Sense about Science

I was reading my latest Scientist magazine (which is, alas, subscription only) and they mentioned this UK Charity: Sense about Science.

I think I may have mentioned them last year sometime, since they put out a wonderful publication explaining what Peer review is, called “I don’t know what to Believe”.

Their latest is wonderful– Science for Celebrities. This is one of my favorite quotes from the scientific expert discussing “natural” crops in response to a quote from a celeb chef:
“…what do you mean by ‘grown with nature’? Not one of our crop plants or domestic animals exists in the wild: they have all been created by selective breeding over the past 10,000 years. Wheat, for example, doesn’t exist in nature; we made it. And nowhere on earth do crop plants exist in rows unless we put them there.”

There is also a rather horrifying article about homeopathy and malaria. Malaria is such a deadly, serious disease, I don’t have words to describe just how reprehensible it is to market homeopathic products for it.

So, please, read the site! Print out the booklets! And donate, if you can.


Bug_girl has a PhD in Entomology, and is a pointy-headed former academic living in Ohio. She is obsessed with insects, but otherwise perfectly normal. Really! If you want a daily stream of cool info about bugs, follow her Facebook page or find her on Twitter.

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  1. I think that a good deterent for homeopathy would be that any cure you want to sell you use yourself. SO lets start injecting malaria into homeopath practitioners. They can have all the sugarpills and water they can make.

  2. These guys do good work. I hate the thought of my taxes (ok, I don't pay that many taxes in the UK, but still) going to support homeopathy when the NHS has enough problems!

    On the other hand, you could argue that by giving people sugar pills rather than antibiotics could be a good thing. If the patient merely has psychosomatic symptoms and no underlying disease then perhaps it's cheaper to lie to them and send them on their merry way?

  3. If a patient has only psychosomatic symptoms (and I can be reasonably sure of this fact), then I'd tell them to drink plenty of orange juice and take a warm bubble bath. I wouldn't lie to them. If, in my medical judgment, their problems are due to stress, then I'd consider myself obligated to tell them that. Furthermore, if their stress is due to some lifestyle situation — job, relationship or whatnot — then I'd be obligated to tell them that a sugar pill won't give them a raise or make their significant other remember their anniversary.

  4. N.R. Miller, I agree with the thought of giving homeopaths the disease they claim they're curing, but the thing with malaria is, it's never really cured. You can prevent it from infecting you, but once you've got it, you'll have to suffer through regular outbreaks every so often.

    That's what I've been told anyway.

  5. Exarxch,

    Malaria is a parasitic infection of microscopic organisms called plasmodiums and can most certainly be completely cured… but I do know how you got the idea that it couldn't be.

    There are 2 specific types of malaria (P. ovale and P. vivax) that can lie dormant in the liver for as long as 4 years. When they come out of dormancy they again invade the red blood cells and illness ensues. However, a second course of treatment with anti-malarials will finish the job of killing them off.

  6. Well…. hmmm…. i got to say, lets do it anyway….

    I kind of wonder how they make up their solutions to this one… are they using a strain of malaria and diluting it to nothing?

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