Retailers' mad scientist kids' costumes tarnish image of UK science


04 October 2013

The British chemistry community urges retailers to abandon selling violence-based 'mad scientist' costumes for children.

Following the outcry over distasteful children's costumes making light of mental illness earlier this week, it has emerged that there are yet more costumes available in similar poor taste.

The Royal Society of Chemistry's Executive Director of Communications, Clare Viney, said today: "Chemistry is an overwhelming force for good and we were shocked to see that, amongst others, Tesco and Amazon sell products - specifically aimed at children - that portray 'scientists' with bloodied instruments of torture.

"At a time when we will need to be increasingly reliant on advancing technology and scientific discovery to power our way out of the economic doldrums, the image of scientists depicted by these costumes is grotesque and offensive and could risk putting children off studying science. 

"Cogent, the Sector Skills Council, has estimated that chemistry-using industries require 33,000 apprentices and 37,000 graduates by 2020, yet projected supply is only 21,000 and 18,000 respectively. 

"Scientists play a major role in ensuring that these hugely successful supermarkets and retailers are profitable as well as safe, providing services from food testing to new product and technology development.

"Science will provide the solution to many of the world's great challenges, from energy and climate change to innovations in healthcare. The Royal Society of Chemistry's goal is to shape the future of the chemical sciences for the benefit of science and humanity. That doesn't sound like 'mad science' to us."

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