Bad science... let's get detoxed!


Scientific claims in advertising


In this day and age, everyone's after a quick fix to make them feel good.

Forget diets, sweaty gym shorts, or a milkshake for breakfast, lunch and dinner…let's start detoxing ourselves.

OK, so here’s the deal: Let's stick our feet in some water, stick an electric current through it, and no, we don't get fried, instead we’ll find we've removed toxins from the trillions of pores in our feet. All this icky brown stuff spews out. And we’re shiny clean on the inside? Good Science? Nah…Bad Science!

Aqua Detox claims to be an amazing treatment that removes toxins from the pores in your feet. Dialysis for the feet? Surely this is a major breakthrough then? Hmm….we need a course of five to ten sessions, at 30 minutes a session, and how much hard-earned cash should we part with, exactly?

What the students had to say about this activity:

  • "I liked working on real-life examples."
  • "I enjoyed testing the advertising claims."
  • "I liked the real examples rather than things which seem to come from nowhere."
  • "When we put the nails in the salty water and it started to bubble and go brown. But when we didn’t put any salt in nothing happened so it’s just the salt."
  • "The aqua detox thing is a con and they are trying to grab your money."



The following are a selection of PDF documents for teachers and students. Feel free to type 'Aqua Detox' into an internet search engine and see what you find. whiteboard




How about a hair shampoo advert claiming to make hair 10% stronger! See UPD8 resources on Interpreting and Evaluating Evidence.

What does the Advertising Standards Authority do? Do they keep an eye on whether science is misrepresented in the media? There are rules concerning the promotion of many health-related products in the media. For instance a claim that a brand of toothpaste helps reduce decay must be backed up by clinical evidence if it is to be used in an advertisement.