Thursday, March 21, 2013

Skepchick: Ads Undermine Message

Over at those questionable ads keep popping up.

As I mentioned in a previous post - "Skepchick's Incongruous Ads" - sometimes the automatically generated ads at the site are contrary to the organization's goals.  I've been randomly checking; the problem remains.

Skeptics are against unproven medical claims and products.   For example, in a recent post entitled "Centrum Silver has Been 'Studied'” the writer, Masala Skeptic, says that the TV commercial for a vitamin supplement was misleading, showing how that while the ad didn't lie, it wasn't exactly being truthful.  She links to online sources to back up her point.

OK, that's fine.  But what about the ads that appear with the article for Vitamin Advisor Andrew Weil, MD or Opurity Vitamins?  Have those companies been checked out?

Most skeptics are atheists.  So why do I see ads on for a Christian dating service?

The problem is worse when a Skepchick writer has a post that is completely undermined by stupid ads surrounding it.  Contributor Elyse wrote a powerful piece, "Don’t tell me to love my body," a reaction to an ad of a beautiful model in bra and panties with the tagline that all women should love their bodies.  She includes a copy of the ad, showing how women are supposed to be held up to the standards set by advertisers.  She mentions that she has lost a lot of weight but still has problems with her body image.

But her well-written message ends up with an ad for the weight reduction product Pure Green Coffee - "The Hottest New Way to A Flat Belly."  The link to the Pure Green Coffee page at shows a blubbery cartoon woman in bra and panties squeezing her bulging stomach with the caption: "Cut down a bit of your belly everyday with this 1 weird old tip."

So has a Skepchick investigator checked out the claims for Pure Green Coffee?

I don't know the validity of claims for the health supplements promoted at .  I doubt the Skepchicks have time to check out every advertiser.  But that's not the point.

The advertisers' messages shouldn't undermine the Skepchick messages.  For example, Rebecca Watson is upset when she's treated like a sex object but ads for companies like with a line-up of lovely foreign ladies still are seen.  In fact the ad ran as part of the "Don't tell me to love my body" post.

Don't get the impression that all ads seen at are incongruous.  There are also other ads, for example, for automobiles, furniture, writing courses and stores like Radio Shack.  If these were the only kind of ads appearing there wouldn't be a problem.

But apparently most people are unaware of the problem thanks to programs like AdBlock that conceal advertising.  I didn't know about the ad situation at until a reader mentioned it in a comment and I deactivated AdBlock.

Is AdBlock going to be the fig leaf excuse for the site?


purrlgurrl said...

"Most skeptics are atheists."

Really? And your proof is? Or are you referring to a subset of skeptical blogs you choose to visit as your data source for this statement?

Ray Palm (Ray X) said...

Well, what is your evidence that most skeptics aren't atheists? Do you have a source refuting that statement? Please give me the names of leading skeptics who declared a belief in God. I don't think Sagan, Randi, Shermer or Asimov will be on your list.

From what I've seen most scientific skeptics don't believe in a biblical God. I haven't done any studies but I would be surprised if less than half of skeptics are traditional theists.

In her Slate article, "It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too," Rebecca Watson wrote that she had been excited that Richard Dawkins – " of the most famous atheists in the world..." as she desribed him – was going to be on the same panel at an atheist conference.

There is a great overlap with atheism and skepticism. That's why I wrote "most" instead of some. There are probably God-believing scientific skeptics out there and that's fine by me. Are you upset because you're one of them and you think I've slandered your group? That wasn't my intention.

And I don't have a problem with Christian dating. I have a problem when an ad for such a service is on a site such as Skepchick where they're skeptical of God. It's OK to bash someone's religious beliefs while accepting money from a group of believers?

Please feel free to reply, purrlgurrl. I would like to hear more about your POV.

X. Dell said...

Speaking as one who's been honing his freelance chops in order to support his blogging habit, I can understand Skepchick facing a bit of a dilemma. There are bloggers and sitemasters who, if they have a large enough readership, can actually earn enough from advertising. They can therefore blog (or post) full time, or buy the contributions of other writers as need be. Again, if there's no control over the content of that advertising, then, as you point out, there's the possibility of a conflict between it and content.

Doug said...

Regarding the notion of advertising for Christian dating to atheists: If there's one thing everyone knows, it is that God-fearing chicks are HOT. But only after they've shed off those excess pounds.

The ads may have been too effective...