Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 24 April 2010
What can science and evidence bring to an election? First there are the micro-issues: we can assess the validity of claims made by politicians by seeking out the evidence. David Cameron, for example, claimed that UK cancer services were bad because fewer people die of cancer in Bulgaria than in the UK, which many have already debunked: he used death data from a country with inferior monitoring standards, and a far lower life expectancy, but more than that, he used death data, which is driven not just by treatment success, but also by the number of new cases to start with, which can vary widely for all kinds of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
Hi, two quick videos… one on the mighty placebo effect, via NHS Choices, one on the nocebo effect from Nerdstock. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Friday 15 April 2010
[Full text at guardian.co.uk, abbreviated in the paper]
After 2 years of pursuing one man through the courts, at a cost to him of £200,000 and 2 years work, the British Chiropractic Association yesterday dropped their libel case against science writer Simon Singh. The case was over a piece he wrote on this very page, criticising the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines. Read the rest of this entry »
The BCA have dropped their case. It has not been good for them. It will now get worse. Singh has made it clear that he will pursue them for his costs: this will cost the BCA dearly, and it is money they can ill afford. I’m off to write about it for the Guardian but I thought you’d like to know, BBC and Times pieces below. People who sue people over criticisms of science are fools. The BCA statement, meanwhile, is typically vile. Especially the bit where they talk about being vindicated. Oh, and amusingly this is Chiropractic Awareness Week. Yes. Yes it is.
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Working on an editorial about the importance of evidence based social policy, I re-discovered this moment of genius from Archie Cochrane which I thought I’d share. It’s 1971, he’s part way through a randomised trial comparing Coronary Care Units against home care, and the time has come to share some results with the cardiologists.
I am not asking you to appreciate the results: this was a long time ago, and the findings will not be generalisable to modern CCU’s.
I am inviting you to appreciate the mischief.
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Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 10 April 2010
Lucia de Berk is a Dutch nurse who has spent 6 years in jail on a life sentence for murdering 7 people, in a killing spree that never happened. She will hear about her appeal on Wednesday, and there is now little doubt that she will be let off. The statistical errors in the evidence against her were so crass that they can be explained in one newspaper column. So will the people who jailed her apologise? Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 2 April 2010
This week the Association for Molecular Pathology, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, won a major victory, overturning just some of the patents owned by a company called Myriad on the BRCA1 gene for breast cancer. There are three reasons why gene patents like these are stupid: only the last one is funny. Read the rest of this entry »