Last month I reported on the pain being felt by alternative medicine practitioners in the UK as a result of the activism of Nightingale Collaboration. Part of that effort was streamlined via a piece of software created by Simon Perry called Fishbarrel. This tool modifies Google’s free Chrome web browser to provide simple ways to highlight dubious claims, comment on them, and automatically gather them into a properly formatted government complaint. I blogged about Fishbarrel back when it was released.
Initially Fishbarrel only supported agencies in the UK, and Simon has gradually added support for other countries. I’m pleased to relay the news that the Fishbarrel software can now be used by skeptics in the United States to file complaints with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
Read on for more details and some tips.
“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” Louis Brandeis (Other People’s Money: and How the Bankers Use It, 1914)
Linking directly to Internet misinformation and explaining why it is wrong is skepticism’s answer to Brandeis’ sunlight. But because Google and the other search engines use hyperlinks to determine the importance of web pages, many skeptics are fearful of linking to pseudoscience and paranormal sites. They fear that doing so will help (in some small way) boost the visibility of misinformation on the Internet.
They are right. Every time we link to the sites of our cultural competitors, we give them a tiny boost up in the search engines. It’s as if we’ve contributed ten cents to a fund for them to eventually buy a billboard. Those coins eventually add up.