Hot foul air

November 1st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, homeopathy, mondo academico, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications | 78 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 1st November 2008

Guy Ritchie has cancelled Madonna’s order for tens of thousands of pounds worth of special Kabbalah water to fill their swimming pool. It’s always uncomfortable when we have to humour someone close to us in the name of avoiding conflict. Right now in Thames Valley University, for example, entire science departments must be feeling slightly embarrassed about their degrees in quackery. Because despite the refusal of all universities to openly disclose what they teach on these – uniquely their ideas must be shielded from critical appraisal – the leaks keep coming, and Professor David Colquhoun of UCL continues to archive the comedy on his website.

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Roger Coghill and the Aids test

June 28th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, competing interests, electrosensitivity, express, herbal remedies, magnets, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, roger coghill, statistics | 72 Comments »

imageBen Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday June 28, 2008

It’s the big stories I enjoy the most. “Suicides linked to phone masts” roared the Sunday Express front-page headline this week. “The spate of deaths among young people in Britain’s suicide capital could be linked to radio waves from dozens of mobile phone transmitter masts near the victims’ homes.”
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What’s wrong with Dr Gillian McKeith PhD?

February 18th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, channel 4, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, stifling criticism | 312 Comments »

For years, ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith has used her title to sell TV shows, diet books and herbal sex pills. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has stepped in. Yet the real problem is not what she calls herself, but the mumbo-jumbo she dresses up as scientific fact, says Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre
Monday February 12, 2007
The Guardian

Call her the Awful Poo Lady, call her Dr Gillian McKeith PhD: she is an empire, a multi-millionaire, a phenomenon, a prime-time TV celebrity, a bestselling author. She has her own range of foods and mysterious powders, she has pills to give you an erection, and her face is in every health food store in the country. Scottish Conservative politicians want her to advise the government. The Soil Association gave her a prize for educating the public. And yet, Read the rest of this entry »

The Awful Poo Lady

September 30th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, very basic science | 64 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday September 30, 2006
The Guardian

I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m an overly sensitive person, but sometimes I get a bit upset by Dr Gillian McKeith PhD. There she is on the television, talking about science, making an obese woman cry, in her own back garden, by showing her a tombstone with her own name on it, made out of chocolate. And here she is, in an article headed Read the rest of this entry »

The Red Baron

July 8th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, mirror, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, references | 29 Comments »

The Nutrition Society was founded in 1941 by Lord Boyd Orr. He was described in his obituary – rather fabulously – as “Baron and Nutritional Physiologist”, and in 1949 he casually picked up a Nobel Peace Prize. Since his time, the Nutrition Society seems to have gone rather badly downhill.

Here is a website, for example, run by two of the Nutrition Society’s “Registered Nutritionists” (www.nutrition-advice.com). They are Read the rest of this entry »

The Two Headed Food Monster

June 30th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, references | 40 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday July 1, 2006
The Guardian

Last year I noticed that lots of the lifestyle bunnies in the press and on the internet were suddenly showing off about being “RNutr” or “Registered Nutritionists”. Registered with whom? Imagine a two-headed monster called “The Nutrition Society”. On the one hand, they are a respectable and august research body, representing some of the sharpest academics in the country, doing research work on nutrition in both people and laboratories, publishing academic journals, and so on. That’s science. On the other hand, they “run” a “register” that I suspect consists mostly of those commercial “nutritionists” who make good money peddling lifestyle advice to the public. That’s inviting trouble. I am trouble.

I found a prominent nutritionist on their register who was doing exactly the kind of thing that nutritionists in mainstream media like to do – extrapolating rashly from research data – and I decided to complain, just to see whether Read the rest of this entry »

When in doubt, call yourself a doctor

April 21st, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, mail, media, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications | 45 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday April 22, 2006
The Guardian

So here’s a tangled web, and frankly I don’t think anybody comes out of it looking too good, including me. Yes We Can Cure ADHD, read the Daily Mail last week. Now I know what you’re thinking. Like a magnificently drunk girlfriend, you’re shouting: “Leave it, he’s not worth it”. Read the rest of this entry »

How many microbiologists does it take to change a tabloid story?

November 19th, 2005 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evening standard, media, MRSA, onanism, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, scare stories, very basic science | 29 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday November 19, 2005
The Guardian

I realise this is starting to look like some kind of dirty protest, but here is a window on to how the media sees itself in relation to scientific expertise, and how it copes with criticism, which just happens – entirely by coincidence – to involve the MRSA scandal.

To recap: bloke with no microbiology qualifications in unaccredited garden shed “laboratory” finds MRSA on Read the rest of this entry »

After feeding the scare he’ll sell you the solution

October 29th, 2005 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MRSA, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, scare stories | 32 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday October 29, 2005
The Guardian

Some might suggest that I don’t know when to stop. And so we begin our third consecutive column on Dr Chris Malyszewicz and his Northants-based Chemsol Consulting: the tabloids’ favourite microbiology laboratory, the lab that gives positive MRSA swab results for undercover journalists who want dirty hospital scoops, where others Read the rest of this entry »

The man behind the Mop of Death

October 22nd, 2005 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, mail, media, mirror, MRSA, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications, scare stories, sun, very basic science | 27 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday October 22, 2005
The Guardian

Right. Where were we? Oh yes: there is a small unaccredited laboratory in Northants called Chemsol, run by a man with a non-accredited correspondence-course PhD and no formal microbiology training, and he seems to find MRSA in hospitals where other accredited labs, in universities and the like, cannot. And, weirdly, almost every undercover tabloid Read the rest of this entry »