More On La Prairie’s Pseudoscience

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.

Yours sincerely

John Hawcock

[Address given]
[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.

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4 Responses to “More On La Prairie’s Pseudoscience”

  1. Matt W Says:

    Excellent debunking. I couldn’t believe the nonsense printed in the magazine either

  2. nskeptic Says:

    It’s stuff like this that makes me tempted to turn to the dark side and go into business using woo to relieve people with more money than sense of their excess cash.

    Anyone who pays £650 for 50ml of face cream, frankly, deserves to lose £650; the only problem is that it would end up in the hands of a charlatan which is even worse…

  3. Holly Says:

    I am the furthest from any scam artist I would never take anyones money to benefit myself. This Jay is a critic for everything and I don’t really blame Adam Green for trying to get you shut down. We have Norweigan vitamins at the health store that claim they are better and grossly over priced. There is nothing we can do or say about people buying them you can tell them they are 3 times more and work the same like Canadian ones. Sometimes people don’t want to see someone prosper my husband who’s a contractor gets that all the time too pricy….chocolate is good for you if you want to eat grocery store chocolate fine. When you look at sugars they are not the same low glycemic sugars are better for you. I can’t have caffeine and xocai don’t use that so I eat it for that reason. My husband can’t tolerate lactose and no milk gOes into the nuggets we all have our Reason it is a free world to buy like we need. Please look at google over 1.5 million sites for the health of dark chocolate. We can’t be all that wrong I saw a 100 box for $280 plus tax shipping and handling. Google most expensive chocolate and see for yourself. Everything coming to Canada is checked trust me…..whatever the question chocolate is the answer…

  4. A Fifth Year of Steam « Letting Off Steam Says:

    […] Guardian has been going down-hill since Ben Goldacre left. I did a couple of blog posts (here and here) on Guardian Weekend’s credulous coverage of La Prairie’s £656 for a 50ml bottle skin […]

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