Let’s hear it for Jewel

August 21st, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, celebs, mail, quantum physics | 2 Comments »

Let’s hear it for Jewel

Ben Goldacre
Thursday August 21, 2003
The Guardian

Talk bad science

· It was a pleasure to find Jewel, the “raunchy dance diva with an interest in atomic physics”, pontificating on science in the Daily Telegraph. Its correspondent could barely contain his excitement as she teasingly began to reveal her “research into super-string theory”. Watch her run with renaissance studies: “Empirical knowledge began to reign supreme – knowing something through truth and fact and experiment, instead of spiritual and religious implication.” It’s looking good. Her eyes are “shining with enthusiasm”. Hit me with the facts, Jewel. “In super-string theory and unified theory they have to answer mystical questions again… they’re saying that alchemical experiment is affected by the observer. It’s coming back to… What is the creative force in the universe? Because they’re seeing that there is one.” Quite.

· I’d be a bigger fan of Jewel and her admirers at the Telegraph if only they’d followed the lead of the Australian Daily Telegraph, a Murdoch tabloid, which this week printed the first photograph of a whale farting. It’s a veritable depth charge – and the best reason I can think of for saving the Minke whale, if only for its military potential.

· The US government’s national centre for complementary and alternative medicine funds respectable work into stress and heart conditions. But I fear it’s in danger of overstretching itself in taking part in the “rapid response grant programme on bioterrorism-related research”. Inviting grant proposals, the centre says: “We encourage applications for innovative research targeted at testing complementary and alternative medicine therapeutic or preventive agents for pathogens that might conceivably be vehicles for biological warfare activities.”

· Anyone going for the cash and glamour of military research just because science isn’t rock and roll enough should pay more attention to the Atkins diet saga. For the first time a theory is being treated like a celebrity: the Daily Mail has portrayed low-carbohydrate Atkins as the saviour of modern womankind, especially after a study showed people lost, err, 4% more weight on it, with no health complications after, umm, a whole six months. Now, after an equally trivial trial, no, in fact, a passing comment from one “expert”, who, it transpired this week, has links to the Flour Advisory Board (of all the sinister carbohydrate peddlers in the world) it is suddenly a potential killer. Not even George Best was booted off his pedestal so quickly.

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