I made this Radio 4 documentary on randomised trials on government policy

January 6th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence based policy, government reports, podcast, politics | 4 Comments »

Here’s a documentary I made for BBC Radio 4 (with producer Rami Tzabar) about evidence based social policy, and why we should do more randomised trials in government. It’s good fun, 40 minutes, with contributions from Dean Karlan (who wrote this book and is behind all these excellent trials on reducing poverty), Prof Sheila Bird, Jonathan Portes from NIESR (his excellent blog here), the man they call GOD, and many more.

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01phhb9

It’s also Radio 4 documentary of the week (woo!) which means you can download it as an mp3. The link is live for another 5 days, and it works for some countries outside the UK too.

www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/r4choice

And now that it’s expired on iPlayer, you can listen to it on FigShare here:

figshare.com/articles/R4Doc_04_Jan_13_Ben_Goldacre/105918

If you’re interested in reading more evidence based policy, I highly recommend this Cabinet Office paper that I co-authored a few months ago, downloadable for free online. As explained here, it’s brief, and very much designed to be the Ladybird Book of RCTs in Government. If you want more on the uses for randomised trials in criminal justice, I wrote this in the British Medical Journal with Sheila Bird and John Strang in 2011 (sorry it’s not open access, I’ll try to fix that soon). More to come on this topic soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Is this the worst government statistic ever created?

April 23rd, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in economics, evidence based policy, government reports, politics, pr guff, statistics | 23 Comments »

I forgot to post this column up last year. It’s a fun one: the Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a truly farcical piece of evidence, and promoted it very hard, claiming it as good stats. I noticed the column was missing today, because Private Eye have published on the same report in their current issue, finding emails that have gone missing through FOI applications, and other nonsense. That part is all neatly summarised online in the Local Government Chronicle here.

Is this the worst government statistic ever created?

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 24 June 2011.

Every now and then, the government will push a report that’s so assinine, and so thin, you have to check it’s not a spoof. The Daily Mail was clear in its coverage: “Council incompetence ‘costs every household £452 a year’“; “Up to £10bn a year is wasted by clueless councils.” And the Express agreed. Where will this money come from? “Up to £10bn a year could be saved … if councils better analysed spending from their £50bn procurement budgets.” Read the rest of this entry »

More than 60 children saved from abuse – small update

August 7th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre Tags:
in bad science, government reports, media, numerical context, politics | 33 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 7 August 2010

According to the Home Office this week, Sarah’s law – where any parent can find out if any adult in contact with their child has a record of violent or sexual crimes – has “already protected more than 60 children from abuse during its pilot“. This fact was widely reported and was the headline finding. As the Sun said: “More than 60 sickening offences were halted by Sarah’s Law during its trial”. Read the rest of this entry »

Is this a joke?

July 18th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, evidence based policy, government reports, politics | 64 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 18 July 2009, The Guardian.

We’d all like to help the police to do their job well. They, in turn, would like to have a massive database with DNA profiles from everyone who has been arrested, but not convicted of a crime.

We worry that this is intrusive, but some of us are willing to make concessions, on our principles, and the invasion into our privacy, in the name of preventing crimes. To do this, we’d like to know the evidence on whether this database is helpful, to help us make an informed decision.

Read the rest of this entry »