Ad Hom & Fags

June 30th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 65 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 30, 2007
The Guardian

We live in troubled times, where scientific research – at least in popular forums like newspapers – is only ever critiqued by ad hominem attacks on the person who did it. Evidence showing that MMR is safe was rubbished, because some researchers once accepted a drug company pen; and similarly, when the MMR scare died in the popular imagination, it wasn’t because of the evidence, but because Andrew Wakefield was shown to have personally profited from legal cases and applied for potentially lucrative patents for the alternatives to MMR. It would have been less complicated if everyone had just looked at the data.

But how bad would someone have to be for you to completely disregard the findings from their research, simply on the grounds of who they were? An adulterer? A recipient of private consulting fees? How about a cold-blooded racist, homophobic mass murderer? Read the rest of this entry »

Millecam

June 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, dangers | 11 Comments »

Not sure if there are many Millecam articles around in English, this translation emailed in to me, so I’m bunging it up here for archive/interest really, let me know if there are more?
Read the rest of this entry »

AS “Science For Public Understanding”

June 25th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 38 Comments »

I’m chatting to some teachers about this tomorrow. Although I am – of course – extremely suspicious of anything that veers away from simply teaching children about proper science (it’s not fusty, it’s retro) I find it very interesting to read what they’re up to. Here’s the link for the CAM page as an example, it’s an improvement on some of the astonishing GCSE stuff I’ve seen on alt med. Enjoy, and I’d be interested to hear and parasitise your thoughts.

www.scpub.org/resources/alternative-medicine,4,MO.html

A new ethics of bullshit

June 23rd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, dangers, homeopathy, nutritionists | 18 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 23, 2007
The Guardian

I’m dispatching this column to you from the frontline of the healing fields at Glastonbury festival, where I can cheerfully offer aura reading, structural integrative massage, soul therapy in the pyramid healing space, happy footbaths, crystal magick, positive thinking yoga and angel therapy. In an angelically charged dome. Read the rest of this entry »

Cherry Picking and the Professional Association of Teachers

June 20th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity | 56 Comments »

It’s a small thing, but if Wi-Fi and reality editing interest you, then here is a quick letter I just pinged off. Before you accuse me of being a little too interested, I can write veeeery quickly, and this kind of phenomenon really does fascinate me. Read the rest of this entry »

Stifling Debate – When Bloggers Bite Back

June 16th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, stifling criticism | 30 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 16, 2007
The Guardian

I like short stories with happy endings. Last week we saw how the mightily eminent pharmacologist Professor David Colquhoun (FRS) was having his witty and informative “Improbable Science” quackbusting blog quietly banished from the UCL servers.

He had questioned claims made by a herbal medicine practitioner called Dr Ann Walker over, for example, the “blood cleansing” properties of red clover pills (also a “cleanser of the lymphatic system”, apparently) and criticised her for making public statements about the benefits of vitamin supplements in an academic journal, without disclosing her role as spokesperson for
the Health Supplements Information Service, a lobby group for the multibillion-pound supplement pills industry. Walker complained.

Well, in fact her husband complained. Read the rest of this entry »

BMJ Column – Why don’t journalists mention the data?

June 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity | 28 Comments »

BMJ 2007;334:1249 (16 June)
doi:10.1136/bmj.39245.510718.59
Observations
Media watch
Why don’t journalists mention the data?

Have stories about “electrosensitivity” simply been lifted from those promoting this new diagnosis?

Sometimes, as a doctor who also writes in the newspapers, a dark thought comes across me: wouldn’t it be so refreshing -secretly, wouldn’t it feel so free – to leave the medical thing behind, and just make stuff up, say what I want, spin any story that pleases me, or any story that sells, and gaily ignore the evidence?

Read the rest of this entry »

Alternative therapists struggle with the placebo and hawthorne effects once more

June 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, placebo | 35 Comments »

I just wanted to draw your attention to a pair of rather entertaining papers from the current issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, edited by Professor Kim Jobst (the man who endorses the Qlink pendant, amongst other things).

The abstract from the experimental paper is here: Read the rest of this entry »

UCL, Colquhoun, and Dr Ann Walker – A victory for common sense.

June 13th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, heroes of bad science | 32 Comments »

UCL have just issued a smashing statement on Prof Colquhoun’s de-excommunication.

www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0706/07061303

Read the rest of this entry »

The Mighty David Colquhoun

June 9th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes of bad science, stifling criticism | 56 Comments »

[Update: Letter from Provost below]

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 9, 2007
The Guardian

I’ve always said you’d get a lot more kids interested in science if you told them it involves fighting – which of course it does. This week, for example, Professor David Colquhoun FRS – one of the most eminent scientists in the UK – has been forced to remove his quackbusting blog from the UCL servers where it has lived for many years, after complaints from disgruntled alternative therapists.

Read the rest of this entry »