“Manufacturing Doubt”: Sir Cliff Richard weighs in on the Cochrane review.

April 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, manufacturing doubt, nutritionists, references, statistics | 36 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday April 26 2008

And so our ongoing project to learn about evidence through nonsense enters its sixth improbable year. This week, the assembled celebrity community and vitamin pill industry will walk us through the pitfalls of reading through a systematic review and meta-analysis from the Cochrane Collaboration, an international not for profit organisation set up 15 years ago to create transparent, systematic, unbiased reviews of the medical literature on everything from drugs, through surgery, to community interventions. 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 »

Now with audio – The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists Part II – BBC Radio 4

March 31st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, fish oil, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, onanism, patrick holford | 39 Comments »

grundig_satellit_2000.jpgBusy bee today, sorry for the late link, the second part of the BBC Radio 4 two-part series “The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists” is going out at 8pm this evening, presented by yours truly (part one here) and produced by the excellently sharp Rami Tzabar from the BBC Radio Science Unit. I think it’s rather good, and makes a single clear point: lifestyle is important, and we all want to improve our health, but the evidence on diet and health is not sufficient to justify the very specific and confident advice which we crave, and which some will sell to Read the rest of this entry »

The trial that never was.

March 29th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, equazen, fish oil, mail, nutritionists | 50 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday March 29 2008

And so an epic saga comes to a close. You will remember the Durham Fish Oil tale – don’t switch off now, the punchline’s funny. The county council said it was doing a “trial” of fish oil pills in children, but the trial was designed so that it couldn’t possibly give useful information – not least because it had no placebo group – and was very likely to give a false positive result. Read the rest of this entry »

Radio 4 The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists

March 25th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, history of quackery, nutritionists | 31 Comments »

Well, very excitingly – to me – the first half of my two-parter on Radio 4 went out over the airwaves last night. You can listen to it here:

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Part 2 is here.

It’s Radio 4’s “Choice of the Day” for Monday Read the rest of this entry »

The Hadacol Boogie – Radio 4 Quack Show Listen Again…

March 24th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, history of quackery, nutritionists | 8 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Monday March 24 2008
[This is much longer than the Guardian version]

hadacol.jpgMaking a show for radio 4 on the history of diet fads [tonight Monday 24th at 8pm listen again here], I began to wonder what our modern gurus will come out with, when the cheques are all cashed, and the companies fold. Dudley J Le Blanc was a Louisiana senator in the 1940s, and the greatest quack ever to live. After a doctor cured his gout with a secret potion, Dudley stole a bottle, and copied the ingredients to make his own: Hadacol. “I had’da call it something”, he would later explain, once he had nothing to lose.

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Hadacol was made from Read the rest of this entry »

Pep, zing, oomph, ker-ching. CoQ10.

March 15th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, medicalisation, nutritionists, times | 35 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday March 15 2008

Doctors love pills: so do the public, and the media, and of course so do pill companies. When one pill dies, another must take its place. Are you feeling tired? Demotivated? I bet you are. But there is a solution – a pill – pushed by no less than Dr Thomas Stuttaford of the Times. Just two days ago in an article about “office tiredness” he cheerfully rehashed a press release on Boots’ exciting new pep pills. He opines at length on how tired we all feel in the office. So tired.

Why not try Coenzyme Q10, Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemological Indulgences

December 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, chocolate, nutritionists | 14 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 22 2007

Christmas is a time for harmless lies, the chocolatey indulgences of the thought world. We know when to stop, because if we all acted on our belief in Santa there would be no presents: and then Christmas would be meaningless.

My favourite Christmas traditions are the “red wine is good for you” and “chocolate is good for you” stories, which have Read the rest of this entry »

The fishy reckoning

September 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, alternative medicine, bad science, cash-for-"stories", fish oil, mail, media, medicalisation, mirror, nutritionists | 29 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday September 22 2007

So you will remember the fish oil pill stories of last year. For the new kids: pill company Equazen and Durham Council said they were doing a trial on them with their GCSE year, but it wasn’t really a proper trial, for example there was no control group, and they had lots of similarly dodgy “trials” dotted about, which were being pimped successfully to the media as “positive”. When asked, Durham refused to release the detailed information you would expect from a proper piece of research. Even now, for all this pretending, there still has never been a single controlled trial, even a cheap one, of omega-3 fish oil supplements in normal children. Ridiculously.

Read the rest of this entry »

A new ethics of bullshit

June 23rd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, dangers, homeopathy, nutritionists | 18 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 23, 2007
The Guardian

I’m dispatching this column to you from the frontline of the healing fields at Glastonbury festival, where I can cheerfully offer aura reading, structural integrative massage, soul therapy in the pyramid healing space, happy footbaths, crystal magick, positive thinking yoga and angel therapy. In an angelically charged dome. Read the rest of this entry »