From Hampstead to Cape Town

August 26th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, dangers, death, matthias rath, nutritionists, scare stories | 44 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 26th, 2006
The Guardian

What happens if you transplant western ideas like nutritionism, and anti-vaccination panics, into a developing world context? Unfortunately that’s not a thought experiment. Between 600 and 800 people die every day in South Africa from HIV/AIDS, and their government was roundly criticised at last weeks International AIDS conference in Toronto.

Everyone knows that the South African government is headed by a longstanding denialist of the link between HIV and AIDS, Thabo Mbeki, who held back anti-retroviral treatment for many years; but less well known is the fact that his health minster, Tshabalala-Msimang, is also a staunch advocate for weekend glossy magazine-style nutritionism, an ardent critic of medical drugs, and a close associate of a controversial vitamin salesman.

South Africa’s stand at the conference was described by delegates as the “salad stall”, and consisted of some garlic, some beetroot, the African potato, and other vegetable action. Some boxes of Read the rest of this entry »

The Forums Are Still Open…

August 23rd, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 1 Comment »

I’ve just moved servers, so the list of forum topics has temporarily disappeared from the right hand column, but the most excellent BadScience discussion forums are alive and kicking, with lots of new BS candidates and the usual mix of elevating banter and tortuous pedantry. 427 registered users, 8877 posts, and counting…

www.badscience.net/forum/

Free Bad Science Book Give Away

August 21st, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, statistics | 39 Comments »

Okay not mine, because I’ve got a bit over-ambitious with the content, but this is a bit of a find: free books by one of the early pioneers of popularising critical appraisal, epidemiologist Petr Skrabanek. Few today will remember his fantastic “Follies and Fallacies in Medicine” (co-authored with GP James McCormick) in which they take on everything from the bad maths of breast cancer screening, through the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, and on to homeopathy and “electroquackupuncture devices”. Their “Fistful of Fallacies” is particularly good.

At the time, this was regarded as a visionary classic, a book that changed the Read the rest of this entry »

Archie Cochrane: “Fascist”

August 19th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, postmodernist bollocks | 83 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 19, 2006
The Guardian

“Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism.” Even from looking at the title, you just know this academic paper, from the September edition of the International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare, is going to be a corker. And it uses the word “fascist” (or elaborate derivatives) 28 times in 6 pages, which even Rik Mayall in the Young Ones might regard as over-egged.

I say!

Now obviously post modernist intellectuals are about a thousand times more intelligent than me – because I only know about science and computers – but I found this paper so confusing I thought it might be a spoof. After all, who could forget the great Sokal hoax, where Read the rest of this entry »

Geekmusic – MRI Update

August 18th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in not bad science | 14 Comments »

rca synth

Not bad science but there’s a great story in the Mail on Sunday about Prof Don Kurtz and his recordings from space: he’s changed the speed to get the frequencies into the audible Read the rest of this entry »

AIDS Denialists Galore

August 17th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, references | 32 Comments »

Just for completeness sake, I was worried that some of you might have missed this absolute corker of a 15 page article in Harper’s (circ: 230,000) by AIDS-denialist Celia Farber, in which all kinds of entertaining claims get an airing. AIDS is actually a “chemical syndrome, caused by accumulated toxins from heavy drug use,” “many cases of AIDS are the consequence of heavy drug use, both recreational (poppers, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.) and medical (AZT, etc.)”; “HIV is a harmless Read the rest of this entry »

Fictional Epidemiology

August 17th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, statistics | 47 Comments »

Hands up, it’s a pretty cheap shot, but nevertheless I thought you might enjoy this bit of amateur epidemiology from some Christians who’ve looked at cause of death and early mortality in “rock stars”, and then done some Read the rest of this entry »

Private Eye

August 14th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, onanism | 20 Comments »

Swimming through piles of references this afternoon I stumbled upon this golden gasser from yesteryear, Read the rest of this entry »

Regulating Research

August 12th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, regulating research | 15 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 12, 2006
The Guardian

Look, I feel sorry for the six men who swelled up “like the Elephant Man” on TGN1412. The interim report is out now, and it has a lot of sensible suggestions about the mechanics of that kind of trial, but it got me thinking: if you wanted to be actuarial about this, and count up the pain and death caused by research shortcomings, where would you find the most tragedy? Read the rest of this entry »

“Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism.”

August 11th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks | 86 Comments »

Some of you might enjoy this absolute cracker from the current edition of the International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare: a critical theory deconstructionist attack on evidence based medicine and Cochrane centres, in a proper journal. Presumably I am a bit of a “microfascist” for posting it here.

Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism

Authors: Holmes, Dave; Murray, Stuart J1; Perron, Amélie2; Rail, Geneviève2

Source: International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare, Volume 4, Number 3, September 2006, pp. 180-186(7)

Background
Drawing on the work of the late French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge. As such, we assert that the evidence-based movement in health sciences constitutes a good example of microfascism at play in the contemporary
scientific Read the rest of this entry »