All bow before the mighty power of the nocebo effect

November 28th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, placebo | 70 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 28 November 2009, The Guardian

This week the parliamentary science and technology select committee looked into the evidence behind the MHRA’s decision to allow homeopathy sugar pill labels to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy, and the funding of homeopathy on the NHS. There were some comedy highlights, as you might expect from any serious enquiry into an industry where sugar pills have healing powers conferred upon them by being shaken with one drop of the ingredient which has been diluted, so extremely, that it equates to one molecule of the substance in a sphere of water whose diameter is roughly the distance from the earth to the sun.

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Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee on homeopathy today

November 25th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy | 66 Comments »

I gave evidence at the Parliamentary SciTech committtee today for their enquiry into whether the government had used scientific evidence properly in making their decisions about MHRA licenses for homeopathic pills, and homeopathy treatment on the NHS. This was a mini-enquiry as a result of interest expressed by the public, which is excellently democratic, you can see the whole thing online here, and some of it is quite good fun.

www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=5221

Personal highlights, from memory, include:

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Oh, that was quick

November 21st, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research | 61 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 21 November 2009, The Guardian

Once your medicines regulator decides it should change the side effects warnings on the patient information of a drug taken by millions of people, how long do you think it would take for that change to be implemented?

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ADE651: wtf?

November 14th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, utter nonsense | 102 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 14 November 2009, The Guardian

It’s always interesting when people take pseudoscience out of its natural habitat – Islington – and off into a place where the stakes are quite high. Like the polio vaccine scare in Nigeria. Or Aids denialism in South Africa. Or detecting bombs in Iraq, where the New York Times and magician James Randi have uncovered a nonsense of truly epic proportions.

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The Nutt Sack Affair (part 493)

November 7th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, drurrrgs, evidence based policy, politics | 74 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 7 November 2009, The Guardian

Obviously it’s pleasing to see, in the storm of commentary over Professor Nutt’s sacking, that everyone outside of politics now recognises the importance of scientific evidence in devising laws. But a strange reasoning twitch has appeared, in the arguments of politicians and right wing commentators. Science can tell us about the molecules, they say, about their effect on the body, and the risks. But policy is a separate domain: a matter for judgement calls on social and ethical issues. Only politicians, they say, can determine the correct way to send out a clear message to the public. It is not a matter for science.

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