I was rather narked at Guardian Weekend passively accepting Rachel Simmonds’ pseudoscientific marketting claptrap at face value so I composed the following email:
It is a pity your interviewer did not challenge the pseudoscientific gobbledygook and straight out inaccuracies uttered by La Prairie’s Rachel Simmonds in her attempt to justify charging £656 for a 50 ml jar of face cream:
1. Platinum is neither the rarest nor the most expensive metal
2. A cursory websearch found an American site which sells colloidal platinum for $375 per gallon. The quantity that would fit into a 50 ml jar would cost less than £8.
3. Platinum is a paramagnetic substance, that is, it does not retain magnetism when a magnetic field is removed. It follows that everything she says subsequently based on the assumption that platinum is magnetic, is wrong.
4. Even if platinum was magnetic, the particles would clump together the way magnetised iron filings do, rather than “spread evenly on the skin”. Unless the “magnetic charges” were magnetic monopoles, in which case I would expect La Prairie’s scientists to be front runners for the Nobel Prize for Physics.
5. She did not explain what she meant by the assertion that platinum is a “super anti-oxidant”, supply any evidence that it is such or why, even if it were true, this would be a good thing. Simmonds’ assertion that research has been done but the company are keeping the results to themselves is hardly convincing scientific evidence. Nor is her assertion that their customers “felt confident it was going to be the best technology” which amounts to saying “our customers believe us so you should too” – somewhat fallacious reasoning. Similarly the fact that this product “does amazingly well” for the company might say a great deal about the skills of their marketting department (and the gullibility of their customers) but it says nothing about the scientific veracity of their statements.
I discovered all the above with less than fifteen minutes googling. It is a pity your interview did not do a little fact-checking rather than accept Simmonds’ statements at face value. As a result of this sloppy journalism, the item was little more than free advertising for La Prairie.
[phone number given]
I was initially going to send the above for publication but I noticed that the Weekend supplement seems to have an editorial preference for very short letters, so I sent it to Readers Editor Chris Elliot instead. However, I still wanted to send something for publication, so I sent this:
Your interviewer’s passive acceptance of Rachel Simmonds’ pseudoscientific gobbledygook turned the article into a puff-piece for La Prairie’s product. I had to check to make sure I hadn’t bought the Daily Mail by mistake.