The BOHS Conference is always something of a mixed bag. It attempts to appeal to the membership as a whole and as this is very diverse it is inevitable that anyone visiting will find some presentations interesting and others less so. The programme was a mixture of scientific papers and workshops on more practical issues which appeal to practising hygienists.
The Conference started well with an excellent Warner lecture by Ben Goldacre. His talk was titled “When journalists kill: How the media promoted the public misunderstanding of evidence and why it is a problem” and did exactly what it said on the tin. He showed how the media can mis-report scientific issues and promote theories and viewpoints that can’t be justified by sound evidence. He illustrated his talk with a umber of examples from the media, including the MMR vaccine scare. His conclusion was that the very nature of the sensationalist media made it difficult to get proper scientific ideas across to the public and that the best way to achieve this was to sidestep mainstream media using new social media such as blogs. He was a good speaker, if a little disorganised, but his talk went down very well with the audience.
Most conferences these days hold a number of parallel sessions to try to provide choice and allows delegates to concentrate on topics they’re interested in. The downside is that, sometimes, there is more than one session you want to sit in on while on other occasions none of the sessions appeal. The parallel sessions tend to include several papers which mean that you can, if you want, drift between them, but I tended to choose which session was of most interest and stick with it.
I chose to attend the sessions on “real science, real risk”, sampling methods, PPE and nanotechnology and workshops on ART (the modelling tool developed for REACH) and on the BOHS strategic review. I’ll report on some of these in subsequent posts.