Radio 3 Nightwaves

May 31st, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, onanism | 10 Comments »

I’m on Radio 3 in a bit:

www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/nightwaves/pip/hx47k/

It’s a 45 minute long live discussion programme on science and the media, you can also listen to it by clicking here for the next week:

www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/networks/radio3/aod.shtml?radio3/nightwaves_wed

To be honest I always get a bit worried with live radio, like I might not be able to contain the urge to shout “Big Dog’s Cock” out loud to the nation, or something. If it helps to make an otherwise sober discussion more lively in your imagination, you can imagine me trying to suppress that urge as we engage with the issues.


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10 Responses



  1. godot said,

    May 31, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    God I wish you had said “big dog’s cock”. A shockingly partial presenter, twenty minutes beating the shit out of scientists, and ‘the Parry’ trash-talking. Was it me or did Dodd basically suggest the media as an alternative to peer-review?

  2. Ross said,

    May 31, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    Dodd did seem incredibly thick.

    For instance on the one hand suggesting “Science” was responsible for policing who said what about scientific issues and on the other hand dismissing peer review which is surely the main way that they can legitimately do so.

    Anyway apart from the presenter and Parry, I thought that there were some intersting points made and discussed (when you were allowed to).

  3. Ben Goldacre said,

    May 31, 2006 at 11:21 pm

    to be fair i think vivienne parry (whom i adore) was playing a bit of a part to construct some disagreement among people who otherwise would have agreed boringly on everything. in fact i kind of know she was doing that. that’s the, er, magic of the media i guess. it’s all smoke and mirrors.

  4. Ben Goldacre said,

    June 1, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    i dont know about that. i guess either it’s difficult to get some rabid anti-mmr journalist to come on and defend themselves, or if you did, you’d have a foolish argument anyway, because they’d be saying things like “what you don’t realise is that epidemiology is prone to something called bias” etc.

    anyway nobody is allowed to say anything bad about vivienne parry here. it’s a new rule.

  5. JQH said,

    June 2, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    I think it would be worthwhile challenging these journalists to come on and defend their writings. If they decline you can shout that they’re afraid to show themselves up for the frauds that they are. If they do take up the challenge, you can highlight their stupidity for the benefit of the nation.

  6. Ben Goldacre said,

    June 2, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    yeah, i dont know, might not be a constructive discussion. i have these arguments at parties. they will say: they act in the public interest, reflecting the concerns of parents, scientists should police each other not to say anything foolish (which is the most unrealistic, like we’re in the same bowling club or somethinG), or most amusingly of all, they start attacking you and saying that you are wrong about the science and they are right (or their favourite bonkers expert is). actually the last is the most common, and it is like wading through shit.

    The amusing phenomenon of being too incompetent to assess your own incompetence is discussed in this excellent paper by Kruger and Dunning from 1999.

    web.archive.org/web/20050322085946/http://www.phule.net/mirrors/unskilled-and-unaware.html

  7. Ben Goldacre said,

    June 3, 2006 at 12:18 am

    in dont know man, the punters love a scare. and some of them fit the perfect narrative structure for the moment: authorities undermined, lying to you, the “little people” who know better, the passion of a parent, the struggle of the individual. we love it.

    mind you they do actually lie quite a lot too, and that is mean.

  8. jk said,

    June 3, 2006 at 3:45 am

    One thing that didn’t seem to be discussed was the relationship between scientists and the media in countries other than the UK. Now, I’m not sure of any great examples of unqualified success; however when addressing specific wrongs, it seems likely that these might be corrected in other counties.

    As an example, I assume there are countries whose compulsory school curricula contain a greater depth of statistics — does this lead to an improvement in the coverage of epidemiology in those countries?

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