What is the best way to ward off a sore throat?
Why, a daily dose of colon cleanser powder, mixed with fruit juice, of course. Suzi Quatro swears by it. That there is not a bit of scientific evidence to back up her claim that "all illnesses start in the colon" – sore throats, for one, are caused by viruses coming in through your nose and mouth – does not matter. Quatro is a rock star and, as such, her quackery is far more likely to be reported than a qualified doctor boring on about coughs and sneezes spreading diseases.
Quatro is not alone. This week the Sense about Science charity published a round-up of the most ludicrous scientific claims made by famous faces in 2011. From it, we learn that Simon Cowell swears by the youth-giving and "calming" properties of an intravenous drip of vitamins C, B12 and magnesium; Tamara Ecclestone has acupuncture once a month to "boost her immune system"; and Juliette Lewis has found a substance more hydrating than water (coconut water, apparently – and it isn't).
Some of the claims are plain stupid – Jersey Shore star Snooki posits that the sea is salty because "the water's all whale sperm". Some are pernicious – the supermodel Gisele Bündchen refusing to wear "poisonous" sunscreen; Michele Bachmann's casual linking of the HPV vaccine to "mental retardation".
Sense about Science asked experts to respond to each of these claims and in each case, their assessment boils down to one word – poppycock. The fact that scientists are even bothering to engage with them – and with such lucid, layman-friendly reasoning – is cheering, though. Once a celebrity has given voice to a theory, however ludicrous, it can spread faster than chicken pox, and leave its scars on the wider consciousness.
The solution is to engage that public interest, nurture these odd links between celebrity and science, take a leaf out of the superstar physicist Professor Brian Cox's book and lecture, almost, by stealth. In the meantime, the most useful New Year's resolution is surely to take any health advice from a famous face with a (moderate) pinch of salt.
* Tis the season to repeat, and repeat, and then do it again, for good measure. Some 98 per cent of the films shown on television over the festive period were repeats. As for the new material – woeful as much of it was – half of that was being repeated before it had even been properly digested. Strictly Come Dancing, for example, was screened twice in 18 hours, which, given that the period between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day represents one long primetime, was a bit cheeky.
In my case, the result was – barring the obligatory Poirot and Christmas Top of the Pops (never missed one) – the least tellycentric Christmas I can remember. Not by choice: there was simply nothing on. It was when I found myself starting to watch the same panto-themed episode of Deal or No Deal on consecutive days that I realised what was really missing this year – the endless repeats of Friends on Channel 4 and E4 (now lost to satellite, thanks to a bidding war), which soak up those painfully slow hours between breakfast and turkey time as comfortingly as brown bread with gravy.
It's not the repeats that are the problem at Christmas, it's the wrong kind of repeats.
* There's much to catch the eye in David Fincher's majestic, chilly remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – not least Daniel Craig's spectacles. In the film, released last Friday, Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist who is drawn into solving a family murder. As he takes a rest from trawling through piles of dusty files and old photographs, an odd thing happens: instead of pushing his reading glasses up on top of his head, or down his nose, or even slotting them casually into his V-neck, he pulls them down across his chin and leaves them there, dangling absent-mindedly, from one ear. The effect is a little comical, distracting even, but certainly memorable. Is it too early to add this to the Poirot shuffle and the Kojak lollipop suck in the pantheon of great detective tics? At the very least, Specsavers should bear him in mind for some kind of honourable mention at their Spectacle Wearer of the Year awards.