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January 2011

New Year

We arrived back after the Christmas break to a whirlwind of stories about New Year's Resolutions and celebrities' science claims following two press releases over Christmas: the VoYS network debunking the pseudoscience surrounding New Year's Resolutions and our 2011 Celebrities and Science Review. We'd all been busy doing live radio interviews and came back to the office feeling excited by the success of the projects. A popular entry in the celebs and science review this year was on the Power Balance bracelet, a hologram-embedded silicone bracelet (popular with celebs including David Beckham and Robert de Niro), which claims to improve energy and fitness. The media has really picked up on this item and just this week, the Power Balance manufacturers in Australia admitted there is 'no credible scientific evidence' to support their claims.

On Wednesday evening Newsnight delivered a really good summary of the issues around homeopathy and malaria, showing that since our initial investigations in 2006 which uncovered clinics and pharmacies offering homeopathy to protect against malaria, this is still going on and little action is being taken by the Government. So on Thursday morning we decided to launch a call to the MHRA for clear, honest labelling of homeopathic products that explain the lack of evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy in the treatment of any disease. You can join our call here.

Sile and Tracey were at the Institute for Government on Friday morning to hear Nick Clegg outline the detail of the Government's draft bill on defamation. In his speech, the Deputy Prime Minister revealed that the Government will address all the issues we've raised about libel reform. It's great that the Government understands that the current UK libel laws are having a chilling effect on free speech and the widespread media coverage shows it is of huge public interest. However, there are still many people who would like to keep the current libel system for silencing critics, and there is lots more work for us to do!