Apes and antibiotics

April 17th, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cosmetics, herbal remedies, scare stories | 7 Comments »

Apes and antibiotics

Ben Goldacre
Thursday April 17, 2003
The Guardian

New: Talk about Bad science

· The terrifying epidemic of inaccurate fear-mongering continues to rage over the Sars virus. Dominik Diamond of the Daily Star blames you, the general public, for creating the super virus: “We’ve wasted our defences against this, by demanding antibiotics at the mere hint of a sniffle.” Clever boy. Perhaps there’s a GCSE biology student out there who could explain to him why antibiotics only kill bacteria, and not viruses.

· Although we are, of course, right to worry, war is nothing compared to the glorious might of the natural world. Remember: politics killed only between seven and 10 million men and women in the first world war; the influenza epidemic bagged 21 million a year later. Morality is vanity, I tell you. The scientists are fighting a much bigger game.

· And so, with almost painful inevitability, we move on to Crap Cure of the Week. US regulators have ordered the chancers flogging the wonder-pill “Cellasene” to reimburse their customers $12m (£7.6m) over claims, now withdrawn, that their expensive blend of herbs and crushed grape seeds “eliminates” cellulite. I was more interested in their promise of a wholesale personality change, giving me a bottom and thighs that, apparently, I would be “eager to show off”. Thank God you can still buy Cellasene Forte in Boots at only £29.99.

· If only the Cellasene salespeople had followed the lead of Elemis, who have just won the Professional Beauty Awards 2003 prize for “Best Marketing and Promotions”. The key to pseudo-scientific cosmetics marketing is, as they demonstrate, to generate publicity material that means nothing and to steer well clear of testable hypotheses: “We use Absolutes, the purest form of living energy . . . Elemis plant essential oils are most potent and . . . have an immense capacity for oxygenating the skin.” Sold.

· And finally, we turn to the extraordinary letters pages of the Daily Mail, whose reactionary Victorian values seem to go well beyond the family: “Evolution is absurd. Are there any scientists who still believe in it?” Gulp. And, most terrifyingly: “If man evolved from apes, why are there still apes around?”

Dr Goldacre will be back next week.

Please send your favourite bad science to: bad.science@guardian.co.uk


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

7 Responses



  1. longyan said,

    November 6, 2009 at 2:54 am

    It is no use doing what ugg bailey button you like ugg boots ; you have got to like ugg classic cardy what you do  My philosophy of ugg lo pro button life is work . When work is a pleasure , life is joy ! When work is duty ,ugg knightsbridge life is slavery .Work banishes those three great evils : boredom , vice, and poverty.

  2. wayscj said,

    November 21, 2009 at 6:54 am

    ed hardy ed hardy
    ed hardy clothing ed hardy clothing
    ed hardy shop ed hardy shop
    christian audigier christian audigier
    ed hardy cheap ed hardy cheap
    ed hardy outlet ed hardy outlet
    ed hardy sale ed hardy sale
    ed hardy store ed hardy store
    ed hardy mens ed hardy mens
    ed hardy womens ed hardy womens
    ed hardy kids ed hardy kids ed hardy kids

  3. wwdlu101 said,

    April 1, 2010 at 10:14 am

    yes,the juicy couture bikini
    the juicy couture t shirts
    good the juicy couture sunglasses
    the juicy jewelry
    the juicy charm

  4. wwdlu101 said,

    April 1, 2010 at 10:27 am

    the juicy couture juicy couture
    the juicy couture juicy couture jewelry
    a the juicy couture juicy couture charms
    the juicy couture juicy couture earrings
    a the juicy couture juicy couture bracelet

  5. wwdlu101 said,

    April 1, 2010 at 10:27 am

    the juicy couture juicy couture necklace
    the juicy couture juicy couture handbags
    okthe juicy couture juicy couture tracksuits
    the juicy couture juicy couture wallet
    the juicy couture juicy couture flip flops

  6. wwdlu101 said,

    April 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

    yes,the juicy couture juicy couture bikini
    the juicy couture juicy couture t shirts
    good the juicy couture juicy couture sunglasses
    the juicy couture juicy jewelry
    the juicy couture juicy charm

  7. viviennewestwood said,

    December 22, 2010 at 1:32 am

    the vivienne westwood
    the vivienne westwood jewellery

You must be logged in to post a comment.