We live in times when celebrities become mayors, governors, even presidents. They use their good looks and power to speak out about all the important things in the world. Like cancer. And fur.
Which is, perhaps, why Sense About Science, an organization that exists to give a little scientific perspective in the midst of our madness, has published the Celebrities and Science Review 2008.
This delightfully downloadable pdf shows celebrities for what they really are: somewhat deficient. Scientifically speaking.
The report barely conceals its glee at what it sees as some of the magnificent nonsense that has emerged from celebrity brains, navigated celebrity tonsils and popped out from celebrity mouths in 2008.
Here is Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Prince of Darkness, Ozzie Osbourne, talking about her mother's cancer: "Because of her history of colon cancer she is absolutely convinced the Pill caused the disease. I don't have a microwave in my house for the same reason."
The best scientific evidence apparently suggests that the Pill reduces the risk of cancer. It simply doesn't eliminate it. And there is no evidence, the scientists say, that microwaves cause cancer.
The Review is critical of the spit parties organized by Anna Wojcicki, wife of Sergey Brin, and founder of 23andMe, a company that tries to identify people's genetic markers.
It quotes clinical scientist Mike Hallworth on the subject: "Genetic testing is not fun if it makes you think you're likely to develop a devastating disease or gives you false reassurance. Very often, the evidence linking genetics to individual outcomes simply isn't good enough yet. And 'high quality but limited scientific evidence' is a bit like 'a definite maybe' - a contradiction in terms!"
One can only imagine the smirk on scientific faces when they included this quote from Ivanka Trump, a spit party attendee: "I have a very low chance of becoming obese. That makes me exceedingly happy." Perhaps even happier than plastic surgery might make her.
The Review's authors go on to dismiss Barack Obama's and John McCain's views on autism, Sarah Palin's deep thoughts on fruit flies, and Julianne Moore, Demi Moore, Oprah Winfrey and Kate Moss on such varying subjects as 'natural' chemicals and detox diets.
The authors aim some of their toppest guns towards Tom Cruise, who sagely declared: "Psychiatry doesn't work. [...] When you study the effects it's a crime against humanity."
Professor Simon Wessely, a psychiatrist from Kings College, London shoots back: "The real crime against humanity continues to be the enduring misery caused by the major mental illnesses across the globe, and the continuing lack of resources devoted to supporting those afflicted and their families and to improving our currently inadequate treatments."
I found myself cheering for the scientists, until the Report's very last page. (Yup, I read all of it.)
For some strange reason they decided to go after the entirely innocent Mariah Carey and her explanation for naming the latest showcase of her modest talents e=mc2. She explained: "Emancipation equals Mariah Carey times two."
A painfully humorless mathematician, Dr. David Leslie, retorts in the Report: "Unfortunately, Mariah has misread the algebra. The two in the equation means c squared, not mc multiplied by two. The correct reading of the equation is E=mcc, so perhaps Mariah's re-interpretation should have been "Emancipation equals Mariah Carey Carey"? I would have been very happy to chat with her and check it out before she went to print."
Oh, come on, Dr. Leslie, why would Mariah need to confirm her artistic interpretations with you? I mean, you're no Oprah, are you?