Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The only flaw of Nicole Kidman

Please, Nicole Kidman, i know you've got contract from Nintendo for Brain Training, but check things before you say: "I've quickly found that training my brain is a great way to keep my mind feeling young"

Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust. They respond to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation.

In January 2007 in a special leaflet called Sense About… Science for Celebrities, (get it here, it's a 2 page leaflet; they realeased a 2 page leaflet and they got national and international coverage! If you criticize celebrities, you get good coverage, don't you?) scientists told celebrities: “Before making scientific claims check your facts - all it takes is a phone call”. It showed how easily some mistakes could have been avoided and gave a phone number for celebrities to call so that Sense About Science could connect them with scientists, scientific societies and charities.
After one year the same organization has just realeased a new report about celebrities and science during 2007, here you can download the 7 page file.

Professor Peter McNaughton (pharmacologist, Cambridge University) gives a perfect statement: "Celebrities occupy a powerful position - they have access to the media in a way that scientific experts generally do not. I am delighted that they appear to have been getting their facts straighter over the last year. Long may it continue"

The file is interesting but there is a disappointing part. In the section "Earth science" they repeated one sentence of Matt Helders (drummer for the Arctic Monkeys; is he a celebrity??) and one sentence of Heather Mills; after that the reader expects a perfect answer from scientists but i only got "scientists couldn't respond in fewer than three sentences, so we have been unable to address this one." Excuse me?
Using (and changing, obviously) the words of Professor McNaughton: "Scientists occupy a powerful position - they have access to the laboratories, to the public and private funds and to all kind of studies in a way that common people generally do not. [i'm adding] Therefore, if you don't have space to criticize some sentences, why repeat them? Let's assume those sentences are untrue: why repeat untrue sentences without any criticism?"

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