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How scientific are the “science bits” in adverts?

28 March 2008

Whenever adverts announce "and now the science bit", how factual are they?

Cardiff University chemistry PhD student Neil Young presents a personal view of science-based advertising at the next Cardiff Science Café on April 1.

Neil was one of a team of young scientists from across the country who compiled There goes the science bit, a look at the scientific claims big companies make about their products. Neil looked at supermarket claims to drop the preservative sodium benzoate for safety reasons, and finds they were prompted by consumer, rather than scientific, fears. The report also investigates homeopathic remedies delivered by computer programme, the "human biofield" and a herbal mixture which can rid you of 100 kinds of parasite.

Neil’s talk, at the Gate Arts Centre, Keppoch Street, Roath, is titled April Fooled - are everyday companies taking us for fools with their science-based advertising? He investigates the science behind the labels, finds some very confused thinking, and discusses ways of persuading companies to stop mixing science fiction with science fact.

Neil said: "This is an important issue. When companies use bad science to sell things, it can create a misleading public impression of what science is all about. This has an impact on larger public debates to which science is central, such as MMR or climate change."

The Science Café will take place in the Café Bar at the Arts Centre. Science Cafés are an informal way for the public to find out more about science. They provide an opportunity for anyone to question an expert on things they are curious about. For more information see www.sciencecafewales.org

Ends

Notes to Editors:

1. Cardiff Science Café

The Cardiff Science Café runs at The Gate Arts Centre on the first Tuesday of every month between September and July. All events are currently free to attend. The Gate Arts Centre is on Keppoch Street in Roath.

2. Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Further Information:

For further information, please contact:

Neil Young,

YoungNJ@cardiff.ac.uk

07974 309 255

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Wendy Sadler

Science Made Simple

029 2087 6884

wendy@sciencemadesimple.co.uk

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Stephen Rouse

Public Relations Office

Cardiff University

029 2087 5596

RouseS@cardiff.ac.uk