Saturday October 4 2008
Important and timely news from the Journal of Medical Hypotheses this week: ejaculating could be “a potential treatment of nasal congestion in mature males.” My reason for bothering you with this will become clear later. Read the rest of this entry »
This is an extract from my new book “Bad Science“, in the Guardian today. It’s out on Monday: my recommendation is that you buy it, and give it to someone who disagrees with you.
Saturday August 30 2008
Dr Andrew Wakefield is in front of the General Medical Council on charges of serious professional misconduct, his paper on 12 children with autism and bowel problems is described as “debunked” – although it never supported the conclusions ascribed to it – and journalists have convinced themselves that his £435,643 fee from legal aid proves that his research was flawed.
I will now defend the heretic Dr Andrew Wakefield.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 15th, 2007
Okay now look: there’s nothing wrong with the idea of homeopaths giving out sugar pills. The placebo effect can be very powerful, because it’s not just about the pill, it’s about the cultural meaning of the treatment: so we know from research that four placebo sugar pills a day are more effective than two for eradicating gastric ulcers (and that’s not subjective, you measure ulcers by putting a camera into your stomach); we know that salt water injections are a more effective treatment for pain than sugar pills, not because salt water injections are medically active, but because injections are a more dramatic intervention; we know that green sugar pills are a more effective anxiety treatment than red ones, not because of any biomechanical effect of the dyes, but because of the cultural meanings of the colours green and red. We even know that packaging can be beneficial. Read the rest of this entry »
Lots of people have emailed in to say that the Observer’s spectacularly misleading MMR story has been removed from the archive and is no longer available online.
For obvious reasons of propriety I have studiously avoided having an inside track on anything to do with this piece from the beginning, so I have no idea what is going on here.
From the comments:
A clue about the removal of the Observer piece?
“A paragraph regarding concern about MMR overseas, extracted from a piece in the Observer now deleted from the website due to concerns about its accuracy, has been removed from this article until the information can be verified”
They still don’t seem to understand the problems with the one in 58 figure, and they still don’t seem to be able to understand the report they keep going on about (but won’t let anyone see because they think their scientific evidence is top secret), and they are still covering up their mistakes. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been told by Dr Fiona Scott that the main news editor of the Observer phoned her today, and she has been promised that there will be a large article in tomorrow’s Observer [EDIT it’s up now, here] reproducing in full and unedited the comments that she ended up posting, in desperation, in the commentisefree thread beneath their previous and rather incomprehensible non-retraction. In those, she explained that they had repeatedly misrepresented her views, and had consistently failed even to ask her what they were, despite her protesting. Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday July 18, 2007
Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media. Just one week before his GMC hearing, yet another factless “MMR causes autism” news story appeared: and even though it ran on the front page of our very own Observer, I am dismantling it on this page. We’re all grown-ups around here. Read the rest of this entry »
I thought you might be amused by this email nugget I just got from a journalist friend who was covering the GMC yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »
Thank you for your emails, I am not unwell, nor have I died “in a strange sexual experiment that went horribly wrong”.
As people suspected I was hoping to write about the Observer’s astonishing front page story on MMR, in fact I was hoping to do it for the comment pages last weds, but then there was a problem, and then again in the column, but again there was a problem.
I have to say the Guardian have been very positive about the idea of me doing it “in principle”, I am a fan, I don’t feel particularly stifled, and with any other newspaper group it wouldn’t even be an option, so there you go, what a cracking institution, no melodrama, and hopefully there’ll be more joy this week.
Update 10:30pm Sunday 8/7/07:
Just got this reply from Dr Scott, in response to my email below: she seems to say the Observer have concocted something, but it’s certainly vague. Have asked her for clarification, but no response (still none as of 17:15 9/7/07 despite various emails and phone call). [i should clarify that sincec then its become clear that scott is definitely one of the good people]
NOTE: It’s worth following up this story, it turned out Fiona Scott was indeed grotesquely and repeatedly misrepresented by the Observer
www.badscience.net/?p=458 Read the rest of this entry »