On seeing in the news today that began with the words Boots anti-ageing treatment my first reaction was to turn the page and look for something funny in the Swine Flu coverage. A product to keep boots in pristine condition is probably very welcome to some people but I wear trainers and would have no use for it.
Something caught my attention tough and I started to read. The item turned out to be a follow up to a story from a couple of years ago that covered the claim of Boots Chemists for a skin treatment. The old story covered a claim by Boots that their anti ageing cream did actually improve the condition on users skin rather than just filling in the cracks.
Most people respond to such claims by cosmetic manufacturers with a sceptical Yeah, right. The scientific community however got their knickers in a right old twist about this particular claim. Theyre so precious, so Graham Norton at times.
The tests on the product were unscientific, whined the academic whiners with their PhDs in whining from Whining College, Whinebridge, the tests were not scientifically founded by scientists using science. What they meant was the tests had not been carried out using a double blind placebo controlled sample group and all the usual claptrap.
Well Boots went away and got some other scientists to do some placebo controlled tests using a sample of 80 people aged between 45 and 80. The results came back and
boots were right. According to the scientific results of the scientific tests carried out by scientists the stuff does work. 43% of people using the genuine cream reported an improvement in the state of their skin against only 22% reporting an improvement in the placebo group.
The scientists concluded that 21 % of people using the proper stuff experienced a benefit. Thats 2 out of 10, which in the class fatsally teaches would definitely not earn a gold star especially if you apply scientific rigour and conclude that 22% of people were slapping on any old gloop and still got a benefit.
What this proves in the eyes of Boggart Blogs nasty, suspicious journalists is:
a) Scientists might be very clever at science but they are not good at basic sums.
b) While only 2 out of 10 got a result from using proper stuff, 4 out of 10 saw improvement from sticking any old gloop on so long as someone told them it was doing them good.
This is, is it not, exactly the kind of science used by charlatans, hucksters, con artists, snake oil salesmen, bunco merchants and cosmetics manufacturers for centuries. Clearly it is more scientific than science.
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