Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 18, 2012
We always appreciate feedback from our listeners. Equally we appreciate feedback from our blog however occasionally not all of that is praise and acknowledgement of our greatness.
We received a comment from one such person who took umbrage with one of our images in the last episodes show notes. The image was related to the budget cuts to food inspection agents and enforcement of labeling regulations. The images showed a person in a grocery store looking at products on the shelf with labels reading “zero nutrition puffs”, “colon cancer dogs”, etc. It had the caption “If food products where honestly labeled”.
It was pointed out the that the author of this and other graphics was CounterThink, a site/individual who promotes a lot of ‘woo’ and bad thinking regarding food (if it’s not organic its poison), medicine (if it’s not natural it will kill you), and the whole ‘conspiracy’ of corporations and government to either steal your money, make you sick or just turn you into pliant zombies. He is also the main contributor to “NaturalNews” which is a hodgepodge of alarmist articles on science, health, medicine and politics.
So, let’s start with a mea culpa. I should have done better vetting before having this image on our site.
When we put images on the site they tend to fall into four groups.
1) Directly educational; that is they provide a graph, diagram or image that represents actual research or data. This is always well vetted.
2) Candy images; an image that doesn’t say anything or have any meaning besides being somehow related to the article. For example an image of a cartoon bird eating a worm, on a post about worms.
3) Explanatory humour; those cartoons that are both funny but also make a point about the subject matter. For example, an image about the police state relating to the implications of the G20.
4) Ironic or mocking humour; those cartoons, often from “bad sources” that are intended to show the farcical nature of their arguments.
Because of our ambiguous views on copyright and the non-profit nature of our enterprise; images are usually sourced out of context and without page attribution (unless it is important to the impact of the image). Images are selected based on our opinion on their impact on our reader, often under time constraints and without regard to their source. We never take credit for the creation of any images on the site that are not ours, nor do we ‘Photoshop’ any attribution embedded in the image.
However, occasionally this can lead us into unintentionally promoting a site that is antithetical to our project. CounterThink, whose attribution has been on a couple of our images, is not something we wish to promote even indirectly. At the time the images seemed okay and made a point. The lack/absence of enforcement of food safety (and other) regulation could make this ‘hypothetical’ possible (if not already).
None of the claims in the image itself were “out there” but in hindsight, I have changed my mind and the images are being removed. Although I don’t think the image itself was bad-thinking, the author promoted bad thinking. Because I do not wish to have images that have been intentionally ‘unattributed’ (i.e. Photoshopped); this source seems inappropriate for Radio Free Thinker. In the future, I hope we will better vet images before inclusion in our site.
That said, CounterThink and NaturalNews sites only re-enforce my message that without proper ENFORCED regulation, sites like these will have more credibility, not because their claims are true but it will be difficult /impossible to honestly say they are wrong…an unaccountable corporation will always put profits ahead of safety if the math works out. The budget cuts (the focus of the segment) also encourages people to be distrustful of ‘official sources’ and rely on ‘alternative’ sources.
In the absence of reliable empirical data, how can a person be a good skeptic?