Teaching science with bad science: resources for teachers

July 24th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in teaching resources | 4 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 | 12 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 | 17 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 »

Blue Monday is churnalism. Again.

January 20th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in blue monday, cash-for-"stories" | 1 Comment »

I have two problems with Blue Monday. One is that there isn’t really any good evidence for seasonal variation in mood:

www.badscience.net/2009/01/part-432-in-which-i-get-a-bit-overinterested-and-look-up-waaay-too-many-references/

The other is that serious mental health charities have been getting involved in using it, when they should be holding a line, advocating for patients based on good scientific evidence. Read the rest of this entry »

My BMJ editorial: we need routine audit of missing clinical trials

January 15th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, publication bias, regulating research | No Comments »

I wrote this editorial in the British Medical Journal with the magnificent Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford. It’s about the Public Accounts Committee, progress on publication bias, and a suggestion for routine ongoing audit to give actionable information for decision-makers on how much information is missing. Read the rest of this entry »

I wrote this in the Guardian: denialism over clinical trial results being withheld

January 6th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 10 Comments »

I wrote this piece in the Guardian on clinical trial results being withheld, and the staggering denialism from diverse players including industry, the Royal Colleges, the MHRA, David Cameron, and more. This denialism has slowed progress on the issue, and cost lives. It’s my view, frankly, that people should be sacked – and presidents dismissed – over the appalling ESHLSG debacle, which gave false reassurance on vitally important matters of patient safety. The public, quite reasonably, expect better of medical leaders, especially when technical matters are entrusted to their care. Perhaps I’m wrong. In any case: the tide has turned, the public are watching, the professions are finally fully on side. We must celebrate that and move forward: now is the time to act. Here is a link to my piece, and here is the final two paragraphs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Public Accounts Committee issues damning report on clinical trial results being withheld

January 3rd, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in alltrials campaign, badpharma | 1 Comment »

Screenshot 2014-01-03 21.55.17MPs on the UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee today issued one of the most damning reports ever seen on the problem of clinical trial results being withheld. Their amazement at the extent of the problem is palpable. This is a fantastic result for the campaign that started with Iain Chalmers et al many years ago, grew with the publication of Bad Pharma, and is now transformed into a vast behemoth with widespread support at AllTrials. You can read the Committee’s report in full here, and see the video of the evidence session with me and Fi Godlee from the BMJ here. I should say, I’ve been hugely impressed by the MPs I’ve come into contact with on this issue.

There has been extensive media coverage so far, some of the best (the ones that go beyond the Committee’s press release…) can be found in: the Independent, the Telegraph, the BBC, PharmaTimes and the Times (regarding that last article, I wonder if Bina Rawal of the ABPI will come to regret claiming that Richard Bacon, the deputy chair of the highly influential Public Accounts Committee, has been misleading people: the current regime at the ABPI do seem rather clumsy, more on their activities to come). Next, here is an article by David Tovey, head of Cochrane, one from Ginny Barbour, the big medical cheese at PLOS, and here is the BMJ news piece. Here’s a comment piece by Matt Ridley in the Times (caution: contains climate lols), and here’s a comment piece from me in The Guardian. There’ll be an editorial in the BMJ shortly.

There’s also extensive commentary in our press release at AllTrials.net. Here’s my bit from that press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s my… foreword to the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway guidebook

December 20th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 3 Comments »

I often tweet about my love for the RH&D narrow gauge railway, and this year they asked me to write an introduction for their guidebook. Some of the staff were worried by what I sent. But they were wrong. I love this railway. Here’s the piece. Read the rest of this entry »

FREE! Here is the new “What Happened Next?” update chapter from Bad Pharma 2013

December 19th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 1 Comment »

20130923_200935-MOTIONHere is the extra update chapter from the new 2013 paperback edition of Bad Pharma. It’s a fun romp through the changes that have happened over the past year or so, starring the many ethical professionals in pharma and medicine who have tried to push things forward, and some very shameful denialism from people in positions of “leadership”. There are some very interesting imperfections in medicine, they cost lives, and they can all be easily fixed, where there is common sense and good-will.

It’s all much more fun if you’ve read the book itself. As always, if you like what I do, and want me to do more: buy my books and give them to your friends. Apart from anything else, it scares the enemy. You can find Bad Pharma here on…

… Amazon ……….

…….. Waterstones ……

……………… or Hive.

So, here Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s our letter to the GMC, about addressing systemic failures in the medical profession

December 17th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in badpharma, competing interests, conflict of interest, publication bias, regulating research | No Comments »

The GMC are focused mainly on the narrow issue of an individual doctor’s competence when seeing individual patients. But there are broader issues that have an equally important impact on patient care and public trust: failure to publish clinical trials, failure to participate in research, and imperfectly declared conflicts of interest, for example.

The Health Select Committee have an annual review with the GMC to discuss how they’re getting on. Here’s a letter I wrote to them, along with Iain Chalmers, Fiona Godlee and Trish Groves of the BMJ, and Ginny Barbour from PLoS. We suggest some actions the GMC could take to improve patient care on all these issues. Below that is the video of the committee raising our concerns with the GMC. Broadly speaking: the GMC said they’d have a think. This is forward movement, and there’s more to come next year, with the launch of something interesting, new, and fun (and currently a bit secret…). Read the rest of this entry »