Bad science Computers and social media Medicine Popular culture Science Skepticism/critical thinking

Steak-umm vs. COVID-19 misinformation

Of all the strange things that have happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of a frozen meat company as a source of critical thinking and skepticism regarding COVID-19 misinformation and disinformation is one of the strangest. How did Steak-umm become a champion of critical thinking about the pandemic?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the US nine months ago, a number of bizarre things that I never thought I’d see have happened. For example, I never thought I’d see a President of the United States promote unproven treatments for a deadly viral illness, as President Trump did with hydroxychloroquine. (Dr. Mehmet Oz and other medical grifters promoting unproven treatments, sure, but the President of the United States? Well, I guess I did forget momentarily who our President was.) Nor did I ever think I’d see a President say such incredibly stupid things about potential treatments for such a disease, including using light and disinfectants internally to fight the coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, though. Given my background, certainly, I did expect there to be COVID-19 conspiracy theories and wasn’t particularly surprised to see the antivaccine movement team up so quickly with COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and cranks given their shared world view viewing the same groups as villains hiding “The Truth” from you—yes, you!—but even I was a bit taken aback at how vociferously antimask ideology became a thing even though masks do work (COVID-19 denier misinterpretations of studies notwithstanding) to slow the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the strangest thing, though, that happened during the pandemic is the rise of the most unexpected source of reason, science, and information to fight disinformation. I’m referring to the Twitter feed of a frozen meat company called Steak-umm.

To give you an idea what I mean, here’s the Twitter thread pinned to the top of Steak-umm’s Twitter profile:

I love how whoever’s running the Steak-umm Twitter feed frequently concludes the company’s Tweets with “steak-umm bless”. In any event, notice the date on this Twitter thread: April 6, 2020. This was early in the pandemic. Notice how what Steak-umm is saying could easily be something found in a Science-Based Medicine post about how to evaluate medical information, science, and misinformation. Notice the incredible level of self-awareness in the Tweet pointing out how Steak-umm knows its Twitter feed’s purpose is to sell its product and its ads might misdirect to generate sales, while pivoting to urge people to “make informed decisions to the best of your ability and don’t let anecdotes dictate your worldview”.

Certainly, I didn’t fail to notice the irony of finding myself, as someone who’s dedicated much of his life and career to promoting science-based medicine (SBM) and combatting medical misinformation and disinformation, be it cancer quackery, fear mongering about genetically modified organisms, antivaccine pseudoscience, or other medical conspiracy theories, all while, when I deem it appropriate and imperative, also taking on the poor evidence base for a number of “conventional” medical treatments, helping to amplify the message promoted by a frozen meat company on its Twitter feed, just because the message jibes with the message I’m trying to promote. Oh, well, if this post helps Steak-umm sell more frozen meat, so be it. Even so, in the interests of full disclosure, several weeks ago Steak-umm sent me some Steak-umm swag (a hat, some coupons, a facemask) because of my interactions on Twitter, but that was only after many weeks of positive interactions and with the explicit statement that I was under no obligation to write about Steak-umm. No doubt some quack or antivaxxer will accuse me of being a shill for big frozen meat. Such is the strangeness of the times we live in.

Ever since I first noticed Steak-umm’s rather…unusual…approach to brand promotion through Tweeting messages encouraging skepticism and critical thinking, particularly about the hysteria and dubious claims being made about the COVID-19 pandemic, several months ago, I was always a bit curious about how the company’s social media arm decided on this approach and whether it was successful. Certainly, it struck me as successful from the standpoint of promoting critical thinking about COVID-19, but how could such an approach also be effective advertising? Sure, Steak-umm got lots of free publicity, and, sure, it now has nearly 170K Twitter followers, but how was it used to sell frozen meat? In other words, how did Steak-umm do well by doing good?

I can’t believe I missed this article the first time it came around, but Ekaterina Bogomoletc at North Carolina State University and Nicole Lee at Arizona State University looked at this question in an article in the Journal of Business and Technical Communication entitled “Frozen Meat Against COVID-19 Misinformation: An Analysis of Steak-Umm and Positive Expectancy Violations“. Reading the article also let me learn a bit about expectancy violation theory.

Basically, expectancy violation is a theory in communications that tries to explain the behavior of human beings while interacting. This article sums it up rather succinctly:

Expectancy violation theory emphasizes on an individual perception of the interaction in a particular situation. People while communicating will create an expectation of how the other will react. Violation to this expectation can cause to [sic] a perception that will be positive or negative. People behave differently according to the cultural values they grow up in and this influences the reaction of the people considerably.

Expectancy violation theory also is dependent on the personal space. The personal space is the boundary we keep and freedom is given to the people whom we are close with. Particular personal space is expected from the people whom they interact with according to the relationship they have with them. The theory explains that people tends [sic] to protect the personal space when they experience a violation in the expected behaviour.

You can see how Steak-umm’s Twitter feed would violate people’s expectations, albeit in a positive manner. We expect corporate social media to be primarily advertising, nothing more. However, in this case, we see a company’s social media arm being used to promote critical thinking and science about a deadly pandemic, which is definitely not something I would have expected to see.

Bogomoletc and Lee observe about the thread above that I quoted:

This thread received thousands of reposts and earned Steak-umm the titles “voice of reason” (Masnik, 2020) and “beacon of truth” (Zafarris, 2020) in the media. Within the next week, Steak-umm thanked its followers for amplifying its messages and shared five more threads addressing science communication, misinformation, and critical thinking. Meanwhile, the company demonstrated self-awareness by acknowledging its bizarre new role, apologizing for anthropomorphizing the brand and admitting that its ultimate goal was to sell its products (Masnik, 2020).

Here are examples of Steak-umm’s self-awareness:


And, there was another thread:

Again, there’s the “steak-umm bless,” which is often how Steak-umm signals its readers that a thread is finished. Steak-umm has also been raising money for Feeding America, to which the brand donated $25,000 in April.

These are just a few examples from over seven months ago. Here’s one from Friday:

Which led to this response, among others:

I was basically asking the same question.

The authors ask a rather obvious question, noting first that “authenticity” in communication can be major drivers of success, but also noting how authenticity alone is not enough to explain the rather odd success of Steak-umm’s strategy, asking, rather pointedly, “If the brand had been communicating authentically for several years, why did we see such a spike in followers now?” Based on expectancy violation theory, the authors ask: “What themes are reflected in consumer tweets about Steak-umm and to what extent do reactions reflect positive expectancy violations?”

To answer this question, the authors conducted a thematic analysis of Tweets replying or mentioning Steak-umm from April 1 to 14, 2020, limiting them to US Twitter users posting in English. (It’s at this point that I must mention that I strongly suspect some of my own Tweets from back then are likely to have been included in this analysis, because I did respond to or quote-Tweet Steak-umm at least a few times during that period.) Doing that analysis according to Smith’s five step process for developing and collapsing themes, the most prominent themes found included praise, leadership, surprise, and product mentions.

I won’t rehash the praise that much, other than to mention that, unsurprisingly, there were indeed numerous Tweets praising Steak-umm for its Tweets about how to evaluate COVID-19 information and misinformation, how to evaluate self-proclaimed “experts” on social media writing about the pandemic, COVID-19 epidemiology, and potential treatments. Mine were among them, and many of them went something like this:

And this:

Next up was leadership:

Another related theme was leadership. This theme was seen in several posts comparing its communication to that of President Trump. For example, one post said, “When you get more responsible information from a frozen meat than from the President of the United States …” (Toots the Red, 2020). It was also seen in posts saying Steak-umm, or the person behind the posts, is a hero, should run for president, or be nominated as vice president by presidential candidate Joe Biden. Examples included, “Umm, thank you, @steak_umm, for your sound reasoning. Exceptional read and quite right. Wanna run for President?” (Rau, 2020), and “Can we drop Biden and choose the @steak_umm intern instead?” (Wilson, 2020).

You get the idea. Amusingly, there was this response:

Indeed. It’s incredibly unlikely, of course, but a nice fantasy to have.

Obviously, to me, the big theme was surprise—pleasant surprise, but surprise nonetheless:

Surprise, confusion, and observations about the strangeness of 2020 were also prevalent. This came in the form of commenting on how it is odd that a frozen meat company is taking on this role and how that is a reflection of the strange reality of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Exemplar posts included, “Can’t believe I’m retweeting @steak_umm but these are strange times we’re living in” (Woods, 2020), and “@steak_umm being the voice of reason is peak 2020” (Jamie Plus a 6 Foot Radius of Empty Space, 2020).

You know, I had always wondered how one cites a Tweet in an academic paper. Now I know. In any case, these are indeed strange times we’re living in, and that’s why I subtitled this post “The Strange Case of Steak-umm”.

Consistent with Steak-umm’s Twitter feed’s main purpose, which is to sell frozen meat, there were also posts that explicitly helped to sell Steak-umm product:

Most immediately related to company success were posts that endorsed Steak-umm products or explicitly stated purchase intentions. For instance, “The only way I can thank Steak-umm for the truth bombs is to buy some Steak-umm, so I’ll make some cheesesteaks soon, yo” (Valholla, 2020). Some of these tweets reflected nostalgia for the brand and referred to childhood or college. One such tweet said, “I haven’t had @steak_umm since I was a wee lass but I’m definitely getting some next grocery trip because I’m in love with their social media presence right now” (Liliana, 2020).

Again, this just goes to show that it is possible to do well by doing good, and this sort of brand message amplification was, no doubt, part of what Steak-umm’s social media team had hoped to accomplish when it started its campaign.

On the other hand, although Bogomoletc and Lee didn’t mention it, I can’t help but note that not all the responses to its Tweets have been positive. For example:

Haters aside, Bogomoletc and Lee come up with some takeaways from this campaign:

This case study provides several takeaways for strategic and technical communicators. First, the study demonstrates that companies should not be afraid to surprise their publics and show a human side. Showing humanity might be especially relevant for communicating complex matters such as misinformation or other science communication topics (Steiner, 1999). In this case, that involved a professional communicator not only communicating complex information but also providing followers insight into the technical communication process in a way for which communication practitioners and scholars are uniquely situated.

Second, previous authentic communication demonstrating the commitment of a company to its values might be a foundation for ensuring positive outcomes of expectancy violation. This takeaway demonstrates that “values [are] important in our organizations of classrooms, workplaces, and situations beyond these settings in which texts are used to establish or change policies and priorities” (Rude, 2009, p. 182). Shared values mediated through Steak-umm’s texts were clearly more important for the brand’s stakeholders than was the established decorum that dictates certain behavioral norms for organizations in a crisis situation.

It really is saying something that one of the most effective voices on Twitter against COVID-19 misinformation is the Twitter account of a frozen meat company. Surprise, indeed. As much as I might have predicted many of the things that have happened during the pandemic that I discussed at the beginning of this post, I never would have predicted that a frozen meat company would come to occupy such a prominent position in the war against COVID-19 misinformation.

Advertisers took note, too, as this AdAge article from April demonstrates. It turns out that the voice behind Steak-umm’s social media is a man named Nathan Allebach, who describes himself in his Twitter bio as “covering internet culture wars, advertising, and conspiracy theories”. Allebach was brought into the company for this express purpose:

The man behind the curtain is Nathan Allebach, a social media manager at Allebach Communications. He and his team were brought into the Steak-umm family in 2015 with the express mission of reaching the media-savvy millennial audience and a single directive: innovate.

That innovation — which had already gained recognition in 2018 after pensive tweets waxing about millennial despondency — came to fruition in early April.

In other words, this isn’t the first time that the Steak-umm Twitter feed has achieved notoriety for a rather Zen-like (or, some would say, stoner-like) bit of Twitter artistry:

You can see from this thread from two years ago many of the same elements in Steak-umm’s Twitter threads about COVID-19, critical thinking, and science in 2020. There’s the self-deprecating, almost absurdist nature of the Tweets. Before the Tweets about Millennials, Steak-umm disrupted Twitter with a campaign to be “verified” by Twitter, the process that leads to those little checkmarks by the names of people on Twitter accounts, considered a badge of legitimacy that the social media company grants to company brands, journalists and famous people in the form of a blue check mark on their profile.

Basically, the 2020 Steak-umm Twitter campaign promoting critical thinking, particularly about COVID-19, is the longest and most sustained effort I’ve seen from the company. It’s gone on since early April and, as I showed above, is still ongoing. That being said, I never forget that this is an advertising campaign. It is undoubtedly an unconventional and innovative ad campaign that seeks to tie a brand to a societally useful and beneficial thing: Promoting skepticism and critical thinking about not just COVID-19, but everything.

Still, even while doing that, Steak-umm tells us that that’s what it’s doing. Indeed, it’s always been telling us that that’s what it’s doing. For example, later in April, Steak-umm opined:

That’s so meta, and I couldn’t have said it better myself, even at the risk of some out there labeling me a shill for big frozen meat. I would even say that you should consume what Orac lays down here at Respectful Insolence with skepticism as well. I do my damnedest to stick to the science, but everyone has biases, being human. Unlike the fictional character whose name I chose as my ‘nym and alter-ego, I’m not damned near omniscient. I am, also, not trying to sell you anything other than SBM, and I’m not charging anything for what I’m selling other than a bit of your time. Heck, I even pay all the hosting charges for this blog out of my own pocket as an expense for my hobby!

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]

77 replies on “Steak-umm vs. COVID-19 misinformation”

What a good read! But, Orac, I don’t think pointing out the cruelty of factory farming is “hating”. So, as much as I am pleased to be made aware of all this, I am not going to be buying or consuming any product. But I don’t eat beef even if it’s grass-fed, “organic”, gluten and GMO free, or processed by one of Temple Grandin’s “humane” slaughterhouse contraptions.

Do they have any other products by any chance?

Steakums is made by Quaker Maid in Reading Pennsylvania, and they do not actually kill any animals.

Instead, they buy meat scraps from other companies in the US ,Canada, etc and process those scraps into Steakum. One year they were forced to destroy millions of pounds of Steakum because it was “textured” meat scraps they imported from Canada, which was prohibited by the FDA. That is beef scraps forced off bones by high pressure steam. And people are eating this crap.

Remember when people warned about having to get a tattoo showing you have been vaccinated and you made fun of them and called them conspiracy nuts .
Well China’s Xi Jinping just announced that very policy at the G-20. They used Google and Google like companies and cell phones to perfect that kind of tech against the Uighur’s. Now the will use it against YOU. Granted it is not a real tattoo but its on your phone.

Here is the full title of that article: “China’s Xi Jinping is pushing for a global Covid QR code. He may struggle to convince the world”

What does the second part say?

My phone that already knows everywhere I go and everyone I talk to and houses the apps with which I disclose my entire life to the internet? That phone?

Also, China != USA != Europe. Further, the Chinese president didn’t actually have a specific technology or maker in mind.

So, not at all like a tattoo, and no one’s implemented it yet (in the suggested form) and it’s only slightly in use inside of China where everything is already monitored anyway.

Look, the “tattoo” conspiracy is just weird Christian/Revelations stuff. When that’s the origin I need even more evidence to convince me it’s real.

NW: Both of those articles have the word “could” in the headline.

No one is currently doing this. No government is currently suggesting it. It was developed by MIT as a possible solution to the difficulties of keeping medical records in the developing world.
It has nothing to do with COVID-19 or what scott allen was talking about.

So thank you for sharing a potential method in the future for doing what vaccine campaigners do now: dip the kid’s finger in ink.

Right now the NSA has the capabilities to sort and store over 100 MILLION terabytes of, phone conversation (not just the metadata), emails, snail mail (the post office scans every piece of mail you receive), packages you ship, EHR (electronic health records etc. every MINUTE. This data base is automatically searched and cross reference using facial recognition and translation software. I have been to the facility at Reston and have friends who work at the Beehive in Utah. Your FACEBOOK was a DARPA project called LIFELOG.
That is not stuff of conspiracy but real life stuff.
The Uyghurs welcomed the communist Chinese government at first, now they are paying the price. The Chinese government are perfecting the surveillance system using the Uyghurs like lab rats.
Xi doesn’t have to convince the world. The world will accept the surveillance, just like you are doing with your phone, facebook, twitter etc. Because of the imminent threat of a new virus, germ, terrorist, person, movement or what ever they want you to be afraid of, so go ahead and don’t turn off your cell phone and don’t turn off your Alexa and don’t disconnect your smart TV.

Now you’ve gone and done it. The black helicopters are coming for you. I suggest you cut the electrical service and hide under the bed for a few days. Since you are (obviously) still messaging you also must disconnect from the intertubez. Don’t forget to wrap your head in tin foil so that their special ops can’t locate you by scanning the 5G nanochip embedded in your scalp.

I dont think that Scott has any idea of the number of people it would take to fully sieve through all the false positives thrown up by speech and facial recognition or translation software.

Scott: Yes? This is known.
It’s perfectly fine for you to be upset about it, but it’s not new news. If you’re upset about it, have you considered working with the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)?

tattoo showing you have been vaccinated

So your cellphone is surgically implanted in your body?

Xi”s idea sounds like a modern version of the little yellow vaccination booklet that I have in my desk drawer. And yes, You need it to enter some countries.

In response to RS
So Reuters is tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter fearing news agency?

and to Numberwang, yes I do know how many people are needed to run those operations, I am a retired contractor with a TS/SCI and have worked in more scif’s then you can imagine. The facial recognition software and voice translation and voice print is 100’s times better than you use on you apple phone. the computing ability of NSA puts the “Summit” to shame. It has over 120,000 employees and probably an equal number of contract employees. and each of two buildings at the “hive” to house the computers and processors has over 1.5 MILLION square feet each.

To jrkrideau I have a yellow book as well, this program proposed by Xi is the yellow book on steroids and will assist in linking all the data mining together.

After the fall of East Germany the citizens were shocked to learn of the Stasi’s ability to collect and store records. Americans would be shocked as well.

“…citizens were shocked to learn of the Stasi’s ability to collect and store records…”

Your feeble attempts to come across as an authority on anything at all is at best mildly amusing. Citizens of the DDR knew exactly what was going on. The only surprises after ’89, when many of the records became public, were that so many of their close friends and family were numbered among the informants.

The rest of your acronym salad only serves to identify you as a poseur.

If you don’t have any tin foil to wrap your head I suggest aluminum foil. A few air holes would be advisable. Or not.

@scott allen: If you don’t think Google, Facebook, Amazon et al aren’t already mining the absolute crap out of all your data, all perfectly legally and with the full and enthusiastic collaboration of their billions of users, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Hell, the NSA probably wishes it were FAANG.

Floating various blue-sky ideas for reliably keeping track of who has been vaccinated for what, particularly in areas of the world not blessed with large, modern, integrated health systems, is so far along the benign end of that axis that I have to wonder what your motive might be in sparking sudden panic over it.

(Although, as a neurotic rather than a paranoid myself, I am happy to assume simple “Hysterical Derpy-Derp” as a reasonable default; at least until/unless you supply further evidence to indicate, say, “Malignant Dissembling Shit” would be more in order. e.g. Feel free to ask Kinkaid and White about that.)

SEe sheeple! I warned you that you were going to forcibly tattooed, and now it’s completely no true! Okay, it’s an app on my phone. But that’s a kind of a tattoo. Right?

/s and no, it’s not.

your phone, your smart tv, your ring and your Alexa are far more insidious than a tattoo.
try this, access your home router, then look at the listed devices, click on a device and watch the packets of information that are being sent from one of those devices to google, samsung, ring etc. even when no noise is being made or the device is “turned off”.
Don’t know how to access your router devices, try this.
Go into the room with your smart tv turned off (leaving your phone and Alexa in another room) then talk about “pet snakes”.
Go into another room with just your cell phone and talk about “Hawaiian vacations”
Go into the room with the Alexa and talk about “Tax fraud”.
With in 3 days (or less) you will get pop up ads about pet snakes, hawaiian vacations and tax fraud attorneys.
Did you ever wonder how your ring door bell knew how to record video/audio prior to you motion detector sensed motion.
These companies all have “drop boxes” that are accessed by NSA and the Chinese and other governments.
but you are worried about anti vaxxers and their influence on the general population, I can dismiss the anti vaxxers as a misguided group, I can’t dismiss my government as easily.

Scott: Then don’t buy those things?
Like, unplug your wiretap/Alexa/GoogleHome/whatever, get a different TV, don’t buy a Ring or a Nest. Disable the AI assistant on your phone (and tablet!).

Use Incognito Mode or even DuckDuckGo rather than Google.

You could always just ask a computer security expert what the best practices are.

@Scott Allen By all means, check the packets, and check their address. Tell us what they are. There are all kinds of internet maintenance packets.

People have willingly given up themselves for a free app.
To Justatech
I have none of those devices and use burner phones, the computer I am using has a program which changes the ESN every 6 hours and I use neighbors routers or go to hotspots. I have no TV, and certainly not a smart TV (did you know that in your terms of service when you plug your smart TV in, you allow google to access you device at any time, god help you if you have activated the voice control. The email I use for this site is a common email used by over 50 other people.

To aaron syvanen.

Why would a smart TV or Alex or Ring or your phone or your computer need to keep Google, Samsung, Amazon etc. updating information continuously, updates are a one way data feed (download) ,so feed backs from your device vis a via maintenance packets are not necessary.

Right now over 8 different companies, plus several governments are tracking what is posted on this site, including Google, Facebook and Linkedin. But then I am just a tinfoil hat wearer, get a clue, anit vaxxers are a wast of time and energy fighting.

@Scott Allen Read “Internet protocol suite” from Wikipedia. There are protocols for congestion avoidance, routing and giving you IP address, among other things. Most packets belong to ICMP, that is Internet Control Message Protocol.
Download Wireshark. It will analyse packets for you.
Actually, sending easily analysable packets would be quite stupid way to spy people. Cookies are collecting your data. You could remove them, if you wish.
You should try end-to-end encryption. Governments really hate it, so it must be effective.

Even Torbit is partially funded by the US government. You probably didn’t know it, but most smart tv manufactures have contracts with google/netflix ect (its in the fine print of your license agreement) that all information will be shared even down to voice commands. and that Netflix is authorized to monitor you tv vewing even if you don’t have Netflix account, It called Automatic Content Recognition and those “special features” can not be turned off.
The west will soon have their own social credit system in place, but then I am just a tinfoil hat wearer.

@Scott Allen encryption is not same thing as Tor. It means that the message stays encrypted from the sender to the receiver. But you must read the fine print. The company may admit that it will give data to the government,

I’ve been reading them for a while and have been hoping that the persona behind the mask was someone I knew from scepticism

Interestingly, their tweets resemble instruction I received decades ago at an elitist university about sources, impartiality and factuality from a former embassy counsel ( lawyer turned prof) but here, they’re FREE to anyone who can read.

I venture that woo-meisters/ contrarians would object to Steak-Umm because the company might benefit from the goodwill generated and thus profit ( as if they themselves DON’T) although the tweets tell us that that is true as it generally is for all businesses– even alt med/ woo, I’d add.
ALSO won’t natural health nazis/ purity fanatics object to frozen meat – especially the vegans/ vegetarians amongst them?
I can imagine the rants now:
“They are selling toxic, greasy meat parts from cruelly slaughtered sentient beings which will immediately clog your arteries, create massive blood clots and a rapidly growing imbroglio of neurological tangles simultaneously leading to cancer, heart disease, dementia and death; these killers are also posture as science promoters when they have no science at all: how can eating cheese with steak ever be based on science? Both are deadly!”

Disclosure: I do not eat red meat: I once shocked colleagues in Philadelphia when I ordered a chicken cheese steak- I swear it was available at a well-known South Street haunt.

@Deni¢e writes, “I’ve been reading them for a while and have been hoping that the persona behind the mask was someone I knew from scepticism”

Well, I don’t know if Nathan Allebach is a skeptic. His company, Allebach Communications is a public relations firm. He’s doing a great job keeping Steak-umms relevant and squeezing out those compressed beef scraps to feed the masses. Meat’s meat as my grandpa liked to say.

@It’s all recorded: Narcissistic shitfucks.

If I had a time machine, I’d swap all of them for all the poor bastards that those Khmer Rouge lackeys dragged out to the paddy fields for the capital crime of being more educated than they were.

I mean, my old mum always raised me never to hit a woman, but if I could rattle that ***********’s teeth with just the power of my mind I really would. And they’d ring like bells too. Because that is truly, disgustingly offensive to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of real tyranny, be it the extermination camps of Poland, the killing fields of Cambodia, the South American death squads, the strange fruit of the USA, Amritsar and Mau Mau, Nanjing, comfort women, Okinawa, Columbus, … Jeebus, the list goes on forever and nobody’s hands are clean. And I say that as a pampered first-world tool who’s never had to face anyone’s shit but his own.

If there ever was a righteous Hell for your Tiktok fuckwit and her stinkingly self-obsessed ilk, it would be to walk along a simple line of every other human who suffered and died in the world while these auto-fellating goobers were far too busy up themselves to ever even think of giving a shit, look each in the eye and apologise for wronging them; every single one.

I wonder how long it takes to walk a line of several billion souls…

I don’t know any vegans who eschew frozen food. I’m surprised that someone as well-informed as you doesn’t bother to investigate actual vegans instead of making up that awful “rant” paragraph. I’m not vegan but I have lots of friends who are and your stereotype is offensive and unwarranted. So much for your elite education.

For the life of me I cannot understand the compulsion so many meat eaters have to make fun of people who prefer not to consume animals.

Who was talking about reasonable people?

I was sarcastically referring to extreme loons like those whom I survey (” natural health nazis/ purity fanatics .. especially vegans and vegetarians amongst them..”) not ALL vegetarians and vegans as well as my “elitism” : I would think that the line about cheese and steak being against science and “deadly” would give it away. The consequences I list in their “rant” are actually things I’ve heard at PRN many times although I left out meat eaters being “vampires and ghouls” as they consume blood and dead flesh and cheese/ milk being vomit or pus: woo-meisters use misinformation like this to disgust and frighten their audience away from meat and animal products rather than SB studies that may show health/ “green” benefits of not using them which are reasonable and factual..

Readers know that I follow the worst of the worst and sometimes investigate how their ideas appear watered down later in more acceptable venues and facebook pages. Steak-Umms’ campaign will likely be misquoted by them and deigned an example of shilling and be automatically dismissed because it promotes frozen meat.
Actually, Steam-Umms is warning consumers to be aware of where they get their information and how sources may be self serving rather than independent.

Cool your heels, bm. Denise’s post was perfectly clear that she’s talking about “natural health nazis/ purity fanatics” first and foremost, and the subset of that group who also love raging about meat products second. If you aren’t in the first group then the rest doesn’t apply to you either. Now go give your chooks a lovely hug and be well.

Philly resident here … nobody I know blinks an eye at chicken steaks, even at Jim’s (which is where I’m assuming you went?). Even we can’t mainline red meat 24/7.
Now, if you had asked for your steak with Swiss cheese, as a certain failed Presidential candidate once did, then you’d have earned that chagrin.

Also wanted to say just how much this article and enlightenment as to Steak-umm’s social media savvy made me smile. Fondly remember eating these on buttered, toasted rolls in my (non-Philadelphia) childhood. Will make it a point to look for them at Acme tomorrow, even though one of the best steak joints in the city is in walking distance of my house!

I tried to remember the name so I looked up ‘cheese steaks South St’/ images and there it was- Jim’s famous black and white store front. According to the menu, they no longer have chicken but they do have vegetables with cheese
I’m not really a food nazi
however there are people who follow extremely proscribed regimes based upon faulty information such as that which I survey and I have read/ heard astonishing things- especially disturbing are parents who buy into woo and deprive their children in order to “cure” autism or protect them from “toxins” or “chemicals” and people who follow ridiculous advice to lose weight or be “healthier” in an arcane sense as imagined by entrepreneurs who create nutritional products/ foods not based on realistic research. There are no ‘super foods’.

“No doubt some quack or antivaxxer will accuse me of being a shill for big frozen meat.”

We know better here.

Still, I plan to keep a close eye on PubMed to track your publications, to ensure there are no papers like “Positive Outcomes of Frozen Meat Consumption in Early-Stage Breast Cancer – A Randomized Controlled Study”.

The thing is, until now the vast majority of cancer sufferers (and the rest of us) thaw their frozen meat before consumption. Some even heat it. Thawing and heating destroys the special crystalline structures that have magical healing power.

To correct this common food preparation mistake we are producing and marketing a flavorful selection of beefcicles, chickcicles, porkcicles and muttoncicles. By making frozen meat more palatable we can all benefit from the magical healing power of crystalline animal protein and fat.

We are currently busy collecting and scripting anecdata. When the study is complete the positive conclusions of our research will be published on YouTube.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if dissenters who comment to scoff at SBM, seemingly invulnerable to Orac’s tutelage, might instead succumb to the Wisdom of Frozen Meat(tm) ?

Especially tweets about anecdotes, sources, mistrust of experts/ institutions, charlatans, social media, isolation, entrenchment..
IF they bothered to read the OP. at all.
Or then, they might think that the tweets apply to sceptics not themselves.

I’m amused to see this company’s factual statements, but that won’t get me to eat their factory farmed food.

“The use of antibiotics in poultry-raising has led to the development of new disease-causing microbes that are resistant to antibiotics.”
— Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, “Progress, Coexistence, and Intellectual Freedom,” 1968
reprinted in “Sakharov Speaks,” Harrison E. Salisbury, ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), p. 77

“Man has succeeded in polluting his environment [sic] with an astonishing variety of noxious agents. The development of an antibiotic resistant microbial milieu might be a logical extension of this self-directed biological warfare …”
— New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 281, No. 12, September 18, 1969, p. 677

We could use more cynical viewpoints here! Those read like bot-generated drivel, pleasant, non-specific, sensible. So what? It seems to be a smart young marketing guy having a great time playing the role of sage. He doesn’t have to take any real positions. And the sympathy for millennials meme is a hoot. These remind me of the Fake Steve Jobs threads.

“And the sympathy for millennials meme is a hoot.”

as seen on reddit today:

Can we make a reality show where we make baby boomers try applying to jobs for the first time in 30 years using their own advice, and see how quickly they have a mental breakdown?

A good firm handshake should open up doors

I believe they have a saying for such unfathomed tripe — “OK, boomer.”

Can we just ask baby boomers and GenX-ers to pick some millennials out of a crowd?

Who wants to bet they’d pick a bunch of GenZ children?

(So speaketh an elder Millennial.)

Indeed it’s a forbidding prospect. But they don’t have to go to Vietnam, or WW2, or WW1. Which is nice.

“or WW2, or WW1”

Are you totally de-ranged?

Well I’d pick a bunch of GenZ ‘children’ because I’m partial to my own but also sexually deviant.

The point, oh Tim, is that earlier generations have had scarier and more deadly prospects than the recent ones do. Movies have been made about it.

“The man behind the curtain is Nathan Allebach, a social media manager”

Refreshing. But who is the voice behind the voice? In other words, how is this advertising advisor and social media influencer so wise in the ways of science??

Orac writes,

“Heck, I even pay all the hosting charges for this blog out of my own pocket as an expense for my hobby!”

MJD says,

Thank you, Orac. I pay hosting charges to open-access medical journals, out of my own pocket, as a SBM expense towards cancer relief. Yes, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence therein. I’m very excited about soon presenting my latest article to Orac’s minions from the Journal of Pediatrics and Neonatology titled, “Cancer Immunotherapy: Managing Amino Acids during Forced Atopy.”

@ friendly minions,

A snippet of the Steak-umm teachings made me laugh while thinking about the indigestible gristle in their product, “we have to be careful in our media consumption.”

@ MJD writes, “while thinking about the indigestible gristle in their product” – I think this calls for more truth in advertising. A better name would be – “Steak? hmm?” LOL!

@ Michael:

I think that you could find better uses for your money. If you were truly “on to something”, wouldn’t Orac himself encourage you to continue? Has he ever done that?
I’m not sure what these journals charge but it can’t be small change.
You could contribute to research funds or study at a local university. In fact, there are free on-line courses in biology: i just found a source in Australia

I often counsel people about continuing education so I’ll give you free advice.
It’s difficult to study on your own because you haven’t yet acquired the entire scope of the field: people tend to gravitate to their own interests and disregard other topics while you need all of the relevant areas in order to evaluate the scope of the area and what has already been ascertained. Experts who create texts and course material are aware of these limits and serve as reliable guides.
I read loads of amateur attempts at theory building that leave out important data and concepts because of this tendency to gravitate to areas of interest at the exclusion of others more relevant to the material..

Denice Walter writes,

“If you were truly “on to something”, wouldn’t Orac himself encourage you to continue? Has he ever done that?”

MJD says,

BTW, I’d be thrilled to receive even a left-handed compliment from Orac.

@ Denice,

I’m ok you’re ok.

hoping all the folks on this blog are doing ok, remember to just breathe during these stressful times

I’d like to ask a question: I just learned from my sister that she went through her infant son’s medical records and found that her son had been tested (without her knowledge) for COVID-19 back in October of 2019. Were they really doing tests that early? From what I’ve been able to determine, China was first reporting this in December. Can anyone clarify?

There’s no way that’s true. The virus wasn’t even sequenced until January, and you need to know the nucleotide sequence of a virus to design a PCR test to detect it.

Okay. Well the screenshot she sent me said that it was collected 10/23/19 from nose (other). Under ‘result values’ it does say ‘Adenovirus Non-Detected’ as well as ‘Coronavirus 229E’ also with ‘value non-detected’. Is it just that they were checking for other coronaviruses? The thing is that at the top of the screenshot it says:


‘Coronavirus 229E’

This one is indeed another human coronavirus. Among a half-dozen known to infect humans prior to December 2020.
Seems to be a common infection in young children, hence the test, I guess.

The “covid19” title on top of a screenshot showing multiple tests, not one of them actually the SARS-CoV2? Someone is pulling your leg, I’m afraid.

And I of course meant prior to December 2019 – prior to the discovery last year, the hard way, of a novel coronavirus able to infect humans.

If I’m starting to antidate/postdate stuff as well..

In the realm of Covid-19 misinformation, there’s an execrable op-ed in today’s Wall St. Journal by an associate prof at the UCLA School of Medicine, Joseph Ladapo, titled “Too Much Caution Is Killing Covid Patients”.

Ladapo is miffed that Covid patients aren’t being given “promising therapeutic options” they can self-administer at home, thus relieving the burden on the health system. Among his favored treatments are the antidepressant fluvoxamine, ivermectin, quercetin, bromhexine, and of course hydroxychloroquine.

The villains in Ladapo’s piece are medical professionals who insist on evidence-based medicine, which he defines as “a mentality that is biased toward virtually irrefutable evidence”, with potentially “catastrophic” consequences, i.e “many avoidable deaths” during the pandemic.

More physicians in his estimation need to be “straying from the pack” and prescribing these allegedly life-saving treatments without fear of a “career-damaging allegation” from those nasty EBM types.

So, throw bags of shit at the wall and feel really good about yourself for all the good you must do. Yep, sounds like a few of the residents here too. It must be wonderful to go through life knowing how lucky the world is to have you.

and of course h**

Ah. This stuff is everywhere.
When looking earlier for an easy reference about human coronaviruses, I found a pretty enough Wiki article.
Article which, in the last paragraph, mentions c** as a Zn ionophore and virus killer (in vitro).
The citation used to justify this part is, of course, the green monkey cell article.

** I’m under strict orders from my physician not to mention these two drugs by their full name. He is afraid for my tension.***
*** I suspect he is also a thrall of Lord Draconis, Reptilian PharmaLord. Everybody is.

Where is our beloved Lord D these days anyway? I assume he finally dumped stock and went off to find more sensible planets to conquer. Which is probably wise; I sure as hell wouldn’t put any money on us.

@ has

I have no idea. His Lordship’s last posting on Facebook is from 2016, and His last posting among our humble comments here at RI is even older.
Maybe it’s all these 4G cell phone towers (5G now. Even worse). They interfere with the emissions from the orbital station.

OTOH, a Monolith has just been found last Wednesday in the Utah desert. Maybe Lord Draconis indeed gave up and another alien race was convinced to try to make something out of our sorry bunch of naked monkeys?

In the later case, the Monolith could just be a vending machine. Let’s not get our hopes too high.

Steak-Umm is doing the right thing. And it would be a great thing if more companies did likewise, not to mention if the media made anywhere near that type of effort to encourage clear-headed thinking by the public.

Any time we see large companies doing good deeds, we’re tempted to say that the good deeds are only being done in service to the bottom line. That type of cynicism has also been flung against Big Pharma’s motives for racing to get COVID vaccines, and it also plays into anti-vax BS.

But as I’ve said elsewhere, all those Big Pharma execs and their families & friends have also been going through hell with this pandemic. They want to see it stopped ASAP, just like the rest of us. And the difference is, they’re in unique positions to put a stop to it.

So for once, even if only once, perhaps we should flip the cynicism on its head. Perhaps, some of the time, the people in charge of big companies are seeking to commit their bottom line to the common good. I say this as a social democrat who has plenty of skepticism about the impacts of unregulated capitalism. But behind the brands, there are always humans, and sometimes they’re good people or at least have good motives. Really.

So now we come back to Steak-Umm:

Sure, they have to earn a profit to stay in business, and of course they want to go viral on Twitter and elsewhere. But there are plenty of ways to do that without having to stick their necks out about an issue that’s causing an enormous amount of suffering and death.

They could have run ads showing people serving their products at crowded unmasked private gatherings. For example like the Bounty Paper Towels ads on the radio, at an indoor party where someone spills their drink and the music grinds to a stop until they sop it up with Bounty. IMHO that’s totally irresponsible and BTW Bounty is owned by Koch. So there’s Koch serving up a not-so-subtle message to party like you’re immortal, public health guidelines be damned.

Instead, Steak-Umm does exactly the right thing at the right time, including “going meta” to make clear that they understand how messaging works. Those tweets could have been written by highly competent science journalists.

We could say “oh but they just hired the guy who wrote that.” How’bout: They hired a guy to do that, and gave him their full corporate blessing to continue doing it and doing it some more.

To my mind that’s huge. They didn’t have to do it. They didn’t have to stick their necks out for the common good. But they did it anyway, and no doubt they reached some number of people who might not have gotten the message any other way. For that they deserve our full credit and yeah our business if we eat meat. They’ll be getting my business with that: it’s called voting with our dollars, and I vote YES.

And let’s also not forget Bill and Melinda Gates: the patron saints of public health worldwide, who “didn’t have to do that” either, but they did. Because sometimes peoples’ human values really do come first.

We should hold all of them up as examples and encourage more of this.

Other: Back a ways to Scott Allen and NSA: I’ve been in technology for over three decades, and I trust NSA far more than I trust Big Data.

You can vote for NSA’s boss, and we just did, a couple of weeks ago. You can’t vote for the CEOs of Big Data. Nor can you just “not buy” Big Data because it’s constantly nibbling away at you, whether you like it or not, unless you take the time & make the effort to kick them out (I do, it’s not that hard, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation).

NSA is looking for national security threats, such as proliferation of WMD (including bioweapons), terrorist groups planning mass casualty attacks, etc. They really. do. not. care. about our little political rants online, and it verges on narcissism for any of us to think ourselves important enough to get their attention beyond being part of the “bycatch” that gets filtered out at first pass. “Tigers don’t eat mice.” But Big Data scavenges everything they can monetize, and has no scruples about manipulating the public mercilessly. The 2016 election is all the evidence anyone needs.

Peace is a great blessing. It depends utterly on our diplomacy, alliances, intelligence, and military strength. All of those components are essential. We’ve just learned how it is to suffer a quarter million deaths in one year due to something that could have been prevented if the Trump Admin had kept its pandemic task force in place in China, rather than disbanding it. That pandemic task force served an intel function. Good intel really does save lives, and good prevention means you never know the horrors that were prevented.

Lastly, I’ve been away from here for a while, but if anyone remembers, I’m the guy who wrote the satire lyrics “Biopulsar Ayurvedic Energetic Screening,” to the tune of “Supercalifragilistic Expialidocious,” in the comments section below:

They really. do. not. care. about our little political rants online, and it verges on narcissism for any of us to think ourselves important enough to get their attention beyond being part of the “bycatch” that gets filtered out at first pass.

But.. Their methods of splitting/splicing everything going over trunk lines and storing it indefinately is problamatic. Don’cha think? What happens when some ostensibly less benign entity takes the reins?

Ditto I’ve been away for a while (commenting, I still read & catch up once a blue moon) but my lurking will stop someday next year or 2022…


There is currently an executive order in my state limiting in-home social gatherings to a maximum of 2 households and 8 people.

That didn’t stop one of my neighbors from hosting a Thanksgiving shindig which involved 11 cars parked on her property* (a conservative estimate is that they hosted close to 30 people).

This could turn into the next superspreader event in the region. Fortunately, our contacts with this family involve at most, waving hello at a distance of at least a football field.

*which also features a sign reading “Faith Over Fear”. The mom who lives there is _very_ miffed over mask-wearing rules.

Oh, I know. Did you see those flight maps showing where more flights were occurring?
I only saw them a few times but the central region and LA seemed most active.
I’ll have to try to find numbers at different aeroportos.

Accepting promos from Steakumm????

Steakumm, the trash scraps that used to be only made into pet food.

To be impressed by Steakumm Twitter feed is stupid…..

Instead it would be impressive if they provided their employees with better and safer work conditions instead of keeping the dangerous close quarters of their Reading, Pennsylvania factory that speeds COVID-19 spread…..

I would not feed Steakumm to my cat, to write an article praising them is just trash. The company is not helping to provide safe healthy food, to send out Twitter feeds are not in any way a positive action. It is propaganda meant to increase sales.

It is pure manipulation and trying to place a halo on their own heads for good works they are not doing.

When they clean up their factory and treat their employees right….then I will be impressed. Meanwhile you are only helping them maintain filthy and dangerous conditions while providing a trash product that is massively unhealthy, to increase profits.

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