A group of young scientists has launched an attack against companies that use "pseudoscience" in their marketing campaigns.
Voice of Young Science, a programme of the independent charitable trust Sense about Science, aims to expose companies making "unproven, unscientific and misleading" claims. In a booklet launched this week, There Goes The Science Bit, they list examples of "dodgy science".
- Matthew Child, a PhD student with the National Institute for Medical Research, contacted Nutridirect about its "Parasite Cleanse" kit. Nutridirect's website says the kit, a mixture of three herbs, eradicates more than 100 types of parasite. When he asked for a list of the parasites from Nutridirect, Mr Child was sent a list from Wikipedia that included plant and fictional parasites. "As scientists it's our responsibility to bring this to the attention of the regulatory authorities," he said.
- Jennifer Lardge, a physicist from University College London, challenged Crystalite Salt, which sells salt lamps, over its claims that heated Himalayan salt improves health. "I wanted to find out if there was any evidence for how they work," Ms Lardge said. Asked how the lamps worked, Crystalite Salt recommended looking on the internet, but could not recommend any specific sites or scientific papers.
- Aarathi Prasad, who works for Sense about Science, went after health and beauty resort Champneys for a claim that its detox patches draw "harmful toxins including fatty acids, cholesterol, urea, sugars and caffeine" from a wearer's body overnight. The patches contain vinegar, crystals and mugwort.
A Champneys employee told Dr Prasad that wood vinegar was "a distilled compound from tree sap (which) has really tremendous absorbing qualities, which have positive effects on functions of the body". Dr Prasad said: "Wood vinegar is acetic acid and methanol. So it's kind of what you put on chips."
- Frances Downey, a PhD student at King's College, London challenged cosmetic firm Clarins over its Expertise 3P skincare product. Clarins claimed the product, made of bacteria and plant extracts, protected the skin from the effects of pollution and "artificial electromagnetic waves".
"As soon as I saw the line about electromagnetic waves, I knew it was bullshit," Ms Downey said.