Those of you following my twitter account or Facebook stuff will know that I recently made my first tentative foray into the world of Skeptical Vandalism. I'm not sure if such a thing actually exists already or if I've accidentally invented it, but either way, I did it.
It was only a small gesture, but every little helps, right? Anyway, here's what I did.
This started when, while volunteering for a brain-scanning experiment at the Cardiff University Brain Scanning and Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), I arrived and had to wait in the reception area for a few moments. There, I spotted the available reading material.
I was not pleased by this. I found it quite alarming that this cutting edge scientific centre, which relies quite heavily on volunteers from outside the department in order to perform the experiments (specifically, people who might not have a scientific background), would have something as mind-meltingly Quack-heavy as 'Natural Health' magazine. Right next to the big book all about brains. A member of the public could not be blamed for seeing this and assuming that the insane rambling the magazine offers are in fact scientifically valid. Giving this worthless rag credibility by association/proximity really raised my bile.
Rather than lodge a formal complaint which I knew would be utterly ignored (which is fair, as the people there have actual work to do and I sincerely doubt this issue will ever be seen as a priority), I decided to 'vandalise' the magazine, to prevent future volunteers from it's corrupting influences. Here's how to do what I did, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
So, look up the magazine cover on-line (don't buy it or subscribe to anything, that'll only encourage them)
Then, make a few minor modifications, correcting a few fundamental errors in order to make it more scientifically accurate.
Then, when you next go to the building, take a printout of the now accurate magazine cover, and a prit-stick (or a glue/adhesive of your choice, it doesn't really matter) and fasten it to the original offending article.
Admittedly, the inside of the magazine still contains the same dreadful bilge, but first impressions count and now the first thing people will see will be something less awful (in my opinion).
If anyone wants the image file in order to 'fix' other copies of the offending article scattered around the country, just let me know.
On a more encouraging point, the people at CUBRIC didn't care about what I was doing either way, so it suggests they aren't privy to this promoting of anti-scientific lunacy.
email: humourology (at) live.co.uk