Blame everyone but yourselves

July 25th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, BANT, dangers, detox, media, nutritionists, regulating nonsense, telegraph | 55 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday July 26 2008

image Like many professions who kill people with some regularity, doctors have elaborate systems for seeing what went wrong afterwards, and the answer is rarely “Brian did it”. This week the papers have been alive with criticism for quack nutritionism after the case of Dawn Page, a 52 year old mother of two who ended up being treated on intensive care, with seizures brought on by sodium deficiency, and left with permanent brain damage, after following the advice of “nutritional therapist” Barbara Nash. She denies liability. Her insurers paid out £810,000.

I will now defend the nutritional therapist Barbara Nash. Read the rest of this entry »

You are hereby sentenced eternally to wander the newspapers, fruitlessly mocking nutriwoo

July 19th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, nutritionists, telegraph | 41 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday July 26 2008

The newspapers are so profoundly overrun with pseudoscience about food that there’s no point in documenting it any longer. They will continue with their Sisyphean task of dividing all the inanimate objects in the world into the ones that either cause or cure cancer, and I will sit at the sidelines, making that joke over and over again.

This week, however, the Telegraph, which has lost its science editor and its science correspondent in two months, deserves special attention, because two of its food stories went beyond stupid, and managed to give actively harmful information. Read the rest of this entry »

The plausibility effect

July 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity, psychology of woo, roger coghill, secret data | 31 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday July 12, 2008

You will remember, two weeks ago now, we saw the Sunday Express claiming on its front page that an impressive government adviser called Dr Roger Coghill had performed a research study demonstrating that the Bridgend suicide cases all lived closer to a mobile phone mast than average. When I contacted Coghill it turned out he wasn’t really a government adviser, he had previously claimed that Aids was caused by power cables, he said the Express had made a mistake in calling him a doctor, he had lost the data, and he couldn’t even explain what he meant by “average”.

You will be very pleased to hear that Dr Coghill has now found the data. Read the rest of this entry »

Mischief PR and more top secret data.

July 5th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, pr guff, scare stories, secret data, statistics, survey data | 25 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday July 5 2008

Anyone would think the cold war was still on, with all this top secret scientific data that journalists constantly seem to be writing about. In last week’s column, as you will remember, we saw the Sunday Express front page claiming that a scientist and government adviser called Dr Coghill had performed scientific research, and found that the Bridgend suicide cases all lived closer to a mobile phone mast than average: this was an issue of great public health significance, but when I contacted the researcher, he wasn’t a doctor, he wasn’t really a government adviser, he couldn’t tell me what he meant by “average”, and he had, in a twist of almost incomprehensible ridiculousness, “lost” the data.

This week we have the same thing, from the insurance company Esure, and their agents Mischief PR. Read the rest of this entry »