The Bad Science awards

December 9th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, channel 4 | 3 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday December 9, 2004
The Guardian

· We thought it was time for a party, so those of you who like a good bunfight are cordially invited to join us for childishness and chaos at the 2004 Bad Science awards next Monday, December 13, starting at 8pm in the Asylum, 28 Rathbone Place, London W1. All you have to do in order to be invited is to send us your nomination for Bad Science of the year in absolutely any category you can think of, on the usual email address. Current categories include Bad Science product of the Year; Bad Science journal of the year (my money’s on the Daily Mail but it could be a close thing); and Channel 4 Scottish nutritionist PhD of the year.

· TV’s Vivienne Parry, star of Tomorrow’s World (and Life), is our celebrity guest, which excites me more than you could ever possibly understand, and prizewinners will be invited so you may even get to meet some of your nutritionist heroes, although frankly I doubt it. The venue can hold about a hundred, although we’d be astonished if more than 10 of you showed up, and even if you don’t want to come, you’ll be doing us a favour by nominating something, because then we won’t have to think about it too hard.

· Even more excitingly, also joining us will be National Grid, who will perform the kind of live science show you always deserved, featuring big sparks and rhythmic, musical manipulations to the 50Hz oscillation of the National Grid through some large bass speakers, accompanied by an antique static electricity generator, an induction coil, Crookes tubes, and Victorian electromedical violet ray devices.

· The vibrations at their performance in Tokyo brought down parts of the ceiling, but we made friends when they delivered a well-reasoned Bad Science rant about how flaky most art-meets-science projects are, and continued: “Even National Grid is sometimes misinterpreted as a kind of avant-garde protest about the negative health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. It is, however, conceived from the view that the overwhelming health effect of electrification is to bring light, heat and creative energy into the homes of millions of people (with the obvious ramifications for expectancy and quality of life). When the grid was nationalised in 1926 (by, ironically, Tory PM Stanley Baldwin) the act was described as ‘the most socialist piece of legislation ever known’.” Clearly such heroes of Bad Science deserve a wider audience. Don’t forget the nominations.


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