Health Warning: Exercise Makes You Fat

August 29th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, numerical context, telegraph | 80 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 29 August 2009, The Guardian

Why would you listen to a government health message, or your GP practise nurse, when the Sunday Telegraph has much more exciting news? “Health warning: exercise makes you fat” is the kind of full-width headline you want to see across a broadsheet page: it’s affirmative, it’s reassuring, and it gives you clear permission to sit on your arse all day. “Re-programming body fat is the key to weight loss, not working out.” Praise be. “Is it possible that all that exercise is doing nothing to make us slimmer?” Please let the answer be yes.

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Rape: a helpful non-correction from the Telegraph

July 16th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, telegraph | 34 Comments »

Update: Just got an email from Sophia Shaw, the MSc student in question: “I am happy that they have made an apology , but I am very aware that a number of other mistakes were made that were not acknowledge in their statement. Sophia”

The media is a game-like world of blurry truths, where the vague narrative shape of a story matters more than clarity, accuracy and evidence. Three weeks ago the Daily Telegraph published an unpleasant article headlined “Women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists”. It was based on the unpublished and unfinished dissertation of a masters student and got the story entirely wrong. The title of the press release for the same research was “Promiscuous men more likely to rape”, which gives you some small clue as to how weirdly this story was distorted by the newspaper. I wrote about this two weeks ago here, documenting all of their errors in detail. Read the rest of this entry »

Asking for it

July 4th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, rape, telegraph | 52 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 4 July 2009

There’s nothing like science for giving that objective, white-coat flavoured legitimacy to your prejudices, so it must have been a great day for Telegraph readers when they came across the headline “Women who dress provocatively more likely to be raped, claim scientists”. Ah, scientists. “Women who drink alcohol, wear short skirts and are outgoing are more likely to be raped, claim scientists at the University of Leicester.” Well there you go. Oddly, though, the title of the press release for the same research was “Promiscuous men more likely to rape”.

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Jonathan Leake misreports scientist’s claims

June 19th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, jonathan leake, telegraph | 12 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 20 June 2009

When is a conversation public, an act of performance, and when is it private? This problem rears its head with greater frequency in the age of the internet, as more discussions are publicly accessible without necessarily, in the minds of the participants, being for the public. Read the rest of this entry »

Experts say new scientific evidence helpfully justifies massive pre-existing moral prejudice.

April 18th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in dodgy academic press releases, mail, medicalisation, MMR, scare stories, telegraph | 72 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday April 18, 2009
The Guardian

Is it somehow possible – and I know I’m going out on a limb here – that journalists wilfully misinterpret and ignore scientific evidence, simply in order to generate stories that reflect their own political and cultural prejudices? Because my friend Martin, from the excellent layscience blog, has made a pretty excellent discovery. Read the rest of this entry »

A rock of crack as big as the Ritz

February 21st, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, drurrrgs, statistics, telegraph | 65 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday February 21 2009
The Guardian

imageIn a week where our dear Daily Mail ran with the headline “How using Facebook could raise your risk of cancer”, I will exercise some self control, and write about drugs instead.

“Seven hundred British troops seized four Taliban narcotics factories containing £50m of drugs” said the Guardian on Wednesday. “Troops recovered more than 400kg of raw opium in one drug factory and nearly 800kg of heroin in another.” Lordy that is good. In the Telegraph, British forces had seized “£50 million of heroin and killed at least 20 Taliban fighters in a daring raid that dealt a significant blow to the insurgents in Afghanistan.” Everyone carried the good news. Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Telegraph misrepresent a scientist’s work, then refuse to correct it when he writes to them.

January 8th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in climate change, telegraph | 119 Comments »

People in the “public engagement” community often talk about how scientists should do more to communicate with the media. I take a different line: scientists have good grounds to be extremely nervous, and some entities and journalists could quite fairly be blacklisted.

Here’s just one more example. It doesn’t stand out, I get sent plenty every week, and when I get a moment I’ll find a way to archive the tips efficiently online: but I’m posting this one here because the Telegraph have misrepresented a scientists work, refused to correct it when he writes to them, and then refused even to let him post an online comment on the article which misrepresented his own work. This strikes me as harsh.

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It’s not my fault I fall into repetitive self parody. You started it.

December 6th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in express, independent, mail, media, mirror, MMR, telegraph | 158 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday December 6 2008

Writing this column only really scares me because I wonder whether everything else in the media is as shamelessly, venally, manipulatively, one-sidedly, selectively reported on as the things I know about. I’m not going to go on about MMR again. But this week the reality editing was truly without comparison. Read the rest of this entry »

Generous review of my book in the Daily Telegraph

October 2nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, book, book reviews, onanism, telegraph | 10 Comments »

There’s a very nice review of my book “Bad Science” in the Telegraph this week. I have to say I’m delighted to see that the two newspapers I’ve probably been meanest about over recent years are the two that have reviewed it so far. This betrays a genuinely wholesome grown up approach to life which properly warms the cockles of my heart.

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Don’t let the facts spoil a good story

September 19th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in sun, telegraph | 4 Comments »

Oops sorry, in all the excitement about Matthias Rath I forgot to post last week’s column, here it is.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday September 13 2008

Here is a cautionary tale for anyone working in research. “Captain Cook and Lord Nelson seem unlikely figureheads in the fight against climate change alarmists,” said the Sun. “Lord Nelson and Captain Cook’s ship logs question climate change theories,” announced the Telegraph. Oh that’s handy. So perhaps we can just keep on burning oil regardless then? “The ships’ logs of great maritime figures such as Lord Nelson and Captain Cook have cast new light on climate change by suggesting that global warming may not be an entirely man-made phenomenon.” Read the rest of this entry »