Monthly Archives: May 2009

UPDATED:, ICUC Moderation, Neal’s Yard and User Generated Content: Epic Fail

Risk management office has a giant sharp metal structure over entrance door – which specialises in user generated content, and is published by the specialist company ICUC Moderation Services – has recently blogged about Neal’s Yard’s unfortunate recent appearance on the Guardian’s Ethical Living blog. However, especially given that are styled as communication specialists, we found their coverage of this story to be a really striking fail (to use a social media term with which they are familiar). Continue reading


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Totally Nourish: “Don’t waste your money on supplements”

We were delighted to see Totally Nourish (who sell lots of pills with pictures of Patrick Holford’s face on the bottle, and are lucky enough to have Holford as one of their ‘experts’), advising those on their e-mail mailing list not to waste money on supplements. We agree wholeheartedly with this. However, we were disappointed to read the rest of the e-mail: advising readers to not only buy supplement pills, but to buy relatively expensive supplement pills Continue reading


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Neal’s Yard on Guardian EthicalLiving: you ask, they don’t answer. Will they answer here?

Neal’s Yard were nice enough to agree to feature on the Guardian’s Ethical Living Blog: to answer reader questions. Guardian readers donated thiee time in order to contribute plenty of interesting questions (the comments page on this story runs to five pages) on issues such as what level of evidence they demand before selling a product, the ethics of their previous policy of selling homoeopathic pills for malaria (now withdrawn), or the ethical problems involved in distributing non-evidence-based anti-vaccine information.

Sadly, though, Adam Vaughan of the Guardian was left to report that

Unfortunately, despite previous assurances that they would be participating in this blog post, I’ve now been told they ‘will not be taking part in the debate’.

So yes, as several people have pointed out, this has become something of ‘You Ask’, rather than a ‘You Ask, They Answer’. I’m still hoping NYR will reconsider.

Despite attempts to persuade Neal’s Yard to participate, that comments thread has now been closed.

This is a real shame: there are fascinating ethical issues around the marketing and selling of ‘complementary and alternative’ treatments, and it would have been great to have discussed this with Neal’s Yard. We were just putting together a question about their position on vaccinations, before we learnt that they were not going to respond.

Ever-optimistic, we will e-mail Neal’s Yard shortly: to invite them to address some of the questions raised on EthicalLiving here (in the comments, or a guest post). If there is anything else you would like to ask them, feel free to post the comment here – we will be sure to e-mail them a link to this thread. Continue reading


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Dore: poor coordination can “spoil your life”

With their shiny redesigned website, Dore have added some discussion of the symptoms of various learning difficulties. Their discussion of the problems posed by poor coordination is especially…well, I’m struggling to think of a descriptor that’s suitable for a family blog. Continue reading


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Science So What? So Everything: web stats

Following some discussion of the Science So What? campaign, they have helpfully e-mailed us their web stats – in response to a question that we raised. The stats for the campaign from its 27th January start through to 20th May are therefore reproduced below: Continue reading


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ASA resolve complaint with Totally Nourish

Totally Nourish sells supplements and other ‘health’ products, and has Patrick Holford as one of its two ‘experts’. We were therefore interested to see that they were mentioned on the Advertising Standards Authority website earlier this month (click on the “Informally Resolved Complaints” button”. According to the ASA, “After consideration by the ASA of complaints received” Totally Nourish “agreed to amend or withdraw advertising without the need for a formal investigation”.

We do wonder what the advertising in question was. It is a shame that the ASA does not make these details available.


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Science So What? So Everything: FOIA response

We are pleased to say that we have now received a detailed response from the Public Communications Unit to our Freedom of Information Act Request about Science So What? So Everything. The full response is below, in blockquotes; text in italics is our original questions. We have inserted some comments. there is a lot of detail here, though – we will return to this in future, but wanted to get this online ASAP.

What budget has been made available for the campaign, and how much has been spent?

So far, £600K has been spent on the campaign. Continue reading


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Science So What? So Everything. Freedom of Information request and blog comment

We have previously posted some criticisms of aspects of the Science So What? So Everything? campaign. Elliot from the campaign has now responded to our guest post on Science: So What and science communication. We are grateful to him for getting back to us. However, we do have a number of concerns about his comment. Continue reading


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Susan Greenfield on bankers and computer games: badly thought out hypothesising

Wired’s science and health coverage is normally pretty good. We were therefore disappointed to see an article by Susan Greenfield: presenting some badly thought out hypothesising, and suggesting an inadequate understanding of a number of complex factors. Greenfield chooses to

start with a bold hypothesis…What if the recent wave of recklessness among bankers was due, in part, to the fact that the younger generation has been brought up in two dimensions – subjected to prolonged time in front of a screen, immersed in the world of computer games.

Greenfield argues that

cases of brain damage suggest that reckless behaviour may be linked to a compromised or under-active prefrontal cortex…So here’s my reasoning: first, reckless behaviour is related to a mindset where the prefrontal cortex under-functions, and a premium consequently shifts to the excitement and thrill of the here and now. Second, our brains are shaped by the environment. Third, if the screen culture creates a world dominated by sensation and process rather than by content, significance and narrative, it may well be that those playing computer games have brains that adjust appropriately.

Greenfield then asks whether this

might that account for our current financial mess? Probably not entirely. But remember, you heard it here first.

Unfortunately, Greenfield’s approach is badly thought out, on a number of levels Continue reading


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Jerome Burne, Daniel Amen and SPECT scans: “Are you wrecking your brain?”

We were surprised to see Jerome Burne’s article in the Mail, reporting that Daniel G. Amen‘s work:

explains how behaviour such as anxiety, anger or impulsiveness could be related to the way specific areas in your brain work. Continue reading


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