Monkey business

November 4th, 2004 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, religion | 5 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday November 4, 2004
The Guardian

· For a bloke who looks a lot like a monkey, George W Bush has a strange disdain for evolution. Now, this might all seem very trivial to you, but the Bush administration has decided, just before this week’s vote, to stand by its approval for a book that’s being sold in National Park museums and bookshops. This book explains to young minds that the Grand Canyon is only a couple of thousand years old, and was created by Noah’s flood, rather than by geological forces.

· Lo! Grand Canyon National Park superintendent Joe Alston heroically intervened and referred the sale of the book to his superiors but they sinisterly kept it on the shelves. They also appear to have ignored a letter from the presidents of the Palaeological Society, the American Geophysical Union, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, the American Geological Institute, the Geological Society of America, and more, all pointing out that the book was nonsense. And they told Congress that they’d have a review of whether they were going to sell the book, and then calmly didn’t bother.

· Verily you may now laugh at the Americans in a smug European way, for truly they are in the grip of religious freaks: or, alternatively, you can go to the City of Bristol’s Festival of Nature, which includes an extensive exhibition from Bad Science repeat-offenders The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, Britain’s own creationist outfit, which specialises in targeting children, and advertises in its festival blurb that “huge educational mazes are part of these displays”. I think that might be a reference to the Intelligent Design argument.

· But if it’s back doors to enlightenment you’re after, you need look no further than Bach Flower Remedies’ new Yoga in a Bottle, which has several marketing advantages over real yoga: mainly, it requires the deployment of absolutely no exercise. Its only side effect is to eradicate the opportunity for meeting nice women at yoga class, but if you’re so physically non-viable that you’ve decided to buy yoga in a bottle, then you probably gave up any hope of action between the sheets several years ago, you decadent, obese, lazy, pathetic, unfit, feckless, unmotivated moron. Sorry, I think I’ve got low blood sugar this afternoon. And I always get bad-tempered if I haven’t mentioned Dr Gillian McKeith PhD for a while. “To avoided bloated tummy,” she writes, in this month’s Heat, “try not to eat when you’re tired, hungry, or upset.”

This letter followed a week later:

Monkey puzzle

I’m not convinced that Darwinian evolution comes across as that flattering for monkeys (Bad Science, November 4). They are often portrayed as a “rung down the evolutionary ladder”, which could be taken as an insult – especially now Bush (to mix metaphors) is “top dog” again.
Ella Smith

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5 Responses

  1. Eric Skouson said,

    September 14, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    I’m not at all of the opinion that the issuse of people attempting to censor the book through the Natiobnal Park Service, Congress and the President is not “very trivial.”

    Disclaimer: I don’t believe that the Grand Canyon was created by “Noah’s flood.”

  2. Eric Skouson said,

    September 14, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    oops. I meant that government censorship of religious views is serious.

  3. Penta_Water_UK said,

    December 4, 2005 at 4:06 pm


    I dont think the Grand Canyon was “created” by anyone let alone Noah or his vengeful God… nor by a single flood either, which was simply a story handed down…written down by the Sumerians in one of Gilgamesh’s epics several thousand years before the Abrahamic religions got off the ground too!

    I digress, where was I, ah yes…I dont believe that the Grand…or any other canyon for that matter…was created! They were formed (the operative word), by gelogical process over billions of years.

    Now I know (hope) Eric, that you werent suggesting that the canyon was “created” by someone other than Noah, I am just correcting your grammer, lest some child is reading this having first bought one of those story books sold by the National Parks Service.

    God bless America!
    (and the company in the US with a similar name to my nick name on this forum, who sadly, possibly due to that saditious Ben Goldacre, dont trade in the UK any more).

    MMR vaccines are as good for you as Penta Water!

  4. MLH said,

    December 28, 2005 at 9:55 pm

    As a US citizen, I feel compelled, again, to apologize for our half-wit of a president. Sorry.

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