Celebrity Pseudo-Science Exposed... kinda!

"Behold, the most serious challenge to the Royal Society in that august body's 350-year history - the medical musings of Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and Stella McCartney. These women are not just singers, or actresses, or fashion designers. They are distinguished professors at the University of Celebrity, and are coating your understanding of science like a totally amazing organic body oil.

On top of this, they are best friends, so we can say their pronouncements are peer-reviewed in the best sense of that term. Can you imagine their gatherings? It must be as if Isaac Newton were taking antioxidant tea with Robert Koch and Marie Curie." Strident stuff from Marina Hyde.

OK, we've got the picture, now where's the organic meat on the bone? Madonna's Kabbalah water... yep, that's flakey! "And then there's Stella, who launched her organic skincare range with the warning that "lots of skin products use the same petrochemicals as the antifreeze in your car!", and is one of those celebrities who thinks they eat "chemical-free" food and use "chemical-free" products. I beg you not to tell her that water and trees are made of chemicals. The shock could finish her off." Here Marina Hyde is on shakier ground. Surely anybody but the purest pedant knows that "chemicals" here stands as a short-hand for synthetic and most likely toxic chemicals. Yes, everything is made up of chemicals, it's just that some of them are not very good for human beings.

So what's Gwyneth Paltrow's crime? Well, her concern is, yet again, those nasty chemicals and the inability for young children and foetuses to metabolise them. "The research is troubling; the incidence of diseases in children such as asthma, cancer and autism have shot up exponentially ..." Hyde yet again shoots down our celeb by stating that "there has been very little change in the rate of childhood cancers detected in recent years". How "recent" is that then Professor Hyde? So the impression given is that we shouldn't worry ourselves about the environment being polluted to the point that it is unfit for human habitation. After all, our scientists are doing a jolly good job looking after us, so these celebs should just get back into character and stop impersonating science writers.

Science Punk also quotes the above story but adds that Kelly Osbourne believes that microwave ovens cause cancer. How we laugh at such superstitious nonsense! Except that the Soviet Union banned the sale of domestic microwave ovens because of their carcinogenic effects. Once the FSU turned capitalist they dropped the ban as sales are more important than health.

What strikes me is that most of these celebs are unable to properly articulate any science that they may have learnt and so it comes out as opinionated ramblings. Most of their concerns have legitimate scientific research to back them up - apart from Madonna, who is just morphing into a new species. That they may not always be mainstream views shows the power of corporate science rather than that those concerns are unfounded.

also posted at A World Beyond Belief.
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