Sunday, August 2, 2009

It Must Be True

Was it Socrates who said "Anything which is believed by most of the advertisement reading public most of the time must be wrong"? Possibly not but it's a good maxim all the same and one which I strongly hold.

Last week for instance the belief that if it's natural/organic it must be better for your health was scuppered by the UK Food Standards Agency when they published a report that examined the different nutrient levels found in crops and livestock from both organic and non-organic farming.

The study also looked at the health benefits of eating organic food - and decided that there were none. The study, which took the form of a ‘systematic review of literature’, was carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Their team of researchers reviewed all papers published over the past fifty years that related to the nutrient content and health differences between organic and conventional food. This systematic review is the most comprehensive study in this area that has been carried out to date.

Report in Thursday's Irish Times here. Comment in today's Observer here. Discussion in the wonderful Bad Science column in Saturday's Guardian here.

And then there was the claim that the iconic Robert Capa Spanish Civil War photograph - the soldier falling to his death, arms splayed out behind him, gun still in hand, after being shot on a grassy hill - was faked. Story with evidence in the Daily Mail here. Report and comment in the Independent here.

I think we have to be very suspicious of images that purport to "capture the essence" of some event. It is too easy to fake these images and anyway there events are far too complicated to be captured in one image.

Which poet was it who wrote "Words alone are certain good"?

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