Where to find the alchemists of Fleet Street

April 8th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, quantum physics, religion, times, very basic science | 3 Comments »

Where to find the alchemists of Fleet Street

Talk about Bad science here

Ben Goldacre
Thursday April 8, 2004
The Guardian

· I can tell you’re all secretly proud of me for not bothering to write about Coca-Cola’s abandoned Dasani water. Meanwhile those medieval alchemists at the Times cheerfully informed us that “calcium is a legal requirement in UK bottled water, but the calcium chloride, a bromide derivative, used in the process produced too much bromate”.

· Turning one element into another has always been tricky; but the long and honourable tradition of turning made-up pseudoscientific nonsense into hard cash continues unabated. The West Sussex County Times reports that “a world famous lecturer will visit Horsham in June”. Harry Oldfield, “author, inventor and scientist” no less, will explain his electro-crystal therapy, which he compares to “a molecular massage, using sound from electrically stimulated quartz crystals to restore the energy field’s balance.” Sounds expensive. “He has also developed a computer system which produces images similar to those produced in Kirlian photography.” It’s not so much Mr Oldfield who bothers me, but that a paper can cheerfully report this alongside a story about a new Brown Owl for the Brownies, the menace of illegal motorcycle riding, a student fashion show, and a garden centre advert.

· Meanwhile, Ohio creationists have, by a huge majority, passed their new Academic Freedom Act 2004, providing teachers and instructors at public institutions with “the affirmative right and freedom to present scientific, historical, theoretical, or evidentiary information pertaining to alternative theories or points of view on the subject of biological or physical origins.” You don’t have to be a product of intelligent design to know what that means: and they’re the most powerful nation on earth. The Deans of Science faculties have collectively and cheerfully suggested in the past that they won’t interview candidates from states where schools can’t teach science properly.

· Why not give your kids the chance to hone their rhetorical skills at the UK’s creationist Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol. “Many animals are clearly related. Domestic cats for example are like very small lions,” its website points out. Which leads on to useful exercises for schoolchildren, such as: “How many basic created kinds would there have been?” And: “To follow Darwinism is to recognise only the fleshly side of our natures, and, as we know, the flesh perishes; Darwinism, in other words, is a philosophy of death.” Harsh words. Bring on the darkness.

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3 Responses

  1. Penta_Water_UK said,

    December 4, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    Hang on there Mr Goldenarse!

    I am not a creationist…and I’m not….But surely when the darkness is brought on and I and Mrs I….er ….lay down together and one of my sperm hacks it’s way into one of Mrs I’s eggs….surely we have “created” a baby…. but I do blame Darwin for the baby, not being an identical copy of I and Mrs I.

    If there are any creationists reading this, could they please explain to me why we are not clones of our parents.

  2. The Rev. Schmitt. said,

    December 13, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    “How many basic created kinds would there have been?”

    It was Mr Huxley who picked up the ‘bulldog’ nickname, and yet Owen’s archetypes are still thrashing around, a century after being proven wrong, and long after his death. That’s tenacious.

  3. The Sceptical Preacher said,

    May 5, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    “If there are any creationists reading this, could they please explain to me why we are not clones of our parents.”

    Funny enough, creationists most likely wouldn’t need to explain this since they tend to accept that species can change. What they claim that new and distinct species can’t emerge from an existing one.