Today I added a new CounterClaim page about cancer. This is a complex and highly emotive topic, with most adults in the industrialized world knowing at least one person who has died of cancer. It’s also a controversial subject, with many different claims and counterclaims about the relationships between the different types of cancer, what does and doesn’t cause it, or contribute to it, and what does and doesn’t work in treating it.

As with any topic related to both human health and medicine, and the use of chemicals in domestic and industrial products, what people believe about cancer has major consequences for companies in the pharmaceutical and chemicals industries. As such, there’s bound to be PR companies muddying the waters about what scientific findings can really tell us about the nature of cancer, its causes, and its treatment. This PR cancer definitely needs the CounterClaim treatment.

I also did a bit of work on updating the page template that explains how CounterClaim pages are laid out. As well as a bit of minor tweaking of the formatting (eg changing ‘Points of Interest’ to a proper Heading), I added a number of new sections. One is an ‘Improvement Notes’ section at the bottom of the page, where I can record and keep track of tasks that need to be done to improve the page. If and when I can attract other contributors, it may be worth experimenting with using the Tasks tools for this, with a tasks list for each CounterClaim page.

The ‘Points of Interest’ sections will continue to be used for collecting general background info, and dumping links I haven’t yet had time to thoroughly read and use in the page, but I’ve now added two subsections. ‘Primary Sources’ will list all the peer-reviewed papers and other scientific sources relevant to the page topic. ‘News Coverage’ will list relevant articles from news media not identifiably connected to activist groups or think tanks. Articles from partisan groups and organisations will continue to be stored as general ‘Point of Interest’ items, then linked into claims and counterclaims in the tables. All the existing pages will need have these subsections added and populated, which will hopefully stop the general ‘Points of Interest’ working areas from growing like… well… cancers.

As each CounterClaim page grows, I come up with new ideas about what kinds of information need to be included in a CounterClaim page, and how to lay it out, and new solutions to the ongoing challenges of keeping the information on them both thorough and clear. Modifying the page template is a way to record these ideas and solutions while maintaining a reference page that helps to keep a standard page layout across the project. This helps me when creating new pages and updating existing ones, but it also helps keep the project logic clear to any future contributors.

Filed May 28th, 2017 under Uncategorized

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