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Do not take their advice, they are not known for their brains! January 7, 2009

Posted by dorigo in internet, news, science.
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Sense about Science, the british organization which

respond[s] to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation […],

has issued their 2008 report on many dangerous claims held by celebrities about scientific issues, exposing their falsity and the scientific facts that prove it. The claims that the Tom Cruises, the Mariah Careys, the  Kelly Osbournes distribute are dangerous not so much for their content, but because of the enormous amplification those claims get by the media, always hunting for anything connected to famous people.

While commendable, the report is a drop in the sea, as it does not address the source of the problem: the pseudo-scientific approach that newspapers and other media deliberately choose to support. It is in fact the responsibility of the journalists  if those claims are reported without commentary or the opinion of a scientist. It would take them the effort of a phone call in most instances, but they fear to bore or distract their readers. That is nonsense! Really, the newspapers and magazines would not sell fewer copies if they appended a few lines of healthy, matter-of-fact criticism to the farnetications of the starlet on duty.

My suggestion would be to expose the journalists rather than the celebrities! A well-organized site targeting professional writers and commenters would go a longer way in this fight against the diffusion of pseudo-science, because these people do it for a living. SAS does not seem to be aiming in that direction. Are readers of this blog aware of any such enterprise ? It would get my support.

In any case, the SAS report is interesting. You can download it from this link for an entertaining break. Happy reading!

Comments

1. cormac - January 7, 2009

Bang on – couldn’t agreee more

2. Fred - January 7, 2009

My current favorite one is Carrie Fisher’s statement about electroshock therapy:

“I didn’t want to do it for years. They wanted me to do it before, because I was in a depression, which was medication proof… You don’t have a convulsion anymore, so it should just be called electro therapy. But it worked so well, I highly recommend it, even if you don’t need it!”

I accidentally performed this procedure on myself as a youngster in Pordenone (220v) when I tried to pry the stuck burning toast out of the toaster. I can still recall the sensation of barely being able to let go of the butter knife as the electricity running through my arm acted as a magnet. Contrary to Ms. Fisher’s personal results, my experience was not a desirable one.

3. Guess Who - January 7, 2009

But Fred, have you ever been depressed since your near-electrocution? Be honest now.😀

4. Fred - January 8, 2009

Hello everyone tonight and tomorrow. Ever since joining this one-step program I have been very, very, very, very, very happy. Would you like a cookie, madam? Must not think bad thoughts. Must not think…Oh, dear me! I suddenly feel the urge to french kiss a battery.

dorigo - January 8, 2009

Be careful Fred, this blog is hardware-friendly and you are threatening to sexually harass some.
Cheers,
T.

5. chimpanzee - January 8, 2009

GET THIS:

Tabloid news show Inside Edition (crackpots posing as journalists) exposes U.S. Congress (House Committee on Science & Technology) engaging in Pseudo Science!!

U.S. Congressmen (incl women): Vacation to Galapagos (& Australia) DISGUISED as “science fact-finding trip”

http://www.insideedition.com/news.aspx?storyID=2208

“Nestled along the equator 600 miles off the Pacific Coast of South America, are the ever intriguing and enchanting Galapagos Islands. The famed archipelago is home to hordes of exotic creatures and world renowned snorkeling and scuba diving.

Imagine traveling to this paradise on a $70 million VIP luxury jet, treated like royalty and best of all, somebody else pays for the whole trip. For some United States Congressmen, they need not imagine a trip like that at all; it’s theirs for the asking.

Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent every year to send congressmen to exotic locations around the world; the expeditions are called fact-finding trips.

In June 2008, when a bipartisan group of congressmen thought a trip to the Galapagos Islands with all its unique species would give them a better understanding of the earth’s changing climate, INSIDE EDITION’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Matt Meagher and a producer decided to tag along with hidden cameras.

There’s no doubt that the Galapagos Islands are very important, and seeing them with your own eyes could be enlightening, INSIDE EDITION just wondered why so many people had to see them at the American taxpayer’s expense.

Five congressmen, all from the House Committee on Science and Technology weren’t enough. They brought along five aides, and as is often the case on these trips, three of the congressmen took their wives, including Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC). Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR) brought her adult daughter. Rep. Ben Chandler (R-KY) was the only member who did not bring a guest.

The group stayed in plush seaside suites at the Red Mangrove Inn, one of the most expensive resorts on the island. From breakfast to dinner, the hotel staff catered to their every need. At night when the torches were lit, the group dined on fresh sushi and fine wine.

According to records obtained by INSIDE EDITION, the group ran up more than $21,000 of charges for their 3-night stay. However, the specifics of their trip are hard to find. The only public expense report lists no explanation for how they spent thousands of taxpayers’ dollars.

The delegation was led by Congressman Brian Baird. When he and his wife were out shopping for jewelry one evening, an INSIDE EDITION Investigative Producer recorded this telling conversation on hidden camera.

Producer: You guys down on vacation?Baird: No, we’re kind of doing a science tour of the place. It’s sort of a vacation sort of work.
Producer: Really?
Baird: It’s not a bad place to do both.

The delegation looked like thousands of tourists who visit the Islands every week, riding bikes, constantly taking photos and doing a lot of shopping.

INSIDE EDITION wondered why Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, who did plenty of shopping with her daughter while in the Galapagos Islands, needed to go on any fact- finding trip at all. The congresswoman resigned from the Committee on Science and Technology just days before the trip and did not run for reelection. Apparently, the trip was a going-away present from the American taxpayers.

The delegation did tour a national park for a close-up look at the famed giant tortoises. Plus, they listened to some lectures at the Charles Darwin Research Center.

The delegation justified the trip in press releases before and after, saying there was an important, U.S. funded, tsunami warning center there. INSIDE EDITION has learned that no such center exists. The only thing remotely connected to a tsunami warning center was a small tide sensor, which the group did not even see.

The delegation said another reason for the trip was a meet and greet with scientists who had to be flown in from Congressman Baird’s home state to show the delegation important research they were doing on climate change. They also took the group snorkeling on two days.

Congressman Baird likes to scuba dive and snorkel, and says he’d like everyone in Congress to go on trips like these so they can learn first hand about coral reef deterioration and climate change.

As the group departed, on their way to a luxury air force jet that had been at their disposal for four days, INSIDE EDITION’s Matt Meagher introduced himself and asked Congressman Baird if the trip was really necessary.

While Baird said he understood that his love for diving may make some suspicious, he defended the trip as a legitimate fact-finding mission. “If people go to Paris and walk around, if they go to Germany and walk around, how am I supposed to see a reef without diving?” explained Baird.

And this was not the congressman’s first fact finding trip that involved snorkeling or scuba diving.

Just five months earlier, three of the same congressmen on the Galapagos Islands trip felt compelled to study the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

When asked why so many people needed to take trips like these, Congressman Baird said, “I’ll tell you what happens, you see things in different ways. You share ideas.”

The congressman continued, “When you see them with your own eyes, it matters. Did we enjoy our visit here? Absolutely.”

Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste says most lawmakers travel to foreign countries for important reasons, but he says too many congressmen blatantly abuse the privilege. “If they want to take a vacation they should do it on their own time, on their own money, not the taxpayers’ money,” Schatz says.

Congressional rules do allow spouses and adult children to fly for free onboard the air force jets, but they are required to pay for their own meals.”

As I watched this “Fleecing of America” (NBC regularly does a series entitled this, about Govt waste), I contemplated the following scenario:

“scientists slaving away to communicate Science to politicians in Washington [ science challenged ], at congressional hearings”

& realizing it is a WASTE OF TIME.

“You can’t fix STUPID”

dorigo - January 8, 2009

Hi Bob,

nice account of a work-holiday. But I don’t think these people are stupid. I just think they are a bit greedy and they have low moral standards. However, I am unsure how many of us, put in the position of having a chance to benefit of these paid trips, would refuse in disgust. There are no formal charges against these people for their conduct, are there ?

Cheers,
T.


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