Take that, you pesky microfascists…

December 12th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks | 89 Comments »

You may remember this little skirmish with the post-modernist posse, where evidence based medicine and the Cochrane library were described as fascist projects.

www.badscience.net/?p=284

It’s not entirely clear to me if this is a very elaborate joke, but it would appear that someone has bravely published responses to blog commenters in a scholarly academic article. In fact, as far as I can tell from the abstract below, someone has taken it upon themselves to respond to you blog commenters, in a scholarly academic article. [Edit: oh my god, somebody has sent me the pdf, they quote you and they use your silly made up screen names, it’s like reading academic critique in a parallel fairy tale universe]

Archie Cochrane (left, with stylish Spanish gentleman) as a captain in the International Brigade c.1936.

Read the rest of this entry »

Now with audio, and in stereo: I am an arsehole and a prick…

November 29th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks, roland kapferer | 12 Comments »

EDIT, AUDIO BELOW:

Remember poor old Roland Kapferer, the man who told everyone that he’d proved Agatha Christie affects your neurotransmitters, and then backtracked loopily into pomo nonsense when I pointed out that he’d done no such thing?

www.badscience.net/?p=203

Well it seems it still hurts. Here he is on the radio last Sunday giving his first response to my criticisms since the article was published:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I think he makes some excellent points very early on.

And some cheeky scamp, in the course of today, it would seem, has contacted Google, and asked them to remove their link to the posts here on Roland. Heh.

www.google.co.uk/search?q=roland+kapferer+badscience

Anyway, here’s the tip off email if you can’t be bothered to listen to the audio:

Hi Ben,

The other day I was listening to one of my favourite radio shows,
‘Sunday Night Safran’ here on Australian radio (specifically last
Sunday’s show, which you can hear via the podcast here:
abc.net.au/triplej/safran/). They were talking to Roland
Kapferer, a semi-regular guest that they talk to about world politics
and the like. He mentioned his latest TV show ‘The Agatha Christie
Code’ and how it was panned by “a real arsehole guy from the Guardian”
who accused it of being bad science… I knew immediately the
“arsehole” he was referring to :) He went on Read the rest of this entry »

Archie Cochrane: “Fascist”

August 19th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, postmodernist bollocks | 83 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 19, 2006
The Guardian

“Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism.” Even from looking at the title, you just know this academic paper, from the September edition of the International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare, is going to be a corker. And it uses the word “fascist” (or elaborate derivatives) 28 times in 6 pages, which even Rik Mayall in the Young Ones might regard as over-egged.

I say!

Now obviously post modernist intellectuals are about a thousand times more intelligent than me – because I only know about science and computers – but I found this paper so confusing I thought it might be a spoof. After all, who could forget the great Sokal hoax, where Read the rest of this entry »

“Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism.”

August 11th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks | 86 Comments »

Some of you might enjoy this absolute cracker from the current edition of the International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare: a critical theory deconstructionist attack on evidence based medicine and Cochrane centres, in a proper journal. Presumably I am a bit of a “microfascist” for posting it here.

Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism

Authors: Holmes, Dave; Murray, Stuart J1; Perron, Amélie2; Rail, Geneviève2

Source: International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare, Volume 4, Number 3, September 2006, pp. 180-186(7)

Background
Drawing on the work of the late French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari, the objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge. As such, we assert that the evidence-based movement in health sciences constitutes a good example of microfascism at play in the contemporary
scientific Read the rest of this entry »

The Mystery Of The Steaming Turd

January 20th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, ITV, media, postmodernist bollocks, references, roland kapferer, statistics, telegraph, times | 88 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday January 21, 2006
The Guardian

I seem to have opened up a whole new front of bad science by looking into the high end hi-fi industry: but that will have to wait for next week. “Scientists claimed yesterday that they have solved the mystery behind the success of Agatha Christie’s novels,” says the Telegraph. “Novelist Agatha Christie used words that invoked a chemical response in Read the rest of this entry »

The Sokal affair

June 5th, 2003 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks, quantum physics, very basic science | 6 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Thursday June 5, 2003
The Guardian

Talk about bad science

We’ve been focusing on the negative for too long: it’s time I introduced you to my hero. Alan Sokal is an icon for bad science hunters the world over, the man who pulled off the greatest academic scam of our times, and gave post-modernist commentators on science the public slapping they’ve always deserved.

A physics professor in New York, in the 1980s Sokal went to teach in Nicaragua because he approved of the Sandinista government. When he returned to America, the liberal left agenda seemed to have been hijacked by hip intellectuals and postmodernist literary theorists teaching that reality is a socially constructed text, about which you can say anything, as long as you say it murkily.

A political pragmatist, Sokal doubted they had much to offer. More than that, he was horrified that they were rubbishing science. Suspecting they didn’t know their scientific arse from their elbow, he decided to attack. He wrote and submitted a spoof article, Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity to Social Text, a trendy academic journal. By flattering the editors’ ideological preconceptions, he hoped his meaningless waffle might just get published.

The article is a masterpiece of foggy prose. In it, Sokal claimed Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic speculations had been confirmed by recent work in quantum field theory. He suggested that the axiom of equality in mathematical set theory was analogous to the homonymous concept in feminist politics. He employed scientific and mathematical concepts in ways that even an A-level student should have spotted as rubbish, but crammed the article with nonsensical – but authentic – quotes about physics and mathematics, by prominent French and American postmodern intellectuals.

Of course the article was published: they couldn’t resist a physicist switching sides. But did the journal subject the article to peer review by a scientist before publishing? No. Did the article say anything meaningful at all? The author certainly didn’t think so.

The day that Social Text came out, Sokal began deriding the editors in the media. They attacked him for dishonesty and some post-modernist commentators suggested he needed psychiatric treatment. Sokal emerged a hero. He wrote a book, attacking them, in French. Go Sokal! So visit the website (www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/ ), read the article (www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html), tell your friends and buy his book, out now in English (ISBN: 1861976313). And one day, these intellectual fraudsters could be out of a job.