One of my t-shirts is in the… in the Daily Mail

July 29th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, onanism | 53 Comments »

Good Grief.


Sporting “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that” from the BadScience classic range (mm must make more t-shirts). I can also inform you, looking at our deservedly rubbish sales figures, that this well-dressed young lady is one of 10 people in the universe to own such a t-shirt. Buy one now, and you have a one in ten chance of appearing in the Daily Mail yourself: that’s science.


If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

53 Responses

  1. T said,

    July 29, 2009 at 7:38 pm


  2. bazzargh said,

    July 29, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Seems there’s more hackery going on: the article contains a hidden form with spammy crap. Noticed because it ended up being the only text in the rss feed.

  3. Arthur Embleton said,

    July 29, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Linky to the mail article:

    The comments are positive :)

  4. Alex said,

    July 29, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    @bazzargh Cheers, just tidying up, so the site might go offline a bit.

  5. fontwell said,

    July 29, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Daily Mail

    Camp faithless: Is Britain’s first atheist summer camp a cause of, or a cure for cancer?

  6. zeno said,

    July 29, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Can’t you get some royalties from them? Or sue them for copyright infringement? Seems a shame not to make the most of it…

  7. Michael Grayer said,

    July 30, 2009 at 1:53 am

    I now like totally heart Sam Klein, yet am Christian. Is that weird?

    On a slightly more serious point, what I really resent about the Daily Mail article is that it… well… assuming that I did heart Sam Klein, it makes it out as though that should be weird. As though I should be encouraged to automatically be vitriolic and spiteful to her because she’s encouraging people to think for themselves.

    I for one applaud this initiative. In my experience it was (atypically) the minister and congregation of my church that encouraged me to think for myself. In the absence of ministers and church members who are able to do that for the children who attend these camps, I’m so glad that someone is willing and able to do so.

  8. Filias Cupio said,

    July 30, 2009 at 3:48 am

    I am an Atheist and I have in the past belonged to Atheist organizations.

    I’d likely send my kid to such a camp, if I had a kid, and if they wanted to go. However, it does read like there is rather more indoctrination than I’m comfortable with. A non-religious camp with an emphasis on science and philosophy would be more to my taste.

    I always have lots of trouble logging in to leave these comments. I click the link to log in, it accepts my username and password, but then when I go to leave a reply I just see the ‘you must be logged in’ message still. Somehow with persistence (or perhaps just waiting 5 minutes?) it randomly eventually lets me leave a comment. (Linux, happens with both Firefox and Epiphany web browsers.)

  9. mockingbird said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:16 am

    You would probably sell more of those particular tshirts if you did them in a colour other than pink. Seriously. Well, one more anyway. I don’t know how easy that is to sort out though.

  10. Mojo said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:24 am

    @Nichael Grayer: “As though I should be encouraged to automatically be vitriolic and spiteful to her because she’s encouraging people to think for themselves.”

    Well, it is the Daily Mail.

  11. Mojo said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Oops – sorry about misspelling your name.


  12. CYvonne said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:39 am

    @mockingbird: “You would probably sell more of those particular tshirts if you did them in a colour other than pink.” You beat me too it, especially as they’re baby pink.

    After all we know girls don’t necessarily prefer pink:

  13. EleanorC said,

    July 30, 2009 at 9:23 am

    @7 – yes, good old Mail outrage factory:

    “She insists that the British camp will not take part in ‘Bible-bashing’. It will simply be a way of encouraging children to think for themselves. But she *admits* that part of that process involves ‘encouraging the children to ask questions about beliefs’.”

    Hah, she ADMITS it! Hoist by her own petard!

  14. Synchronium said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Great statistic at the end there.

  15. trigfa said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Only in the Mail, could being encouraged to think for yourself be described as “indoctrination”

  16. mockingbird said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

    CYvonne – well exactly! I’ve always been more of a blue person myself. Might be partly because I’m blonde and fair skinned so if I wear pink I run the risk of looking like I’m dressed up as a Disney princess.

    So that’s two more potential sales.

  17. kateweb said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Make that three more sales. Would love one, but baby pink is indeed too Disney. (I’ve contemplated getting one printed so I could have a different colour, then making a donation for the slogan…)

  18. jsymes said,

    July 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    No, Dr Ben can’t “get some royalties” from them, or sue them for “breach of copyright”. The bizarre expectation that you should receive money every time you or your product appears in the media is popularly known as “Jordanitis”, a depressingly widespread delusional condition.

  19. CaptainHaddock said,

    July 30, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Happily it seems even the mail’s banging an unpopular drum on this one as the vast majority of comments are in favour of the idea.

    Well, unless it’s only bad science readers who’ve looked at it.

  20. CaptainHaddock said,

    July 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Oh, and can I have one in Robin Egg Blue please?

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  22. omnis said,

    July 30, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    For the benefit of the people who want one in other-than-pink:
    1: Click “Bad Science Shop” in the top right of this page.
    2: Scroll down to the following link and click it (step 1 is now optional!)
    3: Wait for the applet to load
    4: Select the size, colour and style of Tshirt you require
    5: Click “Add to Basket”
    The rest is up to you, unless you tell me your credit card numbers :)

    Ben, can please I have 10% commission on all the floods of extra orders you now get?

  23. Andrew_F said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    It does seem as though, with the invisible unicorn session (are they pink?), the atheist camp is giving more thought to religion than many scout camps I’ve been on.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just seems a bit like solving a problem that barely exists in this country.

  24. copelch said,

    July 30, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Oooh! I’ve just ordered the T-shirt.

    So now we’re eleven.

  25. Michael Gray said,

    July 31, 2009 at 6:27 am

    #22 Omnis:

    I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that!

  26. Doc_Choc said,

    July 31, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I love pink, I’ll ‘av one :)

    The DM are just trying to scaremonger. Just think, a whole load of kids who think for themselves! However much the children at this camp discuss beliefs & express opinions, it surely is better than the child-abuse that is bringing a child up within an organised religion without question.

  27. JQH said,

    July 31, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Personally, I liked the shirt I saw a bloke wearing coming out of Forest Hill station the other day:


    It works bitches”

    BEN: Comment 21 is spam btw

  28. swift said,

    July 31, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Good to see the Daily Mail upholding its fine standards.
    Throughout the article the evil T-shirt-wearing atheist is called Samantha Stein but they’ve changed her name for the picture caption. So any pleasure she may get at being featured in the press is offset by being misidentified. Do you think they did it deliberately?

  29. Goblok said,

    July 31, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Why does almost everyone love to be so negative? Why must it be seen as “Bible Bashing”?
    Thinking for yourself is positive. Questioning beliefs doesn’t have to mean rejecting them. The irony of the brought-up-atheist minister is proof of that.
    In my fresher week at the LSE, I talked to the christian association to see what they had to say. I was into religion at the time. The spokesman tried to get me accept his views for half an hour before he finally said I should stop questioning and just accept (their interpretation of) God’s word. And he was a PhD student!!! Damned by their own words!

  30. Delster said,

    July 31, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    We had a really good Religious education teacher. He could quote from all the major religions books. His teaching technique was to quote something from one of the books and get the class to discuss it…he would then often quote something totally conflicting from the same book. So he taught you to think whilst also explaining religions.

    The single comment of his i remember best was to a particularly rabid new student who insisted the bible was the literal word of god….to which the teacher simply inquired as to which version of the bible.

  31. JoanCrawford said,

    July 31, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    The layout’s gone all wrong today.

    And that ‘drugpin’ spammer is at number 21; can s/he be blocked?

  32. Goblok said,

    July 31, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    @Delster: I’ve also known teachers like that – shame they are in a minority in Religious education.
    Exposing the prejudice shouldn’t be seen as ‘bashing’. If God is so great, why doesn’t He (sic!)help his followers see criticism as a positive spur to self-improvement?

  33. Goblok said,

    July 31, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Perhaps God reads the Daily Mail as well.
    Maybe it even inspires it …

  34. Goblok said,

    July 31, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    @JoanCrawford: Couldn’t agree more – he/she/it is driving me mad as well!

  35. pv said,

    July 31, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Maybe Paul Dacre thinks the Daily Heil is the Bible.

  36. Jo said,

    July 31, 2009 at 11:22 pm


    The ‘SCIENCE it works, bitches’ t-shirt is available here, from xkcd

    I also rather like this one ‘Stand back, I’m going to try science’

  37. bald_rob said,

    August 1, 2009 at 10:38 am

    “For example, the children will also study astronomy, ‘pseudo-science’ such as tarot cards, and question why horoscopes are so popular.”

    Children should be taught to be skeptical of pseudo-science such as astronomy. Believing in invisible black-holes at the centre of the universe is just as silly as believing in unicorns.

    Read that, bought the t-shirt!

  38. Tessa K said,

    August 1, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Sam and Richard are going to write up the Camp when they’ve recovered so we can get a more accurate idea of what went on.

    I’d like to know what sizes S M L and XL represent in the real world as I could be any of them given how much T shirt sizing varies (although probably not S if it’s a lady T).

  39. evilartsgraduate said,

    August 1, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I suppose it’s too much to ask for the “I” pronoun to be capitalised?

    @Goblock: If God is so great, why doesn’t He (sic!)help his followers see criticism as a positive spur to self-improvement?

    How are you so sure that doesn’t happen? Virtually all the scores of believers I know do see it just that way (unless it’s of the knee-jerk ‘so, you have a religious belief, how stupid/oppressive/narrow-minded is that?’ variety, of course)…not that I am claiming those examples as data, you understand, merely an answer to your probably rhetorical question 😉

    The T-shirt phrase is likely to be voted ‘thing I am most likely to say’ in my household, and it certainly isn’t necessary to be an atheist/rationalist to say it…

  40. mockingbird said,

    August 2, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Tessa K – I have bought a small with some trepidation, I generally find tshirts like that tend to be on the bigger side of each size but it’s hard to be sure.

    On the other hand I could’ve quite easily made one myself, I have some transfer paper in a drawer next to me right now and I could’ve bought a tshirt for less than a fiver. But I bought one anyway, in the name of science and reason, so if it doesn’t fit I won’t be too chuffed!

    Looking forward to hearing about the camp anyway.

  41. Tessa K said,

    August 3, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I finally got a reply from the T shirt company about sizing. For some reason, they measure across the chest, not all the way round so you need to double these. The measurements are on the website but you have to click a specific T shirt to find them – not obvious.

    Men’s classic: S 20.5″ M 20.9″ L 22″ XL 22.8″
    (there are larger men’s ones but I stopped at that point)
    Women’s: S 16.1″ M 17.7″ L 18.5″ XL 19.3″

    So there is quite a difference between the two. Different fits have different sizing again.

    Hope that’s useful.

  42. samanthastein said,

    August 6, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Just to save face, I didn’t know it was a Daily Mail photographer when they took the picture…

  43. mockingbird said,

    August 7, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I wouldn’t worry. It’s worth it for ‘Indoctrination? I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.’

    Anyway my tshirt has arrived in the post and it fits just fine :) ever ever so slightly short at worst but hardly worth worrying about, and I expected that anyway on account of being relatively tall.

  44. Tessa K said,

    August 8, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Mockingbird – how long did it take to come? I ordered one about 4 days ago. I think I might have erred on the side of too large. Ah well, there’s always tumble-drying.

  45. mockingbird said,

    August 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I can’t remember exactly what day it arrived but I think it took about a week from ordering to receiving it, all in all.

    Too large is almost always better than too small, I wouldn’t worry!

  46. Tessa K said,

    August 10, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    It just came and it’s the right size – long enough too, which is surprising. I had to get an XL so I think I’ll cut the label out. I am so not an XL unless it stands for Extra Lanky.

  47. mockingbird said,

    August 10, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    That reminds me of the days when I worked in a clothes shop where all the sizes were really small, and we lost a fair few sales from vain women refusing to buy things because they were a large rather than a medium etc.

    What colour did you go for?

  48. Tessa K said,

    August 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    I got olive although it’s more of a mushroomy colour. Smells a bit chemical but I wore it out tonight anyway. I’m a bit too impatient for online shopping; when I see something, I want to buy and wear it straight away.

    That’s not vanity, it’s insanity. Labels are easily cut out. I do generally cut them out whatever the size as they are often itchy.

    I like the fact that the slogan starts with a lower-case i as it really upsets some people.

  49. mockingbird said,

    August 11, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    The pedant in me was tempted to change the lower case ‘i’ to upper case, or at least to remove the full stop, but I thought I’d be defiant and leave it as it is. I know how to live!

  50. Tessa K said,

    August 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

    My inner pedant bridled slightly but then my inner rebel punched it. We are Legion.

    I shall be wearing the T shirt in the Bristol area and various points West this weekend.

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