.

Anyway, it's clear that what is going on here is that ERV and her band of buffoons have allowed their own personal animosities to distort their perception of reality.

More like you just don't have a reputation that can easily be harmed by this sort of thing. Those of us who objected do.

Hey O-man...you still gonna "go all Orac" on Abbie, or have you had some personal time with a pacifier and realized how juvenile that was?

Also, how can you be harmed by Pepsi? "Orac" isn't real. It's not a person. It's a name attached to a blog. In a sense, "Orac" blogging is no more real than "Pepsi" blogging.

Or was no one supposed to see that parallel?

Anyway, it's clear that what is going on here is that ERV and her band of buffoons have allowed their own personal animosities to distort their perception of reality.
I dont like you... so I like... Pepsi?

*blink*

Wat?

And I like Orac fine. We fight a lot, but I like reading his blog. We disagree on this point. And I like PZ just fine. And I like Sci. I personally like several people who didnt want the Pepsi Blog here. I also didnt know (or know existed) some of the blogs that left.

Why do you think this has anything to do with you?

Like you, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around what, in practical terms, is so appalling about having a Pepsi Blog on seed, but I don't blog so maybe I don't have the right perspective. On one hand, I don't begrudge people who feel their principles have been compromised and want to move...

But as a reader, what i keep coming back to is: How does the existence of the Pepsi Blog actually affect the content I read? Does it? I can't see how it does, except to the extent that it changes what the bloggers I read write, and I can't see how it does that. I most certainly would have ignored the pepsi blog unless the blogs I followed decided to take on on their claims. And whether you all stay or go makes zero difference to me. The people I follow, like yourself and MarkCC and Ed Brayton and Janet and Orac and PZ, I will read regardless of where you are...unless your content worsens, of course.

Your reputation and credibility as bloggers isn't conferred top-down by the Seed label; it self-organizes from the interplay of you all conversing freely with readers and each other. So long as you all are still free to basically post whatever the fuck you want, provided as the science keeps coming, I don't see how Seed's shillery matters much in a practical sense.

So, sort it all out amongst yourselves; have whatever kind of flame war you all think is necessary. Just keep the content coming.

I hesitate to wade into this muddled adolescent shit storm, but abby, seriously, a little empathy goes a long way. I know that these ideas may be a bit complex compared to retrovirology, but i think even arnie can get this straight.

Many of us count on a reputation of independence, and are called out on a daily basis by those who accuse us of being shills for whatever corporate interest.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being a corporate shill, but one should choose it, not be painted with it by having an ad blog disguised to look just like the one folks like you and I have built up on good writing and interesting ideas.

I do not mean to say the pepsi thing should bother you---why should I care? But a little thought about how these actions affect others, and how your reactions affect others, would by showing a certain level of intellectual and emotional maturity.

Cuttlefish, where do I sign up to pay for your verse?

By pam ronald (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

Pal, I appreciate you clearly stating that, and I appreciate that concern.

You blogging 'with' Pepsi is like you being a smoker or heavy drinker-- it makes you look like a hypocrite as an MD.

But I say that not only does Pepsico make healthy products (like Quaker Oats) but they did not do anything wrong scientifically (not that they couldnt have in the future). Edit-- I also think that saying people cannot have a Mountain Dew, or a beer, or a piece of cheesecake works against people having a healthy diet. Being obsessed with 'GOOD' foods and 'BAD' foods, beating yourself up when you eat a 'BAD' food, binging on 'GOOD' foods, hating the 'GOOD' foods you are eating until you binge on 'BAD' foods... not healthy. Much more positive, livable-in-the-real-world diet advice is letting people know that its OKAY to enjoy 'BAD' foods, like Mountain Dew, in moderation.end edit

I dont understand you letting crazy people dictate who you can blog with, especially when you have no real connection to the other blog. I dont care what anti-GMOers say about Pam. I dont care what anti-vaxers say about you/Orac. And HIV-Deniers will say what they will about me, whether you/Orac/Pam are here or not.

Out of curiosity, if Merck offered to sponsor a blog, where Ian Frazer would blog about the entire story of the HPV vaccine-- Money for SEED, incredible science for readers (for all of us), you would be against it because of anti-vaxers?

CPP, you don't know what you are talking about in terms of what a fiduciary responsibility actually means.

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

In no case does any fiduciary responsibility ever require anyone to be dishonest or to lie, or to not act within the law. No shareholder can expect any employee of any company they own to be dishonest or to violate the law.

In fact a representative of every publicly traded company has a duty under securities law to not make any materially false and misleading statements. If they violate that duty, then they and the company can be sued by anyone who traded on the basis of those false and misleading statements. If PepsiCo did say something false and misleading on their blog, and it had an effect on the stock of PepsiCo (up or down because for every one who benefits from the PepsiCo stock going up, there are those who lose from it going up), then PepsiCo is going to be sued. It if can be demonstrated that the statement was materially false and misleading, then it is an open and shut case.

So are you going to correct your false characterization of what a fiduciary responsibility means? Or is intellectual honesty not that high on your list of priorities?

Abbie, I've loved reading your thoughts about this whole incident. I tend to think of your blog as the 4chan of ScienceBlogs (that's meant to be a compliment!), so seeing your relative levelheadedness about the whole thing is just freaking epic.

By br0k3nglass (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

@ JRQ (#17) - That's the thing I don't get: every single post with people freaking out about PepsiCo blog went out of there way to point out how completely independent they were to post whatever the hell they wanted. So if SEED doesn't interfere with what you post (and there's never been any indication that they have), why does it matter who gets "sponsored content."

Yes, having that blog indexed on google would have been uncool. Yes, making it look like that blog was the same as all the other blogs on here would have been uncool. But it seemed like SEED was more than willing to capitulate to those concerns. I just don't see what the big deal is.

Pepsi are behind Quaker oats? I thought it was produced by real quakers! No fair - I was paying a premium for their honorable approach to business dealings.

Still, they really are a lot better than the crumbly cheap-o oats you can get.

The idea of their being a Pepsi Science Blog is pretty absurd... but sponsorship deals often lead to strange bed fellows. Hmmm - I don't think I'm going to bother working out what I think about this.

@22 - being "honest" to the extent that it does not violate the law still allows for lots of corporate sleaze. While our legal system does many things well, it's not perfect, and many borderline unethical things can and are done by corporations that are totally within the letter of the law.

As a reader, it seems like the people who were against the blog - and had the best reasons for it - tended to be MDs, and their beef wasn't with any of the content the blog might have put out - it was with the fact that a company with a large stake in the public perceptions of the health of its products, who routinely promotes unhealthy products, and who has a huge incentive to report things in such a way as to make their products appear attractive to the public (as opposed to reporting scientific findings more fairly) was allowed to buy space on the website that looked very similar to non-"advertorial" space.

Imagine if a journal on nutrition allowed Pepsi Co. to buy ad space in their journal that looked like a research report. Would you be surprised if the journal lost some credibility? Or if some authors didn't want to publish their own research there? It might be technically correct to say that readers can distinguish what is published as promotional material and what is not, but nonetheless the journal's actions would hurt their reputation, as well as that of the researchers who published there.

Whether or not one wishes that all internet users were highly attentive to and discriminating about the source of various information, it's the case that many readers will simply accept information as it comes to them. When we consider that the MD's here are trying to fight the damaging effects of patient misinformation, it's easier to understand why it's such a big deal to them (both personally and as a public health issue) that Pepsi be prevented from buying possibly promotional space on a site that has become a relatively well-known source of independent science and medicine-related information thanks to their work.

Also, everybody: just because this discussion is on the internet doesn't mean that it's classy to be rude to or mock each other. It certainly won't help anybody think more clearly about the situation. As a reader, it's kind of a turn-off; more so than having a corporate-run blog would have been.

Re: your comments about reputation -

For me, at least, I would not want to have any appearance of affiliation with what we call a "throwaway" journal. Don't know what you call them in your world (I believe the polite term is sponsored journal), but, in medicine, these are pharma-funded journals with generally ghostwritten articles that have studies that are, surprise, always favorable for that company's drug. They show up at the office for free. There are sometimes some decent clinical pearls hidden in all that manure, but, by and large... well, I've interviewed folks who've published in these and not listed the articles on their CV.... because they aren't really 'achievements' (or because the people involved didn't write the articles and don't recall any involvement.) They aren't held at our medical library. Hell, they don't even offer the entertainment value of the sheer craziness of good ol' Medical Hypotheses.

The PepsiBlog had the appearance of being the equivalent of those journals. Sponsored by Pepsi, written by Pepsi. Note: appearance of; please don't start in with the right/wrong here, thanks.

Writing about the science of soda-pop, etc., by an individual on his or her own? That would be different. If there were a MerckBlock by Merck, I'd be right in with the allcapseleventy comments, by the way. But I'd be interested in any individual's independent writing.

Yes, this is blogspace and not publication space. But, as an outsider who reads here, can I tell ya? It looks like "shared space" between the blogs to the extent that they are all under the SB umbrella. You share a common 'cover' and brand.
Do I think that a department head or a hospital chief or an IRB reviewer at our federal facility is going to tell the difference? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Side note: When I start working with (yes, my understanding is that you're not 'employees of' Seed, but my little IRB book here says 'working with') "sponsored publications," I am supposed to notify my IRB so they can review for potential conflicts of interest. It's allowed, but I have to notify them. Doesn't specify "paper publications," either. Interesting question I'll have to ask about at the next meeting.
This IRB is especially bad-ass however, as my research involvement is with "especially vulnerable populations" and with a federal health agency. But I bet your IRBs are all much mellower in their language. Right? Something to maybe check, and then discuss with Seed.

Just some thoughts on perception and reputation.

Michael, a print ad, or even an online ad is a static communication medium. A blog is dynamic. Yes, there are issues of comment censorship, and if PepsiCo did censor comments not according to its stated policy, then Seed should have kicked them off. There are also issues of sock puppetry. I think that if Seed controls the platform, that Seed could have verified that PepsiCo was not doing such things. If PepsiCo was doing such things, then Seed should have kicked them off.

You are saying âunhealthy foodsâ, like this is something that has been scientifically established. There really are no good studies that show that there are âunhealthy foodsâ, only foods that are consumed in unhealthy quantities. If you know of some studies that show otherwise, I would like to see them.

As far as I can tell, all large diet studies that show an association of diet with bad health were done with a self-selected diet. All large placebo controlled studies of supplemental nutrients show no effect of supplemental nutrients on health. If supplemental nutrients from supplements have no effect on health, then supplemental nutrients from food won't have an effect on health either. Maybe the non-blinded participants in the diet trials that used a self-selected diet divided themselves into a healthy and non-healthy group by their diet choices. Maybe diet choice is caused by the state of health where healthy people choose a âgoodâ diet and unhealthy people choose a âbadâ diet.

Since there has been no study that has controlled for this confounding factor in the association of diet with health, we don't know which is cause and which is effect. I know the âconventional wisdomâ is that bad diet causes bad health, but no one has ever been able to produce good health by adding what ever supplemental nutrients a âbadâ diet is lacking.

My rude and mocking comment was directed to CPP. I have no data to suggest that he has the capacity to hear and respond to comments that are not rude and mocking.

#14

Yes, the imaginary line of b.s. that you pulled out of your own ass and put in the mouths of other people. I'm glad you are having such fun amusing yourself with your own fantasies.

It is no more b.s. than your unrational foaming at the mouth conviction that Pepsi being here would somehow destroy SB and the reputation of everyone who posts here. That is completely inane, but it's a "popular" position, so just like the outcast who suddenly finds themselves aligned with and accepted by the popular kids, you'll hold on to it in spite of having no evidence whatsoever that Pepsi's blog on scienceblogs would have been nothing but PR Puffery.

You were so happy to run with the pack that you never once stopped to think that maybe, even allowing for them talking about a product line that is mostly bad for you, there was some legitimate, and possibly interesting science behind it. Oh no, can't have that.

#19

I hesitate to wade into this muddled adolescent shit storm, but abby, seriously, a little empathy goes a long way. I know that these ideas may be a bit complex compared to retrovirology, but i think even arnie can get this straight.

you mean like the empathy shown here to the *people* from Pepsi, or the *people* who were saying "hey, BEFORE we execute them, how about we, I dunno, wait for them to commit a crime first?" "Your" side has been completely happy, willing, able, and working in shifts to demonize anyone like Abbie who said "We're not going to be destroyed by friggin' Pepsi, let's gather real data and see what happens."

But now, you want the side you demonized to suddenly be caring and concerned with your feelings? Really? (and while you may have been one of the FEW who weren't screaming bloody murder, you, in a more polite manner did the same thing. "the mere idea of this blog is bad, the mere existence ruins our reputations, we cannot wait to see if they actually do anything bad, it must come down now". Being the most reasonable voice in a mob still makes you part of it.)

Many of us count on a reputation of independence, and are called out on a daily basis by those who accuse us of being shills for whatever corporate interest.

Really? So it would be wrong to call you a shill for Forbes? I mean, if you're so concerned with guilt by association, why would you write for Forbes? It's not like THAT name is a bastion of free-thinking and respect for science. Yet I imagine you'd be quite put out if everyone decided that because you do a bit of writing here and there for Forbes.com, EVERYTHING you say must be a shill for them and Forbes in general.

Yet that is *precisely* what you and the rest were saying about the Pepsi blog: that any and all posts would be de facto shillery devoid of any valid content, and that it would somehow reach out and reduce you to a Pepsi shill too.

If we go by your logic, then you are a de facto shill for Forbes, and because of that, you are endangering the rep of every "legitimate" blogger on SB by your shillery.

That's an asinine thing to say, but no more so than your hand-waving about Pepsi.

There is nothing inherently wrong with being a corporate shill, but one should choose it, not be painted with it by having an ad blog disguised to look just like the one folks like you and I have built up on good writing and interesting ideas.

But aren't you just a shill for Forbes? Indeed, shouldn't Abbie be worried about the damage YOU do to her repuation? Why, what if someone thinks she's now a Forbes shill because she has a blog in the same place you do?

Are you beginning to MAYBE see how astoundingly stupid your overblown guild by association panic attack was? Just a little?

I do not mean to say the pepsi thing should bother you---why should I care? But a little thought about how these actions affect others, and how your reactions affect others, would by showing a certain level of intellectual and emotional maturity.

Funny, I fail to see your call for the same behavior from *your* side you suddenly expect from Abbie.

"Many of us count on a reputation of independence, and are called out on a daily basis by those who accuse us of being shills for whatever corporate interest."

And that isn't going to change one bit now that the Pepsi blog, nor would that line of attack had been any more credible with the Pepsi blog here. You're just as independent as you ever were, you just had a corporate blog in the listings next to you.

All this bullshit about "independence" and "integrity" is a bullshit cover for knee-jerk anti-corporate sentiment. Just look at this line from CP above, which says it all.

"Corporations are legally obligated to make decisions that would be considered sociopathic if made by individual human beings."

In other words, corporations are eeeeeevil and we can't let them operate blogs here.

"More like you just don't have a reputation that can easily be harmed by this sort of thing. Those of us who objected do."

Bullshit. You blog under a cartoonish pseudonym and your blog is called "Respectful Insolence". You, like most bloggers, are taking yourself and your hobby way too seriously.

Hi. "Joe ERV-blog-reader" here.

You other bloggers from elsewhere in SciBlogs really have the wrong impression of us ERV readers (I almost feel insulted). Unlike (apparently) the readers of your blog, none of us would have thought any differently about Abbie, her reputation, the honesty, sincerity, and motivation of the views expressed in her posts, and/or fear that she was being controlled by (or in bed with) nefarious corporate operatives merely because there might have been a blog hosted by ScienceBlogs that clearly was controlled by such corporate operatives. So your concern is noted, but misplaced.

Here's a suggestion. Instead of hand wringing and fretting and scolding and blaming and lecturing and providing unsolicited mentoring to Abbie here about the horrible consequences you feel she (and you!) have just narrowly escaped, why not head on back to your own blogs, which apparently are attractive to naive impressionable readers.

I mean, if your reputation with your own readers hangs by such fragile threads, then that's the problem you probably should be focused on. Because what I'm hearing is that it is all about you and your perception by the people who come to know you by reading your blog. And IMO I don't think you will ever be able to completely insolate your blog from contact with the outside corporate world. So maybe now is the time to prepare your readers to minimize the damage when ScienceBlogs arrogantly throws up a Pepsi (or Coke, or Geico, or BP, etc) banner ad next to your words.

Thank you, erv, Orac, & co, for disagreeing with each other

I really appreciate the fact that there is a heartfelt discussion among the bloggers here on the pros/cons of the PepsiCo blog. It also suggest some cultural differences between medical fields and many other science fields, in terms of how perceptions and reputations are at stake. Or in terms of what level of capitalistic entanglement is considered ethical in respective fields.

A molecular biologist can legitimately "be in bed with" a major corporation, so to speak, whereas a practicing physician or surgeon can't even walk around with a free pen from a company. It's your culture. (disclaimer: hyperbole. acknowledged.)

And when you mix the two cultures, the lame-ass politics of the whole situation is probably going to dictate that you cater to the most sensitive member of the group.

I'm glad PepsiCo is gone- I'd love to read their blog postings, but just at another website that doesnt start with "scienceblogs.com."

Incidentally, if you want to see an example of a really extreme case of this separation of funds and issues of integrity (more money, more real-life consequences, risk to life and limb), you gotta read "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. Most of us will never have to make a difficult ethical decision of that magnitude in 100 years. Greg is the fucking man-- how's that for a shill?

ERV,

Did Mark ever promote Google on his blog? Was he ever pushing the latest Google PR campaign's talking points?

WTF?

I actually go to a foo-foo grocery store to get lots of different raw nuts and seeds, and unsweetened dried coconut to cut down on the sugar/salt content, and increase the nutrients (pumpkin seeds are loaded with iron). And then with some fresh fruit cut up on top, this stuff is friggen awesome.

And families on food stamps get their groceries at Wal-Mart and drink a lot of Pepsi, but it's A-OK for them to think that Pepsi isn't that bad for you because? Because they could buy whole foods and workout regularly like you? Soda causes disease, and just because your body can deal with it (for now) doesn't mean that everyone else's can.

Ps Mountain Dew sucks.

"And families on food stamps get their groceries at Wal-Mart and drink a lot of Pepsi..."

Please. There are plenty of alternatives to Pepsi that they could drink that are more nutritious and less fattening. They drink Pepsi for the same reason I do: it fucking tastes good.

Go BAAAAWWWW somewhere else, faggot.

Jon H-- ... I found them using Google. At the time, apparently, saying up front you had a conflict of interest was acceptable (which he did, which I am fine with, but not the hypocrisy).

Will-- That is called an 'excuse', Will. You would probably do well to keep away from using me as an example, because I grew up poor. Birthday/holiday presents were... 'limited'. I never had cool clothes. We never even had cable or internet (parents are still on dial-up, wont pay more for anything else, and dont have cable). But I also never had a problem with food because of my moms use of coupons/sales/rebates/etc. We 'had' to eat fruits and vegetables every day. We never went out to eat (maybe once or twice a year). One rare treat we got was a Pepsi (glass bottles).

Mom taught my brother and I healthy eating habits, which we both still use today, even though we are all better off financially.

My cousins, who were much more financially stable, ate at McDonalds every day of the week and drank Dr. Pepper by the case. They also got to have Coco Puffs for breakfast. So I stayed the night with them all the time, LOL!

Of course it is possible that my mother is also some kind of wizard, and magical abilities run in the family.

I shop at walmart, and they have lots of healthy drinks there: milk, all kinds of fruit drinks, vegetable cocktails, etc. And of course, soda; just like Whole Foods.

Although compared to Whole Foods, I think Walmart's selection of homeopathic and herbal medicines and elixirs sux. (And good luck finding quality health-promoting crystals at Walmart!)

Wow. That Comrade Physioprof sure is persuasive! Anyone who laces their arguments with that much profanity has got to be right, no?

Quaker Oats are a great ingredient for cookies. Cookies make people fat. Therefore, Abbie is trying to give us all diabeetus.

Also, the Quakers gave us Richard Nixon. Don't trust those people!

Oh, profanity is neither inherently bad nor good...but le comrade is kind of unimaginative with it.

If you're going to cuss a lot, at least do so in an interesting fashion.

I second the comment thanking you all for disagreeing with each other.

The near-universality of the strongly negative reactions amongst the other bloggers can give the impression that it's mostly a black-and-white issue. And it's really not. It's very much a gray-area sort of thing.

Abbie, between making Casey Luskin say tits (the highlight of an otherwise totally crappy 2009) and not running with the herd on this whole Pepsi thing, you have moved right up there with Ed Brayton on my list of top 2 Sciblogs. I am sorry I missed this little outbreak earlier. I had the crazy idea to go down to the Noodling Tournament in Pauls Valley.

I particularly love this little quote:

Are you really so fucking stupid that you don't see the difference between a blog operated by a HUMAN FUCKING BEING and a blog operated by a FUCKING CORPORATION?

Now, I am just a prole working in the private sector (OH NOES!) and I don't wear tweed jackets with patches on the elbow when I go to my office (which is not in a gothic building covered in ivy), but I would like to edumacate you on something. Corporations don't operate blogs. Corporations don't right blog entries or scientific research papers. Corporations, actually don't really do anything. Corporations are large entities which are, mainly, a conglomeration of smaller units of measure called "employees." And get this. "Employees" are actually people. Real people! Ain't that some crazy shit?

But, that isn't even the most mind blowing thing, dude. Check it. The "employees" who were going to write the Food Frontiers for Pepsi actually had like PhDs and did real scientific research in both the public and private sector. Whoa! Hey, but don't sweat it. You keep on going sticking it to The Man (tm). It is not like you have any funding from his tax dollars. Power to the People!

Here is my theory why the Food Frontiers blog was shitcanned: Pepsi was worried about the damage to their reputation by being associated with a band of screecher monkeys that like to beat their chest and fling around their......well, you get the idea. Who needs that kind of aggravation.

By carlsonjok (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

I got to this whole thing first reading GrrlScientist's post. Apparently, it wasn't just the question of having a corporate blog but also of its introduction, kind of obliquely. That probably pissed off a few people more than an open intro might have (which I guess was the case for the GEC and Invitrogen blogs).

Your posts, Abbie, reminded me that there is a class angle to the thing, which wasn't immediately obvious to me. There are unfounded assumptions about what rednecks eat vs. what ... "rosy-necks" (pink-necks?) eat.

That said, reading the posts on the Pepsi-blog (if I had read them at all, if interested in them) would have had a faint weird by-taste, at least at first, until the blog had established itself.

Your mom was no wizard but intelligent about establishing some sensible food traditions in her kids. She rocks! Practices in other families may differ.

By Ben Breuer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

Ah, that's how comment moderation looks like. OK.

On shilling: if your blog turns to 95% shilling with less than 95% oat science, that would be 95% awful. Otherwise, shill on!

By Ben Breuer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

@Jon H

Did Mark ever promote Google on his blog? Was he ever pushing the latest Google PR campaign's talking points?

When did Pepsi ever push their PR campaign's talking points at their new blog?

All the sane people have asked for is a wait and see approach especially when all you've got is the first welcome post and nothing else to go on.

Is there another, longer comment of mine buzzing around somewhere? I submitted it before 42, got the moderation screen, hence my first sentence.

By Ben Breuer (not verified) on 10 Jul 2010 #permalink

I'm not all that fond of oatmeal, actually. I prefer my oats raw with milk (full fat preferably) and a touch of sugar.

I practically live on Quaker Oats(TM). And the microwave ones are the best (as long as they're the non-flavoured "original" ones - the flavours suck), because I can make them in the morning when my coordination is ~zero.

And CPP uses that level of profanity with every single post and comment he writes. I guess it's some kind of in-joke. Yeah, taking back the four-letter words!

By theshortearedowl (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

Oh, and:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2841662

"These data support previous findings that inclusion of oatmeal in a fat-modified diet is helpful in lowering serum cholesterol, particularly for individuals with elevated serum cholesterol levels."

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2005733

"Fifty-six grams of oat bran resulted in significantly greater reductions in LDL-C levels than 56 g of oatmeal. Nutrient analysis shows no difference in dietary fat content between these treatment groups; therefore, the higher beta-glucan content of oat bran most likely explains the significantly greater LDL-C reductions. A dose-dependent reduction in LDL-C levels with oat cereals supports the independent hypocholesterolemic effects of beta-glucan."

Yay, I can use PubMed! Where do I get my shilling?

By theshortearedowl (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

I'm still wondering about the Pepsi "secret salt" crystals.

I'd first thought this must mean finely powdered salt dust -- but they claim "crystals are shaped" so can this still be just sodium chloride? (is there a crystallographer in the house?

Surely it couldn't be just marketing hype, eh?

Maybe it's powdery enough to be inhaled so there's more sensory input from less mass? If so is that a good idea?

From the link provided above:

"a secret new ingredient to make its Lay's potato chips healthier.....'
News Hub: Designer Salt to Reduce Sodium
5:11

PepsiCo develops a designer salt to cut sodium in snacks. WSJ's Betsy McKay joins Kelsey Hubbard in the News Hub with more.

The ingredient is a new "designer salt" whose crystals are shaped and sized in a way that reduces the amount of sodium consumers ingest when they munch. PepsiCo hopes the powdery salt, which it is still studying and testing with consumers, will cut sodium levels 25% ......

#52

If PepsiCo had paid you to write this post, then yes, you would be shilling.

Not necessarily. What if Pepsico just paid her in general, regardless of content, i.e. via a specific ad deal. She's getting paid to blog, not to blog for pepsi.

Are you saying that she could never, ever, say anything nice about Pepsi, even if that's how she actually feels, because she's shilling?

a certain level of intellectual and emotional maturity

*snort*

here?

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

Of course it is possible that my mother is also some kind of wizard, and magical abilities run in the family.

You can't prove that she's not!

By Joe Fatzen (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

# 33 Jon H

A cursory search of promotional posts at GM/BM turns up T Mobile and MapReduce.
Probably a lot more stuff, but I can't be bothered to dig it up. Why don't you Google it?

By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

I read several Scieceblogs. I hope I'm not the only one who has no problem keeping them separate. I don't confuse Orac's posts for Sci's. I don't mistake Abbie's posts for PZ's. Well, maybe if I'm really tired. But my point is that it was just another blog. Read it or ignore it. I don't get the reputation-by-association complaint.

Also I'd have thought the bloggers of a skeptical bent (that lost their shit over this) would have (as Abbie pointed out) waited until Pepsico actually lied on their blog before declaring jihad.

Wow. That Comrade Physioprof sure is persuasive! Anyone who laces their arguments with that much profanity has got to be right, no?

Methinks Psycho Physio Prof needs to enroll in an anger management course sooner rather than later.

By Just Sayin' (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

"A cursory search of promotional posts at GM/BM turns up T Mobile and MapReduce.
Probably a lot more stuff, but I can't be bothered to dig it up. Why don't you Google it?"

I did. I found those two plus a discussion of Google's computer language Go.

The TMobile phone review was apparently something he was asked to do by readers, and wasn't 100% positive. I'm not crazy about this post.

Map Reduce is an algorithm. Lots of people use versions of it. It isn't a Google "product" as such. Since he writes a Comp Sci/Math blog, this seems reasonable, as it's something people in the field are interested in.

The Go language article, again, seems appropriate for a CS/Math blog. And it wasn't terribly good marketing, as Mark was lukewarm about it.

But that's it. Not much propagandistic language about how Google is changing the world for the better, etc, etc, etc, blah blah blah. Only a few posts over a few years.

But hey, I'm not the one accusing Mark of shilling. You folks who are pointing fingers ought to step up and point out chapter and verse. Saying "google it" is mighty weak sauce.

gdh wrote: "When did Pepsi ever push their PR campaign's talking points at their new blog?"

When they didn't post any science.

@Jon H

The TMobile phone review was apparently something he was asked to do by readers, and wasn't 100% positive. I'm not crazy about this post.

Map Reduce is an algorithm. Lots of people use versions of it. It isn't a Google "product" as such. Since he writes a Comp Sci/Math blog, this seems reasonable, as it's something people in the field are interested in.

The Go language article, again, seems appropriate for a CS/Math blog. And it wasn't terribly good marketing, as Mark was lukewarm about it.

EXACTLY!!! You are absolutely right Jon H, you nailed it, and here is a list of the "Food Frontiers" posts that showed, not only a potential conflict of interest, but down right corporate whoring...Ummm...Well Shit...NVM.

gdh wrote: "When did Pepsi ever push their PR campaign's talking points at their new blog?"

When they didn't post any science.

Since the Pepsi blog never posted anything other than

"Hi, I'm Pepsi. I'm new here. Please be my friend."

I can only assume your definition of shilling includes not being timely in ones posts. Please forward your definition, along with the appropriate time frame, to all Scibloggers. Otherwise, someone might accidentally become a whore over a long weekend.

You are ridiculous.

@Jon h

When they didn't post any science.

For fucks sake. They hadn't posted anything except a welcome post. You couldn't wait to bag them until they had at least posted something beyond this?

Not necessarily. What if Pepsico just paid her in general, regardless of content, i.e. via a specific ad deal. She's getting paid to blog, not to blog for pepsi.Are you saying that she could never, ever, say anything nice about Pepsi, even if that's how she actually feels, because she's shilling?-John C. Welsh #53

Your second paragraph is absurd; I said nothing of the sort. But do follow the money, John. If someone is being paid by a company and then vouches for a product that company makes, then yes it is shilling.

PepsiCo is not paying ERV to blog AFAIK, so she is not shilling by promoting PepsiCo products (except for that one day when she became PepsiCo's BFF while they were paying SEED, and thus all the bloggers at ScienceBorg, to put up their propaganda blog).

Abbie, I agree with you. Many scibloggers would use their blogspace to promote their own books, speaking engagements, or "ideology" (for lack of a better word) on things like environmental policy, politics, gender issues, etc. Despite the name, ScienceBlogs contains a lot of content that isn't actually "science". Now I don't exactly have a problem with this - when scibloggers plug a scibling's book, I take their reviews for what they are worth. Likewise, I don't mind bloggers promoting their book tours on ScienceBlogs. It's their space, they can do what they want with it.

But I can't stand the hypocrisy - the PepsiBlog thingamajig would have operated with adequate transparency - it's not like they were being ghostwritten by PepsiCo employees and being presented as the opinions of an outsider. And many of the bloggers and commenters throwing a hissy fit seemingly subscribe to the view that corporations (and by extension, their employees) are inherently evil - which is a very adolescent viewpoint. Yes, "ComradePhysioProf", I'm looking at you...

I just went over to the Pepsi Food Frontiers blog - the one that has existed for some time now, that was being 'extended' to SB.

Therrea re currenty 10 articles on their fornt page - adn every one is soem form of marketing, with titles and lines like:

"The Critical Role of the Food Industry in the Obesity Debate"
"The latest scientific research into cardiovascular disease and the role the food industry can play in promoting heart health is the focus of a symposium series that the Quaker Oats Company and PepsiCo are hosting at the World Congress of Cardiology 2010 in Beijing on June 16-19. Quaker is a division of PepsiCo."

"PepsiCo touches the lives of tens of millions of people every day. We are driven by the belief that by joining forces with partners across many sectors, we can make a far greater impact in the fight to reduce obesity and address other global nutrition needs than by working alone. As part of our efforts to help reduce obesity in the U.S., we are a founding member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF). The Foundation is a CEO-led organization and a national, multi-year effort designed to help reduce obesity â especially childhood obesity â by 2015. On Monday, the HWCF joined First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America to announce its new pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015."

"Getting the right nutrition within the right number of calories is a tricky balance every day. Thatâs why PepsiCo is making it easier for people to understand and manage the calories they consume by committing to displaying calorie information on all products around the world by 2012, and increasing the range of foods and beverages that offer solutions for managing daily calorie intake. To help meet this goal, our designers are working to repackage products into single-serve offerings that better enable calorie control."

"People drink a variety of beverages throughout the day and at PepsiCo we pride ourselves on the fact that we have something for everyone â Tropicana for breakfast, Pepsi Max for lunch, Aquafina for hydration, and Gatorade post-workout for example. American consumers get just over 20% of their daily calories through beverages so by implementing this added sugar goal across our portfolio, we intend to reduce the amount of sugar in millions of diets."

These are not discussions of science - these are marketing-based attempts to control scientific discussion, in ways that benefit Pepsi. Every one of the 10 posts on that first page contains sentences that Mark C-C (for example) would never dream of writing on behalf of Google.

I currently work in the sales division of a major corporation, doing product and marketing support for products that nearly everyone who reads Sb would recognize. Part of my job is to deliver product intelligence from our users to our marketing team, and help them write marketing pieces just like the ones you read on the Food Frontiers blog, in an attempt to control the conversation about our products in ways that benefit our company. Difference is, we don't pretend we're doing anything else - we don't pretend to objectivity in our approach.

By sudo eminem (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

#63

Your second paragraph is absurd; I said nothing of the sort. But do follow the money, John. If someone is being paid by a company and then vouches for a product that company makes, then yes it is shilling.

PepsiCo is not paying ERV to blog AFAIK, so she is not shilling by promoting PepsiCo products (except for that one day when she became PepsiCo's BFF while they were paying SEED, and thus all the bloggers at ScienceBorg, to put up their propaganda blog).

So you didn't say that, but if Pepsi were paying her on any level, then her liking pepsi products *regardless of reason* would automatically be shilling. Excellent. And completely silly.

Even better, you now accuse her, *solely* because she was telling people to maybe be a little fucking rational about Pepsi, of being their BFF, and how somehow, Pepsi sponsoring a single entry blog on Scienceblog, (really, the "borg" thing is done. over. Star Trek's off the air. Let it go), now becomes Pepsi "paying her and every blogger on Sb".

Damn, what is the gravitational constant on your planet? that's not even good conspiracy theory.

#66:

These are not discussions of science - these are marketing-based attempts to control scientific discussion, in ways that benefit Pepsi. Every one of the 10 posts on that first page contains sentences that Mark C-C (for example) would never dream of writing on behalf of Google.

The stuff on Pepsi's own site is marketing puffery! the devil you say! and so you're saying that if a *single* blog on a corporate website is nothing but blind marketing puffery, then all things that entity posts, or people from that entity posts anywhere will be similarly tainted?

So by that logic, because Tim Bray, and others from Google post blatant rah-rah marketing bullshit about how open and wonderful they and android are, and how open it is that they can remotely remove content from your phone, and you have no choice in this mind you, then everyone from google, no matter where or what they post is also posting blatant rah-rah marketing bullshit.

Yet you're saying MArk would never do that. Funny, because you also said in the same post that because one group at Google does it, he, by your logic, is incapable of doing anything but.

You may want to get that logic gland looked at, it don't seem to be workin' too good.

John, it was to be a blog of the same damn name, that they said in their own damn announcement is going to be extended from there to here.

Pepsi announced that a blog based on THAT blog is coming here - excuse me if I think it might be relevant to look at what the parent blog is, in deciding whether the blog based on that parent is appropriate for here.

If Google had a blog called 'The Truth According to Google" and it was filled with marketing puffery, and they announced their intention to pay Sb to let them port it to here, and name it "The Truth According to Google," and hey! it's going to be written by this nifty math/programming guy so trust us, it'll be different - I'd have a problem with that, too.

Seems to me that blogs get invited to Sb based on their successful history of reasonable and credible blogging, about a subtantial part of the content being solid science related stuff. The history matters - it's a reasonable guide to what the blog will be, once here. If PepsiCo wants to create a credible science-based food blog, then let them create it, maintain it, demonstrate that it is reasonably independent from marketing and solid on the science, and when they have a history demonstrating their credibility, then let them ask to move the blog here. Kinda like just about every other blogger on Sb.

What they did, though, is take a blog that is a marketing control-the-science-conversation site, paid Sb to allow them to port it here, and promised, "it'll be different here, really." Color me unconvinced.

By sudo eminem (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

Color me unconvinced.
But if you actually waited 30 seconds and allowed Pepsi Blog to put up a post, you would have evidence to support your claims (or given Pepsi Blog an opportunity to surprise you), we wouldnt be having this conversation.

You understand that, right?

Yes, I understand that.

I also understand that bloggers get invited here with a history of credible blogging, based in some way on their past performance.

I've looked at Pepsi's past performance, in the blog they themselves point to as the progenitor of what they plan to do here. It is execrable.

So, why is Pepsi's past performance irrelevant? Why do they get a pass not only on proving themselves first, but in fact on a blogging history that is problematic?

Do they get a pass because they bought it? But that is precisely the problem people had with this decision.

By sudo eminem (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

But that is precisely the problem people had with this decision.
Ive gotten about half a dozen reasons for 'why people had a problem with this decision', and sometimes peoples answers change in the middle of discussion. So I will for the sake of conversation believe this was *your* problem with the decision.

My answer to that is that I have *zero* problem with taking a corporations money to open a blog and using their BS, should they post any, as blog fodder. 1) SEED gets money so I can keep my blog here 2) science on the dummy blog is corrected by me and other bloggers 3) I get money from the resulting site hits. Even if the blog is total crap, everyone still wins.

But what if the blog isnt total crap?

I ask you the same question I asked PAL in #21:
Out of curiosity, if Merck offered to sponsor a blog, where Ian Frazer would blog about the entire story of the HPV vaccine-- Money for SEED, incredible science for readers (for all of us), you would be against it...?

#68

John, it was to be a blog of the same damn name, that they said in their own damn announcement is going to be extended from there to here.

Pepsi announced that a blog based on THAT blog is coming here - excuse me if I think it might be relevant to look at what the parent blog is, in deciding whether the blog based on that parent is appropriate for here.

If Google had a blog called 'The Truth According to Google" and it was filled with marketing puffery, and they announced their intention to pay Sb to let them port it to here, and name it "The Truth According to Google," and hey! it's going to be written by this nifty math/programming guy so trust us, it'll be different - I'd have a problem with that, too.

It was the NAME of the blog? Because the NAME was the same, that meant it could ONLY be marketing puffery?

So if they'd gotten a bit twee, and called it "The Science of the Pepsi Generation" and that had been the ONLY difference, you'd have been fine with it, because the NAME would be different, and therefore, the content would maaaagically change?

ye. gods. is that what passes for analysis in your world? The name of a blog gives it credibility or takes it away?

sigh.

So you're in favor of allowing total crap blogs, as long as they pay? What if the Disco Institute offered to pay? The Autism/AntiVacc cranks? Where is the line?

My problem is not simply that Pepsi paid. It is that Pepsi's payment seems to have caused Seed to ignore an execrable history of the blog that Pepsi are paying for, and therefore invite in a blog that has shown itself to be not about food science, but about marketing-based control of the conversations about food science.

If Merck paid to sponsor Frazer in an editorially-independent blog about HPV (and vaccine development in general, perhaps), I'd likely be ok with it, depending on the details. Even better, if Frazer already had such a blog with a demonstrated high standard of communicating the science, and it was invited to come here - as seems to be standard practice for blogs coming here, I'd be jumping up and down in excitement - and if Merck made a hands-off offer to sponsor it, I'd probably be ok, with some concerns about the impact on people like Orac, who are already sufficiently targets of of absurd charges about being pharma shills, and how that might be handled.

In a much better analogy, if Merck had en existing blog devoted to marketing messages obviously controlled by their marketing arm, and intended to attempt to control the scientific conversation about their products, and they wanted to pay to have that blog 'extended' to Sb, with some murky promise that it'd be credible about the science, really, we promise - I'd be just as agin' it. For the same reasons.

By sudo eminem (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

Where is the line?
Fair question! I would say the line comes from their suggested blog content. DI, Age of Autism, etc have nothing to offer SciBlogs scientifically.

However, we have no nutrition science blogs here at SciBlogs. We certainly dont have anyone in R&D in a food industry. Pepsi Blog had the potential to fill a niche we have not filled of our own volition yet.

Hell, maybe Pepsi Blog posting shit we cant refute might flush out a really awesome nutrition blogger we previously didnt know, and could add to our ranks.

Same goes for my Nintendo example above-- we have no game developers here. Or the Merck example-- that would provide exclusive scientific content we couldnt get anywhere else. Or hell, a car company! I really would like to learn about how manufacturers are making cars more fuel efficient, no matter what company writes about it.

I really dont mind this sort of thing if they provide scientific content, make it clear the blog is sponsored, and pay money to help keep SciBlogs open.

No John. Not just the name. The name is one part of Pepsi saying that blog, brought here. Pepsi said this would be an extension of that blog - why would I not believe them, and look at that blog for an indicator of what they intend?

By sudo eminem (not verified) on 11 Jul 2010 #permalink

"These are not discussions of science..."

Neither is half the crap posted on the blogs here. How much politics and "science versus religion" crap gets posted here every day? How many "gender issues" posts go up at Isis and Zuskaids? For chrissakes, "ScienceBlogs" has been an absolute disgrace in this department for a long time. The Pepsi blog would probably have contributed more actual science than most of the so-called "science bloggers" who dwell around these parts.

How many "gender issues" posts go up at Isis and Zuskaids?

I am guessing two more if they catch wind of your privilege flexing here. You're a sexist misogynist for sure, no matter whatever anyone else has to say on the matter.

So they're gonna devote a post to me? All that energy could be much better spent in the kitchen making me a goddamn sammich, you know.

I had Zuska call me a misogynist after noting how she aped the behavior of the kids I work with in special education and treating her accordingly. Apparently, when I tell the kids I work with that to get ahead in the workplace, I am a hero of capitalist labor. When I tell her the same thing, I am trying to silence her because she's a strong, assertive woman and I am threatened by that somehow.

@ John C. Welch #67

Excellent. And completely silly.

Not at all. If they are paying you and you speak positively about their products, negatively about competing products, evade mentioning the harmful aspects of their products, evade mentioning their products at all, or pretend that their products do not complicate other topics like global public health, you are a shill. The relationship essentially removes all neutral ground from topics you blog on that relate to the company's products. How is a person to discern if you honestly like their products or dislike competitors products or think their products do not impact topic-X, OR if you are just saying that to sell the company's products?

Even better, you now accuse her, *solely* because she was telling people to maybe be a little fucking rational about Pepsi, of being their BFF, and how somehow, Pepsi sponsoring a single entry blog on Scienceblog... now becomes Pepsi "paying her and every blogger on Sb".

It was a pointed joke, a potshot, John. SEED apparently did the right thing and axed the corporate sponsorship.

(really, the "borg" thing is done. over. Star Trek's off the air. Let it go)

John, don't forget to breathe.

Damn, what is the gravitational constant on your planet? that's not even good conspiracy theory.

Holy mackerel! You really need to lighten up.

I may be treating chump change above with some fairly offensive snark and dismissal (it should be obvious that I don't think very highly of the Isis/Zuskaids crew in general, so I rarely take them seriously), but it occurred to me that others could miss the general point: that chump change used a knee-jerk accusation of "privilege" to avoid the substantive issue in my post. That is, that Isis and Zuskaids don't post actual science but rather a lot of victimological gibberish that is sometimes tangential to academic science in general. I think I would truly be a sexist misogynist if I thought all women were as intellectually weak and inept as Isis, Zuskaids and their followers are, but thankfully I don't (our wonderful host is a perfect counterexample to all that noise).

I'm not sure why anyone thinks that this argument is in any way personal. I like this blog, generally find it sympathetic to my own opinions, but think that ERV is wrong in this case.

However, we have no nutrition science blogs here at SciBlogs. We certainly dont have anyone in R&D in a food industry. Pepsi Blog had the potential to fill a niche we have not filled of our own volition yet.

The problem was that Food Frontiers on the PepsiCo blog site was little more than a collection of press releases and adverts. For example, this article pointedly fails to actually discuss the underlying science of the problem, and instead gives the corporate marketing solution.

Did PepsiCo make any attempt to assure us that the new site would be blogging on real science and policy (beyond PepsiCo's own corporate policies)? No. They simply packed up and left, once they realised that they were losing the PR battle.

There was massive opposition to the blog, but there were also no efforts from PepsiCo to argue that they were setting up the blog in good faith. Actually, all of the compromises that they did make only served to highlight that this was primary a PR platform, such as labelling the entire blog an Advertorial.

I really dont mind this sort of thing if they provide scientific content, make it clear the blog is sponsored, and pay money to help keep SciBlogs open.

Which is probably the way forward if click-through avertising is unable to support the site, but it seems very clear in light of the content of the other Food Frontiers blog, the comments policy for the SB-hosted site, and their reaction to the controversy (a wall of silence, followed by a stealthy departure), that they weren't really here for the blogging.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Like sands through the hourglass...

So what is the score count now on magical bloggers who can see into an alternate future that never was ....but could have been.... and if it was.... would have been.....just like they predicted??

*spooky fingers*

Nice try Kreskin.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

So what is the score count now on magical bloggers who can see into an alternate future that never was ....but could have been.... and if it was.... would have been.....just like they predicted??

I've no idea.

What is the count now on sitters with fence-poles so far up their arse that it seems to have affected their ability to reason?

I'm sure that there was every chance that output of PepsiCo on Food Frontiers would have been completely different from the output of PepsiCo on Food Frontiers. We just didn't give them a chance. Still, at least we can all keep on reading PepsiCo's Food Frontiers blog, despite the demise of PepsiCo's Food Frontiers blog.

Won't somebody think of the share prices children?

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Pam Ronald @ #20:

Cuttlefish, where do I sign up to pay for your verse?

I picked up a collection of Cuttlefish poems at Lulu a while back. IIRC, It's a print-on-demand business, so I don't see them running out of inventory.

gf1 @ #25:

Pepsi are behind Quaker oats? I thought it was produced by real quakers! No fair - I was paying a premium for their honorable approach to business dealings.

Yeah, next they're gonna be telling us Girl Scout Cookies aren't made from real Girl Scouts!

By phantomreader42 (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

BB@#87

The blurb you linked to was from Dodeena Bradley who has successively gone from food mega corp to food mega corp, revolutionizing packaging by a war against the nutrition information "loophole".

Single serving packaging allows the consumer to easily calculate their caloric intake (or carbs....whatever)instead of standing in a grocery store doing long division and trying to figure out if a Twix is one or two servings.

But it interferes with a shill being able to grin and say "Granny's Old Fashioned Crunchy Lard Balls are less than 80 calories per serving!" when Crunchy Lard Balls come in a bag of thirty and a "serving" is 1/8th of one Crunchy Lard Ball.*

Dodeena Bradley food and nutrition M.S. and PhD., weighed the options and chose the part of the market that was interested in it's health (or at least weight) over the one that wasn't.

She didn't do it because she is a paragon of virtue or loves Jesus or pure science, she did it because people who give a damn are a growth market.

She also knows a ton about micro-nutrient introduction in the third world due to fortification initiatives at the five food giants she has advised.

I think being able to ask her questions in the context of scientifically literate commentators and bloggers would have rocked.

I guess the short version is that your example is bad and you are wrong and dumb.

*The crunch in Granny's Old Fashioned Crunchy Lard Balls comes from love and two scoops of ant legs.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Pepsi wasn't going to talk about the 'science of pepsi', they were going to operate a blog about health and nutrition and their 'obligation' to such topics. Its like TJ Reynolds operating a blog on health and wellness.

It's R. J. Reynolds and R. J. Reynolds is a division brand not a company anymore it's British American Tobacco Plc (BTI).

Now that, I own stock in.

Not so hot to day but bouncin' along with the DJI.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Here's an interesting policy, for a blog/newsletter from a nutritional supplement company:

http://www.fatsoflife.com/index.php

"POLICIES

Newsletter Guidelines: Articles for the PUFA Newsletter and Fats of Life are based on published scientific literature, with full citation of each featured article(s) included in the PUFA Newsletter. HTML links to substantiating information may be included in article text. Articles include brief background information to the research topic, descriptions of the methods, results and authorsâ interpretations of the findings with or without additional commentary to put the research into perspective. The editor is solely responsible for the content of the newsletters. Every effort is expended to report the findings accurately as originally published. If unintentional errors, typographical or otherwise, occur, they will be corrected as soon as reasonably possible after detection.

The PUFA Newsletter also publishes invited guest commentaries from scientific experts whose authorship is acknowledged. This newsletter may also include interviews with scientific experts, notices of scientific or government policies pertaining to the content of the newsletters, reviews of recommended intakes and other material deemed of interest to newsletter readers...."

The blurb you linked to was from Dodeena Bradley who has successively gone from food mega corp to food mega corp, revolutionizing packaging by a war against the nutrition information "loophole".

By pushing an industry-designed standard of labelling which is useful for people who are already aware of certain nutritional issues, but is probably confusing to those who aren't. The alternative would be something like the traffic light system, which producers resist because they fear that the simple message will lead many consumers to stop eating "red" foods.

Single serving packaging allows the consumer to easily calculate their caloric intake (or carbs....whatever)instead of standing in a grocery store doing long division and trying to figure out if a Twix is one or two servings.

Equally, single serving packs have a lot to do with pre-empting possible regulatory steps to control the fat/calorie content of processed foods. But it also obscures the real nature of the problem, which is that overconsumption of calories, and particularly from a high-fat diet is a problem, but that nutrition is not simply an issue linking into obesity.

It is perfectly possible to be an optimum weight or underweight and to have a nutritionally poor diet (obviously). The great corporate debate has shifted the focus on diet (in the West) almost entirely onto the issue of weight and obesity.

Quite clearly, the Food Frontiers blog also has a very large proportion of advertising content. That alone creates a conflict of interest.

Look at this as another example. Once again, it deals with corporate solutions to the problem and ignores the elephant in the room. One solution that PepsiCo seems loath to admit is that people would probably find it easier to consume a healthy diet by buying fewer of many types of their products.

The message lacks balance.

I think being able to ask her questions in the context of scientifically literate commentators and bloggers would have rocked.

Me too. Unfortunately, PepsiCo had instituted an oddly worded comments policy which had the tone of censorship about it. Would they really have allowed proper critical dissection of their claims?

Actually, Greg Laden made some reasonable suggestions here.

I'm not so sure that there wasn't a workable solution to the PepsiCo situation, I'm just fairly sure that it was not what was being proposed.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

BB@#93

To paraphrase: âEqually, not simply, Fairly sure, possibly, possibly , seems seems seems.â

Letâs put some teeth on your gums so we can watch you masticate.

Here is a real problem with real people that a real company could fix.

Dodeena is a V.P. at Pepsico. She develops stuff to use in P.R. initiatives and if it is good for Pepsico, cha-ching, stock options. Say you suggest, on a media group with lots of science literate people and a lot of underachieving narcissists (free lance science journalists) that if we buy one canister of Quaker Oats, she provides one single serving of Doctor Dodeenaâs Fortified Curry Flavor Sun Chips to a school lunch program in a country with endemic iodine deficiency.

Two billion with mutant thyroid glands and drooling cretin children, the single greatest preventable cause of mental retardation....prevented.

Pakistan is just plain hooked on the Docâs Curry Flavored Sunchips (cha-ching) and the increased fiber leads to 50% of Sciencebloggers no longer being full of shit. Everybody wins.

Your popular aesthetic position cost us a dialog with somebody who has the power to do that.

Ethics fail.

Logic fail.

Moral fail.

Pragmatism fail.

Prognostication/probability fail.

Ideas fail.

Compassion fail.

Consistency fail.

You are doing a piss poor job of arguing a legitimate basis for your objections over the high probability of gold card membership in the âFuck you dad.â demographic.

In your defense, you rationalize with more literate elegance and arabesque than most of the self professed vestal virgins drawing a check from seed media.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Your popular aesthetic position cost us a dialog with somebody who has the power to do that.

No, that I don't buy.

PepsiCo have the power and outreach to be able to reinitiate that dialogue via their own website. (Actually, they had the opportunity to respond directly to the ScienceBlogs audience rather than its star-turns, but they didn't take it - the blog was already live.)

You're presuming that all of us who didn't want the PepsiCo Food Frontiers blog on ScienceBlogs were necessarily against the participation of PepsiCo researchers and scientists in ScienceBlogs. That isn't true in my case; I understand that good and concerned scientists can take the corporate dollar and still be good and concerned. I take funding from one of the largest mulitnational corporations on the planet as a researcher.

I was reacting to the already evident output of the Food Frontiers blog-ish entity. I was objecting to the very real potential for the corporatization of ScienceBlogs.

I would be very happy to see Dodeena posting on ScienceBlogs if it was on the same terms as everyone else. Blogging needs independent and authentic voices, or else its credibility is lost.

I think that there was very legitimate concern that ScienceBlogs was blurring the distinction between blogging and commercial activity. The craven attitude of Seed when seeking revenue can easily lead to things like this.

By Bernard Bumner (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Wait--GE had a blog here. I know they are heavyweights in medical diagnostic equipment, life science research equipment, etc. How come the outrage about their potential role/benefits in Health Care Reform, or NIH grant funding, etc never drew this fire?

I really don't understand the HFCS-laced poutrage.

BB@#95

"I was reacting to the already evident output of the Food Frontiers blog-ish entity. I was objecting to the very real potential for the corporatization of ScienceBlogs."

No, you were and are proposing preventing possibly probable prognosticated privatized propaganda pandering products Pepsico purveys, preemptively.

Prometheus
P.S.

Don't try hustling me with Gaia Vince.

Gaia Vince is a fatuous moron who has parlayed articles less sophisticated than "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" into a career by frequent insertion of the words green or sustainable and paraphrasing the headlines of whatever country in which she happens to be shopping for earrings that week.

While she was trying to develop an indictment of Seed Media she demonstrated ignorance of the distinction between a gas release and explosion. Ugh.

Despite the desire of lots and lots of people to make Dow to pay for everything on earth because Dow has lots and lots of money (Oh and India..... âcause why not), Union Carbide India was bought by Eveready a decade after the disaster and Dow bought the remaining debts of UC everywhere else under an absolute public shit storm and heavy duty res judicata before G.V. hit puberty and got around to writing her mysterious unpublished Bhopal/Dow thingee.

Gee. I wonder if Gaia V. came down on the side of fact checking for any-legal-basis-whatsoever or makes-me-think-of-unicorn-kisses.

You will notice her reporting on the teapot tempest consists of "Here is what happened to me me me me me meeeeee."

She still cashed the check and G.V. is still listing Seed in her C.V..

Come to think of it, she'd fit right in with Stemwedel.

Give her a blog.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

gdh wrote: "For fucks sake. They hadn't posted anything except a welcome post. You couldn't wait to bag them until they had at least posted something beyond this?"

Exactly, they hadn't posted anything else. Why not? They had hours and hours in which to post *something*. And they had the time before go-live in which to write something up.

The blog was a side-project of the PR department, not the endeavor of a passionate staff scientist eager to talk science.

Now you see I found the freak out by the bloggers more damaging to their reputations than the PepsiCo blog. How they are defending their freak out even more revealing.

"They had hours and hours in which to post *something*. And they had the time before go-live in which to write something up."

Hahahahaha.

Despite PZ's obsessive compulsive disorder 24 hours is de rigueur in blogging.

We have scibloggers who go months without posting anything because the whole Red Dwarf series goes view-instantly on netflix and you are spastic over "hours and hours".

Keep it up though.

I want Erv to get the $$$$$ and when Couch Potato Z gets her conference call I want her to leave the Scienceblogs Seed media industrial paternalistic military rape machine in a blaze of turbo charged cabbage soup crazy.

I'm "holding my breath, hoping that death will brighten, an otherwise dull, afternoon."

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Exactly, they hadn't posted anything else. Why not? They had hours and hours in which to post *something*. And they had the time before go-live in which to write something up.

Have you seen the rate of new posts at some of the blogs on this site? Dumb ass.

The blog was a side-project of the PR department, not the endeavor of a passionate staff scientist eager to talk science.

Do you attack some of the other bloggers here on those grounds? Are do you let them slide because your indoctrination doesn't call for knee-jerk complaints about them?

"We have scibloggers who go months without posting anything because the whole Red Dwarf series goes view-instantly on netflix and you are spastic over "hours and hours""

This usually isn't the case when a blog is new.

History Punk wrote: "Have you seen the rate of new posts at some of the blogs on this site? Dumb ass."

Like I said above, the semi-dormant blogs aren't *new* blogs. Usually someone who accepts a spot at Sb manages to work up some excitement, and posts something substantive when they get here. They might eventually go dormant, but they don't start that way. Because why bother?

Dumb ass.

As a consumer of Science Blogs I'm finding the assumptions many are making about their readers to prop up the arguments against PepsiCo pretty damn insulting; enough so that several are being dropped from my personal reading and link list.

"This usually isn't the case when a blog is new."

True, instead they spend the first couple of days working the kinks out of the comments section and figuring stuff out.

Of course you can't do that when in the first couple of hours after saying hi, you are dealing with 30+ repetitive poutrage posts and incoherent clumps of hate mail.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

Like I said above, the semi-dormant blogs aren't *new* blogs. Usually someone who accepts a spot at Sb manages to work up some excitement, and posts something substantive when they get here. They might eventually go dormant, but they don't start that way. Because why bother?

Unless of course, they're hounded by over-educated for their IQ fuckwits like yourself. Hard to muster enthusiasm when barely literate clowns like you bitch at them and demand their removal. Clearly, any with a firing synapse is not going to invest time and energy creating or posting content that might simply be deleted.

Are you always this dumb?

Usually someone who accepts a spot at Sb manages to work up some excitement, and posts something substantive when they get here.

Have you actually looked at some of the blogs and their time from "Hi ScienceBlogs!" to first "real" post?

#99

Exactly, they hadn't posted anything else. Why not? They had hours and hours in which to post *something*. And they had the time before go-live in which to write something up.

Oh for fuck's sake, really? that's your best argument? Okay fucknut, let's take a sample:

PZ's first day on sb: 11 posts
Orac: 1
Laden: 1 (actually, it looks like he only posted once that entire month)
Questionable Authority: as per laden
Erv: 3

so, setting aside PZ as being rather atypical, (the man is a machine), we see that Pepsico was actually, from our limited sample, far closer to normal than you seem to think.
(cue handwaving about how they have to operate on a completely different set of standards that evidently include:

1) must have at least 10 deep science posts within the first five minutes of the blog's existence

2) none of those posts may be even slightly favorable to Pepsico or its products. (note this is a permanent restriction)

3) must never ever mod a comment, even if it's one that PZ would delete.

yeah. good luck with that.

OK, here's my take as a reader, non-blogger and non-scientist.

I first discovered Sb via Pharyngula. I poked around a little and discovered that to be on Sb one had to have already achieved some sort of reputation as a "good" blogger - someone readable, on top of their game in whatever their field was, someone who had demonstrated that they could consistently blog accurate, useful information in a readable format. While some blogs here capture my interest more than others, and some blogging styles appeal to me more than others, I always knew that somewhere out there there were more blogs by the same person if I was curious, and that they had been vetted, so to speak. I could legitimately judge the newbies based on their prior blogs.

Then along comes PepsiCo and simply by paying enough money they got a blog on a site with a reputation for good blog content. Without demonstrating that they were worth it. A blog that THEY SAID would be an extension of their existing blog. Which would not, IMO, have met the standards of Sb.

Yeah, I think that WOULD end up hurting the reputations of the other bloggers in the long run. Who else would be able to buy a blog?

It's kinda like HuffPo. They allow so much crap on their site that I simply don't bother with it - I don't feel like I can trust most of it, so I don't waste my time trying to find the sapphire in the swill. Is there good, truthful, factual reporting on HuffPo? Probably. Hell, even FauxNews isn't wrong 100% of the time, but that doesn't mean they have a good reputation.

I saw other bloggers as responding to the threat to their blogging reputations in the same way. Surely they could judge THIS blog by reading the blog this one was to be an extension of?

And this is, IMO, completely different from a blogger saying something positive about their employer or plugging their own book. In spite of the insistence above that 'corporations do not write blogs, people write blogs', that's naive. A corporate blog will represent the corporate view and only give corporate-approved information. Criticism of the corporation wouldn't happen - that's just reality. Mark CC on the other hand wasn't always positive about Google products. PZ Myers has criticized his university. Others have made similar criticisms, because they were speaking for themselves, as individuals. A corporate blog doesn't do that.

Corporate blogs have their place. I read several corporate blogs. But I don't think Sb is the right place for them.

By CanadianChick (not verified) on 12 Jul 2010 #permalink

"Are you always this dumb?"

Grow up, twat.

#112:

Yeah, I think that WOULD end up hurting the reputations of the other bloggers in the long run. Who else would be able to buy a blog?

GE springs to mind. Pepsi was hardly popping Sb's corporate cherry here.

#115:

If Jon H is british, then 'twat' and 'cunt' are more generic. Some friends of mine who are various forms of british use both those words the way we'd use 'fuck'. Not every word has the same meaning every where.

If he called you a dick, would you call him out for immediately going with one that pertains to a male body part?

If he called you a dick, would you call him out for immediately going with one that pertains to a male body part?

Of course not, "male privilege" means that suck in an insult has much less sting and far less oppressive than what he called me.

#117:

Of course not, "male privilege" means that suck in an insult has much less sting and far less oppressive than what he called me.

you must hang out with some weak-assed women, if calling YOU a twat stings and oppresses THEM.

The ones I know would reply back with "fuck you, ya cocksucker" and be done with it. Have you ever thought about not being offensensitive?

I love the way the post count is thrown out as some sort of representative evidence of anything. Some of you guys would make highly entertaining social scientists; a group of grad students would eat you alive in a conference if you trucked that out as meaningful in any way.

Okay, I have to admit, I find this "adolescent shit storm" highly amusing, mostly because it shows exactly where everyone's embedded biases and conflicts of interest come blazing out into the public sphere. Sure makes serious scientists look like a bunch of grown-ups.

Quick tip to the die-hard intellectual individualists: nobody gives a shit if you're so clever that you can reasonably digest corporate b.s. as such. That's not the point. The point is, not everyone can.

Yes, ERV, not everyone can. Compared to the average blogger on SB, most people aren't very smart. Compared to the average *commentator* on SB, most people aren't very smart. And while smarts is not a prerequisite for wisdom, there's definitely a very high correlation between the two.

(This isn't an intellectual elitist statement, it's a reasonable estimation of intelligence and cognitive processing capabilities).

People are *riddled* with confirmation bias, and very, very few members of the greater community of human beings are actually equipped with the intellectual constructs to even *recognize* that this is the case. Maybe the top one-half of one-percent of the general public (scientists included) has even the basic understanding of syllogistic logic. Contradictory frameworks are accepted as routine methods of processing information by almost everybody. It's why our political discourse is so bankrupt, just for one example.

Even people who are very smart in one area (such as the average SB blogger) don't necessarily exercise this sort of self-analysis in problem spheres other than their domain of expertise.

It's certainly within the rights of those who write here to get pissed that someone hawked out a spot to a corporation. This is remarkably similar to the ongoing (and vocal) debate about the proper role of for-profit subsidy of science research in the academic community.

SB has set itself up as a portal for *science* blogging. It's trading off the reputation of the scientists who blog here to acquire prestige. From this prestige, it gains the leverage to acquire more prestigious scientists, and it gains its own voice of authority. In this way, it's remarkably like any brick-and-mortar institution of higher education in the U.S.

Now, you can pooh-pooh that voice of authority as meaningless or that it ought to be regarded as meaningless, but the fact that this is meaningless *to you* means precisely nothing, and your estimation of how it ought to be regarded by anyone (or everyone) else is about as silly as it ignores the reality of how it is and can be regarded. You're an anecdote of one. If you don't understand exactly how this represents a potential problem and why some people are concerned about it, you have a woefully limited understanding of psychology and sociology.

You blogging 'with' Pepsi is like you being a smoker or heavy drinker-- it makes you look like a hypocrite as an MD.

But I say that not only does Pepsico make healthy products (like Quaker Oats) but they did not do anything wrong scientifically (not that they couldnt have in the future).

Pepsi has done plenty wrong. Like the time that they used contaminated ground water to make pepsi in India and denied it after being caught. They let people drink pesiticides at much higher rates than are allowed in developed countries. When they stoop so low is it really hard to believe that they would buy a science blog in order to leech of the credibility of people here?

Corporate tyranny and the problems associated with it has nothing to do with how unhealthy pepsi's products may or may not be.

http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199303--.htm

I'd first thought this must mean finely powdered salt dust -- but they claim "crystals are shaped" so can this still be just sodium chloride? (is there a crystallographer in the house?

I'm with CanadianChick.

It's always been my impression that Sb bloggers are scientists who blog science before coming to Sb, such that (however poorly-defined the selection mechanism is), there's pretty good reason to expect them to be fairly competent scientifically and blogistically, and not be too much of a shill who's getting paid to say particular things, rather than paid to write what's interesting to science-minded folks.

No such scheme is perfect, of course. Academic scientists can be very biased, and grind their own careerist axes. They can also grind the axes of the corporate sponsors of their research. That can be bad.

I assumed that's one reason why Sb bloggers are supposed to be chosen from science bloggers with an interesting blog---interesting in the sense that some reasonable, scientifically knowledgeable people or other selected it, rather than dismissing it as dishonest or just kooky.

Part of that selection process, I assumed, was that at least some Sb bloggers with appropriate expertise would be consulted when deciding whether to offer somebody a spot at Sb---at least in cases that somebody reasonable decided might be controversial.

If what I've read is accurate, nothing like that happened with the Pepsi blog. Pepsi bought a spot, without having a blogger with a track record to fill it, and without other Sb bloggers being consulted as to whether they thought the person would be suitably knowledgeable, independent-minded, and generally good at science blogging.

That bites.

Worse, there is a clear conflict of interest here. Its a corporate blog, for chrissakes. Sure, bloggers who are not paid outright by a particular corporation can have conflicts of interest, too, but bloggers paid by a corporation to blog for them clearly do.

Having paid corporate science bloggers creates an appearance of impropriety, like having a judge in a case own a lot of stock in the defendant company. The judge might or might not let her vested interest sway her judgment, but you don't wait for her to demonstrate that---in general that's too hard anyway, because it can be subtle---you just insist that the judge recuse herself and let somebody else judge the case.

You've got to draw a line somewhere, at least in clear cases, and this seems like one of them. Bloggers paid by Pepsi to blog about nutrition do not belong on science blogs with Orac and PalMD.

I am certainly not accusing any Pepsi scientists of doing anything wrong, or planning to do anything wrong, or of being very likely to do anything wrong, even accidentally.

I'm saying that its reasonable to think that a vested interest like that might make a difference in what and how they blog, and I don't want to take the risk; it's likely enough that money will talk.

I'm not a biological or medical researcher, and am not competent to read the blog and judge for myself whether it's even approximately impartial. If I want to know about HFCS, for example, I want to be able to search science blogs and have a decent expectation that the bloggers that pop up don't have a big vested interest in slanting the story. I want people like PalMD and Orac, not a corporate shill, even a good, well-meaning, and independent-minded corporate shill who in fact writes the truth I need to know.

The selection of Sb bloggers is not a free speech arena, and corporate bloggers aren't innocent until proven guilty. We don't have to let the Pepsi bloggers blog and wait until they screw up, we catch them, and so on. They can blog elsewhere if they really want to blog.

Readers like me want Sb to have at least minimal standards of vetting, including drawing some simple, clear lines like having no corporation-paid bloggers, period. There should be a presumption of guilt, or rather of sufficient suspicion that it interferes with Sb's mission, both in terms of real concerns about biases and in terms of appearances---whether people like us will see Sb as the place to search for information that's pretty likely to not be too biased.

Other conflicts of interest do happen, but those are harder to make simple rules about, and we probably have to rely on other means of assessing reputation---e.g., whether reputable commenters and other science bloggers call the blogger in question out for apparent or suspected bias.

BTW, ERV, if you want to hear from particular corporate scientists about particular things, how about inviting them to guest blog on your blog, or suggesting that another Sb blogger with appropriate expertise invite them? If you did that, I'd be more confident in who was selected to blog, and how the information they blogged was okayed. You would be putting your reputation on the line, a bit, and I'd trust you more than I would trust an unfiltered corporate blog.

That is, I'd just say no to a Pfizer blog, but I'd be likely to listen to you if you said to listen to a particular scientist from Pfizer about a particular subject---especially since I'd guess that you were the one moderating comments, not them, and that reasonable and responsible suspicions of bias wouldn't get swept under the rug.

(I don't want a drug-company virologist dogpiled by antivax nuts, but I don't want her to have the power to suppress good questions, either.)

BTW, if you think that current Sb bloggers are just as likely as corporate bloggers to be biased by vested monetary interests, do please name some outstanding examples. :-) Inquiring minds want to know.

By Paul W., OM (not verified) on 20 Jul 2010 #permalink

Paul, I agree that the Pepsi blog crossed the line, but a couple of points:

Pepsi bought a spot, without having a blogger with a track record to fill it

Food Frontiers was a previously established blog

clear lines like having no corporation-paid bloggers, period

SB bloggers are corporation-paid, although in a very different sense from the Pepsi bloggers (the hilarious comment by Divalent bears repeating)

windy,

Thanks for the corrections.

I did of course know that Sb bloggers got paid for delivering eyeballs.

And as a sometime corporate board member myself---when I'm feeling especially civic-minded, even---I should have been more precise about "corporations," etc.

Of course I mean the kind of corporation whose product is something like drugs or food or widgets, rather than, say, a 501c(3) educational group, or a commercial media organization with a reasonable separation between news/opinion and advertising.

Of course I mean the kind of corporation whose product is something like drugs or food or widgets, rather than, say, a 501c(3) educational group, or a commercial media organization with a reasonable separation between news/opinion and advertising.

I don't think that distinction explains it entirely. For example, if there had been an advertising deal with 454 Life Sciences with some of their scientists brought in to blog about next gen sequencing, do you think there would have been as much backlash from other Sciencebloggers? Or if the Templeton Foundation sponsored a blog here, would that have been OK since it's a nonprofit? :) It's understandable that many bloggers felt embarrassed and betrayed about the Pepsi decision, but there seems to be some rationalization going on when they attribute this entirely/mostly to Pepsi being a corporation.

Finally - someone who's not ashamed to admit that they're feeling their oats!

windy:

Of course I mean the kind of corporation whose product is something like drugs or food or widgets, rather than, say, a 501c(3) educational group, or a commercial media organization with a reasonable separation between news/opinion and advertising.

I don't think that distinction explains it entirely.

As I said before, I think you need other rules/mechanisms to deal with subtler cases.

For example, if there had been an advertising deal with 454 Life Sciences with some of their scientists brought in to blog about next gen sequencing, do you think there would have been as much backlash from other Sciencebloggers?

Perhaps there wouldn't have been, because people would perceive them as less dangerously biased, but I would hope that there'd be some objections, and I do think that the general rule should apply in such a case.

If people who sell sequencers are blogging about sequencing, that's a conflict of interest---especially if they have competitors who are not given a similar pulpit. There's a clear risk that their blogging will be biased toward selling their brand of sequencers. (E.g., downplaying drawbacks of their approach and advantages of competitors.')

That's another case where I don't think that it would be appropriate to have a for-profit-corporate blog. That's not what I expect, or would hope I could expect, from Sb.

In such a case, I think it would be more appropriate to have those corporate sequencing folks guest blog on somebody else's blog, and to let their competitors do so too if a controversy comes up.

There are other cases that might be problematic for a simple rule, especially since it's not clear how to determine whether someone is "paid to blog." For example, I don't know if Mark Chu-Carroll is paid to blog, implicitly, by Google. I'm not much worried about him, because he doesn't seem to grind particularly Googlian axes, and I don't see Google as particularly likely to corrupt his message to favor Google's products, or for such corruption to be major or worthwhile given the audience at Sb. Those are admittedly judgment calls, though, so maybe Mark makes a better example for making my simple rule look bad.

Or if the Templeton Foundation sponsored a blog here, would that have been OK since it's a nonprofit? :)

No, that would be covered by a different rule. :)

Actually, an example closer to home would be the National Center for Science Education, and Josh Rosenau's "Thoughts from Kansas" blog.

It has often appeared to me that Josh being an employee of NCSI is a conflict of interest, and that it's plausible that it biases what he writes. (In a way that particularly bugs me.)

It seems to me that Josh pushes the standard compatibilist accommodationist party line, maybe more than he really believes it, in support of NCSI's strategy. He's just not going to admit that Genie Scott is wrong about science/religion compatibility, no matter what he actually thinks, because that would undermine NCSI's political strategy and public stance. He's a paid political operative, and I do think that creates a conflict of interest situation.

On the other hand, it does matter that NCSI is a nonprofit educational organization, whose basic mission is pro-science. I think that tips the balance against disqualifying him. (If NCSI was a for-profit corporation selling accommodationist textbooks, I'd say throw him out. The conflict of interest would be too clear, and too clearly financial rather than ideological.)

So in that case, I think it's okay to fall back on the usual informal mechanisms---when Josh seems to be pushing the NCSI party line, and other bloggers and commenters think he's being patently bogus, we call him on it.

The Templeton foundation wouldn't be disqualified on the grounds of profit motive. They'd be disqualified on the grounds that they're basically anti-scientific, ideologically. Their main mission is one that many scientists think---rightly, IMHO---is to obscure the scientific truth about what they're talking about.

Compared to NCSI, Templeton would bring less good stuff to the table---they don't care much about anything besides wrapping religion in apparent scientific acceptability---and would bring more bad stuff. That would put an undue burden on other bloggers and commenters countering their continuous bogosity.

It's understandable that many bloggers felt embarrassed and betrayed about the Pepsi decision, but there seems to be some rationalization going on when they attribute this entirely/mostly to Pepsi being a corporation.

I sort of agree. The problem is not just that Pepsi is a corporation, but that it's a for-profit corporation whose profit motive (selling more soda, fast food, etc.) very plausibly conflicts directy with the mission of telling the truth about what they're supposed to be blogging about (nutrition).

I think the people objecting are right to object---serious conflicts of interest should be avoided, when it's easy, and if that's not a serious, easily-avoided conflict of interest, what would be?

The people disagreeing with them are right, up to a point, in pointing out that there are gray areas and existing cases of arguable conflict of interest that have been accepted. (I just gave two.)

The bottom line for me is that those people seem to be making a slippery slope argument---we've accepted some conflicts of interest already, and there are evidently no rules, so we should just give up accept them all, no matter how large or how clear.

I think that's wrong. Some cases are close to black and white, and this is one of them.

The Pepsi scientists may have good and interesting stuff to say, and in fact stuff I personally want to hear about. (I don't know what I think about HFCS or artificial sweeteners, for example, and I do care.) Given the clear financial conflict of interest, I just don't want them to be able to control the dialogue by having their own blog, the ability to moderate comments, etc.

I'm not sure which is worse, the un-fixed bold tag or the fact that you apparently would have us believe you SERIOUSLY don't see a difference between posting supportive statements about something on your own initiative because you genuinely like it, and posting supportive statements about something because it's your job to do so (you're paid to/you get fired if you refuse) regardless of your opinion. :/

1. There are no 'unfixed bold tags'. There are two phrases in bold in this post, and they are meant to be. Maybe its your browser.

2. Where is the evidence that Pepsi scientists were being held hostage, forced to produce posts containing 'science' they either do not believe, or know is fraudulent, or else be fired?

Ive made posts supporting OU because I like my school.

Mark made posts supporting Google/Google Products because he likes Google.

Why is it unbelievable Pepsi scientists actually like their jobs and wanted to post about the science they were doing to a scientifically literate audience?

1. There are no 'unfixed bold tags'. There are two phrases in bold in this post, and they are meant to be. Maybe its your browser.

Well, with IE8, I see it. Don't see it with firefox. Starts in your OP, and carries all the way down through every comment. (The whole OP is quoted in EI after the first paragraph). I wonder if I can fix it by putting an end bold tag in front of this sentence.

I deleted the bolding and re-bolded it-- did that do anything?

"Why is it unbelievable Pepsi scientists actually like their jobs and wanted to post about the science they were doing to a scientifically literate audience?"

Because we're constantly taught that corporations are evil and that if you're a scientist and not a tenure track professor you're a failure at life :p

Yes, now it looks the same in IE8 as it does in firefox. (another problem was that in IE the 2nd paragraph quote didn't end, it continued down the post as well. All looks fine now.)

JohnV@#133

"Because we're constantly taught that corporations are evil and that if you're a scientist and not a tenure track professor you're a failure at life :p"

*golf clap*

And who teaches us this shit?

Assistant associate adjunct slobs with neither the ambition nor the brains to cut it in the private sector so they tell themselves and their students blatant lies about the purity and nobility of academia.

When I was in academia it was a giant gossipy retarded kindergarten class screaming and pooping itself over who got the biggest cookie and who deserved to get their damn juice box first.

It made me want to puke. There was nothing ethical about it and far more time was burned by douche bags lying about their qualifications and pumping the crap out of their weak C Vs(and graduate students) than was ever spent doing the research, writing or teaching.

Take a good look at the wastes of air that stamped their feet the hardest in this flap.

Journalists: free lance or otherwise, they are dumb whores. They can't do anything so they write about other people doing things...badly.

Journalistic ethics are a joke. All they really give a shit about is circulation (money) and not getting sued cross eyed (money). They don't have any regard for what is true or a lie. They care how the reader feels about THEM. They are, by definition, bullshit artists.

Hobos: Temporary sorta faculty that managed to limp past a PhD committee and now teaches intro classes completely outside their so-called expertise at strip mall state.

What's ethical about handing out a third rate education because the kids don't know you aren't qualified and the administration doesn't care? Nothing. You do it because you're a pretentious clod who thinks managing a Starbucks is to menial for someone with a doctoral degree although it would be 12 grand more per year and the health insurance is better.

Cat ladies:32 friggin years in school piling up post graduate ephemera for a decade to avoid the mountain of student loans around the corner, an hour and a half in the private sector when a magic invisible disability and a second husband appears to subsidize seven years of politically deconstructing television commercials....on the blog....from the couch.

In retrospect this nonsense will be regarded as the time PepsiCo dropped by scienceblogs and lanced a lot of boils on it's neck.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 27 Jul 2010 #permalink

if there was a thumbs up option for comments i know one that would get it :p