The New York Times (NYT) aims for “All the news that’s fit to print” but sometimes seems to settle for “Print all that fits.” When the Gray Lady throws out nonsense, you can rest assured that @NYTonit, @theJAYFK, and many, many others will catch it. Today’s catch – Arnica Becomes a Celebrity Favorite - was fished-out of the NYT Style section. Well, at least this article wasn’t in the Science section.
This arnica piece reads more like an advertisement than an article. Perhaps that is a little harsh… the article reads like a Style section article on scientific topic written by a fashion stylist. The first person quoted in the piece is fashion designer Phillip Lim, followed by Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion director Linda Fargo, stylist Isabel Dupré and Urban Decay cosmetics Executive Director Wende Zomnir. Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and model Gisele Bundchen are also thrown in for good measure.
To science-up this Style section article, two docs have been thrown in. One is Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, a dermatologist who has developed arnica-based facial cream “37 Extreme Actives“. While cream will set you back $295 at Neiman Marcus, I’m not sure what her opinion on arnica’s efficacy is worth. To be clear, though Dr. Alexiades-Armenakas seems firmly on the arnica-for-topical-use bandwagon, but she’s not down with “long-term oral use” (it is a poisonous plant, afterall).
This article’s second doc is Dr. Charles Passler, a chiropractor and nutritionist. Yes, you read that correctly – a chiropractor and nutritionist. I’m just going to let you soak that in.
Both of the docs quoted in this article tout arnica-for-topical-use in combating bruising and inflammation. However, a 2003 Trial show[ed] that homoeopathic arnica is no better than placebo. In a tweet calling out arnica nonsense, @Blue_Wode showed that the claims made by made by arnica devotees in this NYT aren’t backed-up by science.
This isn’t the first time a NYT Style section article has committed a science faux pas. Their feature on Leslie Blodgett, head of Bare Escentuals cosmetics, described Bare Escentuals “…as a line of chemical-free mineral powders…”. This time, they’re confusing what a fashion trend with scientific fact. Tell the NYT that just because it’s the Style section doesn’t mean it’s a science-free zone. Follow @krelnik‘s lead and email the NYT Public Editor using firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editorial Materials & MethodsmThe author enjoyed a gin & tonic while preparing this post. This libation was prepared in a dilution of 1 part gin to 4 parts tonic, topped with a tincture of key lime juice.