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Businesses Science Deals With Community Backlash Over PepsiCo Column 299

History's Coming To writes "Several writers for the 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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:41AM (#32859762)

    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 owners to either wrap things up or come up with ads that don't look so much like ads. PayPerPost product reviews and the like.

    (Yeah, as someone who has worked in internet advertising and currently earns some decent revenue from my sites, I am about as biased as we come. But I personally had the options of either stop delivering content to my readers and find something else to do or start earning by more questionable advertising. I think that really, many of you would have done what I did and could still sleep your nights well.)

  • Re:Asinine (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:30AM (#32860010)

    "I'm very sorry that a can of Pepsi killed your mother"

    My mother does not have type 2 diabetes, but I know many others with it.

    And for some that may suggest diet soda, sorry but that also leads to weight gain and diabetes. [] []

    "last time I checked no one is marching into people's homes and forcing cola down people's throats."

    You underestimate the power that marketing has over people.

    Tobacco TV advertisement has been banned for some time because of the power of marketing, but currently soda advertisement has little regulation, so they are free to "march into peoples homes [television]". []

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:42AM (#32860072)

    They probably shouldn't.

    There's increasing evidence that... well, there's just no point to arguing because people's internalized beliefs are fairly static. []

    "The classic paper on the last of those strategies is from Lord, Ross and Lepper in 1979: they took two groups of people, one in favour of the death penalty, the other against it, and then presented each with a piece of scientific evidence that supported their pre-existing view, and a piece that challenged it; murder rates went up or down, for example, after the abolition of capital punishment in a state.

    The results were as you might imagine. Each group found extensive methodological holes in the evidence they disagreed with, but ignored the very same holes in the evidence that reinforced their views."

    But that doesn't make the arguing less fun!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:48AM (#32860110)

    I'd prefer if we let people read all sources, determine the veracity of those sources themselves, and make up their own damn mind about things.

    If you are not an expert at Everything, you deserve to be cheated, poisoned and defrauded. Am I right?

  • by Eponymous Coward ( 6097 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:08AM (#32860220)

    A Pepsi site would have zero credibility - at first. Science is science, doesn't matter who is doing it or why. Publish your results and let others scrutinize and try to replicate the results. Pepsi could indeed build a positive reputation for research, much in the same way that Bell Labs did so many years ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:14AM (#32860242)

    Influenced is influenced. Perhaps someday you will avoid a product that could have saved or extended your life because you didn't like the advertisements on a website.

    How far do you want to take it?

  • 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: []

    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.

  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @11:34AM (#32860320)

    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

  • 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 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.

  • Re:Translation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:13PM (#32860516) Homepage

    If you look at other countries, you will see that they got their food pyramids at around the same time. Were they influence by Monsanto, too? All of them?

    ... carbohydrates which we know and for centuries have known will cause heart disease and obesity in cases of overconsumption?

    Which is different from fat how, exactly? The claim that excessive consumption of fat does not cause heart disease and obesity is a rather modern one. And it's a wrong one. And it's a product of the immensely profitable health fad industry.

    Regarding labeling, that's a case of regulatory capture []. Blaming that on the evil of government scientists is a bit far fetched.

  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @12:42PM (#32860686)

    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"

  • Re:Asinine (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wheat ( 20250 ) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @01:34PM (#32860930) Homepage Journal

    No, there is no reason to stop eating fruit. If you'd watched the linked video on sugar, you would know that it's only when the liver is overwhelmed with fructose that it freaks out and follows the pathway to convert the fructose into a harmful substance. In small, slowly absorbed doses, fructose is converted to glycogen in the liver where it's used for fuel. Eating 2 or 3 apples, not a worry. Drinking a few cans of pop, and that's an equivalent fructose dose of 20 or 30 apples, and all that fructose is going to hit the liver faster than it would take to digest even half of a whole apple.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.