Blah blah cannabis blah blah blah

July 28th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in drurrrgs | 67 Comments »

The Guardian
Saturday July 28 2007

You know when cannabis hits the news you’re in for a bit of fun, and this week’s story about cannabis causing psychosis was no exception. Read the rest of this entry »

A startling lack of critical self-appraisal

July 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, craig sams, hate mail, stifling criticism | 52 Comments »

One for the small print maybe, but I think this is culturally quite interesting, because to me it tells a small part of the story on how you can maintain a belief system by avoiding appraisal of your ideas.

As you will remember, Craig Sams, a confectionery millionaire, recently wrote an article which I suppose you’d have to describe as an “attack” on me. This was close to what I’m hoping for – which is an attack on my ideas – and I genuinely wish he’d engaged with any single one of my criticisms of McKeith and the wider nutritionism industry. As I have said many times: there’s nothing I like better than people engaging in a discussion about ideas, and criticising mine. If you haven’t read Sams’ article already I’d highly recommend it for sheer enjoyment. Read the rest of this entry »

Cannabis and privileged access

July 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 50 Comments »

I’ve just been asked rather at the last minute to knock something out on cannabis and psychosis, and since I like to keep the news desk very happy these days, even though I have absolutely nothing interesting to say on the subject, I’m going to charge through reading the Lancet study over a sandwich: but one thing struck me as absurd. Read the rest of this entry »

Essex electrosensitivity study results…

July 25th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity | 162 Comments »

… and they’re negative. Subjects were unable to distinguish whether the signal was present or absent. It is truly fantastic that for almost the first time ever the discussion around electrosensitivity is actually addressing the evidence, rather than anecdote. Cue a barrage of abuse from the electrosensitive lobby.

I’ll be updating as responses from lobbyi$ts and news coverage comes in, do please post links and text below and I will link to them. Read the rest of this entry »

Updated with lobby feedback – A thought experiment for the electrosensitivity lobby

July 24th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity, powerwatch - alasdair philips | 29 Comments »

The electrosensitivity lobby are famously selective about the evidence they quote. They simply ignore the large body of data finding that electrosensitivity symptoms are not worsened by e-m waves, and they selectively quote only data which supports their hypothesis, in a pattern which can be seen throughout the internet.

I fear this may mislead their readers, and so here is a modest proposal. Read the rest of this entry »

Observer MMR story disappears from archives – updated

July 24th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in MMR | 44 Comments »

Lots of people have emailed in to say that the Observer’s spectacularly misleading MMR story has been removed from the archive and is no longer available online.,,2121521,00.html

For obvious reasons of propriety I have studiously avoided having an inside track on anything to do with this piece from the beginning, so I have no idea what is going on here.

From the comments:

A clue about the removal of the Observer piece?

“A paragraph regarding concern about MMR overseas, extracted from a piece in the Observer now deleted from the website due to concerns about its accuracy, has been removed from this article until the information can be verified”

The Observer makes another hash of “clarifying” and persists in trying to cover up its mistakes

July 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in MMR | 52 Comments »

They still don’t seem to understand the problems with the one in 58 figure, and they still don’t seem to be able to understand the report they keep going on about (but won’t let anyone see because they think their scientific evidence is top secret), and they are still covering up their mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »

MMR and The Observer – a nation waits

July 21st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in MMR | 7 Comments »

I’ve been told by Dr Fiona Scott that the main news editor of the Observer phoned her today, and she has been promised that there will be a large article in tomorrow’s Observer [EDIT it's up now, here] reproducing in full and unedited the comments that she ended up posting, in desperation, in the commentisefree thread beneath their previous and rather incomprehensible non-retraction. In those, she explained that they had repeatedly misrepresented her views, and had consistently failed even to ask her what they were, despite her protesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Testing Social Policy

July 21st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in statistics | 34 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday July 21, 2007
The Guardian

There is no sense in which I am a hardliner on trials, and I’m totally down with the idea that there can be many different kinds of evidence, but one thing has always puzzled me: in these days of “evidence based thinking” in Whitehall, why don’t we do randomised controlled trials on social policy? Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously, what am I going to say to the IPPR?

July 19th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in onanism | 41 Comments »

Just got back from a stats conference – how rock is my life – and I’m trying trying to decide what to say to the IPPR tomorrow? I know very little about politics with a capital P, or thinktanks, and I was rather hoping some of you might know better than me. It’s an informal chat thing, lunchtime, 20 minutes of talking from me, then questions. Read the rest of this entry »