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This must go. Now.

Apparently, some of my readers in Canada are getting this when they look at any of my Suzanne Somers posts:


No other country seems to be affected; at least, no readers from other countries have reported the problem to me.

This will not do. The Overlords have been informed. In the meantime, if you are in Canada, I apologize. Ads for such rank quackery and misinformation have no more place on ScienceBlogs than the creationist ads that popped up a while ago. Fortunately, from my locale, I have not been able to replicate the problem. However, if you are in a country other than Canada and see this problem, please send me a screenshot.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

19 replies on “This must go. Now.”

Do the end users of google adsense ( in this case) have any control over what is displayed by context sensitive ads?

The banner here (in AZ) is an ad for symbicort, or cigna medical group “Care today” clinics. I was spared the Suzanne Somers woo.

I’d like to hear Jake Crosby’s read on this development. Orac, you and Seed are obviously shills for Suzanne Somers, in disguise of course.

This is a classic case of a computer (in this case, operated by Google) doing what it was told to do instead of what you wanted it to do. It sees that you are discussing Suzanne Somers, but the algorithm isn’t smart enough to figure out that you are quite properly ripping her woo to shreds, so it serves up a Suzanne Somers ad.

A few months ago there was a similar discussion over ads for Asian mail order brides. We saw exactly the same thing: the posts which explicitly opposed the practice were disproportionately likely to feature those ads. The cause was the same: including that key phrase, even in rip-to-shreds opposition, led Google AdSense to serve up one of those ads.

“This is a classic case of a computer (in this case, operated by Google) doing what it was told to do instead of what you wanted it to do.”

This is the perfect time to bring up one of my favorite Dr Who quotes:

“The trouble with computer is they’re very sophisticated idiots. They do exactly what you tell them at amazing speed.”

I guess I should disable ad block plus for your blog and give the site a few pennies of ad revenue.

I guess I should disable ad block plus for your blog and give the site a few pennies of ad revenue.

I will to, although any mail order brides show up and it’s straight back on.

I have observed similar effects when reading you RSS feed in Livejournal. Not this most recent ad , but adds referring to chelation therapy ect. Indeed this is a computer matching keywords. I am not sure computers notice where I live( Germany ) as recently Google was offering me participation in google voice ( availiable ONLY to US residents ) and since most of the spam and other ads I get on the Intarwebs is aimed at such residents.

Not that this contrast or the computer-stupidity are unusual — when I was using the free ( ad-sponsored ) version of livejournal I did fill a form including questions about race, place of residence and so on [ ordinary German: which translates as average white caucasian in American ] Despite all those questions for the first weeks I got exclusively shown ads for an Asian seeks Asian dating service. [ so wrong on both ends – I am not what they are looking for and I am not looking ( was not lookin ) that far away .]

Given the economics of banner ads I wonder if fighting these is the right thing. If they paid upfront for their ad to be shown on selected sides they are not getting any revenue from your readers so they are loosing ( pennies but still )
If on the other hand they pay for click through then google is bleeding money by placing those ads on a non-suitable page and we don’t need exactly help them to make more profit. ( not unless one is paid a hefty consulting fee )

I’d rather get that ad than be bombarded with ads for that stupid online game (the title of which eludes me) with the half nekkid wimmens on it. Makes this blog marginally NSFW frankly.

I love AdSense. It has even caused PBS to host ads for religion on their website. LOL

If you search PBS for Scientology or LDS, a corresponding ad will appear. It’s fairly easy to fix, so I’ve read. Knowing that it’s a simple matter, however, has made me pretty grumpy, because PBS has ignored my requests to remove the ads. (Establishment clause, anyone?)

I don’t know. I like the contrast. Every Susan Sommers’ ad should have a Orac Post attached to it.

Posted by: Greg Laden

Reverse add-sense: attaching relevant reality based information to advertisements. I like it. Sounds like a job for

oh hey, I just noticed that two of the Suzanne Somers posts had that ad.

Huh, I guess I’m not that targeted audience that they’re aiming for.

But yeah, I can officially accept that apology now, although I’m partially amused by it.

Sort-of related … Has anyone else seen that ad for the Stem Cell Therapy clinic in Mexico on SB? (I have a screenshot somewhere … on my other computer, I think.)

Anyone else having trouble accessing the site? I’ve got to this page by hitting “next post” since september, but this is the most recent post that will load, and the main page just loads a blank page.

I agree with #10. What a great way to waste their advertising dollar! We should click on it if we see it in case they pay for clicks.

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