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Blindsided by my corporate overlords and PepsiCo

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

All in all, this is most definitely not good.

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

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

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

And this on the left sidebar:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I think not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

144 replies on “Blindsided by my corporate overlords and PepsiCo”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will have to see how it goes.

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

———– MESSAGE BEGINS

Shills and Minions,

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

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

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

Enduringly yours,

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
0010101101001

MESSAGE ENDS ———————

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

Lord Draconis:

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

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

Best,
Big Blue

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

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

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

I had no idea so many twihard tweens read Scienceblogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

If anyone should be annoyed here, its me.

But Im not.

Because they havent posted anything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Crash diets?”

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

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

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

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

…can improve health outcomes around the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@Adam_Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@ERV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which I do write about myself, btw.

one of my posts from yesterday…

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

Well…um…never mind?

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t forget the government blogs.

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

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

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

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

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

@ERV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vicki,

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

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

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

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

I wouldn’t:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please don’t act like a woo practitioner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a much better target to be had.

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

Mkandefer–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vicki,

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

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

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

………………………..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The camel’s nose is in the tent.

———– MESSAGE BEGINS

Minion Blue (@9),

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

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

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

Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
0010101101001

MESSAGE ENDS ———————

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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