Showing posts with the label science and the media

Eating More Chocolate Makes You Skinny

Answer this question for me - How many times a week do you consume chocolate? Can you (a) remember how much chocolate you have eaten in the last 7 days? Was it the same amount as last week? (b) Do you know you ate 5 Mars bars, a Twix and a bar of Cadbury's while watching Titanic 3D last night, feel that might be a little excessive and lie to me? If you are skinny would you happily say 'Oh I eat about 6 bars a week'? If you know you are not so skinny would you lie about your consumption? What do you think other people would say in answer to this question? Would you trust their answers? This is the exact question that was asked to participants in a study looking at the relationship of chocolate consumption and BMI. Did they take into account any of those scenarios or questions I just asked? No. A well timed (just before Easter) news story appeared EVERYWHERE this week, claiming that Chocolate 'may help keep people slim' (headline from the BBC ). T

Is LSD really the answer to Alcoholism?

Researchers from at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology analysed studies (meta-analysis) that used single doses of LSD to treat alcoholics from the 1960s and 1970s.   The studies included 536 participants in total. They looked at the results of all of these studies which were all randomised controlled trials (double-blind).  They found there was a benefit of the LSD treatment at the first follow up after treatment (1-3 months) but this was not statistically significant at the 6 month follow up. They state, that according to their meta-analysis, a single dose of LSD compares well with a daily dose of  naltrexone, acramposate, or disulfiram (which are three commonly prescribed approved medications for reducing relapse in alcohol dependence. Not surprisingly the publication of this study was followed with a range of headlines: BBC -  LSD 'helps alcoholics to give up drinking' SkyNews -  LSD May Help Alcoholics Fight Addiction MSN - Acid Trip could help treat al

Acne, a side effect of being a successful 'high flying' career woman? Not at all.

This is the latest blight to 'successful', 'high powered', 'bossy' women... According to The Telegraph , The Daily Mail , Marie Claire , and Female First : - 'Acne new problem for successful women' - 'Acne, curse of the high-flying career woman: Growing stress levels to blame for outbreak of pimples' - 'Stress causing acne in successful women'

Get Ripped by Scoffing Chocolate

 The world press has gone ABSOLUTELY CRAZ-EE with this fabulous piece of news, 'SCIENTISTS' claim, 'eating chocolate may be as good for you as going to the gym', ' eating chocolate is as good as jogging', 'as good as exercise'.  OM-NOM-NOM - CHOCOLATE Image: AndrĂ© Karwath aka Aka (  WOWZERS. As if we needed another excuse to skip a gym session and eat more chocolate. Unfortunately, none of the headlines above are true. Sorry. Here's why: - The study was small and carried out on MICE . Not people. - The mice were not given chocolate , they were given an extract, (–)-epicatechin (which is found in chocolate). There is nothing to say how much chocolate (and what types of chocolate) you would have to consume to get the benefits that were seen in mice. You might have to eat 5 bars of chocolate a day to get those levels of (–)-epicatechin, who knows. Chocolate contains lots

Launching a Magazine

Blogging has taken a back seat recently, whilst I along with a team of others at the University of Aberdeen launched a new science themed magazine. I think I am in a very lucky position here at the University of Aberdeen. I mentioned this idea of a science magazine last September to the public engagement team and since then they have very kindly sent anything they came across (including people, interviews, events, stories) in my direction. I organised a meeting with 5 others that had mentioned creating a science magazine to the public engagement team. We met, clicked and then set on a mission to create the magazine. Without working as a team this would have been impossible. We have written stories that we think are interesting, but the science is not over-hyped. We do not shout about the latest cure for cancer, but we discuss how compounds in the cannabis plant are being tested for their therapeutic potential. We do not say there is life on Mars but we do talk about how we are expl

Why I dislike the term Scientist

What does the word 'scientist' mean? Really mean? Who can call themselves a ‘scientist’? Someone who studied a 'science' subject at degree level? But what if they became a HR manager and worked in a non 'sciency' company, are they still a scientist? Do you need to have a science PhD to be called a scientist? Or be actively doing science research? But what about all the people that work in science without 'sciency' qualifications? Are they still scientists? Apparently the word scientist was coined by William Whewell in 1834 at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, to describe a group of people all studying different scientific disciplines (I have to admit, I haven't found any solid sources for this but you can read more about the term scientist here ). The word scientist can be used by anyone. The description of someone as a scientist in my view is pretty meaningless; it tells you nothing about the person. I think ther

The Skeptic Guide

I am compiling a list of interesting skeptic people/events/blogs to post on the Aberdeen Skeptics in The Pub Facebook site. I am giving a talk about other Skeptic groups, activism and the role of Skeptics in The Pub (if there is one) for our next event .  A lot of the people that come to Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub are not on Twitter and I wanted to give out a list of skeptics 'things'. This is what I have so far - please help me grow the list! The Skeptic Guide: Home of The Skeptic (magazine), blog, skeptic news & events (lists all Skeptics in the Pubs in the UK and abroad) Scotland: There are Skeptic events in Dundee ( ), Glasgow ( ) and Edinburgh ( / also for independent skeptical news and commentary in Scotland. Aberdeen Skeptics in The Pub - Follow the Facebook page for events and news. Twi

The Great Science Communication Debate

This blog post will be of no interest to people not actively involved in science communication. It is not accessible for people 'outside' of the science communication scene and for that reason I was reluctant to write it, it is also a rather grumpy post, but there were some things I just felt I had to get off my chest. I stumbled upon  what is known as 'Science Communication' through my interest and love of science & talking & writing. I love sharing ideas and thoughts and meeting new people so I have become actively involved in 'communicating science'. I have communicated to school children, fellow students & strangers. The people I have spoken to have been interested in what I have had to say. I started this blog because it seemed like a fun thing to do in between waiting for experiments to finish. I get annoyed with news articles that do not present data/facts & research correctly. I read BadScience and LOVED IT. I even joined Twitter (after

Dance your PhD

PhDs or any form of research can be incredibly frustrating. The nature of what you are doing means that things do not work out as planned and often take 10x as long (for no apparent reason). People that have not undertaken a lot of research may not understand this and may presume that it is down to bad planning of the person involved, sometimes it is, but more than often it is not. I can plan for Great Britain. Day plans, week plans, yearly plans - but I cannot plan for experiments spontaneously not working, or fire alarms interrupting experiments or other random events that seem to happen when an experiment is in mid flow (if aliens were to land they would do it in the middle of a very expensive, very important experiment). As you can probably tell I am going through one of these frustrating times - everything I am doing seems to be failing on me or has come to a complete standstill. HOWEVER, I am not going to moan about how rubbish a PhD is... as many people in the Internet forums se

Anyone here a Doctor? YES, ME! Oh no, not that kind of Doctor - Gillian McKeith (not PhD)

Last week I gave in, I put aside my pride and joined Twitter. The only people that I thought might be interesting on Twitter are Ben Goldacre, Tim Minchin and Stephen Fry, so I added them and began to follow.......Oh how glad am I that I joined last week!!! Much to my delight (although probably not to my supervisors) I got to watch the unfolding of Ben Goldacre (actual Doctor) vs Gillian McKeith (not a medical doctor, dubious PhD). If you do not know what this debate is about - check out this link for a quick summary of what happened . People are covering this amazing spectacle all over the Internet as it unfolds (and I am sure there is more to come) so I am going to discuss - what does being a Doctor mean? Who is a Doctor? Can you trust people that call themselves Dr ... and what on earth is a PhD?! Doctor type 1 -  Medical Doctor , usually found in hospitals/GP surgeries looking a bit ropey due to overwork and stress. These people have studied Medicine at a university. Medical Scho