The following article was written by Alice at cokespeak.org and deserves a mention here. She shows how using language in a specific way (CokeSpeak) manipulates our thinking:
Alice’s CokeSpeaker of the Week award goes out to Gavin Partington, Director General of the BSDA – The British Soft Drinks Association – for his latest PR effort.
Responding to the conclusion of the Diabetologia study (1) that drinking one 12-ounce sugar-sweetened soft drink per day can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22 percent, Partington explained:
“It is well-known that diabetes is the result of many different factors, including obesity and family history. Soft drinks are safe to consume but, like all other food and drink, should be consumed in moderation.”
Yes, it’s the classic CokeSpeak structure, explained in Getting started with CokeSpeak. And it all sounds oh-so-true, doesn’t it? Partington has managed to completely deny the science and conclusions of a study of 28,000 people in just a few sweet words of reassurance. In fact it’s so good thats it is being trumpeted far and wide as ‘BSDA Hits Back at Diabetes Study‘.
Partington begins with the easily accepted yet trivial truth – that diabetes is multifactorial. The man is already talking good common-sense, so I’m more inclined to believe whatever he says next. Extra points to Gavin, though, for pointing us towards obesity and family history, and away from the danger area – soft drinks.
Then comes the outright lie – “Soft drinks are safe to consume ..”. Oh how we all wish they were! I’m ready to believe it, and I want to believe it, and I don’t care that the study said exactly the opposite. But our Gavin isn’t finished yet.
“But like all other food and drink…” er, no Gavin, the point of the study is that soft drinks are absolutely NOT like all other food and drink at all, although you want us to believe they are. And last of all:
“…should be consumed in moderation.” Ahh, at last the mogadon words, I’m relaxed and comfortable now, and quite fail to notice that this is completely meaningless drivel; the term moderation implies a ‘safe level’, so it’s now safe to drink a safe amount of soft drinks. Well thank you, Gavin, for explaining that one to us – it made me quite forget that a safe level corresponds to a lot less than one 12 oz can per day (10 tsp of sugar).
Alice says: Partington’s PR fluff decodes as a false aspirational truism. It looks true, we want it to be true, but it isn’t true at all according to the evidence. And it is killing us, softly.
1 – The InterAct consortium. Consumption of sweet beverages and type 2 diabetes incidence in European adults: results from EPIC-InterAct. Diabetologia, 2013 (in press)