Loren Feldman on comments



Based on recent experience on some big websites for which I write, I am inclined to agree (around 90 percent, anyway).  In one particular case relating to a health care matter, a commenter seemed to delight in—paraphrasing a certain Jesus of Nazareth—ignoring the "plank" in his argument, while scrutinizing the speck in mine.

I have encountered this often, among what I tend to call "stat freaks," those who would endlessly and misguidedly analyze the quality of data while missing the obvious point of the research.  Ironically, stat freaks tend to criticize the few good studies out there, while ignoring the junk science.

On political websites, you might see the "regulars" gang up on a newbie, just for being a newbie. 

This sort of "engagement" probably scares off more visitors than it attracts.



Some reaction to "Dog lovers and baby killers"

I got an e-mail about that posting...

Loved the piece about DDT. Even my vet makes me feel guilty when I put the needs of my elderly mother ahead of her dogs. We've all gone nuts.


Here's my reply:

You can call it going nuts, but another way to look at it is the nearly complete erosion of critical thinking skills. The DDT story is quite similar to the cholesterol story, whereby virtually all the science extant disproves the conventional wisdom, but since it has become a cultural meme, none of this matters. There is simply no amount of information that can be put forward--EVER--to change the public perception on such topics.

Related to this is the kiss-ass A-student in high school who has some limited "mastery" of a particular subject, but never expands on this understanding--for his entire life. A current example is prevalent thinking (especially in the North) of our Civil War, now celebrating its 150th anniversary.

What we are facing these days also is the breakdown of many models, applicable to various facets of our lives. Some of these served us well enough in the past, I suppose, but are now completely outmoded.

One especially bitter example is the way many parents cling to the pathetic notion that a "good education" will guarantee some sort of bright future for their child. There's nothing wrong, of course, with getting that education, but it provides precious little in the way of improving career opportunities. Ask any 4.0 Ivy grad who is unemployed or underemployed.

Indeed, even law and medicine do not provide anywhere near the rewards they once did.

Sadly, I think that it will only get worse.

Formaldehyde in Breath: The Untold Story & Why it Matters

Our friends at the Formaldehyde Council keep posting good stuff on their blog.  They got some great material from eminent toxicology guru Dr. Robert Golden, as titled above.

The highlights are that

  • Formaldehyde is in everyone's breath often at levels above the "danger" amounts, so shrilly portrayed by an army of eco-poseurs

  • Generally speaking, the body does a wonderful job of removing this compound, before it can even get into the bloodstream, should you be exposed.

You've got to read the whole thing.

The Formaldehyde Council has a new blog

Our good friends at the Formaldehyde Council have just launched a blog entitled "Formaldehyde Facts."

The first posting concerned an extremely biased video, submitted by Portland State University, which was nothing more than an infomercial for PureBond, a supposed substitute for formaldehyde in certain manufactured wood product applications.  Less than 24 hours after the posting, the video was pulled from YouTube.

In a bizarre twist, the CEO of Columbia Forest Products—makers of Purebond—sent a letter to customers and partners explaining that they requested that the video be removed, and that its posting was never authorized by Columbia.  This is strange, though, considering that three members of its senior management team—Elizabeth Whelan, CFP's Director of Forest Sustainability; Steve Pung, CFP's Vice President of Technology; and Ed Woods, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales—make appearances, along with the company's former CEO, Harry Demorest.

We expect more tough content on this blog in weeks to come.