Tell me now how do I feel

January 22nd, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, blue monday, churnalism, survey data | 24 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 22 January 2011

I’m not going to tell the same story once a year, like some kind of journalistic dirty protest, even if it crops up in parliament, every newspaper, and all over Radio 4: there are more interesting things to say than “Blue Monday is bullshit”, but before we get there, let me briefly clarify how Blue Monday is definitely bullshit.

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“Hello madam, would you like your children to be unemployed?”

November 20th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, survey data | 27 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 20 November 2010

image Obviously I like nerdy days out: like Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker, maybe, with its sign on the A128 saying “secret nuclear bunker this way”. Last month eight of us commissioned a boat to get onto a rotting man-made WW2 sea-fort in the middle of the ocean through Project Redsand (we genuinely thought we might die climbing the ladders), and a couple of weeks earlier, myself and Mrs Bad Science travelled to Dungeness, where a toytown narrow gauge railway takes you through amusement parks and back gardens, past Derek Jarman’s house, then into barren wasteland, before depositing you incongruously at the base of a magnificent, enormous, and terrifying nuclear power station.

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Science is about embracing your knockers – updated as Rodial begin to play games

November 12th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, legal chill, libel | 43 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 13 November 2010

If science has any credibility, it derives from transparency: when you make a claim about how something works, you provide references to experiments, which describe openly and in full what was done, in enough detail for the experiment to be replicated, detailing what was measured, and how. Then people discuss what they think this all means in the real world.

Maria Hatzistefanis is a star of lifestyle pages and the owner of Rodial, the cosmetics company who sell a product called “Boob Job” which they claim will give you a “fuller bust” “increase the bust size” and “plump up the décolleté area” with “an instant lifting and firming effect”, and an increase of half a cup size in 56 days. Or rather an increase of “8.4%”. It’s all very precise. Read the rest of this entry »

Rentokil make dodgy claims about imaginary bugs

March 12th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, models, numerical context | 38 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 13 March 2010

2,000 bugs taking a ride in every train compartment” said the Daily Mail. “Cockroaches cluster on trains“, scuttled the Telegraph. “Commuters share trains with 1,000 cockroaches, 200 bedbugs and 200 fleas” said the Evening Standard. The figures were all very specific and very frightening.

“Rentokil say they also discovered that a bus was home to 500 cockroaches, along with dozens of fleas and bedbugs,” explained the Standard. Those disgusting trains are even worse. “Research by pest controllers Rentokil shows that, on average, a single train compartment houses a staggering 1,000 cockroaches, 200 bed bugs, 200 fleas, 500 dust mites and 100 carpet beetles,” said the Mail. Read the rest of this entry »

Voices of the ancients

January 16th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, irrationality research | 30 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 16 January 2010

Every now and then you have to salute a genius. Both the Daily Mail and the Metro report new research analysing the positions of Britain’s ancient sites, and the results are startling: primitive man had his own form of “sat nav”. Researcher Tom Brooks analysed 1,500 prehistoric monuments, and found them all to be on a grid of isosceles triangles, each pointing to the next site, allowing our ancestors to travel between settlements with pinpoint accuracy. The papers even carried an example of his map work, which I have reproduced here.

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PR-reviewed data

August 15th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, survey data | 25 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 15 August 2009

You will have noticed – from the fish oil pill saga, and the Herceptin coverage – that journalists can cheerfully make grand claims for a product which would be impossible in any advert. This week the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the Daily Express newspaper repeatedly tried to circumvent advertising rules by running pages with a glowing, supposedly editorial article about a miracle product, and then a more sanitised, paid-for advert at the bottom.

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Lloyds and Carbon Monoxide

March 17th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", churnalism, statistics | 29 Comments »

Just looked this up myself and saw that for some reason it never got posted on the blog, so here it is.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 10th October 2008

What I like about Bad Science is that it’s a game the whole family can play. This month “Lloydspharmacy”, as Lloyds Pharmacy insist on being called, is trying to flog carbon monoxide detectors (for only £12.99). It is a noble calling, so it decided to follow industry protocol for getting its product and brand into the media: it produced a misleading set of superficially plausible survey figures to massage our prejudices, which journalists obediently copied and pasted out of the Lloyds press release email and into their word processors, to make a “news” article. Read the rest of this entry »

Transparent excuse for printing a nice pair of hooters

December 13th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", churnalism, pr guff | 24 Comments »

Just to be clear, nobody listens to a word I say. More important equation news from the Sun this week, with the exciting headline “How to tell if the boobline is too low… use this equation 0=NP(20C+B)/75”. Alongside a photograph of poor old Britney with her boobs falling out. Read the rest of this entry »