back to article Official: PhD in 'Essential Oils' or 'Natural Toiletries' = 'a Scientist'

The Advertising Standards Authority - in these benighted short-attention-span days, perhaps one of the most important guardians of the English language - has described the fields of "Natural Preservatives in toiletries" and "Essential Oils" as being "traditional scientific disciplines" and ruled that people qualified in these …

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  1. Code Monkey
    Pint

    Wow

    So... when I was down the pub on Saturday I was being a Beer Scientist? Actually with over 20 years research I'd be overqualified in the Essential Oils sector.

  2. Ian McLaughlin
    Black Helicopters

    Fact check please

    "Terrifyingly, it is indeed a fact that British universities will nowadays issue a "Bachelor of Science" degree in herbal and homeopathic medicine."

    Where?

    1. Lewis Page 1 (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Fact check please

      Here you go. You can get BSc Acupuncture too

      http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/shsc/_courses/undergraduate_list.asp

      http://www.uel.ac.uk/programmes/hab/undergraduate/summary/herbalmedicine-bsc.htm

      Google usually works better than demanding fact checks in comments, though

      1. Graham Marsden
        Dead Vulture

        @Lewis Page

        "Google usually works better than demanding fact checks in comments, though"

        But putting it in the article (come on, you *know* someone was going to ask and if the OP hadn't, I certainly would have) would have been even better.

    2. The BigYin

      Here's a short list

      "Herbal Medicine" (at least herbs can have active ingredients)*

      ---University of East London,

      ---Middlesex University,

      ---University of Central Lancashire,

      ---University of Westminster,

      ---University of Lincoln,

      ---Napier University.

      "Homoeopathy" Hos BSc [or similar] (a good cure for dehydration)

      ---Middlesex University,

      ---University of Central Lancashire,

      ---University of Westminster,

      ---University of Salford.

      Do some searching, you'll find more. It's bloody depressing. We are turning into a nation or hairdressers, tax-avoiding-fat-cats/footballers (who pay crica 2-6% tax) and certified idiots. Now if you don't mind, I think a need a Camomile tea to soothe my nerves....

      *And yes, I am perfectly aware we still get lots of drugs from herbs. These drugs are created by scientists, not blasted herbalists.

      1. breakfast
        Thumb Up

        I like the way Tim Minchin tells it

        If you haven't heard the song "Storm" by Tim Minchin seek it out. It features the line ( possibly misquoted but sentiments apply ) "There is a word for Alternative Medicines that actually work- it's 'Medicines.'"

        1. Elmer Phud Silver badge
          Happy

          Tim Minchin - storm

          It's on his website

          or

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1yxDWxUIM0

          1. BorkedAgain
            Thumb Up

            Elmer, you rock.

            Tim Minchin is flippin' brilliant...

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Did they ask a scientist ...

    what it takes to be a scientist? ie: someone who follows a scientific methodology, try Karl Popper for a start as to what that means. I suspect not, the ruling was probably made by some arts muppet who thinks that wearing a white coat makes someone a scientist -- style over substance.

    This is more than just a matter of word definition, it will open the door to sham products legitimised by a white coated wally waving their hands. The public will then be reassured and if they are lucky only suffer financial loss - maybe suffer health problems as a result.

    This is exactly the sort of thing that the ASA is supposed to protect us from.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      pardon

      you mean like bulshite 'dentists' in white coates telling us how their jollop will stop our modern healthy diet making all out teethe disolve....

      inages of horses, stable doors and bolt come to mind...

      the ASA is a joke

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: White coats

      If a scientist is defined as someone who wears a white coat, is a mad scientist someone who wears a white coat with their arms tied behind their back?

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      @alain williams

      "Did they ask a scientist what it takes to be a scientist? ... try Karl Popper for a start".

      Difficult, as Karl Popper died in 1994. But I expect there are "universities" where you can "study" for a PhD in Spiritualism, so it may be possible.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      I have a white coat :)

      <gets his>

      1. BorkedAgain
        Coat

        Reminds me...

        ...of those ads in the 80s:

        Bloke dressed up like a dentist, in a dental clinic, holding one of those dentist's mirrors-on-a-stick opens his presentation with "I'm not a dentist, but..."

        <-- There he is, hanging the coat back up again...

  4. Flugal

    Oh dear

    This all contributes to the reasons quacks, frauds and religion are able to thrive.

  5. Barry O'Connell
    FAIL

    Muppets

    The ASA seem to be trying to muscle in on the traditional role of the OED. First was the inversion of the meaning of unlimited such that it now means limited by any constraints an advertiser may so desire (wheter explicit or implicit). Now any quack can call themselves a scientist.

    I have long thought about how I could complain to the ASA about their use of the word "Standards" in a misleading fashion. Any suggestions as to how such a complaint could be worded/made?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Definitions

      Just write "smurf" 1000 times, since it can mean anything. Sorry, I meant "scientist."

  6. Bugs R Us
    WTF?

    Well in that case...

    Isn't sciene really about understanding the unknown or attempting to? Surely, someone working towards a scientific objective should be called a scientist, regardless of how trivial the objective maybe, if there is a science element, then they are scientists. Where is it written that you have to have a particular qualification level to be called a scientist. The early scientists of a hundred years ago didn't have qualifications.

    1. nobby

      "The early scientists of a hundred years ago didn't have qualifications"?

      you mean like Einstein? yep, limited qualifications there....

      Although some of the older ones may have had the odd-degree or two, there was this Newton guy a few years back who quite liked university, but he's a lot further than 100 years ago so probably doesn't fit into your categorisation..

      1. Not That Andrew

        Hmm

        Einstein - PhD

        Rutherford - DSc

        Bose - MSc

        3 geniuses, two doctorates and a Masters, hardly unqualified. Underqualified by modern standards, certainly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      no, there is more to it than that

      as a previous post said; start by reading Popper if you want to know what counts as scientific method. It is not just finding things out, it is first predicting what you expect to find out, and admitting your understanding is wrong when those predictions fail.

  7. The BigYin

    They are scientists....

    ...if they follow a scientific method. Hypothesis, replicable experimentation, data collection, peer review, publication, critical analysis etc.

    If they do not, then they are nothing more than quacks, charlatans and deluded fools.

    Herbs do contain active chemicals, but it takes an actual scientist to work out what they are, how they work and how they can be improved/attenuated as required.

    The ASA should not be in the position of determining what a "scientist" is, they should defer to an actual bone fide scientific authority. The ASA is wrong - can one appeal against this?

    And do not start me on the abuse of the word "engineer". I have a degree in engineering, but I am not an engineer (I do not work in that field nor am I a member of the relevant recognised body). Your heating "engineer" is not a chuffin' "engineer". They are a technician. In the same way a nurse is not a medical doctor. There is nothing wrong with being a technician or a nurse, they both perform vital jobs; but they are NOT engineers or medical doctors.

    1. beerandbiscuits

      If they work on that definition

      it's bye bye to all "climate scientists" isn't it.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        FAIL

        @beerandbiscuits

        No.

        Hyperbole does not a fact make.

        1. beerandbiscuits

          @ Loyal Commenter

          Strangely enough, that's exactly my point.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
          Stop

          Downvote me all you like

          Climate scientists are scientists like any others and have to uphold a high level of professionalism. Climate science deniers and heavily funded interest groups do not, neither to reactionary newspaper sellers. Just because it is fashionable to claim that there is some sort of corruption going on in the peer-review process surrounding climate science does not lead to it being true. I would suggest that rahter than persecuting the hard-working people who are trying to establish the scientific facts of the matter, time would be better spent pursuing those who sppear to have a strongly vested interest in spreading doubt about the process. I would suggest you begin by actually reading the scientific literature concerned, along with the detailed results of the various reviews into 'climategate' and then take a look at the people who essentially attacked the scientists involved by sending large numbers of spurious FOI requests all at once in order to stop their work. Take a look at who these people have links with; in some cases, these are 'institutes' who have also been very active in promoting such things as creationism and spreading FUD about the links between smoking and cancer for the big tobacco companies. Do you seriously believe that large oil companies are not beyond using this sort of tactic in the pursuit of profits?

          1. JimC Silver badge

            @Loyal Commenter...

            Cllimate Change is indeed potentially science. And indeed its extraordinarly hard science, made even more difficult because there's no real way of testing a hypothesis. Which is why the simplistic bollocks coming out of these organisations is so very very irritating.

          2. Wommit
            Boffin

            re : Loyal Commenter

            So if the CRU practices sound scientific principles, they would freely allow access to their base data and algorithms, they would happily allow any peer review, knowing that bad reviews would be rubbished by the scientific community at large. They would also explain all of the assumptions that they made, knowing that these assumptions, if wrong, could destroy their argument.

            All of this is called sound scientific principle.

            And all of it has, at one time or another (or more than one time) been ignored or avoided by the CRU.

            The people who published the CRU emails weren't the ones who wrote them. The CRU bosses ordered the destruction of data so that it couldn't be released under an FOI request. Does this type of activity lead us to respect the integrity and honesty of the 'scientists' involved? I would suggest that their only real activity in a lab should be sweeping it.

            So let's have the CRU's full data and algorithms for everything. For all of their publicly funded work. for everything that they've done from the 'hockey stick' graph to the latest weather models. Let the scientific community evaluate these data without fear of being called 'deniers'.

            Most of us aren't trying to claim corruption at the CRU or any CC establishment. We want to see proper RIGOROUS examination of the data first. While this is being denied, we won't trust them.

            Climate change is far too important not to be treated correctly. If the CC lobby are wrong they will go down in history as the greatest liars the world has ever known. If they are correct, they may be known as the saviors of the world.

            1. MrCheese
              Boffin

              Re: Wommit

              Nice post, although one point few people discuss, CC advocates mostly, is the massive potential damamge caused if indeed they were found to be lying or otherwise lacking objective integrity.

              If Phil Downs and Co. were proven to be indisputably wrong, both the CC deniers and the undecided public would use it as an excuse to entirely dismiss the mere theory of climate change, let alone any hard evidence that exists to prove it. That whole school of science would fold, forever discredited and derided, damage done by it's own proponents...think babies and bath water.

          3. MrCheese
            Stop

            Re: Loyal Commenter

            I'm not listening to the loud-mouthed critics when judging the CRU, merely forming my own hypothesis based on the evidence, which in this case is the hostile and defensive behaviour of the so-called scientists at that particular lab at least.

            For me the jury's still out although it is inexscusably naive to flat-out deny it either.

    2. Wommit
      Thumb Up

      Re : The Big Yin

      "They are scientist... ...if they follow a scientific method. Hypothesis, replicable experimentation, data collection, peer review, publication, critical analysis etc."

      And that seems to blow the CRU out of the scientific area then.

  8. sabroni Silver badge

    But...

    .. Science is based on a process. You come up with a theory and test to see if it's true or not. So what's wrong with this process that it doesn't work on herbal products?

    That's what vexes me with your attitude. Science isn't the only way of looking at the world. It's not always the best way either. The closed mind of a scientific fundamentalist is just as bad as the closed mind of a religious fundamentalist. The hilarious "sky fairy" rhetoric that I read frequently on this site is a clear example of a narrow minded, unscientific attitude...

    1. Chris Procter
      FAIL

      These people are not scientists

      They are designers and technicians.

      They mix up recipes of scented water based lotion for sale to the public.

      They do not study what effects these lotions have other than to ensure they don't cause chemical burns.

      This isn't science.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: But...

      "Science isn't the only way of looking at the world. It's not always the best way either."

      Please post details of a better way that actually helps people to understand the world, rather than claiming that stuff happens because some mysterious and surprisingly anthropomorphic entity has "decided" it should.

      "The closed mind of a scientific fundamentalist is just as bad as the closed mind of a religious fundamentalist. The hilarious "sky fairy" rhetoric that I read frequently on this site is a clear example of a narrow minded, unscientific attitude..."

      In what way? That people are not willing to merely accept that the "sky fairy" exists and dare to demand some kind of proof or, at the very least, some evidence? Science doesn't mean "I'm really straining hard thinking about this - or at least concentrating on the idea - because I really want to think about this, really hard", you know.

      You actually have to be challenged by observations from reality and perform mental processes in order to form a testable understanding of the facts which, if flawed, will send you back over and over again until you get it as right as it needs to be for practical intents and purposes. If you can't stand that kind of rigour, by all means start dancing around with crystals and oils, but it won't be science.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        in what way?

        in what way is scientific fundamentalism as bad as religious fundamentalism? In the way it refuses to engage with other people and the way it looks down on other people.

        in what way is "sky fairy" rhetoric an example of narrow-mindedness? It's designed to belittle people's belief and to make something sound more ridiculous.

        You talk about the scientific process and rigour but the reality of the scientific establishment often falls far short of this ideal. Try researching whether prayer is effective in helping ill people. Yes, you'll find a lot of investigations that show it's ineffectual but there's a similar number indicating significant effects. More here, with references to where the research was done: http://www.forteantimes.com/strangedays/medicalbag/4897/prayer_power.html

        I don't dance round crystals. But good way to demonstrate the kind of closed-mindedness I'm talking about.

        And man up and get an id you anonymous pussy...

        1. The BigYin
          FAIL

          @sabroni mark 2

          "in what way is scientific fundamentalism as bad as religious fundamentalism?"

          I shall repeat - it is not possible to be a fundamentalist scientist. When presented with evidence (i,e. repeatable experiments and testable hypotheses etc) that show the current thinking is lacking/wrong, a [good] scientist *MUST* change their mind and follow the new hypothesis. This continues until some other scientist shows that the new theory is also flawed in some way and comes up with a better one.

          "It's designed to belittle people's belief and to make something sound more ridiculous."

          Yes, exactly. "Belief". It is not a testable hypothesis, it is not science, it is not valid. That's it. End of discussion. There is no more. It is actually that simple.

          "Try researching whether prayer is effective in helping ill people. Yes, you'll find a lot of investigations that show it's ineffectual but there's a similar number indicating significant effects."

          To the best of my knowledge, the number of trials showing "significant effect" were not proper double-blinds, and small in number. If you have 10,000 instances of something telling you "X=1", one instance saying "X=2" does not make "X=2"! It's a statistical aberration and it is something scientists have to be careful about. Prayer might make people feel better (which may have beneficial effects, look-up "placebo") but that's it. Oh, by the way, the Fortean Times is not exactly a reputable journal.

          "And man up and get an id you anonymous pussy..."

          Oh, so "sabroni" is you real name is it? or at least your Open ID? Thought not. And cease with the ad hominems. If the argument is solid, then the argument is solid; no matter who or what comes up with it.

        2. Liam Johnson

          refuses to engage?

          >>refuses to engage with other people

          Sometimes you just have to give up on lost causes.

          >>belittle people's belief and to make something sound more ridiculous.

          MORE rediculous? I don't really see how.

          >>prayer is effective in helping ill people.

          So is sea air or a trip to the mountains. Personally I prefer single malt.

          I have heard windex also works.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            prayer is effective at healing people

            only in that it keeps the numpties away from the patient while they get better on their own.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Re: in what way?

          "in what way is scientific fundamentalism as bad as religious fundamentalism? In the way it refuses to engage with other people and the way it looks down on other people."

          If you are referring to people wanting to pursue only scientific approaches as a means to understanding the natural world as "scientific fundamentalism", then the only way it "refuses to engage with" and "looks down on" people is not to be drawn into "you just have to believe" nonsense which does nothing to further understanding of anything.

          "in what way is "sky fairy" rhetoric an example of narrow-mindedness? It's designed to belittle people's belief and to make something sound more ridiculous."

          I personally wouldn't use the term myself, but many practitioners of all major religions will admit that some parts of their religion's set of beliefs are ridiculous anyway, mostly because some bloke will have written them down a few hundred to a few thousand years ago.

          "Try researching whether prayer is effective in helping ill people. Yes, you'll find a lot of investigations that show it's ineffectual but there's a similar number indicating significant effects."

          And which ones do you believe? It's like the lottery winner getting all the attention in the press and the reader thinking that playing the lottery is a "dead cert" because he's never heard about anyone losing the lottery.

          "I don't dance round crystals. But good way to demonstrate the kind of closed-mindedness I'm talking about."

          Hey, all I'm saying is that if you think that practices based on nothing more than a belief in their effectiveness without any observable basis for that supposed effectiveness give results, by all means indulge in them, but they aren't science.

          "And man up and get an id you anonymous pussy..."

          I have "an id" but don't see why I have to use it so that you can respond out of instinct to my every message with more facile protests about how science isn't everything and how scientists are somehow the bad guys for not parking a dollop of religious dogma alongside their hard-won knowledge of how the universe actually functions.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Stop

            so no one followed my link

            to the scientific research into the efficacy of prayer? here it is again:

            http://www.forteantimes.com/strangedays/medicalbag/4897/prayer_power.html

            read it. It's about scientific research. I don't have a problem with science. I'm aware of the wonderful stuff that science enables.

            But intolerance is intolerance. You're not better than me because you have a method. You're not better than me because you follow the one true way of science. Read that prayer article, maybe follow it up and check out the papers it mentions, have a think. Scientists are supposed to be good at that.

            And if you have believe in what you're typing, put your name to it!

            1. The BigYin
              FAIL

              @sabroni mark 4

              "You're not better than me because you have a method."

              As a person? No. A scientist is just as fallible as any other primate. But the hypotheses that fall out of applying the scientific method rigorously *are* better than those achieve by other means (e.g. appeal to authority/faith).

              ---

              As to your link. Well, where shall we begin? How about there (original paper)

              Here's the original paper: http://journals.lww.com/smajournalonline/Fulltext/2010/09000/Study_of_the_Therapeutic_Effects_of_Proximal.5.aspx

              There was NO CONTROL group! Why is that important? Well it would allow people to see if there was some other, unknown factor at play. Maybe the farm up river stopped dumping crap into the drinking water - who knows? Certainly not the study as they have no control group.

              It was NOT A DOUBLE-BLIND. This is also vital. Go read about the "placebo effect", it is more powerful than you realise. Also read up on "selection bias".

              There were also only 24 subjects and they were self-selected. My gast is now so flabbered I hardly know what to do. Maybe these 24 were getting better already? This is why selection needs to be random (and with controls, and double-blinded).

              I need go no further. It fails the scientific process big-time, it is not science IMHO (the Southern Medial Journal has a...err...certain reputation). I do not agree with the conclusions. I will agree that "something happened" but there is no way to determine from this report what that "something" was. "Noodley appendages" come to mind.

              ---

              "But intolerance is intolerance."

              Why is intolerance bad?

              Should I tolerate a fool? Should I tolerate crime? Should I tolerate violence against my person? Should tolerate the undermining of our education system and ability to think critically? The answer is "No", I should not."

              ---

              "And if you have believe in what you're typing, put your name to it!"

              I do not require belief, I have the evidence of proof.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Stop

              @sabroni

              "so no one followed my link"

              Contributors to the Fortean Times.

              Nigel Watson (Chairman of the Scunthorpe UFO Research Society 'SUFORS')

              Mary Caine who wrote about the The Glastonbury Zodiac: A map of the stars on a gigantic scale, formed by features in the landscape.

              I think that any article in the Fortean Times has to be taken as seriously as the above.

      2. MrCheese
        FAIL

        @ AC 13:47

        "if flawed, will send you back over and over again until you get it as right as it needs to be for practical intents and purposes"

        You'd have had a fairly good argument until that statement, that's not science either it's just psychology or any other trick science...my theory is correct because you can't prove me wrong.

        That in fact is the same specious reasoning I could use to defend the existence of any diety of duboius existential being.

        Shame the loudest critics fall widest of the mark eh

        1. Tom 35 Silver badge

          @ MrCheese

          No, there is no problem with AC's statement.

          Take Newton for example. In Newton's time any tests they could come up with fit his theory, it was not until much later that people came up with tests that involved very small, very large, very fast that it was found that his ideas didn't describe the universe as a whole. But even today Newton is "right as it needs to be" if you drop a brick on your foot.

          This is of no use to "defend the existence of any diety of duboius existential being" as unlike Newton's ideas you can not come up with a test to support your idea. To be a scientific theory it has to be testable, this is where you get into problems with stuff like string theory.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Re: @ AC 13:47

          "You'd have had a fairly good argument until that statement, that's not science either it's just psychology or any other trick science...my theory is correct because you can't prove me wrong."

          Nope. First of all, it's "my theory is correct" because actual observations test its predictions. If they don't, it's back to the drawing board to get it right, just as I wrote.

          And then, scientific knowledge can have limits due to the limit of observations. As someone else pointed out, Newton was not likely to imagine his "laws" breaking down for objects travelling particularly quickly because people hadn't really considered the possibility of such things, or the kind of things that might be doing so, in his day. However, classical mechanics is as right as it needs to be for a lot of applications, and scientific endeavour has refined or incorporated Newton's work into more general theories of mechanics for applications for which classical mechanics is insufficient.

          "That in fact is the same specious reasoning I could use to defend the existence of any diety of duboius existential being."

          Not at all: science doesn't call it a day and say that the stuff we already know is sufficient for all purposes. Instead, it seeks to expand knowledge through observation where existing knowledge is shown to be insufficient. In contrast, religious belief encourages practitioners to fill in the gaps in our knowledge with assertions about the mysterious practices of deities, discouraging the faithful from challenging such assertions and turning them back on the road of inquiry.

          "Shame the loudest critics fall widest of the mark eh"

          The real shame is that the finer points of scientific inquiry have eluded you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It does work on herbal products

      The scientific method does work on herbal products.

      However the vast majority of scientific evidence shows very little evidence to support the theory behind homoeopathy and many (not all) other herbal treatments, yet nearly all teachers/students on homoeopathy courses and the like are biased towards it.

      Lot's of the time results are quoted only with comparison to other herbal methods/remedies or compared to people who receive no treatment - these results are virtually useless in reality due to a poor investigative method - I presume they don't compare their results properly because to do so would reveal actually how insignificant the result they received was.

      One 5 sigma detection that a drop of beer cures heart-disease means practically nothing if we already have millions showing that is has no effect. You either need a crazily significant result or you'd have to do millions of them for it to mean much. Neither of which most studies achieve.

      So you can be a scientist that studies herbal products. Just most of the people that do are *NOT* scientists, because they claim (and think) that their results support their case more than they do.

    4. The BigYin
      FAIL

      @sabroni

      "The closed mind of a scientific fundamentalist"

      It is not possible to be a scientist and be closed-minded (well, not possible to be a good one). Now I suggest you go away and think again, you clearly have no idea about which you speak.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        I didn't say you were any good at it

        but this "it's impossible to be a scientific fundamentalist" is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. "I can't possibly be wrong, I have my process!"

        1. The BigYin

          @sabroni mark 3

          "I can't possibly be wrong, I have my process!""

          Ah ha! Now we get to the crux of your lack of understanding. It *is* possible to be wrong. That is the whole bloody point of the scientific process! The idea is to prove current ideas wrong so we can get new and better ones. And that goodness for that!

          Did you know Charles Darwin was wrong? Newton was wrong? Galileo was wrong? And so on. All wrong. And by "wrong" I mean that some bright spark found an area where their ideas did not quite match the experimental/empirical evidence and came up with a better one (Neo-Darwinism, Relativity and so forth).

          The current thinking requires all previous though to (in some way) be wrong. And our current thinking is also wrong (we just haven't quite figured out where yet). Wrong is good.

          And if a scientist wants to hold on to ideas that are known to be wrong, what do we call them? Unemployed.

        2. cyborg
          FAIL

          @I didn't say you were any good at it

          > but this "it's impossible to be a scientific fundamentalist" is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about. "I can't possibly be wrong, I have my process!"

          Pointing out that "scientific fundamentalist" is a tautology is not the same thing as claiming infallibility.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      yes

      'Scientific fundamentalist' is an oxymoron.

      You either follow the scientific process or you are not a scientist.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ But..

      ".. Science is based on a process. You come up with a theory and test to see if it's true or not. So what's wrong with this process that it doesn't work on herbal products?"

      It does work on herbal products. The problem is that homeopaths have decided that this method can be abandoned sometimes when it suits them, where 'when it suits them' = 'when it's homeopathy'. This is because all clinical trials of homeopathy have show it to be a load of old snake-oil and they are scared they will lose their jobs / reputations / livelihoods.

      "That's what vexes me with your attitude. Science isn't the only way of looking at the world. It's not always the best way either."

      It's the best way when you're talking about the interactions of chemicals.

      "The closed mind of a scientific fundamentalist is just as bad as the closed mind of a religious fundamentalist."

      Firstly the term 'scientific fundamentalist' doesn't mean anything because the term 'fundamentalist' refers to strict adherence to specific set of /theological/ doctrines. The work of scientists is testing scientific theory, not theological asssertion. I suppose you could try and appropriate the term by analogy, but the thing is that good scientists don't maintain strict adherence to a set of doctrines, so much as strict adherence to a set of testable (and tested) hypotheses.

      While I agree that a closed mind can be a bad thing I'm not entirely sure why you think a closed mind is always a bad thing. I, for example, have a closed mind to jumping off cliffs without adequate protective gear. This particular closed-minded attitude has preserved my life so far.

      "The hilarious "sky fairy" rhetoric that I read frequently on this site is a clear example of a narrow minded, unscientific attitude..."

      Tell me one way to scientifically test whether or not there is a God that doesn't involve appeal to a holy book or a tradition of people saying "There is a God" and I'll go test it.

  9. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Whilst I wouldn't for a moment consider Homeopathy to be anything other than fraud

    I don't see why studying essential oils should not be considered to be science. Just because these are natural plant extracts, it does not change the fact that they are complex mixtures of organic compounds, many of which have biological activity. It is completely legitimate science to study the biological effects and intereactions of these, as well as performing the complex analysis required to characterise their principle constituents.

    HOWEVER, just because Neils Yard employ people with science degrees, does not necessarily make them scientists, unless they are performing some sort of scientitic research. Furthermore, because something is claimed in advertising material, does not mean you should believe it. In fact, if someone has gone to the trouble of putting it into advertising material and printing it on glossy paper in four-colour separations, then the odds are they are deliberately trying to mislead you or distract you from something.

    1. Steven Jones

      There is another option

      Homeopathy can be something other than a fraud. It's quite possible for it to be a delusion, and I've no doubt that most of the practitioners are deluded rather than fraudulent.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        @Steven Jones

        Agreed, let us settle on 'delusion' on the part of the individual, and 'fraud' on the part of companies. Allegedly.

    2. Cameron Colley

      RE: Advertising

      "In fact, if someone has gone to the trouble of putting it into advertising material and printing it on glossy paper in four-colour separations, then the odds are they are deliberately trying to mislead you or distract you from something."

      This, I think, is a very important thing to remember.

      Almost all advertising is designed to coerce you into buying something you do not either want or need. Most advertising should be viewed as deceit -- since it is, effectively, the nearest that the company producing it can get to out lies without being censured.

      Never, ever, ever, believe anything that anyone trying to sell you something says if you are not able to interrogate* them and see proof.

      If you have children drill it into them that adverts are lies (for a "fun" example of how -- try showing them the pictures and adverts for Sea Monkeys, then buy them some) I am sure other people have their examples too.

      *politely, of course

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        "If you have children drill it into them that adverts are lies"

        I know a lot of adults who would benefit from this treatment, too.

  10. Bilgepipe
    Headmaster

    So what's the "official" definition?

    So if a scientist isn't "someone who frames and test [sic] hypotheses", what's the official, El Reg definition of "a scientist"? If you can deride the ASA ruling then you must have an alternative meaning for the word which indicates they are incorrect.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll let Dara say it better than I can

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMvMb90hem8

    1. Colin Brett
      Joke

      And Jasper Carrott can say it as well

      "What is a homeopath? Sounds like a gay axe murderer."

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And I mean this nicely..

    Paramedics used to do a long course, in house, validated by the IHCD.

    Now some of them (not all) do a degree in Paramedic Sciences at various levels (foundation, Bachelors etc) depending on their choice, service etc.

    Both the in house course and the degree routes lead to the same state registration with the HPC, allowing them to practice under this title. There are military paramedics similarly registered as well.

    I'm not quite sure what those doing the 3 or 4 year course (OK, some of it is "sandwich") do with all that time in the classroom that makes them better able to practically treat a casualty, but by the ASA's logic, all those doing the in house courses and then validating this with experience on the road are also scientists.

    I expect the nurses will be demanding a change in status to "Nurse-Scientist" based on this ruling.

    An utter debasement of the term scientist, and I speak as a non-graduate looking at the many nonsense degrees making it harder to get through any paper sift in job applications.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Exactly.

      Stating that "BSc=science" is just silly.

      Most UK computer degrees are BSc or MSc. A computer programmer is not regarded as a "scientist".

      All Maths degrees are BSc or MSc. A mathematician is not regarded as a "scientist".

      And what about Physiotherapy?

      The list of BScs out there is endless and this is a stupid ruling from the ASA.

      1. Stuart 22

        Rubbish

        I am BA Mathematics (University of Essex). My fellow physicists were awarded BA degrees too.

        A BSc a scientist does not make. A scientist today is someone qualified (or at least acknowledged to have the ability to be qualified) in a discipline considered for inclusion in our leading peer reviewed Scientific publications. Or alternatively what the Royal Society says it is. Certainly not what the ASA might claim ...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A Cambridge maths degree is a BA

        And so is a Cambridge computer science degree, as far as I know:

        http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/course/

        http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/admissions/

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          and if you wait a year and cough up its an MA

          is that still true?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Is MMath == MSc? Cancel the M's...

        "All Maths degrees are BSc or MSc."

        My MMath disagrees.

  13. The Indomitable Gall

    Spelling

    "And even though the word "scientist" now officially means nothing, we still aren't going to apply it to homeopathic smellies experts."

    Can I suggest creative misspelling?

    Like "sighuntist" or something?

    Homeopaths can be "placebo sighuntists" and essential oils guys can be "girly stink sighuntists".

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    There is a higher qualification

    So, scientist->boffin->BCS Scientist

    The latter class is for a very limited set of people - according to the BCS (the British Computer Society) people with PhD's and have 10 years working (in industry!) in relevant fields are not qualified to be scientists (CSci) because they do not have the experience....

    Sorry, El Reg, Boffin is not the highest accolate :-)

    However, wtf is a herbal scientist?

    1. GrahamT
      Coat

      Re: wtf is a herbal scientist?

      He is a sage of course.

      1. Mr Young
        Happy

        Or maybe...

        he smokes stuff for a living? No, no, that's a fishmonger, sorry about that

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    There is a higher qualification

    So, scientist->boffin->BCS Scientist

    The latter class is for a very limited set of people - according to the BCS (the British Computer Society) people with PhD's and have 10 years working (in industry!) in relevant fields are not qualified to be scientists (CSci) because they do not have the experience....

    Sorry, El Reg, Boffin is not the highest accolade :-)

    However, wtf is a herbal scientist?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A 'herbal scientist'

      Either

      a) A scientist involved in the formulation and creation of strains of 'herbs', or, most oftenly

      b) A scientist who partakes in the consumption of such 'herbal remedies'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        You forgot:

        c) A scientist made out of herbs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Boffin

          Re: you forgot

          d) a scientist who uses herbs. I know of many who make recreational use of some of the more interesting members of the plant family*.

          *i'm not a biologist, plant family is good enough for a lowly BSc MSci PhD physicist

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Other "Sciences" ...

    Don't forget Sciences like :

    Witchcraft, Vodoo, Black Magic, Astrology, Alchemy ...

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      ...or IT

      see title

      1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
        Boffin

        Nope

        Oracle is a "Dark Art" (TM)

  17. Joe Earl
    Go

    Differentiating Boffins and 'Scientists'

    As a researcher at the Institute for Computational Cosmology in Durham, I wholeheartedly agree with the move away from the discredited 'scientist' term, and would like to second 'boffin' for the replacement.

    Furthermore I hereby propose a test which any boffin may apply to distinguish a scientist from a boffin:

    1) They can handle basic maths: integration, differentiation, logarithms (removes biologists/wasters)

    2) Every number they quote has an error attached (removes mathematicians, economists)

    3) They never, ever use the word 'believe' when talking about science (this one removes the amateur scientists)

    Your subject is a boffin if (and only if) they pass all three stages.

    I propose we set up a national centre for boffinry, and only once one has completed the required testing while you be allowed to call yourself a boffin.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Headmaster

      Boffin

      Hi Joe,

      Here I am a lowly psychologist, but I

      1) can do all the maths (studying vision properly needs sums)

      2) qualify numbers with errors

      3) don't like 'believe'

      must be in the Durham Department of Psychoboffiny...

      As an ivory tower academic, I'd like to know how many papers these 'Essential Oils' and 'Natural Toiletries' scientists have in ISI Web of Science and what their h-indices are. After all, without decent numbers there how can they get jobs?

      cheers

      Bob

      1. Joe Earl

        Psychologists and h-indices

        @AC: I digress, psychologists and biologists *are* scientists really; we physicists just love to tease the others - it gives us sense of superiority that many (a larger proportion than in psychology etc) of us physicists fail to achieve outside of scientific practice.

        AFAIK no one uses h-indices to actually to select or differentiate candidates for a position; they will look at the total number of citations your papers have relative to others in the field and the total number of papers you have published relative to their length and the time you have been researching.

        The h-index is really measure of how popular you are as a scientist *overall*, not how popular a certain piece of work is in it's field.

        For instance if you worked in a really obscure field with only 3 other researchers in total and had produced 2 papers both cited by all 3 others, then those pieces of work would clearly be very significant (espec. if you were being hired to do something like that), but none of this would be revealed by your h-index.

        So within their field, homoeopathists etc can get lots of citations and thus jobs in homoeopathy, since their employer really only cares about their performance in that field (quite rightly so).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Headmaster

          H-indices

          I was teasing a bit about h-indices. Our previous PVC science (a physicist, indeed an astronomer) was v enamoured of them and had clear views about the sort of H you needed for a chair etc. So these homeopathists might get jobs in Neal's Yard, but they wouldn't get jobs in a top-notch department of boffinry!

          Bob (h =16 +/- 2)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @However, wtf is a 'herbal scientist'?

    A dealer.

  19. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    Not science

    Not scientists!

  20. graeme leggett

    Remember Beatty?

    "You got an -ology, you're a scientist"

  21. Oliver Mayes

    *headdesk*

    "there will still be many diehards who simply don't accept that homeopathy or herbalism are sciences"

    Because they're not.

    Diluting something in water over and over again until there is no longer any significant amount of the original substance left, then selling it at an enourmous mark-up to gullible idiots whilst claiming that the water somehow 'remembers' what was originally in it is not a science. It's a glorified con.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      ffs

      it's about time someone proved this ridiculous water memory/clathrate* BS untrue.

      ...I believe a combined synchrotron/neutron/raman experiment should suffice. Anyone got some mother tincture to hand? Leave the rest to me ;)

      The only question remains is where could this be published (without damaging the career of a respected member of the scientific community)

      *yes, clathrates, they exist. But not how the homeopaths miss-appropriated the term.

    2. David Barrett Silver badge
      Joke

      Water 'remembers' what was originally put into it...

      No one is claiming that water can 'remember' what is put into it, thats just spin added by non believers like you... you have to put the water into a jar and hit it on a HORSE HAIR and LEATHER pillow for it to take an impression of the molecule that you have long since diluted out of the jar...

      :)

      To be clear on this... If you have a 200C dilution of anything in water, what you actually have, is water.

  22. Jacqui
    Thumb Up

    anon complaint

    I wonder who they got to make the complaint?

    These days, having your ad pulled is probably a good way to advertise your product!

  23. EddieD

    Utter nonsense

    Even for the register, this goes beyond the limits of patronising.

    Almost all research, whether in the physical sciences or the Humanities comes down to statistics. This number of patients die with this drug, this proportion of hadrons collided in this fashion, what proportion of cats have died when locked in a box with a jug of cyanide that will spill after a certain proportion of nuclear events have happened, nuclear half-life is the time when /on average/ 50% of particles have undergone decay.

    I work in a department spanning various cognitive disciplines, including psychology. To dismiss the research that is done in the departments as statistical bullshit, displays the rather juvenile and facile level of understanding that folk come to expect from the Reg, even when the tongue in cheek attitude it normally possesses is taken into account.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Dead Vulture

      Oh dear

      I trust you'll be cancelling your subscription, then?

  24. Mike 140

    All maths degrees are BSc or Msc ?

    Indomitable @ 13:40

    Nope. I had a choice of BA or BSc for mine. At one time Oxford awarded only BA's, no matter what the content. (I think that's changed, but not 100% sure)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Sire

    Does this mean that the famous holder of a Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition (sic) can go back to calling herself 'Dr Gillian McKeith' on her TV shows 'You Are What You Shite"? after she was obliged to drop the title following complaints to the ASA?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utter bloody nonsense.

    What a load of rubbish the ASA talks. There are so many errors with its thinking it's difficult to know where to begin.

    "The ASA noted that there was no qualification process to become a scientist in the same way there was for professions like medicine or law ..."

    1) A qualification process to become an X doesn't mean you are an X.

    If I qualify as a lawyer but never practice law then I am not a lawyer but a Y (street cleaner, communications technician, beautician, &c.). I could truthfully say "I qualified as a lawyer", but not "I am a lawyer".

    2) A lack of a qualification process to become an X doesn't mean you aren't an X.

    If I don't graduate in entomology, but I get a job at a university where it is my job to spend all my time studying insects, where colleagues in the same university or other universities value my work and review my papers (that I am required to publish in order to maintain tenure) favourably, then I am an entomologist regardless of the qualifications that allowed me to take up that noble profession.

    3) There is more than one way to become qualified to practice science.

    Just because there is no one trade-standard single-governing-body-accredited method for becoming a scientist doesn't mean there is no qualification process. On the contrary - try getting an interview for this job (http://www.entsoc.org/employment/jobs) without having a Masters degree in entomology.

    4) Proclaiming oneself to be an X is not equivalent to being an X.

    "I am an egg". There, I've said it. I am an egg. And by the logic of the ASA it is, therefore, true. I leave it up to them to explain how an egg is able to type.

    Seriously though - homeopathists can (and do) proclaim themselves to be scientists. This does not make them scientists, it merely makes them deeply misguided individuals who have abandoned science in favour of testable and provably false hypotheses such as the power of 'succussion'.

    "... and that there was no universal definition of what constituted a scientist ..."

    1) What is a "universal" definition?

    Without a definition of the term "universal" it's not possible to know what it meant by it, and if that is not possible it may be assumed to be a meaningless term. Thus the point they are making is "there is no definition of what constitutes a <meaningless-term> scientist", or - to put it more briefly - "there is no definition of what constitutes a scientist". This is a provably false assertion.

    2) There are many things whose definition changes with time and/or place and/or context.

    Tables, houses, pets - all these are things of which there is no lasting definition. A table doesn't necessarily have four legs, a pet is not necessarily a mammal, a house needn't be permanent dwelling built of brick. That doesn't mean that the people on the ASA panel don't keep pets, dwell in houses or eat their evening meal at a table though. It does mean their requirement for the term scientist to have a universal definition is meaningless though.

    I could go on like this for hours and hours, for pages and pages revealing deeper and deeper levels of nonsense in this judgement, but I think that will do for now.

    I'm also inclined to complain about their judgement, citing the above reasons for starters.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Minor point...

    ...you can practice medicine with a Bachelor of Medicine degree, although not independently. And not very well, initially.

    Teaching on the scientific method is pretty scarce as an undergraduate though. Worryingly, a lot of practicing doctors believe in hippy medicine, and sky faries. And creationism for that matter, but don't get me started...

  28. Joe Harrison Silver badge

    What have teh herbal scientists ever done for us?

    Go on then what ? Apart from researching which tree barks produce aspirin. But apart from that? And which flowers produce heart drugs? Apart from that though? And identifying the thousands of other phytological items in today's pharmacopoeia? Apart from that WTF have they ever done for us?

    1. GrahamT
      Headmaster

      Herbal Scientists?

      I'm not sure Pharmacologists would like to be referred to as such.

  29. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    It shows the sad state of language instruction

    That El Reg's crew of low-minded commentards are not sniggering away at the name "Neal's Yard".

  30. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    They're not -absolutely- not scientists. Darwin didn't have qualifications.

    I have quickly thought of two difficulties in applying the word "boffin" to female scientists, and then another, and so I think it is sexist. Sorry. One, it simply doesn't fit; and, two, it must create the impression that the person referred to is a female boff. Which may be true, and very enjoyable, but is not the attribute that you're supposed to be addressing. If we manage to set that aside, it also sounds like a fat bird that probably doesn't get out much. So just give up now.

    And you can't be any kind of biology boffin, surely? I mean, see above.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lord Kwac of Napa* Ph.D.**

    Redefining 'Ph.D.' rather than 'scientist'?

    Perhaps to include something like 'has advanced the body of knowledge' rather than merely 'has signed a cheque' - although these four ladies must have got their doctorates from reputable establishments (or the ASA would have upheld the complaint of course)

    * As soon as the cheque clears.

    ** In 'Nutritional Science' as soon as I post the cheque off to Ashwood University

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Engineer

    In significant parts of the world you can only call yourself an engineer if you have the right degree. In the UK you can call yourself an engineer if you fix washing machines for a living. Obviously the same goes for calling yourself a scientist.

    I would have thought the only people who can use the label "scientist" would be those who practice what is generally recognised as the scientific method. That would rule out a lot of "climate scientists".

    1. Chemist

      ".. label "scientist" would be those who practice ... the scientific method."

      Agreed.

  33. Christoph Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Hang on, that does make sense

    A homeopathic scientist does make sense - it's someone who dilutes the meaning of the word 'Scientist' until there's nothing left, and then claims that this makes it much more powerful.

  34. Peter Fox
    FAIL

    Boffins...

    Your definition of Boffin is practically as inaccurate as the ASA's definition of scientist. True boffins have to have round glasses, tweed jackets and demonstrate results with elastic bands and vacuum cleaners? I know the other category, mad professors, have the easily distinguishing plumage of white coats and for them glasses tend to be transitory objects of erratic existence.

  35. John Tserkezis

    This could be great for me...

    If someone accuses them of telling porkies,

    and they redefine "porkies" as "valid scientific research"

    then they're left being called scientists with PhDs.

    On this basis,

    I have a PhD in Bullshitology.

    And since I have my own computer, word processing software and printer,

    I can create and print my own degree.

    And it will be every bit as valid as the degrees held by the Green Scientists.

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      True boffins

      I'm also certain that a real boffin has a pipe and performs jaw-dropping breakthroughs in a shed. (This of course rules out Americans from true boffinry)

  36. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Stop

    Ben Goldacre @ Nerdstock

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1Q3jZw4FGs

    Damn the ASA

  37. Brian Miller 1

    I agree with the sentiment but...

    I think you will find that holding a bachelors degree in at least medicine and engineering they do in fact allow you to begin practising as Doctors and Engineers.

    I know this because my wife is a doctor, who incidently started after graduating with her bachelors (5 years) as a Junior House Officer, allowed to treat real patients in a real hospital. Not without supervision, however still a "real" doctor. Obviously training continues after initial qualification but even JHO's and the like can pull locum shifts or even get a job as a staff grade doctor in a specialty.

    I have my BEng and had a job as a real engineer. Doing controls and instrumentation for gas turbines. Also incidently my course is accredited by the IET to become an "incorporated engineer" or chartered when completing work based further development. I am now doing a PhD in Microfluidics and biosensing (which I hope will qualify me as a boffin someday).

    So other than that I wholeheartedly agree with the dread of having the reported subjects defined as classical scientists.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Appalling Science

    Ah, the story's found its way onto Bad Science:

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=20702&p=509054#p509054

    Some more amusing stuff about Neil's Yard:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/may/28/neals-yard-remedies-pr

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/may/28/neals-yard-remedies-pr

  39. Banther dodo
    Troll

    Rise of the idiots

    I once had a record by a fellow who called himself "Scientist". Jolly good too.

  40. JeffyPooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Homeopathy includes fraud

    That rubbish about dilluting a medicine millions-to-one to make it stronger is utter FRAUD.

    FRAUD.

    And anyone that makes such claims is a FRAUD.

    So sue me.

  41. Arbuthnot Darjeeling
    Coat

    well looking at the photo

    there's one or two I'd like to give a bit of a boffin

    mine's the one with the vials of magic water in the pockets

  42. Britt Johnston
    Alien

    Isaac Newton..

    ..was an alchemist, a politician (MP) and civil servant cum central banker (lord of the mint).

    These unsavory occupations just give boffinry a bad name

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Calling all aliens...

    Please can someone come and destroy this planet and put us all out of our misery...

  44. Giacomo Bruzzo

    Giacomo

    Sabroni go and read some Karl Popper you moron.

  45. TheManCalledStan
    Headmaster

    Accreditation

    Might it be pertinent to know where these qualifications came from, an accredited University or a non-accredited organisation of some description... that would put to rest the real issue of qualification. I'd be happy to recognise them as scientists if they have PhDs from a real university...

    1. Chemist

      "happy to recognise them as scientists if they have PhDs"

      Academic qualifications are NOT necessary. Practicing the scientific method, contributing and peer review are the key items.

      I've worked with several great chemists, the most notable, who had published widely and was one of the world experts on LogP calculation, did not have a PhD.

      For that matter Einstein didn't have too many serious qualifications until after Relativity.

  46. bustab
    Stop

    Captain Cyborg

    I'm not clear - would El Reg define our bionic overlord Kevin Warwick as "Scientist" or "Boffin"?

  47. Graham Bartlett

    @bustab

    "Nutter" fits the bill pretty well.

  48. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Neal's Yard - charlatans

    These are the people who were perfectly happy to sell homeopathic 'remedies' for malaria - a product that offers absolutely no defence against what can be a crippling, or even fatal, condition. Later, they were invited to discuss their products and ethics with possibly the least hostile audience imaginable - Guardian readers - and it all went horribly pear shaped:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/may/26/you-ask-neals-yard-remedies?INTCMP=SRCH

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's wrong with "Natural Preservatives in Toiletries"?

    It sounds to me like a perfectly good *title* or *topic* for a PhD in biochemistry.

    Not sure about the others' fields of study though...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      yes 1 of 4

      but as for the other three?

      no thanks.

  50. Tom 38 Silver badge
    Stop

    @Indomitable Gall

    A computer programmer isn't a scientist. That is why we don't go to University to study computer programming, we go to study computer science.

    Argue that computer science isn't a science. Please, really do.

    I'd also recommend all have a lovely read of Snake Oil & Other Preoccupations.

  51. S Larti
    WTF?

    It's enough to make you weep

    Who do we report the ASA to?

  52. Efros

    Can I get a trade in

    One very used B.Sc. Certificate, I want one of those Bachelor of Boffinrys, B.Bo.

  53. Martin Budden
    Boffin

    Mr

    I want to put a single drop of any homeopathic remedy into a huge Olympic-sized swimming pool, then push all the homeopathists in and watch them die a swift and horrible death from a massive overdose.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    what utter rubbish.

    Pure prejudice.

    Maybe the lady with a phd in essential oils might know a little about their chemical composition? Or si that just too far for the author to stretch his brain, after the mere mention of something he doesn't like?

    Can he not imagine that someone with a phd in natural preservatives might be running a laboratory in any one of the worlds huge toiletries industry? Or does the company name "Neil's Yard" simply turn off his intelligence?

    Is the author completely ignorant about the extent to which modern, western medicine bases it cures on herbs and natural substances, even if they are now synthesised?

    Homeopathy? Moot point. The one thing here that could be argued.

    Bad science needs exposing. Fake science needs exposing. This is not good science criticism: it reads like it was written by an off-duty past-his-prime taxi driver after his evening in the pub.

    Did I mention ... it's one of the worst things I ever read on El Reg?

    I've cancelled my subscription.

    (Oh no, sorry, now I'm getting mixed up with The Guardian. See what it's done to *my* brain!)

    1. Phil Hare 2
      Flame

      Sigh

      I really hope you're trolling, but in case you're not:

      -"Maybe the lady with a phd in essential oils might know a little about their chemical composition?"

      You would bloody hope so, wouldn't you? I mean, it would be a completely bollocks PhD if she didn't, although she can't have learnt too much about their chemical make up because that would then be a PhD in "Chemistry", and who'd want one of those?

      -"Can he not imagine that someone with a phd in natural preservatives might be running a laboratory in any one of the worlds huge toiletries industry?"

      No. Fucking hell no. That would require someone with a higher degree in biomedical science at least, preferably with some management experience and a good understanding of the law when it comes to bringing cosmetic and health products to market. Unless of course the lab in question is the same kind of 'lab' I had when I was five, which mainly involved mixing random things with other random things.

      -"Or does the company name "Neil's Yard" simply turn off his intelligence?"

      Not entirely sure how that's relevant but now that you mention it it does sound more like a dogging spot than a company.

      -"Is the author completely ignorant about the extent to which modern, western medicine bases it cures on herbs and natural substances, even if they are now synthesised?"

      How else is science likely to approach the subject? Of COURSE it's based on natural substances. The important bit is HOW it's based on those substances.

      For what it's worth, I personally feel sorry for the four women pictured; they probably just wanted jobs in an expanding field that pays well thanks to the gullibility of desperate people. Is that so bad?

      1. Chemist

        "western medicine bases it cures on herbs and natural substances"

        I take your point but to a great extent it's not true. I spent 38 years doing pharmaceutical research and only worked around natural products on 2 occasions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Maybe

          but what about the very, very many, that were already established.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Certainly not trolling

        And I see you're jumping on the preconceptions bandwagon too.

        My "for what it's worth" is that I think that the entire cosmetics and over-the-counter skin care is largely a scam. Rob women of their self confidence so that it can be sold back to them. Yes, you are right, it is *all* about the gullibility of people, and, if it has to happen, why indeed should these individuals not their share.

        None the less, I see no need to lay into this company or its employees on the basis of no real knowledge of them or their jobs. It's an unwarranted, unjustified hatchet job

        1. Phil Hare 2

          Why not?

          It's not as if we've hunted them down to persecute them is it? They've ADVERTISED these people, and as such cannot expect the public not to form an opinion. THEY have provided all the information we've got to go on.

          Maybe they should invite El Reg to do a "day-in-the-life" piece of one of these people. Then we could decide if it's science or quakery.

  55. Cunningly Linguistic

    You've got to admit...

    ...that even without the white coats, they do look like scientists!

  56. scross

    Qualifications

    A PhD or other advanced degree is not an automatic guarantee of quality scientific output - although by rights it should be, as that is precisely what such an advanced degree is supposed to prepare you for. (The last stats I saw stated that something on the order of 70% of all scientific studies are later shown to be partially or wholly incorrect; for medical studies it's over 80%.) Conversely, the lack of an advanced degree (or any degree, for that matter) does not preclude someone from doing good scientific work; these folks tend to fall more into the tinkerer and inventor category, though, rather than theorist.

    As far as homeopathy and such go, without commenting I will just leave the following here. Note that the main author of this work is an otherwise well-respected scientist with substantial credentials.

    http://news.techworld.com/personal-tech/3256631/dna-molecules-can-teleport-nobel-prize-winner-claims/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luc_Montagnier

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Badgers

    Godwin

    Jeeze whats going on? 3 pages of major rants and still no Hitler...

    1. npupp 1

      *rolls eyes*

      >>(The last stats I saw stated that something on the order of 70% of all scientific studies are later shown to be partially or wholly incorrect; for medical studies it's over 80%.)

      This kind sir is what is known as the scientific method, science progresses through falsification. A body of work is done, a theory advances, more work is done which explores the limitations of the theory, holes are found, a modification/new theory is proposed, the cycle repeats, humanity reaps the benefits.

      >>Conversely, the lack of an advanced degree (or any degree, for that matter) does not preclude someone from doing good scientific work; these folks tend to fall more into the tinkerer and inventor category, though, rather than theorist.

      A degree does not prevent you from doing good science, it would however prevent access to labs, equipment and the like required to do lots of the interesting types of science. It also makes it less likely you will have an appreciation and understanding of the work done before, could preclude an accurate analysis of your data, and will likely prevent a full understanding of the results and their impact to the relevant scientific field.

      Tinkering is not science. Inventing is not strictly science. If my cousin invents a knoon (knife-spoon, you can keep that one), that does not make him a scientist

      >> Note that the main author of this work is an otherwise well-respected scientist with substantial credentials.

      A Nobel prize is an award for a significant piece of research in a field. It is not a guarantee the person who won it is not a complete loon or hold some ideas so barmy they should be committed to Her Majesties finest pillow lined rooms. Think of it like an Oscar, for science. Now think of Tom Cruise, nominated for Oscars (won many other prizes, you could consider this as substantial credentials) ... do you think he is a respected commentator on religious matters (something outside of his field if you will)? Thought not.

      1. scross

        *slaps you for rolling eyes*

        Actually, I interpret those stats to mean that the old adage is true: "Half of what we know is wrong!" Today I don't read much of anything (including the study with those stats) without going "Well, we'll see about that now, won't we?" For any especially interesting or surprising study I read, I try to keep track of any critiques of it, too, which will often point out glaring potential holes in the original research.

        This is one of the reasons why it just kills me whenever I see a scientist say something like "This is an undeniable fact! We know this! The research proves it!", and then knowing full well that said research may actually do nothing of the kind. In the real world there is almost always room for doubt, and any rational skeptics should be treated with at least a modicum of respect, instead of like the pariahs that they too often are today.

        And, yes, it is possible to do good science and make real progress without access to big money labs and such, at least in some fields of endeavor. It happens every day, usually in private, though, so the results aren't necessarily published in the traditional manner. And I'm afraid "big science" is about to learn the hard way that they are going to have to work on a limited budget, too. For example. the LHC is probably near the end of the road for any high-energy physics facility.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironically...

    ...if you study Physics at Cambridge, which is about as hard-frickin'-core as it gets, you come out with a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences. Third class, if you specialise in fluid dynamics in the college bar...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's it , I've had enough....

    ...of you people dissing my beloved homeopathy.

    I'm away to take an underdose, and it's you heartless b*******s that's to blame!

  60. EvilGav 1
    Thumb Down

    I'll let others say it right . . .

    "If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion."

    Robert A Heinlein

    "Science doesn't know everything: it knows it doesn't know everything, if it did it would stop. But that doesn’t mean you can fill in the blanks with whatever fairy tale pops into your head."

    Daragh O'Brien

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