Saturday, 16 January 2010

How to Deceive Your Fans in One Easy Step

No doubt you all know of the furore over the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Telegraph reporting that IOSH (the Chartered body for health and safety professionals) advice over clearing snow from your drive. If you don’t, Anton Vowl and uksceptic cover it well.

As you can see on Anton’s first post, Richard Madeley sent forth the notion that this was another case of health and safety gone mad. When IOSH printed a correction on their site, I tweeted the link to Richard, asking him:

@richardm56 Any chance you could tell your followers that the Mail & Telegraph got it wrong over gritting? Ta.

I didn’t hear anything from him (not that I was really expecting it) and he didn’t tweet anything about how the papers had got it wrong. To be fair to him, he has got over 11,000 followers, so probably gets a number of comments a day. He may have missed it. So on Wednesday I tried again:

@Richardm56 Richard, can you tell your followers that the gritting stories were wrong please? Thanks.
Again, nothing from his twitter feed, except some nonsense about him taking his Christmas tree down a week late. So on Thursday, I tried another tack:

Asked @Richardm56 twice if he can tweet the correct facts re Nowt from him. Obviously likes spreading ignorance.
This antagonistic post didn’t raise anything either. Now, this isn’t supposed to be a post about how I can’t get a reaction from a celebrity, but some clarification from him would be nice. As I said earlier, Richard Madeley has over 11,000 followers. The Richard and Judy book club can propel books to the top of the bestseller lists. A lot of people listen to him. If he’s propagating myths, then I believe he has a responsibility to also let people know when he is wrong. Other people on Twitter are only to happy to issue corrections when they have got something wrong, Graham Linehan for example.

In a way, it’s not really about Richard Madeley either. All sorts of celebs make stupid claims that are taken as read by people. Look at Jenny McCarthy and the furore over her anti-vaccination claims. Imagine if someone like Robert Pattison or Jonas Brothers came out with something like that – I’m willing to bet that the vaccination rates amongst teenage girls would fall dramatically. If you know that what you say will be read by thousands of people, surely you have a responsibility to make sure what you are saying is correct? This is why promoting critical thinking is important - so people know that they shouldn't just trust what they read in the papers, or what somebody else tells them, but they should investigate these claims, and make up their own minds.