I want to wish all of you a very happy, healthy, and successful New Year !
Once again this year, the British charity Sense about Science has published its review [PDF] of especially silly statements made by various celebrities about science during the past year. (My post about the 2009 review is here.) As always, there are some striking new contributions to the world’s stock of lore.
Each year at Sense About Science we review the odd science claims people in the public eye have made – about diets, cancer, magnets, radiation and more – sent in to us by scientists and members of the public. Many of these claims promote theories, therapies and campaigns that make no scientific sense.
This year, for example, the pop singer Sarah Harding told a magazine interviewer that she always sprinkled charcoal over her food, in order to “absorb all the bad, damaging stuff in the body.” (She should have met my great aunt — most of her meals included charcoal already, especially her famous “black bottom” fried eggs.) Another dietary tip comes from Naomi Campbell, Ashton Kutcher, and Demi Moore, who periodically eat nothing but maple syrup, lemons, and pepper for periods of up to two weeks; this is supposed to “cleanse” the body. David Beckham, Robert de Niro, and Kate Middleton all use a “Power Balance” silicone bracelet embedded with a hologram, which supposedly improves strength, energy, and flexibility.
All of this is not terribly surprising, considering the average level of scientific ignorance among the population. Many of these claims are for diets and gadgets sold by the same sort of appeal to pseudo-science that is employed to sell “magical” hi-fi equipment. Of course these folks are entitled to their own preferences, silly though they may be; but the rest of us should remember that having a pretty face does not mean that anything of very great value is going on inside.