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ScienceBlogs.com Deals With Community Backlash Over PepsiCo Column 299

Posted by Soulskill
from the ray-charles-would-be-disappointed dept.
History's Coming To writes "Several writers for the ScienceBlogs.com collective have publicly resigned from the site, and many more have voiced concerns over parent company Seed's decision to include a paid blog under the nutrition category from PepsiCo. The blog was to be written by PepsiCo food scientists, detailing their work. The UK's Guardian newspaper has picked up on the story, and includes a letter from Seed editor Adam Bly which covers the company's rationale." The ScienceBlogs Team later canceled the PepsiCo blog and apologized, instead leaving their users with a few tough questions: "How do we empower top scientists working in industry to lead science-minded positive change within their organizations? ... How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?"
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ScienceBlogs.com Deals With Community Backlash Over PepsiCo Column

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  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@NOSpam.davidgerard.co.uk> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:29AM (#32859712) Homepage

    "How do we empower top scientists working in industry to lead science-minded positive change within their organizations? ... How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?"

    Translation: "Damn, how do we get away with this next time? Do you know how much money Pepsi was giving us for selling out your reputations? This 'wall between editorial and advertising' concept is so outmoded and pre-Web 2.0, you know."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well, it is. But well, we all know how well subscription based models tend to work out. And not a lot of people donate to their favorite sites, either. And increasingly large amount of people hate advertisements and use adblock. (You can go on about "Well, that's originally THEIR fault for all the flashy banners and whatnot" but it is irrelevant, really. Even sites with a decent advertisement policies get hurt.) Any ads that can be identified as such can be blocked... So our behaviour is forcing the site o

      • What if I am NOT influenced by adverts, do not click them and avoid the products mentioned within them?

        Surely they lose nothing if I just block silently, it would never have influenced me anyway. How common is paying by impression?

        • What if I am NOT influenced by adverts, do not click them and avoid the products mentioned within them?

          You are influenced by adverts whether you know it or not. Now, your conscious influence may be stronger than the unconscious; I am fairly adept at detecting the manipulation attempted by advertisement, and it makes me angry. But that doesn't make you immune to the techniques used. It only means that they must be employed more subtly to work on you.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:35AM (#32860030)

            Mod parent +1: Refreshing.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            You are influenced by adverts whether you know it or not.

            Absolutely right. No amount of blocking, ignoring, fast-forwarding or opting out is going to protect you from the influence of ubiquitous advertising.

            One way I demonstrate this whenever someone tells me that they "ignore advertising" and are "not affected by advertising" is by asking them how they came to know the names of the products, or see if they can complete the last few words of a jingle, or simply by asking them which brand name products they

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Runaway1956 (1322357)

            I'm quite certain that you are right about the subconscious influence. It's like I can hear little wheels whirring away, when I am forced to look at an advert. The company and/or the product is categorized and filed under "NEVER BUY FROM THESE ASSHOLES!" Weeks of months later, when I realize that I need some doo-dad, I shop around, and actually search for whatever it is. When I see the name, or trademark, or whatever, I rank that product down about ten notches.

            And, it's not that hard to do, if you're no

        • by neokushan (932374) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:14AM (#32859938)

          Surely the fact that you actively avoid the products mentioned within the advertisements means that you are influenced by them?

          • by improfane (855034) *

            The complete opposite influence they want me to have maybe?

            I don't understand your comment.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              The complete opposite influence they want me to have maybe?

              I don't understand your comment.


              Even if it's the opposite effect of what they would like you to do, it's still an influence. So you saying that you are "not influenced" is 100% wrong. It's just not the type of influence the advertisers would like to have on you. This really isn't that hard to understand.
            • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:34AM (#32860318) Homepage Journal

              The complete opposite influence they want me to have maybe?

              I guarantee that you have not been able to ignore advertising or cause it to have the opposite influence. You're fooling yourself.

              What kind of computer do you use? What kind of portable media player? I guarantee that you chose them because of advertising. You know which components to buy when you build a computer because of advertising. You know which cereal to buy because of advertising.

              Even if you buy the cheap store-brand of corn flakes, it's because the store-brand is piggy-backing off the effect that Kellogs' advertising had on you or you wouldn't even know to buy corn flakes.

              I bet you know the names of Apple's laptop computers. I bet you know the names of the individual programs in Adobe's Creative Suite. I bet you can tell me the names of car models made by the biggest car companies. All because of advertising.

              There's a long game in advertising too. Even if you aren't directly influenced to run out and buy a product, you learn the names, you learn the qualities that made one brand better than another. Eventually you will make a decision, and though you think you're making the decision based only upon your own independent thinking, the marketing plays a bigger role than you think.

              • by improfane (855034) * on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:51AM (#32860394) Journal

                I understand your point, it may be true of certain things.

                I found the cheapest laptop I could find at the time. In the past all my computer have been bought by untechnical people and they were cheap. I honestly think the software is more important.

                I do not have a personal entertainment player, I read books.

                I dislike Adobe products. I dislike Apple products. I know what they are.

                I cannot drive and I use public transport. I am apathetic for motor vehicles.

                I buy cheap clothes. A pair of jeans is jeans whatever way you look at it.

                The way my life is arranged is that I put products into categories. Nobody can tell me what category a product is in. A cheap plasticy pen is NOT a fountain pen. An optical mouse is NOT a trackball.

                Honestly it's the only differentiation you need. It means you can stop comparing different brands products and learn about the categories that solve your problem.

                I use an old fashioned phone with buttons not a modern phone with a touchscreen. I still maintain I am immune.

                If you understand what a product IS based on what it IS and HOW it does it, then you only need to see businesses as 'providers' for a category of product. I couldn't care less what brand my fountan pen is.

                Most people are hypnotized by branding.

                • by Vintermann (400722) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:06PM (#32860468) Homepage

                  A cheap plasticy pen is NOT a fountain pen. An optical mouse is NOT a trackball.

                  And how did you decide that you needed the one and not the other?

                  Even if you were the one person in the world that was personally totally unaffected by advertising, you wouldn't be free from it. Because you would be living in a society affected by advertising. Even if your choice of soap were totally unaffected by advertising, the kinds of soap your store would stock would not be.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                    by jshackney (99735)

                    My choice of soap is 100% influenced by what the hotel stocks today. I probably have a couple years' worth of soap in my linen closet harvested from various hotels across the U.S.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  I do not have a personal entertainment player, I read books.

                  Why the false dichotomy? I have an iPod *and* I read many books.

                  I cannot drive and I use public transport. I am apathetic for motor vehicles.

                  I have a 2 seater convertible roadster that can go 140 mph. Does that make me bad?

                  I buy cheap clothes. A pair of jeans is jeans whatever way you look at it.

                  Actually, I'm finding inverse results there. I gave up on the more expensive Levis because they wear out quickly and they went to a single belt loop in the back a while ago. The $20 Lee jeans I buy online last three times as long.

                  Most people are hypnotized by branding.

                  [citation needed]

                  People are allowed to live their lives differently than you without deserving to be judged as "hypnotized"

              • by stoanhart (876182)

                While I don't deny that advertising probably affects me, it doesn't to the degree that you suggest.

                >>What kind of computer do you use? What kind
                >>of portable media player? I guarantee that
                >>you chose them because of advertising.

                No, I make all of my major purchases based on careful research and review of the options. I will spend hours and hours online comparing competing products to find the one that offers the best set of features/performance for the lowest price. As to food products, sim

              • Personally I decide based on price, specs, past experiences with that brand, reviews, other peoples opinions, and the popularity of the product, all before advertising. It's true that for some of those things advertising may be an influence(popularity especially) which in that case will effect me slightly but advertising will still have a quite low direct effect. Of course that might be because I watch very little advertising (noscript + flashblock block basically all ads unless i explicitly allow them)

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Omestes (471991)

                When you define things broad enough, everything can fall into that definition, meaning the definition has become meaningless.

                What kind of computer do you use? What kind of portable media player? I guarantee that you chose them because of advertising. You know which components to buy when you build a computer because of advertising. You know which cereal to buy because of advertising.

                Does spending a couple of hours on Newegg or Tom's Hardware count as advertising? Being aware of a brand itself doesn't mean

        • by Tom (822) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:05AM (#32860200) Homepage Journal

          What if I am NOT influenced by adverts,

          Then you should immediately report to the nearest psychology lab and make a living being examined for this highly unusual trait.

          Advertisement today contains more science than Spirit and Opportunity. It practically is a science of its own - the science of manipulating masses, often unconsciously, and especially in such a way that they are either unaware of it or in complete denial.

          Ockhams Razor says you are not immune, you are in denial.

          • Reality cracking (Score:5, Interesting)

            by improfane (855034) * on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:18AM (#32860260) Journal

            It is definitely a science like you say but it doesn't mean you cannot learn the science yourself. It's called 'reality cracking' and it's absolutely fascinating:

            http://www.searchlores.org/realicra/realicra.htm [searchlores.org]

            The idea behind reality cracking is that if you can begin to understand how the adverts work, you can become more aware and wise to how supermarkets, adverts abuse and play on you.

            If I do not see the adverts, I am more unlikely to buy them. I do not see adverts on TV because I don't watch it, I don't see them online either. I also read to become aware of the tricks. It saves me more time this way.

            I don't have an iPhone. I don't have a Mac, I try buy products that advertise less (like unheard of brands). I am a simpleton.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RobertLTux (260313)

        The biggest problem is sites that have articles spread across 15 different pages because 70% of each page is taken up by
        1 Site banner
        2 Section Banner
        3 Ad banner
        3 subsection banner
        4 social networking/ list every fracking blog block
        5 affiliates block
        6 random ad blocks
        7 multiple intra-site link blocks
        8 brainless poll blocks
        9 Rich media blocks
        10 ect
        11 audnauseum

    • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by spirality (188417) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:43AM (#32859788) Homepage

      Why aren't government scientists treated with as much skepticism as corporate scientists?

      • Re:Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:23AM (#32859970)
        In theory, the government does not have the same profit motive as big corporations, and therefore should have less incentive to produce specific results. In practice, though, "The business of the United States is business."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jawnn (445279)

        Why aren't government scientists treated with as much skepticism as corporate scientists?

        Man, it must be so nice to live in a world like yours, where the greed and corruption of corporate influence is completely invisible. You know, that world built on the bullshit meme about how "government scientists" have some agenda other than science. You know, all those snooty "intellectual elite" government scientists taking tax-payer money to come up with "theories" that debunk the "scientific" advances produced by hard-working American business scientists.

        That said, if the Pepsico "scientists" have

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spirality (188417)

          Who said I was not skeptical of the corporate scientists? Clearly they can not be always be trusted.

          I was just pointing out how corporate scientists always get a bad rap and how government scientists tend to get a free pass.

          But in fact government scientists have an interest in promoting ideas that free up more funds for their research. Also, as government employees/contractors, they have an interest in pleasing the source of their monies.

          Basically it comes down to this. When a government scientist reaches c

      • by Derosian (943622)
        In the US both those scientists are one and the same.
    • All this over a blog that never got off the ground? How biased was it going to be? And exactly who is unbiased? Much better to have a knee jerk reaction and quit, then to stay and present an opposing viewpoint, if one is needed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hedwards (940851)
        It never got off the ground because there was a bad reaction to it. It's not that the blog was necessarily going to be biased, it's that there was a very clear conflict of interest going on. It would've been very different had Pepsi not paid for the space and it was clearly disclosed who was writing it. That's how journalists have handled such things in the past, it would still have to be as unbiased as possible, but disclosure goes a long way.
    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      Well, it would help if they didn't miscategorise PepsiCo products by putting them under Nutrition. Candy Engineering would (possibly) have been acceptable.

  • how to do it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:31AM (#32859724)
    PepsiCo food scientists are more than welcome to conduct research, and they're more than welcome to detail their findings in papers. However, to be taken seriously, those papers should be submitted to peer-reviewed journals and published via standard procedures. Under no circumstances should they pay blogs to include those postings/papers if they want to be appear impartial.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gbjbaanb (229885)

      I'd say there's nothing wrong with paid-for blog instead of the usual publishing route... because the peer review should still take place.

      I can say whatever bo**ocks I want on /. and someone will tell me I'm wrong - fine. I can put up my own blog and say the same bull with comments disabled, that's fine. But I could pay /. to post my comments, and all's good - if people can still say I'm wrong.

      (cue the 'wits' replying with the obvious now :)

      So the paid-for aspect only becomes a problem if there's some coerc

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cyp43r (945301)
        Equating paying for an entry and being able to comment on it is just not on. A lot of people don't read the comments and the comments are not given nearly the same weight. The Pepsi scientists are given equal weighting with all the other things they're reporting despite clear motivations for fraud.
    • by sarkeizen (106737)
      This is a good point. Although people like Orac (a regular scienceblogger) talk about their research they aren't actively promoting it. Similarly I can be assured that while a sciencebloggers employer either ignores, supports or simply tolerates having someone on their staff blog about science - we can be reasonably assured that they aren't being paid to do so. In both of those cases I can't say I'd have the same level of confidence for Professor Pepsi...or whomever ended up there. Also I can't stand it
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Everything was fully disclosed and on the up and up. Are Pepsi scientists to be shunned just because they work for Pepsi? What am I missing here?

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      What am I missing here?

      The fact that corporate propaganda has no place in a community dedicated to exchange of information and ideas, uncolored by the pursuit of profit?

    • ScienceBlogs is supposed to be a place for creative, and sometimes controversial, opinions. My favorite ones are Respectful Insolence and Tomorrow's Table, and all the time, you read things there that plenty of people would get all in a huff about. Does anyone think the Pepsi blog would do that? Do you think they would ever once mention the insanity of the anti-vax movement, or the senselessness of the 9/11 truthers, or call alternative medicine purveyors out on their incoherent conspiracies? Think the

  • Asinine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Spazntwich (208070) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:34AM (#32859736)

    While these are important questions, it should be obvious from their past behavior that PepsiCo as an organization is not interested in any layman's definition of "nutrition."

    High fructose corn syrup in EVERYTHING, food products that boil down to simple carbs, trans fats and salt, and beverages that are little more than sugar water with some caramel coloring. This is a company designed to maximize profit by exploiting the still-ingrained hunter-gatherer instincts in us all, and what of the externalities associated with a lifestyle of chugging soft drinks and pounding Cheetos and Fritos? Fuck it.

    These guys deserve greater scrutiny than the tobacco companies, and to wail about their trials and tribulations attempting to engage a public that is becoming more health conscious after foisting products upon them that encourage obesity, high blood pressure, and compulsive consumption is the highest form of absurdity.

    • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TouchAndGo (1799300) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:58AM (#32859848)

      I'm very sorry that a can of Pepsi killed your mother and molested your dog, but don't you think that perhaps this much anger directed toward a company that produces junk food is a little unwarranted?

      They provide something that people want, then you rage at THEM for that? If no one was buying their product then they wouldn't be in business, so how about directing a little bit of that ranting in the direction of the general public that supports them, because last time I checked no one is marching into people's homes and forcing cola down people's throats.

      Foisting it upon them? Please

      • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spazntwich (208070) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:21AM (#32859968)

        Ah, you're one of those "free will" types who believes people are rational actors. Quaint.

        While each person certainly bears personal responsibility for his actions, psychology hasn't given us the notion of the enabler for kicks. Social responsibility starts at the top.

        I also take issue with your claims that people "want" corn so processed it retains zero nutritional value, fats so perverted the body can barely process them, and sugar that is heavily biased towards being stored as fat rather than burned that then creates a depressed insulin response and the near-instant desire for more. Their "food" is the equivalent to crack, heavily engineered to maximize appeal and shelf-life at the expense of its resemblance to genuine nutrition. Nobody benefited from the switch away from sucrose and unprocessed oils except their executives.

        Also, while my wording is strong, your speculation on my emotional state says more about yours. What's got you defending the purveyors of food that have had a heavy hand in the worldwide increase in obesity, diabetes, and all sorts of other fun chronic conditions that we all pay for in the end?

        I am not angry that they sell what they do. I am irritated that they sell what they do and pretend there's any nutritional value to it, and I am bitterly amused by you folks with no appreciation for the malleability of the average consumer's mind.

        • I also take issue with your claims that people "want" corn so processed it retains zero nutritional value, fats so perverted the body can barely process them, and sugar that is heavily biased towards being stored as fat rather than burned that then creates a depressed insulin response and the near-instant desire for more.

          Yes, they do "want". They want crack, they want meth. We all want that stuff. It's just that some folks don't know about the consequences, and some know and are willing to suffer them.

          And then we, as a society, pay for it.

          Nanny-state my ass. We need a stingy state. A real attention to lowering government costs, instead of the phony one we're always being sold. We need to tax the crap out of this junk to save ourselves some money. If the consumer wants something which screws society, then they can pay

      • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Funny)

        by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @01:50PM (#32861020)

        I'm very sorry that a can of Pepsi killed your mother and molested your dog

        NO! The can molested my mother and killed my dog, you insensitive clod!

        Then it ate my cat!

        I'll get you, can!

        CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!!

    • High fructose corn syrup in EVERYTHING, food products that boil down to simple carbs, trans fats and salt, and beverages that are little more than sugar water with some caramel coloring. This is a company designed to maximize profit by exploiting the still-ingrained hunter-gatherer instincts in us all, and what of the externalities associated with a lifestyle of chugging soft drinks and pounding Cheetos and Fritos?

      I was taught that there are four major food groups: salt, sugar, fat and starch . . .

      If our hunter-gatherer ancestors went out looking for Pepsi . . . I don't think that much of civilization as we know it would be around.

      Hmm . . . what a question for them? "Do you want a Mammoth for dinner, or should I just pick up some packs of Cheetos and Fritos?"

      Cue to alien archeologists in the future scratching their heads, and saying "This species seemed to die out, because of diabetes and heart disease . . . how

    • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zironic (1112127) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:12AM (#32859918)

      I don't think the HFCS issue you americans suffer from is Pepsi's fault, in other continents they use different sources of sugar, it's just that your government has decided to make corn so cheap that using other sources of sweetness becomes financially unsound, if consumers were actually willing to pay more for non HFCS soft drinks I'm sure you'd see them on the market as the soft drink companies have no inherent interest in serving you bad sugar, they just want to sell soft drinks.

      • Re:Asinine (Score:4, Informative)

        by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:39AM (#32860060) Homepage Journal

        It's actually the government's fault, Nixon's fault to be precise.

        You should watch this presentation [youtube.com] on fructose if you are interested to find out why exactly the fructose is a poison equivalent to ethanol (alcohol) and how it kills you slowly in the same way and causes obesity and other diseases in humans.

        What is interesting is how this came about, by the Nixon's government deciding that they want to eliminate food prices as an issue for reelection. Nixon - the same guy responsible for getting away from sound money (gold standard), they same guy setting up minimum wage laws, while opening the job market to China, the same guy who destroyed the working health insurance for people by getting government subsidies into it and causing the insurance prices to skyrocket, this guy is also responsible for the deteriorating health of the humans in this world through consumption of fructose.

        By fixing food prices to make them 'stable', he caused the food producers to start searching for new and exciting ways of using the cheapest ingredients available, obviously that would be the most subsidized ingredients - corn, soy, wheat, rice (cotton as well, but that's not food.)

        By getting government into health insurance (CHIP), he created a moral hazard for the medical establishment that allowed it to spike the prices up, which happens only when government guarantees to pay, same problem with government loans for higher education - prices shoot up.

        By creating minimum wage laws the jobs below the minimum wage disappeared, this increases unemployment and kills entire segments of jobs (does anybody check your oil and tire pressure at a gas station anymore?) Doing this while opening trade with the cheapest provider of labor is asking for destruction of your own production capacity, which is the real reason behind the economy going south.

        Nixon was an interesting fella, he allowed the special interests to dominate and to take over.

        • by westlake (615356)
          It's actually the government's fault, Nixon's fault to be precise.

          Corn syrup began replacing cane sugar in World War II - because of wartime rationing and losses of freighters to the U-Boats prowling the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Well, of-course corn syrup was used before, that is not what the argument is. The argument is that fixing of the food prices lead to the industry searching for the cheapest ingredients to replace normal ingredients in all processed foods, while at the same time getting rid of a very important food element (which you will not find in the government's 'food triangle' structure): Fiber. Fiber lets your body to process the sugars better leading to less harm, but it is difficult to keep on the shelves forever.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          And by the way, there is nothing that is a flamebait in the parent post, it is in fact informative. Check out the link that is found there, the link to a presentation on the dangers of fructose by a scientist studying the effects of it.

          I understand that any deviation from the 'norm' here is considered a flamebait, the norm being that government cannot do wrong by setting policies, as long as the policies are about spending. What the people miss about these policies are the reasons to why they are set (pol

        • by afabbro (33948)

          Nixon - the same guy responsible for getting away from sound money (gold standard), they same guy setting up minimum wage laws, while opening the job market to China, the same guy who destroyed the working health insurance for people by getting government subsidies into it and causing the insurance prices to skyrocket, this guy is also responsible for the deteriorating health of the humans in this world through consumption of fructose.

          I think he was also the same guy who legalized run-on sentences.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Nixon - the same guy responsible for getting away from sound money (gold standard)

          Nixon gave it the final death blow, but FDR killed the gold/silver certificate in 1933. Truman later agreed to the Bretton Woods Agreement, in which foreign currencies were fixed to US dollars, effectively making the dollar the world's standard. During Vietnam (which France had actually helped cause), France ended up draining the gold reserves backing the US dollars, ultimately leading to Nixon's decision to permanently cease the gold standard.

          they same guy setting up minimum wage laws

          Again, minimum wage laws, as well as wage and price controls, st

    • Parent's comment is spot on. Please, (if you are so inclined), take a gander at the book "Fat land : how Americans became the fattest people in the world" by Greg Critser.

      This book details exactly how the USA's food industries stopped being mainly suppliers of food, but instead learned to market by "addiction stimulation profiles", focusing on how to get people to eat not just more, but much much more. And in the process added chemically prepared materials to the food to enhance those addictive properties

  • by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:37AM (#32859748) Homepage
    "How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?"

    Not by paying Seed/Scienceblogs, that's for sure. How about publishing papers if you have a scientific point to make? Or, if you want to avoid the formality of those, how about a blog at science.pepsi.com? Let the content speak for itself without paying anyone to get a ride on their reputation.

    But the real question Seed is faced with is probably "How are we supposed to make money from ScienceBlogs if you won't let us sell out to a company that's probably killing more people than Philip Morris ever did?"

    • "How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?"

      Many sites publish such material as a "white paper", and display links to it like any other ad. Ad-blockers don't often match on these.

    • False equivalence here: PepsiCo are not so ridiculously dependent on killing people as the tobacco industry, or even the alcohol industry is.

      Tobacco companies would lose virtually 100% of their business if all harmful use of their product stopped tomorrow.

      Alcohol companies would lose maybe 80%.

      How much would general food producers (Pepsico, Kraft, Nestlé) lose? I don't know, but not nearly as much.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:41AM (#32859766) Homepage
    Carl Zimmer has a more detailed breakdown of what happened with a list of what bloggers are moving- http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom/2010/07/07/oh-pepsi-what-hath-thou-wrought/ [discovermagazine.com]. Major bloggers leaving include Mark Chu-Carroll of Good Math/Bad Math, and Rebecca Skloot (who may be known to many more for her excellent book on HeLa cells and their namesake than for blogging). This wasn't a single isolated instance that is causing these people to leave, but for many the final straw in what they saw as very problematic and difficult to work with people at Seed Magazine (which runs Scienceblogs). Mike Dunford of The Questionable Authority discusses some of these issues here- http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2010/07/pepsico_scienceblogs_and_the_f.php [scienceblogs.com] (he's uncertain if he is leaving or not and so may be a moderate voice). Meanwhile Abbie Smith of ERV thinks that much of the reaction is hysterics and hypocrisy http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2010/07/sciblogs_caves_to_hysterics.php [scienceblogs.com].
  • Easy Answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ralish (775196)

    "How do we empower top scientists working in industry to lead science-minded positive change within their organizations? ... How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?"

    The answer is:
    Said "top scientists working in industry" are welcome to do all of the above, and should be encouraged to do so in fact, but the determining factor of whether their work is published should be one purely of merit; not payment for publicity or any other form of bribe that results in direct gain to the publisher.

  • It is funny how the article complains on how the PepsiCo blog detracts from "legitimate blogs". So now we are casting blogs as a legitimate source of information? Probably 98% of blogs are personal opinions with no factual, scientific basis.

    It would be like holding Wikipedia up as the definitive source of accurate information on everything and ignoring the genuine work of researchers and scientists.

    I do not put much credence in anything posted in a blog. Most are merely entertaining, scandalous or based upo

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It is funny how the article complains on how the PepsiCo blog detracts from "legitimate blogs". So now we are casting blogs as a legitimate source of information? Probably 98% of blogs are personal opinions with no factual, scientific basis.

      You're making the logical fallacies of the appeal to authority and the argumentum ad populum. "Official", established news sources are filled with propaganda, while the fact that the majority of blogs are bullshit has no bearing whatsoever on the others. Nice try though.

      It would be like holding Wikipedia up as the definitive source of accurate information on everything and ignoring the genuine work of researchers and scientists.

      Wikipedia is more accurate than the EB. Holding up the bad Wikipedia articles and claiming that they invalidate Wikipedia is yet another logical fallacy, I believe inductive but I still need to practice identification of fallacies more. Howe

      • by afabbro (33948)

        It would be like holding Wikipedia up as the definitive source of accurate information on everything and ignoring the genuine work of researchers and scientists.

        Wikipedia is more accurate than the EB. Holding up the bad Wikipedia articles and claiming that they invalidate Wikipedia is yet another logical fallacy, I believe inductive but I still need to practice identification of fallacies more. However, I can smell one a mile away.

        Who said anything about EB?

    • Probably 98% of blogs are personal opinions with no factual, scientific basis.

      How does that differ even a little bit from what you read in a newspaper or see on TV?

      It's always up to the reader to critically analyze what information they receive.

    • Probably 98% of blogs are personal opinions with no factual, scientific basis.

      And what makes you think the situation for traditional media sources is any better? Personally, I think blogs do a far better job than traditional media sources in providing high quality, relevant and original content.

  • I'm not sure what happened here that was so bad. Isn't the whole point of science to judge people on the merits of their work? Why should it matter if they work for PepsiCo or not? Just look at the work and judge it on its own. If it's crap, say it's crap, and why it's crap. Don't just ignore them out-of-hand due to who their employer was. I can't even find the PepsiCo blog to read it to see what was so terrible about it, and everything I read just says "IT WAS FROM AN EVIL CORPORATION" which doesn't say sh

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I can't even find the PepsiCo blog to read it to see what was so terrible about it, and everything I read just says "IT WAS FROM AN EVIL CORPORATION" which doesn't say shit about the content or the quality of its science.

      High quality science can come out of corporate labs, but only when it is in the interests of the company. There is little doubt that PepsiCo scientists are well aware of the health effects of their companies products, but there isn't a snowball's chance in a sauna that such information will

      • by ildon (413912)

        So what if it's in the interest of PepsiCo? That doesn't exclude it from being in the interests of anyone else. And as long as people made logical, well reasoned rebuttals, and as long as those rebuttals aren't censored, then all we have is an opportunity to gain from their posts, even if the gain is entirely in discrediting them publicly.

    • The thing is, Pepsi has their own website. They can publish whatever they want there and earn their reputation, the same as everybody else. In this case, they were trying to purchase credibility from a site that had a good reputation.

      • by ildon (413912)

        Then their posts should have stood on their own merit (or lack thereof, whatever the case may be).

  • Mucha ado... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:23AM (#32859974)

    If they are open about the source of the material and that it is paid I really don't see anything wrong with it. Readers will be aware that the blog is coming from a specific viewpoint and source; and can decide how much credibility they have and what biases may exist. To me, it's better than the blogger who may have an unrevealed conflict of interest or bias yet presents their viewpoint as factual and unbiased.

    The broader issue is, as pointed out, how do you engage with the broader public? Scientific papers are nice but most people never know they exist, let alone read them. An open forum allows a level of interaction and skeptical inquiry that rarely exists today; cutting that off is not very useful. Of course, the cynic in me thinks there are people, on both sides, who don't desire such rational discussion since it may go against long held positions and point out fallacies in those positions. Silencing a messenger is teh easist way to prevent the message from being delivered.

    • The broader issue is, as pointed out, how do you engage with the broader public?

      Seriously? Did you seriously ask this? The place where Pepsi would get their message out the easiest and to the most people who count would be through television commercials. Maybe at the end of the commercial tell people to check out the "facts" at pepsi-health.com.

      This is straight forward. People know what it is. It also doesn't feel as sneaky as some other methods where they try to pass off the tests as having been done by someone else. I'm sure you remember the commercials talking about eggs having

      • by Phroggy (441)

        Commercials are the domain for companies to get their message out.

        How about: paid advertising is the domain for companies to get their message out. This includes not just television commercials, but also radio commercials, magazine ads, newspaper ads, billboards... ...and paid ads on web sites.

        If the ad is clearly marked as such, I don't see a problem with this. Newspapers run ads that resemble news stories all the time, and to avoid confusion they mark them as "PAID ADVERTISEMENT" at the top. ScienceBlogs.com can do the same. As long as everything is clear and out i

  • "dialogue" (Ha!) (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Type44Q (1233630)
    " 'How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?' " Companies do not "seek" anything; the people who run them seek something... but it surely isn't dialogue. Any appearance to the contrary is just that, an appearance.
  • How do we empower top scientists working in industry to lead science-minded positive change within their organizations? ... How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?

    It's rather simple: open your blog network to scientists who work in industry, which you already do.

    It's rather dishonest to claim that the backlash from your sell-out of the site has the effect of preventing industry scientists to engage in "genuine dialogue" with the broad scientific community. If anything prevents this engagement, it's the draconian IP protection rules companies impose to their R&D staff. If a company is genuinely interested in a dialogue and not disguised propaganda, they can simply

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:53AM (#32860404)

    It seems that most of the rants on this story are with regard to PepsiCo being paid to post on the blog. Does that mean there would not be any of this uproar if they blogged for free? Of course this assumes the other bloggers aren't paid, either. Because if they are, then who is to protect us from their paid agenda?

    However, if one looks at the original question posed: "How do companies who seek genuine dialogue with this community engage?" then it seems somewhat hypocritical to suggest that the only way professional researches who work for a corporation should only be allowed to publish papers into the scientific community, when they already reach that audience and not the general public. And besides, why should this standard only apply to corporate researchers? Government researchers and those in colleges and universities also have a lot at stake in pushing their own agendas.

    I guess what is really at stake here is whether or not this blog site is for the general public or limited to the scientific community. If the latter, aren't scientists and researchers able to discern between what is propaganda or not in their field? And if it is for the scientific community, wouldn't a simple disclosure of the work relationship suffice, like it does in presenting research papers?

    On the other hand, if the site is for the general population to obtain information, then why is it alright for /. for instance, to have professionals in their field to submit stories or comment on stories related to their field. Aren't these posters also tied to some corporation, government or university?

    Of course is sites like ./ or Scieneblogs only allowed non-professionals to post and comment, then they really wouldn't be too useful, would they? Who would use WebMD if the only sources were not from the professional medical community?

    It seems that either the issue is about paid renumeration for content or the content itself. If the purpose of the blog (or even /.) is to allow the free (as in beer) discussion of ideas, then the content should be allowed regardless of renumeration or not. If on the other hand, the concern is that content may be tainted by the contributors ties to industry (or government, etc.) then why just single out content from industry and not other tainted sources. Of course, if all of those tainted sources were screened out, then where would the news and information on such sites actually come from?

    It's is kind of funny that people at Scienceblog resigned over this, based on tainted content. I guess their readers and posters aren't sophisticated enough to discriminate between real science and fluff. /.ers on the other hand seem much more capable of picking apart a scientific article, pointing out insufficiencies and down right falsehoods -- and I'm pretty sure to say that we (/.ers) aren't all professionals.

    Maybe, some of the responses to this article are correct. If you work for industry, government or educational institutions, you should only rely on officially publishing research to get your message out. Of course, they would then have to ignore who is funding the research in the first place as that might lend bias to author's paper.

    In the end, I am glad that /. allows the free dissemination of information without censoring the source, thus allowing the community to accept or reject the information presented.

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:23PM (#32860564)

    Unless every writer on the site does it for free with absolutely no compensation for their effort -- then they too are advertising -- 'themselves'.

    Granted the pepsiblog would probably have been terrible, but it's just another form of advertising.. But before you get all high and mighty, consider National Geographic, which regularly has _TERRIBLE_ borderline scam advertisements (Amish fake-fireplace, $2 bills for $10 + 5/s&h..) they still have great content that is basically subsidized by the worst elements of marketing.

    It's easy to get all pissed off at someone for wanting to cash in a little bit, but if it means the difference between them providing a service, or providing no service.. there's not a lot of ways it can go unless they start charging YOU for reading their content.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @08:54PM (#32863476)

    I just spent the better part of an hour reading the posts actually on Scienceblogs regarding all of this and with the exception of two other bloggers who quit blogging over this, most posters are thinking it was a "knee jerk" reaction and PepsiCo shouldn't have been pulled without first seeing what was actually being posted by them. There seemed to be a real desire by many on the site to here from PepsiCo's R&D scientist on various topics, but they now concede it is unlikely that something like that will every happen.

    The most interesting question posed was why people weren't so upset about CoKe blogging on the site. Anyway, from the postings on the site, it seems to be much less scandalous than it does here on /.

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