## Friday, July 23, 2010 ... //

### Seed and Pepsi vs their radical activist bloggers

See also a similar and sensible analysis of the PepsiGate in The New York Times
Anthony Watts writes about some explosive yet amusing developments at scienceblogs.com, a blogging platform masterminded by the Seed Magazine - more precisely Seed Media Group because the magazine has been defunct for a year or so.

They recently wanted to add a new blog on nutrition, Food Frontiers (now on Pepsi websites), sponsored by PepsiCo: please feel free to buy two dozens of bottles or anything else from the amazon.com link.

The idea makes a lot of sense because Pepsi knows quite a lot about these matters and it is also doing a very good job in practice - as its successful market battles against CocaCola have demonstrated. They not only produce some tasty products - beverages and food - but also know how to package it in an efficient and environmentally friendly way, among other things.

There was no problem with transparency, either. The first article on Food Frontiers mentioned that it was an extension of their corporate blog, the authors were PepsiCo employees, and that it was "presented by PepsiCo". An absolutely flawless setup.

However, the Seed Magazine happened to forget that their blogging platform has been built upon a time bomb. The magazine has filled their server with dozens of unhinged activists who pretend to be interested in science but whose real passion is radical left-wing politics.

These "thinkers" make Leonid Brezhnev look like Milton Friedman in comparison. (By the way, Brezhnev didn't really believe the communist ideals; he would prefer the scientific-technological revolution and brute power instead.)

The list of these "thinkers" includes the self-described "Godless randomly ejaculating liberal" Paul Z. Myers, the top climatic Wikipedia censor and U.K. Green Party apparatchik William M. Connolley whose Stoat is "taking science by the throat" (his words!), Tim Lambert with his Deltoid, and many others whose names remain actively unknown to us - thank God.

(I follow dozens of blogs including "gems" such as CapitalistImperialistPig but none of the SB blogs is anywhere in my bookmarks.)

So once they learned that Seed could have any link to a free and therefore evil capitalist corporation, dozens of them began to leave scienceblogs.com. Isn't it a scandal for a corporation that has studied their consumers' nutrition since 1890 to say something about nutrition, its current state, and its future? Only clueless communist bloggers have the right to speak! P.Z. Myers himself started the revolt by his polite text titled
Say hello to... PepsiCo? What the fuck?
which forced all other SB bloggers to participate in this insane anti-capitalist protest, too.

Does P.Z. Myers hate Pepsi because he's been hired by its leading competitor? Don't believe it! ;-)

Those who realized that their blogs have been failures (e.g. mad Marxists Bora Živkovič and GrrlScientist) have left the SB platform; others such as Myers himself who have collected a sizable ring of visitors and who earn thousands of dollars a month from their blog decided to go on "strike" and push the Seed Magazine to become a hardcore communist company behaving according to their image.

The Food Frontiers SB blog was murdered within 36 hours.

There's only one sensible thing that the Seed Magazine can do: they should tell all of their bloggers that the bloggers have no credentials to censor the flow of the information on scienceblogs.com and that any blogger that will publish complaints against the Seed policies on the Seed servers will see his or her blog deleted.

The Seed Magazine has to get rid of the tons of the stinky communist garbage pretending to be "science" that the magazine has accumulated over the years. It has to try to build a balanced, ideologically neutral community instead. If it fails to win this battle, it will eventually be controlled by the likes of P.Z. Myers and their similarly radicalized readers which is not only a path to a complete violation of the basic ethical principles but also a path to their eventual financial bankruptcy.

And that's the memo.

P.S.: Your humble correspondent was offered to join the scienceblogs.com platform in 2006 and I had nothing substantial against it.

Figure: Myers is a liar; I got a full contract with all the rules to sign; in 2006, scumbags such as himself were not deciding about these Seed Media matters. After this article of mine was written, I learned that Katherine Sharpe was among the main people who would invite bloggers back in 2006 and I was among those who were invited by her.

The purely technical considerations such as the stability of the URLs and traffic and the control over the design - and independence in general - decided I would say no.

Of course, as the composition of their bloggers "crystallized", I found many new reasons why I would say No. If you were a SB blogger who is not a mad communist like them, they could cause you lots of trouble just like they did to the proposed Pepsi nutrition blog. It's always dangerous to live in a vicinity of a leftist, especially if there are many of them - it's always a threat for your basic human rights.

If TRF or WUWT were hosted by scienceblogs.com, they could disappear within minutes. You know, Google and its blogger.com is just a generous beacon of freedom in comparison. And I do believe that the recent temporary disappearance of TRF was a minor technical glitch without a serious systemic error and without consequences: what would be left if even this belief had to be abandoned?

By the way, P.Z. Myers boasts that he decides who can blog at SB and who cannot. And it is mostly true, indeed. It reminds me of the misinformation that I was fired from Harvard. Well, I had a contract for several more years and I resigned once my visa expired (and I decided not to work on any green card or new H1B back in 2005 when the feminazi terror against Summers began).

But you can easily see that it doesn't really matter. I was almost existentially threatened by the Marxist activists. Within a short time, the likes of P.Z. Myers that have contaminated all universities could not only fire me but destroy me, too. Much like Stalin (a Georgian weather scientist who would become the Soviet dictator), Kim Jong-il, or any other villain of this kind, they think that their left-wing ideology gives them the right to control everyone else's lives, speeches, and opinions. I had to escape to safety; it's that simple.

The idea that a left-wing academic or a Green Party official is more honest or is expected to be more accurate if he is not paid by PepsiCo is utterly preposterous. These people are paid from many other sources that also influence what they write - and sometimes what they believe. They're creating their image within certain communities that indirectly brings them (fake) prestige and (real) profit, too.

There's nothing wrong about capitalist companies, corporate-sponsored research, and professional blogs. In fact, I believe that certain "strictly applied" and relatively "short-term" disciplines of science - such as the science of nutrition - should be studied exclusively in the commercial sector, otherwise the taxpayers' money are being wasted.

P.S. II: To demonstrate that scienceblogs.com has almost nothing to do with science these days, let us look at the five currently most active articles on their server, according to the main page of scienceblogs.com:
1. Episode LXXXII: Is this the thread for the tea party?... P.Z. Myers just included a would-be funny video that attacks the tea party movement
2. Monckton vs The House of Lords... Tim Lambert wrote a short text discussing purely the form, not the content, of some exchanges of Lord Monckton with the deputies
3. What fresh torment can we perpetrate on young girls?... P.Z. Myers discusses breast ironing in Cameroon and argues it occurs because the inhabitants are Catholics
4. Boyd Haley finally does the right thing, but is it for the wrong reasons?... Orac celebrates that the ScienceBlogs surrendered to the commies like him in PepsiGate; it's discussed that evil companies are adding drugs to food
5. GOP Talking Points Even GOP Doesn't Believe... Ed Brayton about Bush tax cuts. Doesn't even pretend to be science
As you can see, science is virtually non-existent over there and everything is biased left-wing politics. But they still have the breathtaking arrogance to attack PepsiCo's scientific blog on nutrition as insufficiently scientific for them. Just compare the SB blogs with Food Frontiers when it comes to their scientific content; FF is almost insanely and boringly technical. WUWT and TRF are somewhere in between but closer to FF than the SB blogs.

Half a day after the list above was reproduced, it changed. The currently most popular or active article on scienceblogs.com is called Shaking the nuts and it is an intellectually vacuous reply to this post of mine and the post by Anthony Watts (aside from an episode with a conservative encyclopedia entry).

Note that he has to be shaking the nuts because his blog is composed out of "random ejaculations". :-)

Myers' reply builds on the fact that his website is being visited by 100,000 mindless morons a day who enthusiastically join Myers' attacks on anyone who is called "right-wing" in any sentence.

Congratulations, Seed! The most successful article on the Seed Media blogging platform is an irrelevant emotional appendix attached to the 3,600th most important and 56th least scientifically valuable article on The Reference Frame. Dear Seed Media Group, that's where you have arrived by your permanent licking of the arses of these far-left loons.

(No, "charlystone". I am not gonna write another "response" to the randomly ejaculating scumbag. The Reference Frame is a quality science blog, not a place to amplify insults by mindless bigots. The fact that an imbecile writes a text about me that is read by 100,000 other imbeciles isn't a sufficient reason for me to write a text on TRF.)

P.S. P.Z. Myers has published a detailed scientific response to my points addressed to his 28,000 Twitter followers. Here it is.
Motl=bugfuck insane. RT @Billare: Lubos Motl's take on #SbFAIL, http://bit.ly/bcheZg ; the diagnosis -- "radical left-wing politics"
Congratulations, Mr Myers. It sounds truly convincing.

P.S. again Luis Dias, a Pharyngula reader, points out in the "Shaking the nuts" discussion thread that he was surprised that Mr Myers has openly boasted that he could eliminate new bloggers from the SB ring - and censor the flow of the information in this way. Various Pharyngula faithful are telling him that he's... wrong, politely speaking, but they offer all kinds of reasons that contradict each other.

Some of them say that Myers has never had any control about any such issues. Others say that it is completely normal not to admit people who don't "fit in" - such as Pepsi folks or TRF. Anyone who is not a leftist liberal. Indeed, this rule is routinely applied in the company called the Academia.

However, when it comes to groups that the liberals worship, such as some of the people of color who usually don't fit either and who may be incompetent at the same moment (unlike the Pepsi nutrition folks), it would be a discrimination not to hire them! The hypocrisy of these people is just amazing. If your society doesn't put these dangerous power-thirsty radicals in the jail soon enough, they will eventually put you in the jail - or hang you.

#### snail feedback (22) :

When I first heard about the Pepsi sponsored blog, my knee jerk reaction was a negative one but you are exactly correct. Every blogger is biased. The key is to make the bias clear via complete disclosure. Had the blog been secretly sponsored by Pepsi, then that would have been an issue but the sponsorship was completely aboveboard which allows readers to evaluate the merits. The scientist bloggers who pretend to be unbiased are delusional.

Thanks for the reminder.

What a load of codswallop. Pepsi is just like religion - it's only interest is in making money and selling more.

It's about making people addicted to stuff - nothing else. They have never demonstrated any interest in health or the environment. They sell bottled water with all the plastic waste that ends up in the ocean and everywhere else.

No - a purveyor of high fructose corn syrup does NOT belong on a science blog. If they had no corn syrup and had a recycling program that was 100 percent successful then we might start talking.

Of course, Michele. There was nothing secret about it. After all, it was an official PepsiCo blog moving to the SB platform - a natural consolidation of science topics on a website.

But meanwhile, SB has already been controlled by a radical clique of extreme ideological excrements led by P.S. Myers - so no diversity of ideas is possible anymore.

Just a bunch of parasites with their mindless followers who try to acquire an information monopoly so that they can use it to steal extra billions of the taxpayers' money and pretend that they're oh so much cleaner than PepsiCo and others who are actually producing values.

Dear bullshit tractor,

do you really believe that the only purpose of religion is to make money? Religion and money are two different things but both of them have been important. Especially the latter, as I mention below. ;-)

In the real world, the drive to make money may be credited with 90% of the progress in the economy and living standards that we have seen since the time when we looked like monkeys. That's how the prosperity was created in most cases.

It is your irrational assertions about environmentalism that resemble a religious cult. It's kind of suicidal for the modern civilized society to feed people like yourself. They should be left to die of hunger and thirst if they despise beverages - and sugars, aside from all other paramount products of modern agriculture and food industry - so much.

Because people like you are kept alive, they keep on undermining the very pillars of the society which is an indirect method for the society to commit suicide.

Cheers
LM

Just on a style point it would be better to use a blockquote when quoting from Watt's blog. It's very hard to tell what you wrote and what you quoted from there.

Hi, aluchko!

Thanks for your feedback. Obviously, my text satisfies your format criteria because I haven't quoted anything from WUWT, so there is no blockquote segment in my article. ;-)

I appreciated Anthony's article but directly used his information about the existence of the scandal only.

There's a legitimate argument that the Pepsi matter was overblown. Indeed, the legitimate parts of your argument have actually been made by some ScienceBloggers such as ERV: http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2010/07/sciblogs_caves_to_hysterics.php
Note that ERV has pretty left-wing politics which doesn't fit with your narrative at all.

There are other problems with your post. For example, your attempt to show that ScienceBlogs has nothing to do with science fails. It is true that there's political content and that that content is generally more often what is considered liberal or progressive than what is considered conservative. But your argument of pointing to the five most active articles ignores that highly active comment threads are almost always going to occur more frequently in things like politics than science issues. This is true in many websites, not just scienceblogs. See for example Slashdot. One can just look at the front page of scienceblogs.com to see that the vast majority of content being produced by ScienceBloggers is science, not politics.

Let me see if I understand Myers' argument: your claim to have been invited to join ScienceBlogs was ludicrous because Myers and the existing ScienceBlog bloggers were going to blackball you anyway so you'd never have been accepted. Right. If that kind of reinforcing self-selection were going on, it goes a long way toward explaining the mindset of so many bloggers in the ScienceBlogs community and also why the decision to add "Food Frontiers" without consulting the bloggers already in the network was so contentious. It's no wonder the communications were so poor between Seed Media and its client bloggers - I certainly wouldn't welcome trying to explain the benefits of enhancing revenue through corporate sponsorship to the anti-corporate types at ScienceBlogs. I empathize with Seed Media.

What most caught my attention was the anti-corporate bashing. I explained at length in my post: Corporate Science = Evil Science at http://www.aetherczar.com/?p=1151

Dear Joshua,
you wrote:

"Note that ERV has pretty left-wing politics which doesn't fit with your narrative at all."

That doesn't look like an observation that would suggest that your URL is valuable, trustworthy, or relevant, does it? ;-)

You also wrote:

"There are other problems with your post."

How can there be "other problems" if you haven't found any problems to start with?

I have shown that the whole website is run by politics by analyzing the top 5 articles - all of them were about radical left-wing politics and none of them was about science.

You just live in a denial of reality.

Cheers
Lubos

Dear Hans,

exactly. But those people - in the progressive movement(s) and the would-be "scholarly" world - find this kind of ostracization and downright terror against non-left-wing people so common that they don't even realize that there could be something wrong about it.

Cheers
LM

Dear Hans,

exactly. But those people - in the progressive movement(s) and the would-be "scholarly" world - find this kind of ostracization and downright terror against non-left-wing people and against the commercial sector so common that they don't even realize that there could perhaps be something wrong about this terror.

The Seed Media Group was a priori a neutral, apolitical group. But they just didn't appreciate that with a certain selection of collaborators who despise democracy, capitalism, diversity, impartial reasoning, and freedom of speech, they would inevitably run into a vicious circle (of self-filtering increasing radicalization) that would ultimately transform the whole company into a feeble tool and appendix of a maoist guerilla group.

Cheers
LM

I think the direction of political wings of the bloggers is only one presumable explanation of their opinions.

Another explanation I can propose is their fear of skilled and experienced PR by these big company. Freelance science bloggers often find it hard and annoying to correct the public views distorted too effectively by well designed PR article. They don't want such PR effort to enter SB, a source, they think, of "real science".

Lumo says: "Isn't it a scandal for a corporation that has studied their consumers' nutrition since 1890 to say something about nutrition, its current state, and its future?"

I like this. Pepsico owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC. Their scientific studies of nutrition just gave birth to the new "Double Down" sandwich. Considering what their nutritional "science" has wrought one might suspect their "science" isn't robust. Of course I might be disqualifying myself from objective opinion as I find a corporate website to be self-serving in the same way I find a corporate advertisement to be self-serving. I guess it's just me, but I can't believe a company that owns three fast food chains has any real dedication to nutrition, and can be trusted not to stuff the crust of their "science blog" with prepackaged crap.

Dear B8ovin,

I didn't understand what's your "scientific" problem with Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and double down sandwich. :-)

As a scientist who has spent 10 years in the U.S., I have repeatedly visited those chains, besides McDonald's (with a Czech American founder), Wendy's, Burger King, Subway, and many others. In Santa Cruz, some of them almost literally saved my life when I was hungry. :-)

And I am always ready to confirm that to my best scientific knowledge, they offer products with nutrition ingredients that work and that are necessary for life to be sustained - such as sugars, fats, and proteins. ;-)

Also, in many of those chains, I've been actually shown many numbers about the nutrition values all the time, and if I ever had some problems, it was too low a fat content, among other things.

You may be a fat shapeless form of a human but if that is the case, you still shouldn't try to blame Pepsi or McDonald's or anything of the sort as scapegoats because it's both irrational and unjust. Such things depend on genetics and on your personal decisions how much to move, what to eat, how often to eat, and especially how much to eat. ;-)

Best wishes
Lubos

Apologies. Looking more closely I see that Watts was quoting your article (and somewhat poorly at that, he should really have used a blockquote or something there). I got confused since I went from your blog to Watts and then saw the same text. I didn't consider that Watts may have added stuff from your post after you linked to him.

Thank you, Lumo. I stand corrected. I had thought that the science of nutrition and the nutritional content of foods were inter-related but not necessarily the same thing. I also thought that science wasn't about giving people what they want regardless of whether it was sound or not; I always thought that fell in the arena of commerce. While I admit that commerce and science do overlap, experience in the way this happens in the U.S., where I have lived my entire 52 years of life, it is always better to approach these interactions with some level of suspicion. If Mr. Meyers and the other members of Science Blogs approach PepsiCo in that manner I understand their reticence, not to mention their right to act on it despite their past history with you.

Mr or Mrs B8ovin,

apologies but I don't think it's possible that the two of us will agree about the most elementary ethical and factual issues here.

The statement that the nutrition content of food is a part of, but not the whole, science of nutrition is probably the only exception. I agree with that.

Otherwise there's no overlap in our opinions and values. For example, nutrition is - by definition - the provision of the materials necessary for organisms for their survival and flourishing. Check your encyclopedias and dictionaries.

So you're definitely wrong that
the science of nutrition is *not* about giving the people, animals, or plants what they want. Of course that they ultimately want what they need and what makes them live well; that's how the evolution has evolved their tastes and instincts. Science of nutrition definitely *is* about these matters.

Quite on the contrary, science of nutrition is *not* about telling people what they should *not* eat even though it obviously brings them the materials they need and the pleasure associated with it.

In particular, the commandments that pork is not kosher in Judaism is not science; it's a part of religion. There's nothing scientifically wrong about eating pork. In a similar way, the opinions that hamburgers or sugar-containing beverages are bad for you is not science either; it is a modern counterpart of the kosher rules of the Judaist religion. None of them is science and the two situations are completely analogous.

More importantly, I find your comments about the overlap of commerce and applied science extremely ill-considered. Applied science that is directly linked to the production of profit *should* be researched and paid primarily by those for whom it is important to generate profits - i.e. by the commercial sector. Otherwise the taxpayers are wasting their money.

What do you mean by being "suspicious" about one or another kind of research? Any scientifically inclined person is skeptical about any statement or any research by anyone else until he or she can verify the claims. But if someone is more skeptical or even "suspicious" about a research just because it's paid by the commercial sector - more skeptical than about the results of government-funded institutes - it is, in my opinion, the most obvious striking example that the person who is "suspicious" is politically biased against the private enterprise - he is de facto a communist.

This has nothing to do with science. The scientific method can obviously be pursued by private as well as public institutions.

Also, researchers in both types of organizations have to be paid in some ways, and these ways may always make them biased, too. They may also be biased because of other reasons.

In my opinion, you're just openly stating that you're dishonest and you use two different standards for two people or researchers that only differ politically - because it's ultimately politics that determines how you evaluate the credibility of people and their statements.

Shame on you. But you're still nothing compared to Mr Myers et al.

Mr Myers and similar people are just an aggressively totalitarian Stalinist evil sect of the very same kind that has already killed tens of millions of people during the black periods of the mankind's history. And the worst thing is that they don't even realize that there's something wrong about it.

Cheers
Lubos

Lubo,

I'm going to assume by your opening that you are tired of discussing since you think there is no agreement on the horizon, and as this is your blog I respect the fact that you can choose to end the discussion at any time. However, there are a few points I would like to clarify:

You assume I am skeptical only of "commercial" science at the expense of private or governmental research. You are incorrect. Given that I do not have an expertise in the sciences I get the great percentage of the reporting of science from media. Experience has taught me to be skeptical of the reporting and the importance of new science. However, I am skeptical of science used in the name of commerce particularly, based on the same experience I site above. It might help if I admit that I am skeptical of my ability to understand completely what I am reading.

I do think I am aware enough to separate my politics (not at all what you describe) and my understanding (however flawed it may be) of science. Indeed, I find your insinuation something of an ad hominem.

I disagree that nutritional science does not address what you should not eat. The science that has shown, for instance, that extraneous amounts of vitamins do nothing for health. The science that has proven correlation between some types of cholesterol and heart disease in some people, as well.

We may disagree that Mr. Myers is totalitarian, but you certainly must agree that as a member of a community he is within his rights to express his opinion about changes to that community. I could argue that not allowing free dissent is de fact communism, but I won't. You obviously don't agree with Myers' reasoning, or mine, on why it is useful to hold special skepticism for commerce driven science, but you must agree that we have every right to express that skepticism.

Dear B8ovin,

I didn't claim that you were "only" skeptical of commercial research. I wrote that you were selectively suspicious about it because it belonged to the commercial sector. And it wasn't my assumption. It was something that you have explicitly written - and in fact, now you have repeated it again.

In my opinion, this is due to a flagrant lack of impartiality on your side. Just like General Motors or any company may have a vested interest to grow, so does the government. That's why the officials in the government increasingly often want to support the kind of research and researchers who produce - mostly bogus - claims that the society needs government regulation of many diverse sectors of the human life.

Many people have bought into this nonsense - some of them because they benefit out of this belief; others because they're just dumb. But the situation is completely analogous to research in the commercial sector; honest scientists won't be affected by such pressures but these pressures always exist, regardless of the source of funding.

Not sure why you suddenly talk about some particular technicalities about nutrition. Some vitamins do no harm in excessive amounts (that pretty much includes vitamin C); others do. Clearly, some cholesterol brings diseases of the cardiovascular system. What does it have to do with the bulk of this discussion? You clearly want to "subconciously" promote the absolute untrue idea that the commercial sector has a vested interest for its consumers to eat unhealthy things.

But that's complete rubbish - a hardcore communist conspiracy theory. The private companies have an interest to earn money out of their consumers - which they do by providing them with goods and services that the consumers are satisfied with; and by making sure that these consumers live and pay as long as possible. ;-) Only governments are materially unmotivated to actually help the people to improve their lives.

Myers has a right to express opinions but he doesn't own the Seed Media Group. His voice should mean exactly nothing for a private company that doesn't belong to him, and if he were hurting the company by preventing it to do business with others, e.g. Pepsi, a sane company would just fire him. The fact that the opposite thing happened in the case of the Pepsi collaboration shows that the deep communist thinking - "everything belongs to the whole community, especially to its self-selected Stalinist leaders of the Myers type" - has deeply penetrated to the reasoning of some people in the Seed Media Group (and yours).

Let's just hope that the curing forces of the markets will liquidate a company that suffers from such a tumor. The Seed Media Group deserves to die.

Cheers
Lubos

Lubos wrote,

"I have shown that the whole website is run by politics by analyzing the top 5 articles - all of them were about radical left-wing politics and none of them was about science."

Those top 5 articles were the 'most active' in terms of the number of comments in a recent time period. That's a deeply flawed way to decide what a given blog or community of blogs is about. That data will always over-emphasize the politics compared to the science for two reasons: First, because many more people will read a blog than will ever bother to make comments. Second, while still small overall, the proportion that do make comments will increase dramatically for controversial topics like politics.

In responding to B8ovin, Lubos wrote,

"The private companies have an interest to earn money out of their consumers - which they do by providing them with goods and services that the consumers are satisfied with; and by making sure that these consumers live and pay as long as possible. ;-)" [emphasis mine]

The first part of that statement is an obvious truism, but the part I emphasized certainly does not depend on consumers living healthy lives (see tobacco). The fact is that the people that are the consumers of products from companies like PepsiCo are generally relatively young. It won't matter much to them if some of those consumers are less healthy in their 50's, 60's, or older.