Space City Skeptics

The Official Blog of the Houston Skeptic Society

Sense About Science…..

with 5 comments

Today I discovered an organization from across the pond called Sense About Science.

“Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust promoting good science and evidence in public debates. We do this by promoting respect for evidence and by urging scientists to engage actively with a wide range of groups, particularly when debates are controversial or difficult.

We work with scientists to

  • respond to inaccuracies in public claims about science, medicine, and technology
  • promote the benefits of scientific research to the public
  • help those who need expert help contact scientists about issues of importance
  • brief non-specialists on scientific developments and practices

Sense About Science is governed by a Board of Trustees and run by a small office staff. We are supported by an Advisory Council and over 2,000 scientists and other specialists, ranging from Nobel Laureates to postdoctoral fellows, who are signed up to our database, Evidence Base. We also work with younger scientists in our VoYS (Voice of Young Science) programme, which you can read more about here.”

Yesterday the Sense About Science gang released their annual Celebrities and Science Review (PDF), which I highly recommend for some light reading which will likely leave you a bit out of sorts. I remember pulling my hair out over some of the highlighted examples of celebrity nincompoopery when they were current, but I wasn’t aware of most of these, especially the non-American ones.  I look forward to the day when celebrities are not looked upon with such reverence and their words are not hung upon as if spoken by legitimate experts.

Here are some of my favorite (least favorite might be more appropriate) examples of scientific illiteracy amongst the rich and famous:

 “Because of her history of colon cancer she is absolutely convinced the Pill caused the disease. I don’t have a microwave in my house for the same reason”
-Kelly Osbourne

I do question whether Kelly Osbourne is really a celebrity. Maybe in England she is, I don’t know.

My good friend Jenny McCarthy, who is always good for a laugh with her satirical take on anti-vaccine propaganda, had two gems make the list:

“Isn’t it ironic in 1983 there were 10 shots and now there’s 36 and the rise in autism has happened in the same time.”

and

“Parents’ anecdotal info IS scientific information.”

Wait, it isn’t satire. She believes this tripe. My god, she’s a monster.

Tom Cruise’s comment on the reality of the treatment of mental illness was listed under the psychiatry section:

“Psychiatry doesn’t work…..When you study the effects it’s a crime against humanity.”

No Tom, a crime against humanity was when Xenu, the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” 75 million years ago, brought billions of his subjects to Earth, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Well, that and your appearance in Tropic Thunder.

Demi Moore, mother of actor Ashton Kutcher, is quoted advocating for detoxification via the healing powers of “highly trained medical leaches”.

“They have a little enzyme…..and when they are biting down on you it gets released in your blood and generally you bleed for quite a bit-and your health is optimized…It detoxifies your blood.”

My favorite is Mariah Carey’s explanation for the use of Einstein’s “E = mc2 ” as the title of her 2008 album.

“emancipation equals Mariah Carey times two”

Also of note, today I rediscovered SHAMblog. It is written by Steve Salerno, who also wrote an enjoyable deconstruction of the self-help industry in 2005 called SHAM: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless that I think should be read by everyone. His last two posts on the reality of reality television confirm something I’ve thought for a long time, that it is all phony. It’s apparantly even phony even when they make a big production about how not phony it is.

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Written by skepticpedi

December 28, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Science

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. Mariah Carey fails math epically.

    The Perky Skeptic

    December 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

  2. Sense About Science….. « Space City Skeptics…

    “Sense About Science is an independent charitable trust promoting good science and evidence in public debates. We do this by promoting respect for evidence and by urging scientists to engage actively with a wide range of groups, ……

    Conspirama

    December 28, 2008 at 11:12 pm

  3. Thanks for providing the link to Sense about Science and their report. Interesting that many of the UK “celebrities” are not well-known in the US, and I imagine the same is true of our (US) celebrities. I saw the Mariah Carey album title but didn’t know that her explanation for E=mc^2 interpreted the square as “times two”. This is so jaw-droppingly ignorant that it’s hilarious! She put it on the cover of her album, after all. Makes you wonder, though, how many people in the production company involved with her album (presumably a large number) have any clue about what Einstein’s equation means.

    Steven Salzberg

    January 1, 2009 at 10:50 am

  4. Not many I’m sure, but you also have to take into account that people who question celebrities of her stature get fired pretty quickly. That is a big reason why celebrities become so ignorant. Nobody calls them on it.

    skepticpedi

    January 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

  5. If I were still teaching biology, I could use some of these incredible quotes as attention getters for my students, and make them tell me what is wrong with them. I am afraid scientic illiteracy is at an all-time high, though, when we depend on celebrities and preachers to explain science to us. Discouraging, isn’t it?

    Pittypat

    January 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm


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