This is an extract from my new book “Bad Science“, in the Guardian today. It’s out on Monday: my recommendation is that you buy it, and give it to someone who disagrees with you.
Saturday August 30 2008
Dr Andrew Wakefield is in front of the General Medical Council on charges of serious professional misconduct, his paper on 12 children with autism and bowel problems is described as “debunked” – although it never supported the conclusions ascribed to it – and journalists have convinced themselves that his £435,643 fee from legal aid proves that his research was flawed.
I will now defend the heretic Dr Andrew Wakefield.
Okay, this is all a bit indulgent, but it was a total mission, so I will now cheerfully declare, to my childishly ecstatic delight, that in a rather exciting moment a few minutes ago my book totally arrived in my hand. I quite like it. Since there are those who doubted whether I would ever finish the beast, and you’re all plainly bastards, here is a clumsy picture of me holding it before I dash out to the Nature Scienceblogger Conference drinks. It’s out on Monday.
So tonight at 9pm on BBC Radio 4 (Monday) you can hear the second episode of my two-part miniseries on the placebo effect, one of the most effective and neglected evidence based treatments known to man.
In this show we look at the ethical and practical implications of research into the placebo effect, and discuss whether it’s okay – or even necessary – to lie to patients. The answer, from me at any rate, is “no”. Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday August 23 2008
What I particularly enjoy is the spectacle of fat people – ideally drinking beer – watching television, while somewhere on the other side of the world citizens of all nations are getting some nice exercise in the Olympics (throwing javelins, jumping over metal bars, climbing lamp posts with banners, and running away from the water cannon). These are the people I imagine paying for gyms they never visit, while I am cheerfully cycling to work and carrying the shopping up the stairs. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s not exactly a whole bunch of news going on right now. According to the Mail we are witnessing the “Invasion of the killer jellyfish” (except Portuguese Men O’ War have been reported on British shores since at least 2003), the hunt for the Yeti continues, and there’s always room for another “equation for” story. Read the rest of this entry »
Silly season is in full swing. At the Telegraph, their correspondent has gone for a bioenergetic health audit. “The resident homoeopath, Katie Jermine, quizzed me about my diet, stress levels and lifestyle. She then strapped on a wristband and plugged me into an electronic device called the Quantum QXCI, which scanned my system for vitamins, minerals, food intolerances, toxicity, organ function, hormone balance, parasites, digestive disorders and stress levels.”
Saturday August 2 2008
It must be August. The Daily Mail is hunting for the Yeti again (they sent their own expedition out in 1954) and mathematical formula season has begun in earnest. PR guru Mark Borkowski’s “fame formula” was gushingly reported in the Telegraph, the Express, the Star, OK, Channel 4, ITN, and more. The Guardian were lucky enough to obtain the rights to extract his book at length, focusing on the formula. I trust the deal permits me also to reproduce large tracts of it here.