Intro

Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Part of the Problem Part 2: Trying to Ignore Facts and Remaining Anonymous


Here's another story for you.  It's one that at first glance seemed to be pseudo-science.  What caught my eye was the story had all the earmarks of those with similar credentials or lack of them.  The confirmation bias too often used to prove the evils of GMO's or that our climate is not in trouble from our abuse of it or the dangers of vaccinations.  So many ignore the real science. So it was with this, I started looking at this story from Realfarmacy.com.

There was the story warning me of the horrible dangers of Nutella courtesy of Realfarmacy.com.  It is not that what they are saying is necessarily untrue although I was unable to find  anything on vanillin as an artificial flavor made from MSG. A quick search shows that vanillin is, in fact, the crystalline formed on the outside of a vanilla bean, not some evil chemical construct.  I found no place that stated vanillin contained MSG. I must agree, that palm oil has been cited as a problem. I suppose eating anything by the jar full in one sitting would be bad.  Moderation in all things.

What actually caught my eye was not the terrors of eating too much of anything, it was that Realfarmacy had an editorial headline tagged on the Nutella story.  They had decided  to write an answer about one of its stories appearing on Snopes.com. They were one of the sites posting that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge money was not going where it was supposed to go.

Anytime you find yourself having to attack a  fact check site, you are in trouble.  Realfarmacy's reason is because Snopes is owned/operated by two people. I am unsure what difference it makes whether it is run by one or a thousand.  What matters is accuracy.  The editorial points to the fact that Snopes will update their stories if new information is found.  Seems to me, this validates Snopes' desire for accuracy not that they are frequently inaccurate.  The story also asks the questions of whether Snopes is qualified to discuss health issues.  I hate to point this out, but where the money goes for ALS is not a health issue.   The editorial is by "The Health News Impact Editor" which links you to another namelessly owned site.  Do you see the problem here?

Realfarmacy also does not list who their staff is.  We as readers have no idea, in truth, to know whether they are actually qualified to be "trusted on health issues." Anonymous sources are never good ones. A person who writes under a pseudonym is still anonymous.  If one goes to a real news site, the editors, staff, writers, and sources are clearly listed. Even on the editorial page, we will see who wrote the editorial. Again, to avoid being a part of the problem is easy enough.  No names, no sources (or sources that don't really support what is being written),  or responses that don't actually answer the issue at hand -- all equal a place that is not worth your time.

When you attack the bearer of the facts, you are not arguing the facts.