How vaccine scares respect local cultural boundaries.

April 24th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, book, MMR | 16 Comments »

I was on Newsnight this evening, discussing the measles outbreak in Swansea, and how we can get people vaccinated with MMR when they’ve previously refused. In my view: prevention is better than cure, it’s hard to reverse a scare story once the toothpaste is out of the tube, and we must innoculate ourselves against future vaccine scares, because they will come. That’s why services like Behind The Headlines are important. Here’s the video:

www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01s5bn7/Newsnight_24_04_2013/

At the end, Jeremy Paxman seemed (endearingly) amazed to hear that vaccine scares respect local cultural boundaries. Here’s what I was discussing, in an extract from my first book Bad Science (this bit’s from pages 292-4 of the red paperback):

Read the rest of this entry »

We should so blatantly do more randomised trials on policy

May 23rd, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in africa, evidence based policy, politics | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 14 May 2011

Politicians are ignorant about trials, and they’re weird about evidence. It doesn’t need to be this way. In international development work, resources are tight, and people know that good intentions aren’t enough: in fact, good intentions can sometimes do harm. We need to know what works.

In two new books published this month – “More Than Good Intentions” and “Poor Economics” – four academics describe amazing work testing interventions around the world with proper randomised trials. This is something we’ve bizarrely failed to do at home. Read the rest of this entry »

The pope and Aids

September 11th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, religion | 159 Comments »

This week the pope is in London. You will have your own views on the discrimination against women, the homophobia, and the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape. My special interest is his role in the 2 million people who die of Aids each year. Read the rest of this entry »

Diarrhoea and Aids for Christmas

December 16th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, religion | 47 Comments »

image Last year I ran into Ariane Sherine. She had found that no charity would publicly take money from a book written by atheists at Christmas, since Christians give so much money for good work, and they didn’t want to annoy them. Luckily the Terence Higgins Trust stepped up to this bizarre challenge, which is excellent, because Aids is important, and THT do good stuff (especially on education), and they hold the line on evidence and common sense, as witnessed by their immediate response of “yes please” when offered cash. So, support THT, buy it now. There are chapters by Simon le Bon, Charlie Brooker, Richard Dawkins, David Baddiel, AC Grayling, and many many more. My chapter is below, it is about the power of ideas alone to do good and harm, and it is filled with mawkish Christmas cheer. In other news, Manto Tshabala-Msimang – South Africa’s health minister, who presided over that horrific period of institutionalised Aids denialism – has died today. You will have your own thoughts.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is what the Spectator sent when they cancelled their Aids denialism extravaganza

October 28th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science | 48 Comments »

I’m at a conference (on communicating evidence to patients with… GERD GIGERENZER!!!) in Frankfurt and late for lunch, but I thought it might amuse you to see the language the Spectator are using.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aids denialism at the Spectator

October 24th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, aids, bad science | 113 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 24 October 2009, The Guardian.

A lot of strange stuff can fly in under the claim that you are “simply starting a debate”. You may remember the Aids denialist documentary House Of Numbers from 3 weeks ago. Since then, it has received many glowing outings. The London Raindance film festival explained that they were proud to show it, and a senior programmer appeared on Youtube saying they had gone through the film at 15 second intervals, finding no inaccuracies at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

House of Numbers

September 26th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, aids, bad science | 93 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 26 September 2009, The Guardian.

This week, listening to the Guardian Science podcast, I had a treat. Caspar Melville, editor of New Humanist magazine, leader of something called the Rationalist Association, had been to see two films at the Cambridge Film Festival. One was a dreary creationist movie that famously misrepresented the biologists interviewed for it. This was obvious bad science, he explained. But the other was different: House of Numbers, a new film about Aids, really had something in it. Read the rest of this entry »

Medical Hypotheses fails the Aids test

September 12th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, aids, bad science | 61 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 12 September 2009, The Guardian

This week the peer review system has been in the newspapers, after a survey of scientists suggested it had some problems. This is barely news. Peer review – where articles submitted to an academic journal are reviewed by other scientists from the same field for an opinion on their quality – has always been recognised as problematic. It is timeconsuming, it could be open to corruption, and it cannot prevent fraud, plagiarism, or duplicate publication, although in a more obvious case it might. The problem with peer review is, it’s hard to find anything better.

Read the rest of this entry »

Please give us all your money

September 5th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, aids, bad science, big pharma, patents | 90 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 5 September 2009, The Guardian

How do patents affect science? This week in India, US drug company Gilead lost their appeal to stop local companies making cheap copies of their Aids drug Tenofovir. They are not alone: in 2007 Novartis lost a lengthy case trying to force the Indian government into strengthening their weak patent laws. India remains the free pharmacy of the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

What would you say to people from the developing world who use science to make decisions, but don’t necessarily always have a lot of time, or know a lot about it?

May 16th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in africa, aids, bad science | 98 Comments »

I’ve been asked to facilitate a couple of sessions with some civil servant types from various countries in the developing world who advise their governments on science, and particularly on the science informing policy and purchasing decisions. The idea is to focus on how people might try and mislead you with science, and the range of scientific background and understanding in this group will be pretty wide, as it always is with civil servants. Since I’ve noticed a recurring theme for readers of this blog to be a bit cleverer than me (albeit less dogged and obsessive) I was hoping you might have some ideas about the kinds of areas to cover, the themes that are relevant, and the kind of structure to use. Read the rest of this entry »