My BMJ editorial: how can we stop academic press releases misleading the public?

December 10th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | No Comments »

Screenshot 2014-12-10 14.47.53There is an excellent research paper published today in the BMJ, showing that academic press releases routinely exaggerate scientific findings and mislead the public.

This is something I’ve often covered. In this story, for example, the BMJ’s own press release about their own paper was hopelessly and entirely misleading. And after this story, featuring a misleading press release from Great Ormond Street Hospital, the head of that institution wrote a paranoid and misguided defense (which I have proudly reprinted, in my new book, in full). Read the rest of this entry »

That YouGov parlour game is wrong. This annoys me.

November 19th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | No Comments »

YouGov have produced a fun, popular new parlour game. You give the site the name of a celebrity, author, TV show, pet, activity, or anything; and it gives you a lot more information in return. Essentially: “other things that such a person typically does and likes”. So, the “favourite dishes” of people who read Ben Goldacre books are Vegetarian Thali, Gravlax (whatever that is), and Pork Gyoza. Fans of comedian Richard Herring report that their favourite TV show is Stewart Lee (insensitive, given the *bitter* rivalry). Newsnight profiled their viewers at the end of their show on Tuesday (self-absorbed and listen to New Order). It’s fun to play around with.

But these statistics have been misinterpreted, because they have been mis-presented by YouGov.
Read the rest of this entry »

Some London talks and events coming up

November 14th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | No Comments »

There are a few London talks and events coming up over the next few weeks, all very different, and more to come around the country soon:

Monday 17th Nov – Richard Herring Leicester Square Podcast

This show is a great institution: comedian Richard Herring interviews comedians and the occasional nerd in front of a live audience, there are tickets for the live recording, and then a free podcast online which has won Sony awards and stuff. Lots of previous episodes available online here, including Steve Coogan, Mary Beard, Stephen Fry, etc. Tickets online here, I’m up the same night as Sue Perkins who is awesome.

Monday 1st December – Conway Hall Nerd Night

Conway hall is a great institution, with lots of good events, worth a trip and worth joining. At this and the Foyles event below I think I’ll do a brand new lecture/show I’ve just written. Tickets online here, massive discount for students and members.

Monday December 8th – Foyles Bookshop, W1

Foyles has moved, I’ve not seen the new shop yet but genuinely looking forward to it as they’re an institution and bookshops are good. The talk is in their new events space at 7pm, tickets online here: smaller room, so I might do a more meandering talk, depending on what people seem to want on the night.

Books and signing at each of them if that’s your thing (definitely for the last two). For an easy Christmas you could surprise everyone by doggedly giving them my canon with a stern smile: this is especially useful shopping advice for families with ideological rifts around quackery, vaccines, science etc.

If you want to know what my talks are like there are some videos below, and more around the site. See you out!

What should Cochrane do next?

November 5th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, data, structured data, systematic reviews, video | 3 Comments »

Here’s a talk I did last year that’s just popped up online. The Cochrane Collaboration is a fabulous organisation, producing gold standard “systematic reviews” summarising all the data that’s ever been collected on important questions in medicine. Cochrane have become great by inviting criticism: for example, they run the Silverman Prize, for the best essay or paper pointing out stuff that they’ve got wrong. At their 21st birthday conference, they asked me to do a talk on what they should do next. I said they should get better at talking to patients; better at talking to policy makers; and better at talking to machines. Here’s the talk: Read the rest of this entry »

My new book is out today. Here is the introduction. Hooray!

October 23rd, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in book, ITYFIABMCTT, onanism | 8 Comments »

whooo wil buuuuy my loverly neeeew boooook whooo wil buuuuy my loverly boooook My new book is out today: a collection of columns, journalism and essays, but also some of my more colourful government reports, academic papers, and more.

It looks lovely.

Here is the introduction.

Hooray!

……  Amazon …………………..

…………………. Audible ………

……….  Waterstones  ……….

….. Kindle   ……………………..

……….   Local  ………………….

…….. Harper Collins  ………..

Introduction

This is a collection of my most fun fights: but the fighting is just an excuse. There’s nothing complicated about science, and people can understand anything, if they’re sufficiently motivated. Coincidentally, people like fights. That’s why I’ve spent the last ten years lashing science to mockery: it’s the cleanest way I know to help people see the joy of statistics, and the fascinating ways that evidence Read the rest of this entry »

Weirdly long and fun Absolute FM radio interview

October 20th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 1 Comment »

whooo wil buuuuy my loverly neeeew boooook whooo wil buuuuy my loverly boooook Taking epidemiology to the streets: here’s a long, long interview I did last week on Absolute FM (lovely Geoff Lloyd’s lovely Hometime Show).

Posting here because it’s unusually good and long for pop media. In between the rock classics, we talk about screening, Ebola, government statistics, and good quality sperm.

My lovely new book – I Think You’ll Find It’s A Bit More Complicated Than That – is out in two days. It’s a collection of short pieces, an epidemiology and research methods toilet book, if you will. More here and here. You should buy it for everyone you know, to make your squabbles more interesting.

Podcast link here.

I totally just touched my new book: Collected Journalism, out next week!

October 17th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in book, onanism | 1 Comment »

new coverExcitement.

My new book is out next week.

It’s a collection of journalism, essays, academic papers, government reports (woo!) and other stuff.

It’s called “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

A copy just arrived and it is a beautiful, big, thing.

The content is all completely different to Bad Science and Bad Pharma, with much more focus on bad behaviour by politicians, journalists, and scientists themselves: some golden gassers from yesteryear, some recent stuff, the odd government report, Susan Greenfield, embarrassing juvenilia, that kind of thing. It’s a fun christmas compendium, an epidemiology and research methods toilet book, if you will. I’ll post the intro and other bits to the blog next week, setting out the shape.

For now: I AM EXCITED TO TOUCH MY BOOK.

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Pre-orders links below:

……  Amazon  ………………….

………….  Waterstones  ……..

….. Kindle   ……………………..

……….   Local  ………………….

…….. Harper Collins  ………..

 

Longstanding readers might remember “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that” was a Bad Science t-shirt about 800 million years ago. I’ve just had a look, and these are somehow still available, through an endearing Web 1.0 interface. Their true power is unleashed when you sidle over and stand next to other people wearing slogan t-shirts, for covert photos. “Drop beats not bombs”. “I need a hug”. That kind of thing. This joke took time to grow old. Your mileage may vary.

Here is a picture of someone wearing one on the pages of the Daily Mail, in an article about the evils of Atheist Summer Camp. This is almost as good as when the “MMR is safe, tell your friends” baby bib went on display in the Science Museum.

Screenshot-2

 

 

Teaching science with bad science: resources for teachers

July 24th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in teaching resources | 7 Comments »

People often wring their hands over how to make science “relevant” to the public, or to young people. For me, this is an open goal: we are constantly barraged with health claims in popular culture, and evidence based medicine is the science of how we know what does good, and what does harm. Every popular claim is an opportunity to learn about the relative merits and downsides of randomised trials, systematic reviews, cohort studies, laboratory work, and more.

I got together with Collins, the people who make the biggest selling GCSE textbooks, and we’ve made some resources for teachers who are interested in covering these kinds of things at school.   Read the rest of this entry »

What statins tell us about the mess in evidence based medicine

June 30th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in evidence | 19 Comments »

Sorry to be absent, I’ve about a zillion big things shortly coming to fruition, at which point expect a deluge.

Everyone is having kittens about statins and the BMJ at the moment. Here’s what I wrote as a rabid response on the latest BMJ editorial about it, and a disco soundtrack to keep your attention focused: Read the rest of this entry »

Statins have no side effects? What our study really found, its fixable flaws, and why trials transparency matters (again).

March 13th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, bad science, placebo | 20 Comments »

telesillyHi there, sorry to be absent (dayjob!). I was surprised to see a study I’m a co-author on getting some front page media play today, under the headline “Statins ‘have no side effects'”. That’s not what our paper found. But it was an interesting piece of work, with an odd result, looking at side effects in randomised trials of statins: specifically, and unusually, it compares the reports of side effects among people on statins in trials, against the reports of side effects from trial participants who were only getting a dummy placebo sugar pill.  Read the rest of this entry »