Thursday, 25 October 2012

Where Can I Find A 300-Metre Cocktail Stick?

A note came home today with my daughter's half-term homework assignment. I was pleased to note that it was about science, but less happy that it did not appear to have been thought out properly. The task was to make a 3D model of the solar system - fair enough - but the teacher took the trouble to include a chart listing the relative sizes and distances of all the planets (including Pluto, but I won't quibble about that). She also suggested using cocktail sticks to show the planets orbiting an orange Sun (literally an orange), and constrained the maximum size of the model to 60cm across.

I had to point out that if the Sun was represented by an orange of, say, 7cm in diameter, then Pluto would need to be a mere 0.1mm across, and fastened to the orange by a cocktail stick of length 297.37 metres. I don't believe this is what was envisaged.

Friday, 19 October 2012

What Doctors Don't Tell You Because It's Outrageous Tripe

In the little coffee shop/newsagent at the technology park where I work I noticed today the new magazine "What Doctors Don't Tell You" (ghastly website here). I only had to read the cover to become speechless with indignation. Among its lead articles we find "I Avoided A Hysterectomy Through Diet" and "Sunbathe Your Diabetes Away". I mean, really, it would actually be quite funny if they weren't shamelessly exploiting people's health fears and natural distrust of "Big Pharma" to sell vitamin pills and other diet supplements.

If I may be permitted to mix my metaphors for a moment, there is so much outrageous bollocks in this steaming pile of offal that it's hard to know where to begin - but fortunately, the cavalry is coming. Check out the Sceptical Letter Writer's comprehensive guide to all the unsubstantiated and overblown nonsense within the first issue. I was going to write to the Advertising Standards Authority, but apparently there's already a major multiple complaint in progress.

If you know anyone who might be at risk of being sucked in by this...this...let me just make it clear once frickin' money-grubbing cynical scaremongering lunacy, then please, direct them to Ron's wholly excellent piece or the Quackometer post about it in the hope that they may be saved.