Ficks Cocktail Fortifier

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has raised over $40,000 for a bunch of charlatans to make what they call a ‘cocktail fortifier’: a tonic containing a handful of herbs and vitamins, which they strongly imply (although carefully avoid stating explicitly) will prevent hangovers if added to alcoholic drinks.

The product is called Ficks Cocktail Fortifier, comes in three flavours (ginger, lime and lemon) and costs $15 (about £9) for an 8 oz (240 ml) bottle. That’s almost £38 per litre, significantly more expensive than alcoholic spirits (Bombay Sapphire gin is about £25 per litre), and that’s for a non-alcoholic product, basically a mixture of ginger and vitamin B, which is probably less nutritious than a fruit smoothie and a multivitamin tablet (Tesco Red Berries smoothie, £1.20 per litre).

Continue reading

DNA: the latest corporate buzzword

I love it when Private Eye introduces a new feature and skewers something which has been annoying me too.

Private Eye 1363, 4 – 17 Apr 2014

I first encountered this metaphorical use of the term ‘DNA’ in Army recruiting, when Capita were talking about their strategy for finding ‘the right candidate DNA’. What they meant was defining a set of characteristics that a candidate must possess to be suitable for the Army. It was obvious why they were using the term – the same reason anyone uses corporate buzzwords – to make it sound like what they were doing was much more complicated and skilled than it actually was, a facade which it was especially important to maintain in front of their client, the Army. Judging by Private Eye’s new feature, the DNA metaphor is currently the trendiest bit of corporate jargon and journalese nonsense doing the rounds.

Continue reading

When is a science GCSE not a science GCSE?

When it’s from a faith school, and the exam boards have redacted all questions about evolution from the exams, in order to respect religious sensitivities.

Unfortunately, it’s not a joke.

Here’s the article from the Sunday Times (paywall) which broke the story about exam board OCR removing questions about evolution from the science GCSE papers at Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School, a Jewish faith school in Hackney. And here’s a freely available summary of the story from the BBC.

Continue reading

Craven’s Wager

My friend John Bevan sent me a link to this video by Greg Craven, and asked me to comment on it, so here you go.

In the video, which has been around for several years and has several million views (by which I mean to point out that this contribution is superfluous), Craven gives his analysis of the climate change debate. Using a simple logical tool, he seems to cut straight through all the controversy over whether and to what extent climate change is man-made and preventable, to an incontrovertible conclusion about what we must do: act now to prevent it.

Continue reading

Response to Creationist 22

22. “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

The question I want to look at here is: is there any excuse for this level of ignorance?

It’s obvious 22 hasn’t thought about his objection at all. He’s just reciting a mantra, and one which creationist propaganda organisations have now repudiated as being too stupid even for them.

Continue reading

Response to Creationist 21

21. “Relating to the big bang theory…. Where did the exploding star come from?”

At first glance, 21 may look like the thickest of the whole bunch, and his question seems to reinforce that impression. But he has at least put a tiny bit of original thought into it.

Continue reading

Response to Creationist 20

20. “How can you look at the world and not believe someone created / thought of it? It’s Amazing!!!”

For me, 20 is the most sympathetic of the 22 creationists. As far as we can tell, she’s not a victim of paralysing fear like 2 or 3, a credulous automaton like 12 or 18, nor the sad product of a broken education system like 9 or 10.

All we know about her is two things:

1. She subscribes to the idea of unthinking wonder.

2. She’s a little cutie.

Continue reading

Response to Creationist 19

19. “Can you believe in “the big bang” without “faith”?”

In other words, “I believe in something with absolute certainty, despite evidence against it, and none in favour. So I assume that’s what everyone else does too.”

Continue reading

Response to Creationist 18

18. “Why have we found only 1 “Lucy”, when we have found more than 1 of everything else?”

Have you noticed how both 18 and 12, who makes essentially the same point about there being only one Lucy (ie, fossil hominid skeleton), both finish with a squiggle?

No-one else feels the need to bolster their argument with a graphical flourish. Perhaps it’s an unconscious attempt to compensate for its obvious weaknesses.

Continue reading