Drink coffee, see dead people.

January 17th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, dodgy academic press releases, express, presenting numbers, statistics | 65 Comments »

The Guardian,
Saturday January 17 2009
Ben Goldacre

Danger from just 7 cups of coffee a day” said the Express on Wednesday. “Too much coffee can make you hallucinate and sense dead people say sleep experts. The equivalent of just seven cups of instant coffee a day is enough to trigger the weird responses.” The story appeared in almost every national newspaper. Read the rest of this entry »

Scientific proof that we live in a warmer and more caring universe

November 29th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, bbc, independent, mail, media, mirror, times | 170 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday November 29 2008

As usual, it’s not Watergate, it’s just slightly irritating. “Down’s births increase in a caring Britain”, said the Times: “More babies are being born with Down’s syndrome as parents feel increasingly that society is a more welcoming place for children with the condition.” That’s beautiful. “More mothers are choosing to keep their babies when diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome” said the Mail. “Parents appear to be more willing to bring a child with Down’s syndrome into the world because British society has become increasingly accepting of the genetic abnormality” said the Independent. “Children’s quality of life is better and acceptance has risen”, said The Mirror. Read the rest of this entry »

Listen carefully, I shall say this only once

October 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in academic publishing, badscience, big pharma, duplicate publication, regulating research | 16 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday October 25 2008

Welcome to nerds’ corner, and yet another small print criticism of a trivial act of borderline dubiousness which will ultimately lead to distorted evidence, irrational decisions, and bad outcomes in what I like to call “the real world”.

So the ClinPsyc blog (clinpsyc.blogspot.com ) has spotted that the drug company Lilly have published identical data on duloxetine – a new-ish antidepressant drug – twice over, in two entirely separate scientific papers. Read the rest of this entry »

The media’s MMR hoax

August 30th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, MMR | 57 Comments »

image

This is an extract from my new book “Bad Science“, in the Guardian today. It’s out on Monday: my recommendation is that you buy it, and give it to someone who disagrees with you.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday August 30 2008

Dr Andrew Wakefield is in front of the General Medical Council on charges of serious professional misconduct, his paper on 12 children with autism and bowel problems is described as “debunked” – although it never supported the conclusions ascribed to it – and journalists have convinced themselves that his £435,643 fee from legal aid proves that his research was flawed.

I will now defend the heretic Dr Andrew Wakefield.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bill Nelson wins the internet.

August 9th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, detox, homeopathy, nutritionists, pseudodiagnoses, quantum physics | 66 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday August 9 2008

image Silly season is in full swing. At the Telegraph, their correspondent has gone for a bioenergetic health audit. “The resident homoeopath, Katie Jermine, quizzed me about my diet, stress levels and lifestyle. She then strapped on a wristband and plugged me into an electronic device called the Quantum QXCI, which scanned my system for vitamins, minerals, food intolerances, toxicity, organ function, hormone balance, parasites, digestive disorders and stress levels.”

Read the rest of this entry »

You are hereby sentenced eternally to wander the newspapers, fruitlessly mocking nutriwoo

July 19th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, nutritionists, telegraph | 41 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday July 26 2008

The newspapers are so profoundly overrun with pseudoscience about food that there’s no point in documenting it any longer. They will continue with their Sisyphean task of dividing all the inanimate objects in the world into the ones that either cause or cure cancer, and I will sit at the sidelines, making that joke over and over again.

This week, however, the Telegraph, which has lost its science editor and its science correspondent in two months, deserves special attention, because two of its food stories went beyond stupid, and managed to give actively harmful information. Read the rest of this entry »

Pools of blood

May 10th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, big pharma, regulating research, statistics | 11 Comments »

Note: The Guardian accidentally edited this column such that the last paragraph contained an untrue statement. I have emailed the readers editor for a correction.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday May 10 2008

So basically I sit here with a big bag of standard tools from the world of evidence, and wait for stories to come along which allow me to deliver a 600 word lecture on them. Sit tight, this one’s slightly complicated. In America last week the papers went crazy: artificial blood products cause a 30% increase in deaths, and a 2.7-fold increase in heart attacks, according to a new meta-analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association. There is, incidentally, a trial of these products still ongoing in the UK.

Read the rest of this entry »

How policy works

April 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, laws, nutritionists | 32 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 12th April, 2008

If you put aside the fact that most of the people who campaign against food additives should be taken out and shot for crimes against the enlightenment, even a stopped clock shows the right time twice a day, and the evidence overall genuinely shows that some food additives probably aren’t too Read the rest of this entry »

Nadine Dorries and the Hand of Hope – updated with response to Dorries’ unusual surgical claims

March 19th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, religion | 45 Comments »

You will remember Nadine Dorries MP, anti-abortion campaigner. She was heavily involved in promoting those dubious pre-term survival figures which were presented to the Science and Technology Select Committe enquiry, an Read the rest of this entry »

Trivial Disputes

February 2nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, bbc, climate change, drurrrgs, independent, telegraph | 46 Comments »

There are no difficult ideas in this column. Like, for example, when I tell you about the Daily Telegraph front page headline which says “Abuse of cannabis puts 500 a week in hospital”, and it turns out they’re actually quoting a figure from a report on the number of people having contact with any drug treatment service of any variety. The colossal majority of these, of course, are outpatient appointments for drugs counselling, not hospital admissions. So there are not 500 people a week suddenly being put into hospital by cannabis. But this is not a news story: like their recurring dodgy abortion figures, it is the venal moralising of a passing puritan, dressed up in posh numbers.

Similarly, there’s nothing very complicated about a report from CNW Marketing in Oregon, which the Independent’s motoring correspondent has now quoted (twice) in his attempt to demonstrate that Hummers, Jeeps, and various other cars the size of a small caravan are – “in fact” – greener than smaller hybrid cars like the Prius. Because readers love a quirky paradox.

CNW, a car industry marketing firm, manage to do this by making calculations over the lifetime of a car. They decide that about 90% of the environmental cost of a car’s lifetime environmental impact is from its manufacture and recycling, not the fuel it burns whilst tootling around. This is the polar opposite of all other life-cycle analyses. CNW include all kinds of funny things to make their numbers work, like the erosion of the road surface of the people who travel to the car factory.

They also decide, for the purposes of their calculation, that people will keep their giant, cyclist-killing Jeeps for twice as long as their green hybrid cars, and if you think that is a leap of faith, they also decide that Prius drivers will travel about half as many miles a year as Jeep drivers.

This may be true if you observe the behaviour of people who choose to buy these cars. But it’s hard to see how it is a factor for anyone making a new purchasing decision, since you’re probably going to drive as much as you’re going to drive, and buying a 4×4 is not suddenly going to turn you overnight into a chubby, middle-class parent driving your children 400 yards to school. Read the rest of this entry »