Friday, August 30, 2013

Simon Moore: making shit up isn’t science

The Daily Mail reports that

Finally, scientist discovers recipe for the perfect 99! Flake should sit at 45 degree angle and ice cream should be -15°C

I don’t know what we scientists have been wasting our time with doing things like curing cancer and trying to protect everyone’s privacy.

The ‘scientist’ in question is Professor Simon Moore, a psychologist at London Met.  He doesn’t seem to be actually a professor, but that’s OK because he’s a shit.

Simon Moore is one of those ‘scientists’ who is available to comment authoritatively on absolutely everything regardless of whether he has any expertise in that area. He’s a journalist’s wet dream. He’s bound to be on countless speed dials.  Every time anyone has money burning a hole in their pocket and wants a vaguely sciency-sounding piece of made-up crap, not-Professor Simon Moore steps up.

Here are a few things he claims to have professional expertise in:

  • The perfect 99
  • Pheromones
  • Hot or not: the rules of attraction, love and sex
  • Violence in movies
  • The secret lives of cars
  • The safest music to play when driving (Coldplay, in case you’re wondering, which I sincerely hope you are not)
  • The best volume for driving music
  • Hot drinks promote warm feelings
  • How to make your house a home (he’s suddenly an ‘environmental psychologist’ in this article, whatever one of those is)
  • Weird psychological tricks to make customers happy
  • Proof that astrology is nonsense (duh!)
  • Why crying is good for you
  • Flirting
  • Proof that men really do prefer blondes
  • Why people like horror

And on and on and on and fucking on.

You might be thinking that this man isn’t motivated more by money than learning. Perhaps he really is a towering intellect and a true renaissance man. You might think that, but you’d be wrong.  I picked this quote from him entirely at random. It was the first quote from him outside the ice cream article that I found. Ask yourself: is this something a proper scientist would say?

A psychology lecturer has defended the low age restrictions of the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight. Simon Moore, who researches violence in films at London Metropolitan University, said few children would be adversely affected by Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in the 12A-certified film. Dr Moore said: "You can't say the stimulus of a film is going to have an effect on all children. If that was the case, why aren't there any reported stabbings in cinemas?"

I blame the media more than I blame Moore. He’s quite clearly a money-grabbing egotistical wanker, but it’s the media and companies driving truckloads of money into his house who are the real villains.  They want a sciency-sounding reason that their Stupid Shit of the Day is true and they have no intention of doing anything more strenuous than using the first button on their speed-dial.

It’s Wakefield on vaccines all over again, no lessons have been learned. People died, but journalists didn’t think they might change their behaviour.

There’s another guy who does this, isn’t there? He has the perfect formula for everything anyone asks him about, regardless of how little sense they make. I seem to remember he invented a formula for the perfect arse, or something, having been told by his patron that whatever his exhaustive research uncovered it would be Beyonce who had the perfect arse.  Or maybe it was the perfect legs or the perfect walk or something. I doubt it would have made the slightest difference to the result.

Personally, I couldn’t give the slightest fuck what angle the flake is stuck into my 99. I care when they cut the flake in half and stick it in like it's a full one, though. Bastards.

Edit: I was wrong. It was Jessica Alba: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/sep/01/1

Whoever she is.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous9:55 pm

    And of course you'd probably know more of this kind of trade than the person your character assassinating. I've worked in journalism long enough to know its us that are the money grabbing wankers - we just take the soundbites from the scientists that suit our stories and get us into print and thus get our pay check. Just as this blog is your own (somewhat biased opinion - but hey that's my biased opinion) the formentioned scientist hasn't said anything wrong or unjust. In fact the comment about stabbings in cinemas is a fair point. Digging around about him also revealed he is a media spokesperson for the British Psychological Society - so he is instructed to be able to comment on psychology related stories. My advice to you (one journalist to another) :
    Readers tend to turn off from personal rants
    Do a little more homework
    Find another occupation (and stop contributing to the public stereotype of hacks).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brave anonymous person:

      1. I'm not a journalist. I consider that an insult.
      2. How can you possibly claim that pretending to add scientific respectability to idiocy such as the perfect 99 ice cream isn't wrong? It's completely made-up shit. It trivialises the work of real science. It makes science look stupid. It's harmful and self-serving and completely, completely stupid.
      3. You're a journalist? Don't journalists have to be able to spell and use correct grammar?
      4. The stabbing comment is NOT a fair point. Did you even read it? He's saying that unless the violence affects EVERY SINGLE CHILD, the point is moot. And for an encore, he implies that the only way such violence could be manifest is stabbings in cinemas. I think we can manage a slightly more sophisticated 'analysis' than that, don't you think?
      5. I can comment on psychology-related stories too. I just did. You seem to be arguing from authority whereas I am arguing from the perspective of people not making stupid shit up for money. You really think your way is better?
      6. Your patronising advice is of no use to me because I don't have any readers to speak of anyway.
      7. What homework? You mean the BPS thing? Irrelevant. Whatever his qualifications, Simon Moore says stupid made-up shit for a living. And by the looks of it, so do you.

      Delete
    2. Brave anonymous person:

      1. I'm not a journalist. I consider that an insult.
      2. How can you possibly claim that pretending to add scientific respectability to idiocy such as the perfect 99 ice cream isn't wrong? It's completely made-up shit. It trivialises the work of real science. It makes science look stupid. It's harmful and self-serving and completely, completely stupid.
      3. You're a journalist? Don't journalists have to be able to spell and use correct grammar?
      4. The stabbing comment is NOT a fair point. Did you even read it? He's saying that unless the violence affects EVERY SINGLE CHILD, the point is moot. And for an encore, he implies that the only way such violence could be manifest is stabbings in cinemas. I think we can manage a slightly more sophisticated 'analysis' than that, don't you think?
      5. I can comment on psychology-related stories too. I just did. You seem to be arguing from authority whereas I am arguing from the perspective of people not making stupid shit up for money. You really think your way is better?
      6. Your patronising advice is of no use to me because I don't have any readers to speak of anyway.
      7. What homework? You mean the BPS thing? Irrelevant. Whatever his qualifications, Simon Moore says stupid made-up shit for a living. And by the looks of it, so do you.

      Delete