Wednesday, September 26, 2012

This statement will be retracted, right?

From a Chronicle of Higher Education article by Jennifer Howard on the recent SUNY-Potsdam-stops-ACS-subscriptions kerfluffle comes a rather hot quote:
A spokesman for the American Chemical Society said that the group would not offer a response to Ms. Rogers's blog post or the conversation that's sprung up around it. "We find little constructive dialogue can be had on blogs and other listservs where logic, balance, and common courtesy are not practiced and observed," Glenn S. Ruskin, the group's director of public affairs, said in an e-mail message. "As a matter of practice, ACS finds that direct engagement via telephone or face-to-face with individuals expressing concern over pricing or other related matters is the most productive means to finding common ground and resolution."
There are two statements here, one of which is reasonable, in my opinion. The latter statement is basically "we don't negotiate on price very much, and we certainly do not negotiate on price through the press." Leaving aside ACS' pricing structure (a big thing to leave aside), that's a predictable "no comment."

As for the former statement, it's silly on its face. It seems to me that the most prominent communicators of chemistry are all communicating through blogs. It is no mistake that ACS' Division of Chemical Health and Safety runs a useful and quite civil listserv, and has been doing so for years.

I think that Mr. Ruskin generalized broadly and wrongly; I trust that he will clarify or retract* this statement soon.

UPDATE: The statement has been clarified.

*"or retract" added later. 

7 comments:

  1. I don't think a clarification is needed here. The damage is done and it's only going to get worse as the quote ricochets from blog to blog and worms through Twitter.

    I think a retraction and apology is the only smart move left in the play book.

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  2. You can't deny that blogs (including chemistry blog) are often the scene of highly charged and hateful comments though...

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    1. I think that can be true, yes. But I think:

      1) the chemistry blog world's commenters are unusually sane (TM Derek Lowe), for the most part,
      2) and the blog in question was the blog of a science librarian, and not exactly 4chan.

      Reasonable?

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  3. You certainly can. Or what blogs am I missing?

    It's rather ironic you posted anonymously, as being anonymous is what creates the atmosphere where the most highly charged and hateful comments can exist.

    To quote Herm Edwards: "Put a name on it!"

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  4. To be fair, there's a lot to hate nowadays.

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  5. Boot does not negotiate with an ant.

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  6. I don't think there is more hate today than in the past, there are simply more ways for the hate to be made public.

    Imagine what the blogosphere would have been like in the 60s with Vietnam or the Civil Rights movement...

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