On of the things we’ve tried to achieve here at We Want Organic Food is to publish fact; or, if something is our opinion, just to say so, so that we build a website filled with more than assumptions, rants, biases and vague what-have-you. That’s why we try to base our articles on real science and properly conducted studies.

Now, one of the benefits of working in the Web industry is that you get to meet a lot of people, some of whom are experts in their field. You would not think that being a "web geek" <yes, that’s a good term> would enable you to meet a PhD in bacterial genetics like Pierre Far who would explain the way consensus is usually arrived at in the world of science, but amazing things happen.

In discussing Google’s new Knol initiative (a kind of Wikipedia where knowledgeable folk can write their own stuff), Pierre points out the dangers of blogging from authority:

A huge problem in the science blogosphere is what’s called "blogging from authority" where a blogger claims ultimate knowledge because they are a PhD, or an expert, or whatnot, and so everything they say becomes the truth. A good science blog post will always reference papers and link to other discussions (like those hosted on the Lancet journal’s website). The post should explain the evidence and should explain the background and why the new evidence is interesting. A bad science blog post will state the opinions of the blogger – who may know quite a bit! – but does not stand on the shoulder of evidence. The danger here is that the blogger, as an authority, will be disseminating false information that does not reflect current scientific thinking. If this relates to subjects like health and medicine, this could actually be dangerous!

Given that much of the discussion of organic food has to do with what is and what is not true, it is important to note the above because the fact that someone holds a degree does not automatically mean his or her opinion is correct based solely on that degree.

To put it a better way: you’re only right when you’re right.

I think it’s important that we not blindly follow anyone’s dictates, especially if he/she does not give any proof or sound reasoning for his/her statements. It’s hard enough to build a knowledge base with which to understand things — but if we don’t examine the truth of facts that we take on board, then we may have a knowledge base sewn with fallacies and inaccuracies, no?

That, and the ability to apply reason and logic to a concept, is what led me to call into question a few statements from a Ph.D. (Gutsy? Probably. I think all this makes me sound a bit like Mr. Spock: Illogical!)

Bookmark and Share

3 Comments for "Truth and Blogging from Authority"

  1. Lynn Cameron

    Your point is well taken, Diane. Not only blogs face this difficulty. "Natural Health" online journals often do not reference the sources of their "authoritative" information. I received an installment last week from one of the many sites that function as sort-of a "Reader’s Digest" of the online health movement writing on the latest news from somewhere — they often don’t give a specific source. The brief’s title under the catchy section of Health E-hints was “An Effective Kitchen Cure-all”.

    It talked about “some small studies” that suggested Apple Cider Vinegar for serious health problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar (diabetes). Two of the studies had been done in rats and folks who ate oil and vinegar on their salads and the third in a group of just 11 people. Then the snippet ends with “more folks seem to be turning to ‘grandma’s tonics’ to cure what ails them!”

    Truth to tell, freshly pressed unpasteurized apple cider will spontaneously “turn” by active lactobacillus action (lacto-fermentation) into a delicious and intensively flavored effervescent (fizzy) beverage in a month or less depending upon the apple trees’ growing conditions etc. If this process continues it will move through “hard” cider stage where the LAB (lactic acid bacteria) have enabled the production of a bit of ethanol (2-3% alcohol). Only after this will it eventually turn into Apple Cider Vinegar. This is NOT the $1.29 pint of distilled vinegar in everybody’s kitchen that the brief seems to suggest.

    That it remain raw and uncooked with all its LAB working diligently is KEY to why it may have worked for grandma as a tonic; this crucial fact that makes all those claims probable and possible according to recent research overseas is missing completely from this news.

    On the eve of the health movement, a Dr. Jarvis, MD wrote that Apple Cider Vinegar was a cure-all. A biochemically active product is available today:
    BRAGG (as in Paul Bragg, originator of Health Food Stores) raw ~ unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar With the "Mother" (LAB-rich sediment). I, myself, use about a tsp. in 4 oz. tepid water early each morning to "set my pH" — uncooked lactic acid, ironically, raises duodenum (upper stomach) pH to soothe and offset the digestive upset of our modern acid-producing foods and lifestyle. It is THIS action that makes it a tonic that has stood the test of time. It absolutely cannot perform this function having been subjected to heat and preservatives leading to LAB elimination.

    With the increased interest in self-empowered natural wellness and the proliferation of online journals regarding same, it is doubly important to be discerning about both source as Dr. Far suggests and about accurate and full content. Know your source and check some of the references in the spirit of scholarship as well as your well-being.

    A word to the wise, raw apple cider vinegar makes a terrific addition to your survival kit — it keeps forever; it’s so acidic that no bad bacteria can live in it; it’s a great seasoning and refreshing as a beverage plus being a great fabric softener and bathroom cleanser. Use it as you would fresh lemon juice.

    Get it quickly, though. Unpasteurized apple cider is already illegal in New York — I go to Vermont to get cider each Autumn. I’m so jumpy these days with the attack from all sides regarding the actual life-giving aspect of real foods, who can say but what raw apple cider vinegar may be the regulators’ next "target".


  2. Marty

    Getting actual information out to an all too unsuspecting public is a challenge. That same public can also be all too trusting of authority. And that “authority” can simply be a mouthpiece paid to mislead. Back in 1970 I heard an interview with music legend, Frank Zappa. Somehow the conversation wound around to Frank’s children. Frank mentioned that he had taught his son to ask a question when he heard something on TV that sounded odd. The question was, “Dad, was he paid to say that?”

    All too often we hear of “studies” that attempt to invalidate something that seems obvious. A case in point, is the “study” done by a “respected” organization commissioned by UK’s Food Standards Agency. This study “found” that organic foods had no measurable benefits over other foods, but were just more expensive. The illogics of this are too numerous to count, yet this was run as a factual article by Reuters.

    So we have to ask, was the study paid to say what it did? And ultimately, by whom? I can only assume someone in a chemically related industry felt organic food threatened their “rice bowl,” if our experience with our own lamentable FDA is any guide. I could go on, but that’s another post.

    Marty Kassowitz
    Organic Connections Magazine

  3. Diane Vigil

    You have a point, there, Marty, one that we must always be aware of — which is to ask *why* someone said what they said. It does pay to have one’s truth detector on. :)

    Now, I’ve also heard various folks stating that organic food is not "better" than regular food. But they fail to take into consideration that "regular" food may be laden with pesticides and the like. I was also pleased to discover that Harvard and the Mayo Clinic conducted separate tests and concluded that pesticides are linked to Parkinson’s in men.

    To me, the question isn’t so much whether organic food is "better" than something else but that regular food is not so good for you. I’d challenge anyone who has a decent sense of smell to visit a regular food store and smell the fruit … I’ve smelled oranges upon which you can smell the pesticides. How healthy can that be?

Share your thoughts:

Comments from first-time posters will be held for moderation (but are appreciated). Comments that violate common sense or courtesy will be deleted. If your name is a bunch of search terms, your comment will be deleted. We value your privacy (you must be 18 or older to post).

To make a long dash (—), type three hyphens and our software will convert it.

Manage your subscriptions

How you can participate ...
  • Read. Get information for yourself, and your family and friends.
  • Share. Tell your friends about WeWantOrganicFood.com.
  • Comment. Tell us what you think.
  • Send in tips. Got some good information? Send it here.
Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a professional medical diagnosis, opinion or suggested course of treatment, nutrition or anything else. Please see your doctor or health care professional for a professional medical opinion, and refer to our Disclaimer for use of this website.
© 2007-2018 wewantorganicfood.com. All Rights Reserved.
Logos and trademarks of other companies are the property of their respective owners.
Designed by DianeV Web Design Studio (38 queries. 0.222 seconds)