They mention on their website that they were disappointed to note that, for the first time, sporting names were prominent in the review, particularly for endorsing unproven therapies. They say that over 2010, they will be taking the ‘check your facts’ message into the sporting world, in an effort to turn this around so that UK athletes will lead on scientific sense in the 2012 Olympics.
Now, I won’t go through the whole review as it’s six pages long and would be timely.
However, I do encourage people to go and have a read because the responses to the celebrity claims by scientists are actually quite interesting. For example, the review mentions how taking vinegar shots to flush fat and digest food more quickly has become all the rage with some celebrities including Cindy Crawford, Megan Fox and Fergie, from The Black Eyed Peas. Fergi is quoted to have said:
“I do vinegar shots. It has to be organic apple cider, unfiltered. Two tablespoons. For some reason I’ve noticed a difference on my stomach.”
It’s the sort of thing that, when read by members of the public who don’t know the facts behind the ,could be seen as the easy answer to loosing weight.
However, Lucy Jones, an NHS dietician comments in the review that:
“As attractive as it sounds, there’s no magic pill, lotion or potion for a quick fix to weight loss. The body, including the liver, is a well-oiled detoxing machine, which will not be improved by vinegar, whether it be organic, apple cider, unfiltered, or your bog standard malt vinegar!”
Another celebrity that the review names and shames is Suzanne Somers who commented on the tragic death of actor Patrick Swayze from pancreatic cancer by saying, in reference to his chemotherapy:
“[They] put poison in his body…Why couldn’t they have built him up nutritionally and gotten rid of the toxins?”
As part of the review Marianne Baker a PhD student with Cancer Research UK commented on this ridiculous and potentially dangerous claim by saying that:
“Suzanne is correct in stressing the importance of nutrition in recovering from serious diseases. Chemotherapy is poison, it must be in order to kill cancer cells so that they can’t grow and multiply. The drug doses are optimised so that they travel in the blood to target the cancerous cells but are flushed out by the body before damaging most healthy cells.”
A quote from an article about Sarah Palin’s book “Going Rogue” reported that she:
“Didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”
Professor Richard Dawkins comments in the review that:
“To speak of ‘sprouting’ and ‘swinging’ suggests sudden events, whereas evolutionary changes happen almost imperceptibly, over many hundreds of thousands of years. What happened in our fish ancestors, as we know from excellent fossil evidence, is that lobe-shaped fins changed into walking legs, so agonizingly slowly that you couldn’t detect the change in a hundred human lifetimes. Evolution is not a matter of belief; the evidence is there in fossils, in embryology and in genetics."
These are just some of the silly quotes from celebrities that are tackled in the sense about science 2009 review, others include quotes from Denise Van Outen and Natasha Hamilton who spoke about the dangerous chemicals used in some deodorants that can cause cancer – something which is unlikely and unsubstantiated, the horse placenta treatments received by a small number of athletes in 2009 are also talked about as are multiple other claims and quotes too. It’s a great read, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
Interestingly enough though I’m not the only person who has been promoting the sense about science celebrity review because the daily mail have also gotten in on the act with their article from the 4th of January titled “Don't be taken in by the celebrity quacks, says charity”
The paper says:
“Their speciality subjects are singing, posing and pouting - not science. But that hasn't stopped celebrities from trying to teach us a theory or two this year. From Megan Fox's ideas about vinegar (a weight-loss tonic, apparently) to Gwyneth Paltrow's warnings on pesticides, all have been lapped up by an adoring public. Now the charity Sense about Science has singled out the worst offenders, and urged them to either brush up on the facts - or hush up.”
Yeah! You tell them Daily Mail! You stick it to those nonsense promoting celebs!
However, actually... lets step back a moment and think this one over shall we?
One of the claims in the mail article promoting the sense about science 2009 review is the claim from Roger Moore that eating foie gras causes Alzheimer's, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. This claim is of course dismissed as nonsense by the sense about science review, something that the mail article backs up – however, the article written by Moore in which he makes these claims was actually published by the Daily Mail without criticism on the 22nd November 2009.
Another claim in the sense about science report that actually originated from the mail was a comment made by Shilpa Shetty about carbonated drinks in an interview with the paper.
It’s the same with the claims made by Denise Van Outen about dangerous chemicals in deodorants that the mail happily published in an article that covered Van Outen stripping off to launch a range of deodorants.
Tabloid Watch report that of the 14 articles that Sense About Science highlight in their latest bulletin, ten come from different publications ranging from the New York Times, Cosmo Girl, Observer, Guardian, New York Post, Telegraph, Daily Record, US News & World, Good Housekeeping and the Reading Chronicle. The other four were all in the Mail.
In summary I guess you could say that with their article entitled don’t be taken in by the celebrity quacks you would think that perhaps the daily mail would do well to start practicing what they preach? Or am I hoping for too much? Hmm?