What Joanna Lumley Should Know about These So-Called Science Experts; (1)This Week, a Group Called Sense about Science Launched a Campaign against Celebrities Who, They Say, Pronounce on Scientific Issues without Specialist Knowledge. but Are SAS All They Seem? Here Zac Goldsmith, Editor of the Ecologist, Reveals That They, Too, Have an Agenda ...(2)REVIEW

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 7, 2007 | Go to article overview

What Joanna Lumley Should Know about These So-Called Science Experts; (1)This Week, a Group Called Sense about Science Launched a Campaign against Celebrities Who, They Say, Pronounce on Scientific Issues without Specialist Knowledge. but Are SAS All They Seem? Here Zac Goldsmith, Editor of the Ecologist, Reveals That They, Too, Have an Agenda ...(2)REVIEW


Byline: ZAC GOLDSMITH

When a group calling itself Sense About Science launched its 'science for celebrities' pamphlet in the national media this week, it was supposed to look like the long overdue backlash of a normally passive science community following years of misinformation from ill-informed stars.

The pamphlet is full of what it regards to be false, but nevertheless anodyne, assertions by celebrities about the benefits of homoeopathy and so on, and ends with an offer by the organisation to act as a fact-checking service.

But it is the pamphlet's repeated objection to any hint that chemicals might not be good for our health that suggests an altogether less helpful agenda.

One of its experts writes: 'A whole host of unwanted chemicals find their way into our bodies all the time . . . Do they matter? No!' Another adds: 'There is no evidence that controlled food additives cause cancer.' And if cancer is increasing, he says in response to a comment by Joanna Lumley, 'it's because people are living longer'.

This is hard to substantiate for a number of reasons, not least because the American National Cancer Institute says childhood cancers have been increasing by one per cent every year since the Fifties.

At the very least you'd expect a bit more caution from a group dedicated to investigating the ' consequences of unfounded research claims'. But on closer inspection, it's hard to reconcile SAS's goals with the politics and interest of some of its members and backers.

The organisation is often described as an aggressively pro-GM lobby group.

But it's much more than that. It is dominated by a bizarre political network that began life as the ultra-Left Revolutionary Communist Party and switched over to extreme corporate libertarianism when it launched Living Marxism magazine in the late Eighties.

Living Marxism advocated lifting restrictions on child pornography; it opposed banning tobacco advertising and supported human cloning, among other issues.

Inasmuch as it has a central philosophy, it is a fierce opposition to the State attempting to protect citizens from the excesses of big business.

But its real goal, and the reason for its political zigzagging, may stem from a long-held hatred of any reform that might prolong the system its members despise. They call it 'revolutionary defeatism'. By giving capitalism enough rope, they hope it will hang itself. In other words, by helping to accelerate the internal contradictions of capitalism, SAS believes it is hastening its collapse and the move to the 'next stage' of human development.

During the Nineties, Living Marxism successfully influenced media coverage of science and environment issues, particularly GM food. But in 2000, it was sued for claiming that ITN had falsified evidence of Serb atrocities against Bosnian Muslims, and was forced to close. It reinvented itself as the Institute of Ideas, and the online magazine Spiked. At each step in its evolution, it has been largely the same people who have given life to this strange movement.

Research by Jonathan Matthews of www.gmwatch.org shows it is many of the same people who now put themselves forward as the faces of respectable science.

It's a dizzying network. For instance, the director of SAS, Tracey Brown, has written for Living Marxism and Spiked and has published a book with the Institute of Ideas. Both she, and her programme director, Ellen Raphael, studied under Frank Furedi at the University of Kent before working for a PR firm that defends companies against consumer and environmental campaigners.

Raphael, meanwhile, was the 'contact person' for Global Futures, a publishing house that until recently shared a phone number with SAS. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Joanna Lumley Should Know about These So-Called Science Experts; (1)This Week, a Group Called Sense about Science Launched a Campaign against Celebrities Who, They Say, Pronounce on Scientific Issues without Specialist Knowledge. but Are SAS All They Seem? Here Zac Goldsmith, Editor of the Ecologist, Reveals That They, Too, Have an Agenda ...(2)REVIEW
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.