Monday, 4 June 2012

Tobacco Control gets Wiki site to monitor industry and associates

The site is here. As far as I know it's just reached the attention of the bloggers, and some interesting observations have already been made: here, here and here, for example.

Other than being disappointed not to be included on its list of bloggers, two things have struck me.

One is that one of their pages is entitled Smear campaign. My understanding of this expression accords largely  with Wikipedia's:
smear campaignsmear tactic or simply smear is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group. 
I was surprised to read about it as a tactic of the tobacco industry, because it was my impression that tobacco control uses this tactic frequently on us – that is, on what is called by everyone outside tobacco control the 'pro-choice' side – by claiming that we are in the pay of tobacco companies or simply pursue their interests because we have no specific view of our own. Indeed on looking at the page on smear campaigns, we find it does not concern smear campaigns at all. It talks about discrediting and threats, but these are very different from a smear campaign. (It didn't refer to being compared with Hitler or Nazi Germany either, which is the only relevant comparison I can think of that is frequently directed at Tobacco Control.)

The other is the disclaimer:

Disclaimer. Some of the research for TobaccoTactics was funded by Cancer Research UK Limited and Smokefree South West. These funders have had no input into the research reported on this website or its conclusions. They are not responsible for the content or the publication, nor do they necessarily endorse it. Published by the University of Bath. Read the General Disclaimer.

The disclaimer says:
None of the authors, contributors, sponsors, administrators, sysops, or anyone else connected with or the University of Bath will be responsible for the appearance of any material considered defamatory, offensive, inaccurate, unlawful or misleading, nor will they be responsible for your use of the information contained in these web pages, or the pages TobaccoTactics links to.
I am not the only one to be a little sceptical about the legal validity of this disclaimer. It was my understanding that writers on internet sites were fully responsible for the accuracy of their content. What really surprised me however was that CRUK, a cancer charity (in case anyone had forgotten) and Smokefree South West are using donated funds/public money to publish material whose accuracy they cannot guarantee.

Tobacco control: use this site at your own risk!


Anonymous said...

Linda Bauld,

"an international expert in public health policy"

Please pass me the sick bag.

No doubt she has written x peer reviewed papers too. Peer review, once the gold standard of science no longer means anything thanks to tobacco control. If all your peers are the ethical equivalent of Anna Gilmore the term becomes utterly meaningless.

That is why tobacco control repeat it with such frequency in a desperate attempt to persuade people that they have some sort of credibility.

I think I need that sick bag again.

Smoking Scot said...

I've been a reader of DP & FD for ages. Neither is pro-smoking nor pro-tobacco. Both are against the ban and, as with most, with blogging, its about learning and that eventually leads to those enforcing the ban.

Nothing big deal about that observation? And Google / Yahoo / Bing et al have been crawling all these blogs since day one. They know perfectly well what they're about.

Now picture this, I decide to describe "Auto Express" as pro-pollution / pro-big oil on my site. Think the search engines will suddenly re-index it?

Nope, they're going to flag it as suspect. Add the obvious attempts at intimidating politicians and a couple of scientists. Add every post written and every comment made on this subject and perhaps, just maybe it'll be indexed correctly.

It exists for one primary purpose. To bully, coerce and intimidate.

Wrapping it up in pretty packaging doesn't change the underlying html code. Re branding blogs may work with superficial half-wits in the Guardian and Mail, but not with the general public and certainly not the means to reach out to them - the search engines.