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“Science”Blogs: Seed Media’s Aggressive Weed

Posted Sep 22 2009 12:00am

Kudzu-car[1]

Part I: Fertilizer From Pharma 


By Jake Crosby
 
It is self-styled as the largest conversation about science on the web. Boasting 69 blogs, along with 114,506 posts and 1,742,506 comments that are ever increasing, there is no question “Science”Blogs are highly trafficked and frequently updated. Their slogan brags, “Where the world discusses science,” and crowed a record of 2.2 million unique visitors in the month of May alone. There is now a German “Science”Blogs as well as a “Science”Blogs Brazil written in Portuguese. Their owner, Seed Media Group, likens itself to Rolling Stone during the magazine’s “early years” which according to Seed was “when music was less a subject than a lens for viewing culture.”

To Seed Media Group, “science” is its gimmick, defined by corporate sponsors. This has led to the vitriol emanating from “Science”Blogs, so much so that it has directly prompted multiple responses from Age of Autism, mostly to a “Science”Blogger using a fake name, hardly ethical journalistically. While the media’s job is to report the news, not make it, that principle has not merely been ignored, but butchered by Seed Media Group, that presents itself as an unbiased, scientific source. Instead, it doesn’t just report on science, it attempts to define “science” as the pharmaceutical industry sees fit.
 
Distorters Who Pretend to be Reporters
 
SMG pretends to be a media outlet that reports science-related topics as pop culture, seeking to reach a wider, trendier audience. On its website, pretentiously obvious promotional statements are made, such as “Science affects every single person on the planet.” And “The pursuit and impact of science is borderless.” Used-car commercials have higher advertising standards. Perhaps the worst of the slogans is displayed right on the homepage of the website: “Science is culture.” Apparently, to Adam Bly, culture is business, especially since the views expressed by the 69 bloggers who post on SMG’s

“Science”Blogs are in the best interest of sponsors.

Seed Media Group, established in 2005, was born out of SEED Magazine, founded in 2001 by Adam Bly, young Canadian entrepreneur and self-proclaimed prodigy. Bly wants the world to know he served at the age of sixteen as the youngest guest researcher at the National Research Council- a Canadian government body that overseas scientific progress, studying “cell adhesion and cancer.” That, apparently, was his springboard to success. It is unclear if Bly was actually doing real research, or just the equivalent to entering a high school science fair. The significance of this is not obvious from the website, and I can’t imagine what gets taught by 10th grade in Canada that merits cancer research. He does not mention any previous accomplishments that qualified him for such a position. Nor does he mention who invited him to be a guest researcher. Nonetheless, this, Bly claims, was what inspired him, not to become a scientist, but to become a businessman who runs a media company that writes/blogs about scientists, which is exactly what he did. This was when SEED was conceived, though it would be a couple more years before it would start to sprout weeds.

SEED Magazine before Seed Media Group did not have such a slant. In May 2004, for example, a contributor launched an impressive, critical investigation into the controversy surrounding mercury in vaccines. The article was a thoughtful piece of investigative journalism in which public health officials declined to comment while outside researchers willingly participated. That, however, was five years ago.

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