Blogs vs mainstream media

May 31st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, dore | 39 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday May 31 2008

You will remember last week we were talking about the £2,000 Dore “miracle cure” for dyslexia, invented by paint entrepreneur Wynford Dore. It had been pushed unrelentingly in the media, despite multiple Ofcom and ITC judgements, and through personal endorsement by Kenny Logan, who, it turned out, was paid for at least some of his promotional work. This was despite the fact that the evidence base for the programme was spectacularly poor, although the relentlessly positive media coverage might be explicable, since Dore has been known to be heavy-handed with those who speak out.
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Dore – the media’s miracle cure for dyslexia

May 24th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, bbc, dore, ITV, miracles | 37 Comments »

How do you judge if an intervention is effective when you hear about it in the media? Perhaps you tot up the balance of opinions. Perhaps you do it unconsciously.

image You might have noticed the Dore “miracle cure” for dyslexia, invented by millionaire paint entrepreneur Wynford Dore. It’s hard to ignore. In fact just recently you may have seen “Strictly Come Dancing” star Kenny Logan – a rugby superhero, with 70 caps in 13 years – promoting the Dore Dyslexia Program with his own personal testimonials on the Jeremy Vine Show, Channel Five News, Radio Five Live, BBC London, ITV Central, ITV Yorkshire, in the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, Scotland on Sunday, and many, many more.

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In which I attempt to become, like, poetic.

May 17th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 18 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday May 10 2008

I was hoping this week to attend a protest of patients and scientists in favour of human-animal hybrid embryo cell experiments outside parliament, discussing and explaining the science to MPs, chatting to people with Motor Neurone Disease who have concluded that christians’ sense of intuitive moral unease is not quite as important as a possible treatment for their illness, and wearing, obviously, a dog’s head and goat hooves with patches of hair glued crudely to my naked chest and legs.

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Pools of blood

May 10th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, big pharma, regulating research, statistics | 11 Comments »

Note: The Guardian accidentally edited this column such that the last paragraph contained an untrue statement. I have emailed the readers editor for a correction.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday May 10 2008

So basically I sit here with a big bag of standard tools from the world of evidence, and wait for stories to come along which allow me to deliver a 600 word lecture on them. Sit tight, this one’s slightly complicated. In America last week the papers went crazy: artificial blood products cause a 30% increase in deaths, and a 2.7-fold increase in heart attacks, according to a new meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There is, incidentally, a trial of these products still ongoing in the UK.

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White coat protest on hybrid embryo research bill

May 6th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 20 Comments »

Like most people I generally can’t be bothered to protest or write huffy letters to my MP about things like embryonic stem cell science and animal-human hybrid embryo research, because I have a vague notion that nobody will listen to the religious fruitcakes anyway and it will all take care of itself.

In the case of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill I’m no longer convinced that sense will prevail, so I’m happy to spread the word about this protest next Monday outside parliament. Read the rest of this entry »

The amazing disappearing reappearing finger

May 3rd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, ITV, miracles, sun, telegraph, times | 16 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday May 3 2008

Traditionally on May Day the fool plays at pratfalls and buffoonery around local morris dancers, brandishing his fool’s bauble, an inflated pig’s bladder on a stick, with which he bewitches and controls the crowds. To the uninitiated it looks like chaos, but for his own safety the fool must know the dances as well as anyone, so that his weaving tomfoolery meshes perfectly with the intricate pattern of kicks, handkerchief waving, and stickbashing.

In the newspapers on May Day, meanwhile, journalists were earnestly reporting the news that pig’s bladder extract had been used by scientists in a major breakthrough allowing one man to magically regrow a finger. “‘Pixie dust’ helps man grow new finger,” squealed the Telegraph’s headline. “‘Pixie dust’ makes man’s severed finger regrow,” said the Times. “Made from dried pig’s bladder,” they explained, this magic powder “kick-starts the body’s healing process”. Read the rest of this entry »

“Pixie Dust helps man grow new finger”

May 1st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, mail, sun, telegraph, times | 34 Comments »

Very briefly – because this kind of thing irritates me so much that I can’t be bothered to devote a great deal of time to it – in almost every single newspaper and media outlet today you will read about the Pixie Dust which helped a man’s finger grow back: “The man who grew a finger” [BBC], “‘Pixie dust’ helps man grow new finger” [Telegraph], “Man’s finger ‘regrown using pig extract’” [ITN], “Sliced finger grows back” [The Sun], etc.

Allow me to explain why I have good grounds to believe that this is nonsense, and that the journalists concerned have failed in the most basic regard.

[NB I gave this story some chat on the Today programme at 7:43am May 2, listen again here]

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