Exhibit A: 1989 and Pons and Fleischmann announce cold fusion — an “inexhaustible source of energy” — at a press briefing in Utah, before they had applied for patents or published their technology. Too bad they were just plain wrong. I bet they feel embarrassed now.
Exhibit B: 2002 and five-word headlines circle the globe as Clonaid announce their human cloning activities. Twelve years on, and we’re still waiting for any evidence whatsoever of said clone.
Exhibit C: The WHO issue a press release concerning a yet-to-be-published paper on mobile phones and brain cancer. The world media reports a definite causal link, even though the yet-to-be-published-paper was (a) unseen by everyone in the world media, (b) focused on only a small subset of possible cancers, and (c) was merely a document where a group of boffins “discussed and evaluated” the available research literature, rather than a new study bringing new data to bear on the issue.
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And finally, apropos of nothing at all, and arising just randomly from miasmic boredom of a Bank Holiday, here is today’s Irish Indo front page…
Hmmm. Stream of consciousness, eh?
Here are some observations on that story featured in the main headline. Continue reading “What ‘Science By Press Conference’ looks like”
What else could it be? (Pic: USAToday.com)
The week in six bits:
1. NASA startled by ‘Jelly Donut’ on Mars. Probably not a doughnut, though. Personally, I’m more startled by how dumbed down USA Today actually managed to make this report.
2. Conflicts of interest. It’s been a noisy week for sugar. Some folks want it taxed, others want it banned, and a few want it declared “the new tobacco.” In this insight into the petty politics of public health, Christopher Snowdon sums up what happens when you attempt to respond to such accusations by examining the research evidence. It’s not pretty. (This response to Dispatches on UK’s Channel 4 is also worth a look.)
3. Acupuncture Assists Penile Surgery: New Finding. This study recruited 1,481 males, who agreed to have acupuncture during penile surgery (it is some consolation to learn that, in true acupuncture fashion, the needles were administered to parts of the body other than the penis). The researchers reported that the men experienced “less discomfort” during the surgery. Way-hay! Too bad there was no control group. Boo!
Continue reading “Favourites List (24.01.14)”
You’ll have to forgive my recent lack of Tweets. I’m in China and Tweeting doesn’t work here. According to the log-in page of my hotel wifi, some websites are inaccessible due to legal restrictions. They mention YouTube in particular (probably accounting for the shortage of Beijing-based Harlem Shake vids) as well as Facebook (which causes me so much emotional pain I can’t stop smiling about it). It appears that Twitter is also bunched. And Evernote, oddly.
[STOP PRESS: And of course I now realise that WordPress (upload) is also blocked in China. Hence my posting this two days late (from Dubai). Just pretend I’m still there.]
So let’s talk semen. I found out today that in China — or at least in Chinese airports — it is classified as a potential ‘Hidden Dangerous Good’. That’s vaguely scientific, so I am posting it. My blog, my rules.
Continue reading “Peurile? Moi?”