Saturday, August 27, 2011

Praise for Canadian Blood Services


Last week I criticized the Canadian Blood Services for a stupid website called "What's Your Type?" The website associated certain personality traits and diet preferences with your blood type and also gave out false information about the origin of the various blood types [Shame on Canadian Blood Services].

Many people wrote letters to the Canadian Blood Services complaining about the obvious woo. They usually received a form letter saying that the site was not meant to be serious. It was for amusement only and whenever donors showed up for typing they would be told the real science behind blood types. In response to those form letters I wrote to explain that the actual science on the website was wrong—how were they going to explain that as a form of entertainment?

I'm pleased to report that the website is gone [What's Your Type?]. Now you just get a message explaining why you should know your blood type.

I never received a replay from Canadian Blood Services but PZ Myers posts a copy of a letter that some have received.
Dr. Sher has asked me to respond to your recent e-mail regarding our What's Your Type? new donor recruitment program. I understand that you have also sent an e-mail communicating your concerns to www.whatsyourtype@blood.ca and that others from our organization have provided you with specific details in response. I can confirm that the content you object to has been removed from our web site. The marketing materials for this program are being revised.

Thanks again for sharing your views with us.

Ian Mumford
Chief Operating Officer
Canadian Blood Services
Congratulations, Canadian Blood Services. You did the right thing.


22 comments :

  1. So really, you made a massive and silly mountain out of an insignificant molehill.

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  2. I'm sorry you feel that way.

    I happen to think that scientific literacy is important in our society.

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  3. @Jinx

    Good point. That's why one should never ever try to fix small problems. Let's wait until they become really big ones.

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  4. @Larry: Could you please prove exactly how this silly, insignificant bit of entertainment material negatively and significantly impacted scientific literacy?


    @Steve: Prove that this was even a small problem to begin with. If you can do that, then help Larry prove the above.

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  5. I notice that the Air Canada web site has a section describing the aircraft that they use.

    Apparently the motive force used to propel these craft through the sky is similar to that used to by the white horse that took Mohammed to heaven and that used by Wiccans to move through the sky on broomsticks.

    I for one am completely comfortable putting my life in the hands of those with alternate (but equally valid) explanations of reality while moving through the sky in a metal tube at 1000 km/hr at an altitude of 10 km.

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  6. @Jinx McHue,

    There are two things that were wrong with the website.

    First, there was all the nonsense linking blood types to personality and food preferences. Lots of people do not recognize that as just a bunch of lies meant for entertainment purposes. It's not very often that you encounter a scientifically respectable organization promoting woo that they know full well is incorrect.

    There's absolutely no doubt that many people reading the website would be fooled into thinking it had some validity.

    Second, there's the incorrect information on the origin of the blood types. I doubt very much whether the authors of the original website knew that the information was incorrect. Since when does one tell one's customers that O type blood arose first when you know for a fact that it's not true? What kind of "entertainment" is that?

    In a scientifically literate society you do not promote nonsense as fact and you do not misrepresent actual scientific facts. That's why someone with a brain took down the original website.

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  7. @Steve: Your attempt at sarcasm is full of fail. You do realize that the information that you got your panties in a bind over included a disclaimer (that Larry conveniently excluded), right?

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  8. @Larry: That information "linking blood types to personality and food preference" included a disclaimer which you conveniently excluded. (But ironically and tellingly, you included the asterisks pointing to the disclaimer.) Why is that? Because including the disclaimer would've completely undermined your position. Sorry, but there was no willful decision by the organization to mislead the public. I'm certain, however, that there was a willful decision by you to exclude the disclaimer in order to mislead people. Ironic.

    What's your proof that many people were fooled into believing the information in question was valid? Your bald assertions that it did prove nothing.

    As far as the incorrect information about the origin of blood types, you cited one minor error in dating a historic event. The horror!!! It seems that you used this error primarily to bolster your position that the organization was willfully misleading people about the other information.

    "In a scientifically literate society" you don't flip out just because someone on a science-based website decides to have a little fun. Perhaps in your world, science is only for serious-minded, stodgy, crusty old professors with no sense of fun or entertainment. You probably look at that photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out and are appalled.

    The only reason that page was taken down was because the organization was inundated with complaints by PZ Myers' mindless zombies. When he says jump, they ask "How high?" instead of "Why are you asking us to jump?".

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  9. Jinx McHue says,

    Because including the disclaimer would've completely undermined your position. Sorry, but there was no willful decision by the organization to mislead the public. I'm certain, however, that there was a willful decision by you to exclude the disclaimer in order to mislead people. Ironic.

    Damn. You discovered my evil motive.

    (I agree with you that the misleading wasn't willful. It was almost certainly due to ignorance.)

    As far as the incorrect information about the origin of blood types, you cited one minor error in dating a historic event. The horror!!!

    There wasn't a single statement about the origin of blood types that was correct. You are defending a website by Canadian Blood Services that made false statements about the origin of the A alleles, the B alleles, and the O alleles.

    What's your motive?

    I suspect you're a fan of ignorance.

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  10. Damn you Larry for making science only for serious-minded, stodgy, crusty old professors with no sense of fun or entertainment.

    You have taken all the joy out of my life. I don't think I can go on living in a universe without woo and quackery.

    And now I'm going to have to take down my Einstein poster.

    At least there will be some small sense of purpose in my life mindlessly following PZ Myers' telepathic commands issued from his cephalopod lair somewhere in the snowy hinterlands of Minnesota.

    Which I think is the real bug slowly burrowing it's way up Mountain McMolehill's butt.

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  11. "I happen to think that scientific literacy is important in our society."

    Bwahaha! Preachers like pat robertson and most country singers (even unpopular ones) have vastly more influence than you, at least in the usa. Evolution and science means nothing to the general public, if it ever did. Just because you've devoted your whole life to it doesn't mean that others have. Moron.

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  12. @Larry: "I agree with you that the misleading wasn't willful. It was almost certainly due to ignorance."

    No, it wasn't even that. They knew and fully admitted that the "Your blood type means this" information was for entertainment. It's really too bad that you have to lie about them and their motives.

    "There wasn't a single statement about the origin of blood types that was correct."

    It appears that the information was originally from WebMD. Maybe you should start a crusade against them, too.

    Incidentally, I notice that you're still dodging the issue of proving that there actually were people who have been misled by the clearly labeled entertainment information.

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  13. and most country singers (even unpopular ones)

    There is another type ?

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  14. Anonymous said...
    Preachers like pat robertson and most country singers (even unpopular ones) have vastly more influence than you, at least in the usa. Evolution and science means nothing to the general public, if it ever did.

    The worse for the USA.

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  15. Jinx is being ironic, cause he's making a big deal about something that isn't really a big deal. Or maybe he's just dumb.

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  16. Anonymous said...
    Jinx is being ironic, cause he's making a big deal about something that isn't really a big deal. Or maybe he's just dumb.

    Oh NO, which Anonymous is this?

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  17. Jinx is being ironic, cause he's making a big deal about something that isn't really a big deal. Or maybe he's just dumb.

    Neither. Let's break this down, shall we?

    (1) CBS posts material on their website that is clearly labeled with a disclaimer to be for entertainment and not serious. Not a big deal.

    (2) Moran throws a hissy fit and posts the material sans disclaimer (retaining the telling asterisks) in order to rile people up against the CBS for their innocuous page. Moran's blatantly and willfully inaccurate portrayal of the page (leaving off the disclaimer is a lie of omission) and using his status and notoriety to rile people up is very serious and a big deal.

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  18. Based on your profile, this may be just feeding the troll, but here goes...

    CBS exists due to a colossal failure of the Canadian Red Cross (former administrators of the blood banks). When we were figuring out that HIV and Hep C were being spread by the blood supply, they kept using bad blood. People died.

    So perhaps Canadians have a bit of a reason to be critical of our blood service when it appears they are not taking science seriously?

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  19. Feeding the troll seems to be pretty popular in this neck of the woods recently.

    I'm a platelet donor, when I first started about 10 years ago it took over 3 hours to do a donation, now the whole processes of pulling out whole blood, running it through a centrifuge, pumping the plasma back in, repeat 10 or so times, is done in all under an hour.

    This was accomplished through amazing advances in science and engineering and is about as far away from the woo infested "What's Your Type?" web site as could be possible and still exist in the same universe.

    Why anyone could think that the utter garbage relating your blood type to personality could be more interesting than the actual science is beyond me.

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  20. steve oberski has already been established as a troll.

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  21. The other Jim said...

    "CBS exists due to a colossal failure of the Canadian Red Cross (former administrators of the blood banks). When we were figuring out that HIV and Hep C were being spread by the blood supply, they kept using bad blood. People died."


    Was that Canadian Red Cross slowness due to not wanting to go up against the homosexual lobby?

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  22. The final report.

    http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/200/301/hcan-scan/commission_blood_final_rep-e/

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