Be careful what you believe…

So… you are on the internet…. reading up on some product, diet, trend (fad), celeb…

How much of what you read on the internet is true? Does anyone even know? What percent of an article is true? If they write an article: it must be correct and fact checked right?

Nope, the sad truth this that most of the articles/blogs your read on the internet are just someone typing away in their underwear. They have the same ‘truthiness’ as a herd of overly chunky 80 year olds calling each other “hot”.  Anyone can start a blog and almost nothing they write actually has to be true, unless it’s attached to a company website: you don’t even know who is really writing it. Just because there is a picture of a 20 something year old cute kid at the top of the blog does not mean that it’s not written by a 60 year old in a wife beater t-shirt and ripped boxers.

We’ve hit on some companies mis-representing their products before, (Ethics, Fake Chocolate, Spotting fake chocolate) so we will not beat a 80,000 lb dead horse, (really.. if you go cheap and buy from them: you will not get any pity from us..and Dr. House probably has a name for you)… but what about the little guys, the personal blogs and recipe sites?

The problem with a lot of the little sites is that they pretend to be experts, when an expert sees these sites their stomach turns. So much bad information .. the general public has no way of knowing when they are being lead down the garden path. (or up Sh*ts creak… with two days of food poisoning)

While the general public really has no way of knowing when they are being feed a line of BS by a self proclaimed expert ; we are going to give you an example, one that fooled the experts at Mars™ and actually showed up as a re-tweet in their twitter feed (until the problems were pointed out), while it was not ‘dangerous: it did have a lot of errors.

Please read through the following article, and then come back to a quick BS highlight: http://industrialstone.com/farmtheburbs/?p=6848

Here is a high level (most obviously wrong) review:

White Chocolate is not technically one of the types of chocolate” completely false, The FDA in CFR 163 defines what can be called chocolate and white chocolate is defined in CFR 162.124 (Read the Rules here), those regulations have been out there since before 2002, anyone what says white chocolate is not real chocolate is over a decade out of date or just ripping information from an out of date site.

 large, hard bars, or one ounce squares.” Untrue: you can purchase gourmet quality chocolate as buttons or in small, break apart bars,  if you know where to look.

Chocolate begins to melt at 90 degrees”, oh come on.. did this person even grow up with chocolate and the US measurement system? Maybe they need to spend a summer in Florida?

When making ganache and candy, you will need to temper the chocolate”, total BS, since one of the steps in making ganache is pouring boiling heavy cream over the chocolate: that would knock the chocolate out of temper, why temper chocolate when the first step would result in it being knocked out of temper: at total waist of effort based on truly bad advice.

slowly melt two thirds of the required chocolate until the temperature reaches 110-113 degrees.” Considering that some types of chocolate scorch at 115 and nothing (as far as crystallization & breaking the crystal bonds) happens anywhere near that temperature range: this is a really bad idea, hot spots in your melting will scorch/totally ruin the chocolate and there is no need to go that hot.

until the temperature is reduced to 95-100 degrees”:  these temps are too high, the chocolate is not in temper. Depending on the chocolate type: chocolate tempering machines will use 87-89 degrees as the target temperature for chocolate after the seed chocolate has been processed/used.

These were only the most glaring problems with the blog posting, unlike a lot of the posts on the internet there was nothing truly dangerous ( the incorrect information in this post will not actually harm or kill you),  but there are a lot of self proscribed ‘experts’ that have no real world experience in what they are writing about, they have no experience, and no stake if the information they give you is seriously wrong.
The object of the above was not to mock the author, but to show that even articles re-tweeted by a trusted source  (Mars™ @Choc_History a  part of a really big candy/chocolate company) can be riddled with errors, to Mars™ credit: as soon as we let them know about the errors the deleted the tweet, though it was still on their Facebook™ page… (for the non-Twitter™ users out there a tweet is a post on the Twitter™ social site and Facebook™ is another social site).

This was just one of millions of posts on the internet, it happened to be a subject that we have a lot of real world experience in,  we could see the errors without having to consult a stack of books.

So the real question to ask yourself: is the article you’ve been reading on dieting, dating or any other subject being written by a true expert?  When they have a addenda or preferences are they clear about it ( as an example: the author of one chocolate review  site really does not like white chocolate, but at least he states that in the post.. he still reviews it,  but it’s obvious that his personal preferences are not with white chocolate..) .

Many sites are written to attract traffic, with little concern about actual truthfulness or safety concerns: you can generally spot those sites by the abundance of paid ads. The truthfulness of the ads is only monitored by the ad network (such as Google), and since the ad network makes money on people clicking on the ads their response to untruthful ad reports has been less than stellar.

While there are rules and procedures for how to deal with copyright violations (people stealing logos, content or pretending to be another company), there are no procedures or methods of dealing with untruthful or even deadly posts. Basically if you pretend to be another company you can be shut down, but if your recipes or ideas are deadly you can post as much as you want.

Of course in the chocolate field deadly recipes are rare, sketchy food safety methods are more common (always wash and dry strawberries, anyone that tells you different should be buried in the back yard with only their head exposed.. and then covered in honey.. it’s the ‘green way’ to solve the problem).

Just like there are so called experts that say “don’t wash strawberries”, there are similar (actually worse) examples on the internet as there is no governing authority. It’s much worse than a bunch of severely overweight 45 year old moms calling each other “hot”, all information you read should be suspect: what is their level of experience?, Are they routing traffic to other sources with paid ads? Does the article look like it was written by a non-native language speaker? (Romanian, Indian, Pakistani….  spam ad sites are very common.. and the pages content is often unreliable.. they are just looking for you to click on their ads).

That some people look to these sites for diet and health information amazes us, as they are often written by people without any valid experience (IE not a real Doctor or anything qualified or reputable), run on servers outside of the US, by people or organizations looking to raise money for causes you would not agree with , and put out there just to push questionable products and ideologies. Some of the sites many actually be being run just to raise funds for terrorist organizations: you have no way of knowing, yet many people go to them seeking “authoritative” information on diets, health care and other possibly critical (deadly if not properly treated)  questions.  Just as a weird example: there are over 35 pages of search results  for  the Google search “insulin smurf” , why would a short blue cartoon character need treatment for diabetes? Do you think any of those search results are correct/safe/reliable? Would you risk your life on it?.  

With all the above being said, we have repeatedly proved to Google that one of the top advertising and ranking companies for ‘chocolate covered strawberries” does not actually use chocolate, yet the paid ads are still out here and Google gets a pile of money from them for the false ads. If you can’t trust the search engines to get something as relatively simple as chocolate right: why do some people blindly trust their health to them?

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