Just looked this up myself and saw that for some reason it never got posted on the blog, so here it is.
Saturday 10th October 2008
What I like about Bad Science is that it’s a game the whole family can play. This month “Lloydspharmacy”, as Lloyds Pharmacy insist on being called, is trying to flog carbon monoxide detectors (for only £12.99). It is a noble calling, so it decided to follow industry protocol for getting its product and brand into the media: it produced a misleading set of superficially plausible survey figures to massage our prejudices, which journalists obediently copied and pasted out of the Lloyds press release email and into their word processors, to make a “news” article. Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday August 2 2008
It must be August. The Daily Mail is hunting for the Yeti again (they sent their own expedition out in 1954) and mathematical formula season has begun in earnest. PR guru Mark Borkowski’s “fame formula” was gushingly reported in the Telegraph, the Express, the Star, OK, Channel 4, ITN, and more. The Guardian were lucky enough to obtain the rights to extract his book at length, focusing on the formula. I trust the deal permits me also to reproduce large tracts of it here.
Obviously we’re all interested in who the next US president is going to be, since it affects our risk of being blown up on the bus to work. According to the New York Times – which has covered this story at least three times – a commercial company which specialises in giving brain images to advertisers has discovered which parts of a voter’s brain are most activated by different candidates, by taking pictures of their brains while they supposedly think about them. Read the rest of this entry »
So you will remember the fish oil pill stories of last year. For the new kids: pill company Equazen and Durham Council said they were doing a trial on them with their GCSE year, but it wasn’t really a proper trial, for example there was no control group, and they had lots of similarly dodgy “trials” dotted about, which were being pimped successfully to the media as “positive”. When asked, Durham refused to release the detailed information you would expect from a proper piece of research. Even now, for all this pretending, there still has never been a single controlled trial, even a cheap one, of omega-3 fish oil supplements in normal children. Ridiculously.
There’s nothing I like better than people engaging in a discussion about ideas – and indeed criticising mine – but if there are two messages I’d really like to get out there, for general use, it’s these:
“Jessica Alba has the perfect wiggle, study says”. You have to respect a paper like the Telegraph, especially when they report an important piece of science news like this on their news pages, especially when it gets picked up by other people like Fox news, and especially when it’s accompanied by a photograph of some hot totty. “Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut, according to a team of Cambridge mathematicians.” Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday December 16, 2006
Ok, look, it’s Christmas, so we really ought to learn to let things go and move on with the important business of being happy and civil, and divert all our bitterness into contriving divisive racist stories about local authorities banishing the baby Jesus from shopping centres. But in amongst all the usual hatemail I’m still getting from the electromagnetic hypersensitivity anti-phone-mast lobby, I received something this week that triggered, I freely admit, something deep inside me that I could only describe as a feeling. This is most unusual.
I am going into PR: it's just too easy. Let's say you're running the account for some Tesco "sports initiative". You're doing great work for the kids, but nobody cares, because it's just another corporate wheeze. You could always pay for adverts. Or you could just find an academic cheap enough to sell you their good name, and their university's name, concoct some stupid "equation" that means nothing, and get your corporate brand in the papers.