The Pill Problem

March 31st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, medicalisation, nutritionists | 29 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

Direct to consumer drug adverts in America are a proper joy, and especially the TV ones: your life is in disarray, your restless legs/migraine/cholesterol have taken over, all is panic, there is no sense any where. Then, when you take the right pill, suddenly the screen brightens up into a warm yellow, granny’s laughing, the kids are laughing, the dog’s tail is wagging, some nauseating child is playing with the hose on the lawn spraying a rainbow of water into the sunshine and laughing his head off as all your relationships suddenly become successful again. Life is good.

They even have celebrity endorsements for drugs, on chat shows, conveying important treatment information on odds ratios and relative risk – if I can slip into 1990s teen slang for a moment – “not”. Read the rest of this entry »

Matthias Rath In London

March 26th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, matthias rath, nutritionists | 45 Comments »

Here’s a thing: video of Matthias Rath speaking at a rally in London on Saturday March 24 2007 to rapturous applause.

For those who don’t remember, Matthias Rath is the German vitamin entrepreneur who sells his proprietary vitamin pills to people dying of AIDS in South Africa Read the rest of this entry »

Reefer Badness

March 24th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, drurrrgs, references, statistics | 51 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday March 24, 2007
The Guardian

The more I see of the world [looks pensively out of window] the more it strikes me that people seem to want more science, rather than less, and to deploy it in odd ways: to abrogate responsibility; to validate a hunch; to render a political or cultural prejudice in deceptively objective terms. Because you can prove anything with science, as long as you cherry pick the data and keep one eye half closed.

The Independent last Sunday ran a front page splash: “Cannabis – An Apology” was Read the rest of this entry »

Raymond Tallis Lecture mp3

March 23rd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, podcast | 10 Comments »

Here’s an absolutely cracking SAS lecture by Raymond Tallis, author of Medicine And Its Discontents, a stirring response to everyone who thinks medicine is founded upon arse. I’d highly recommend it, he’s like me but older, cleverer, and considerably less childish.

Having said that he does win a special prize for Suavest Book Title with this little number on outré literary theorists. Read the rest of this entry »

Homeopathy Science Degrees In British Universities

March 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, homeopathy, very basic science | 41 Comments »

Just a brief note to say, if you want to read the original Nature news story and commentary that is driving today’s news story then Prof Colquhoun (the commentary author) is hosting a PDF copy of it here on his own entirely excellent blog:

www.ucl.ac.uk/Pharmacology/dc-bits/quack.html#nature1

He’s also got a cracking round up of the newspaper and radio stories, updated as they come out.

Pushing The Habit

March 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, fish oil | 31 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday March 17, 2007
The Guardian

In the pharmaceutical industry there are people called “drug reps“, who travel around doctors trying to “educate” them about their products. They actively foster an ignorance of scientific methodology, and much of what you get taught in medical school is about how to spot their complex fluffs. Luckily, when pill peddlers market directly at consumers, the fluffs are much simpler. Read the rest of this entry »

Credit where it’s due

March 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, climate change | 185 Comments »

It had been so slaughtered by the time Friday came around that there was no way I could write about the Global Warming documentary with any poise, since it had all been done to death. Steve Connor in Read the rest of this entry »

“Surrogate Outcome Proves Something Beyond All Reasonable Human Doubt”

March 12th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, fish oil | 59 Comments »

I’m very much looking forward to this important press release, of a study in 4 children, making massive international news. The experiment is part of the promotional activity for another omega-3 pill called VegEPA, and a Channel Five documentary on children and diet to be broadcast later this week: it is unpublished, and this time the study, amazingly, was funded by the TV production company Endemol. They love these stories so much, they’ve started paying for the research. This represents a really interesting new development in the interplay between commercial companies making seductive claims about pills solving complex social problems, and the media who love them. They’ll be giving out their own degrees next.

For more on the dangers of making great leaps of faith on the real world abilities of a treatment using a theoretical surrogate outcome, I’d always recommend reading the excellent Trisha Greenhalgh, here on “Evidence and Marketing”:

www.bmj.com/archive/7106/7106ed.htm

This is taken from her book “How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine”, a highly Read the rest of this entry »

Insert “swindle” joke here.

March 11th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, climate change | 152 Comments »

On Thursday night, Channel 4 broadcast what it described as a “controversial documentary”. It was essentially the same rather elderly climate denialist arguments that have been seen many times before – and assessed, and refuted – but packaged up with a bit of drama, as if they were new and unheard of.

That wasn’t the only problem with it.

Climate scientist ‘duped to deny global warming’
Ben Goldacre and David Adam
Sunday March 11, 2007
The Observer Read the rest of this entry »

Laugh? I nearly died.

March 10th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, drurrrgs, scare stories | 62 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday March 10, 2007
The Guardian

Obviously nobody is more worried than I about the hippie crack epidemic: nitrous oxide – better known as laughing gas – has hit the news, after the death of a man with a plastic bag over his head, and a cannister of the drug connected to himself.

Now, I will never speak ill of the dead, and I feel very sorry for this poor man, but equally we must all take responsibility for our actions. Plastic carrier bags are a vital feature of Read the rest of this entry »