Not The Nine O’Clock News

October 14th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MMR, references, scare stories | 35 Comments »

This article was massively cut in the paper at the last minute, below is the last version I touched…

Ben Goldacre
Saturday October 14, 2006
The Guardian

Think back into the mists of MMR: in 2002, Professor John O’Leary’s group in Dublin reported finding measles virus in the intestine of children with autism and bowel problems. The anti-MMR movement were almost delerious with Read the rest of this entry »

I’m sure there’s some data in here somewhere…

October 7th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, equazen, fish oil, nutritionists, references, statistics | 67 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday October 7, 2006
The Guardian

It is often unfairly assumed that I am a tenacious obsessive who refuses to let go. So at Durham council – as reported all over the newspapers and television – they’ve done loads of research on omega-3 fish oils making kids clever. It’s all very well saying that, but I need to see the data, to be sure there are no flaws.

Science has a certain authority, which makes it attractive to journalists and salesmen alike, but the authority comes from the transparency: it’s not about taking things on faith, or newspaper articles, it’s about openly publishing your data and your methods, so everyone can check your working. That’s why papers are published. That’s why Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Deeper Into My Fishy New Friends

September 16th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, equazen, fish oil, media, nutritionists, references, regulating research, statistics | 79 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday September 16, 2006
The Guardian

Regular readers will have established by now that most journalists are so scientifically inept, and so eager to run with “pill solves complex social problem” stories, that companies like Equazen selling their Eye-Q fish oil tablets for children with blanket media coverage can come out very nicely indeed.

So here’s the background you might have missed. Firstly, it costs 80p a day for you to feed your child these Eye-Q omega-3 fish oil tablets that Read the rest of this entry »

The Trial That Ate Itself

September 9th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, channel 4, equazen, fish oil, ITV, mail, nutritionists, references, statistics | 121 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday September 9, 2006
The Guardian

Fish oil is clearly a matter of huge national importance. Channel 4 and ITV (and the Daily Mail, and the BBC) all report on a plan by education officials in County Durham to give £1 million worth of omega-3 fish oils, to 5,000 children as they approach their GCSE’s, and see how it improves performance.

http://www.lems.brown.edu/vision/people/leymarie/Images/Paintings/Magritte_pipe.jpg

Contrary to what the pill-peddlers would tell you, the evidence for omega 3 Read the rest of this entry »

AIDS Denialists Galore

August 17th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, references | 32 Comments »

Just for completeness sake, I was worried that some of you might have missed this absolute corker of a 15 page article in Harper’s (circ: 230,000) by AIDS-denialist Celia Farber, in which all kinds of entertaining claims get an airing. AIDS is actually a “chemical syndrome, caused by accumulated toxins from heavy drug use,” “many cases of AIDS are the consequence of heavy drug use, both recreational (poppers, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.) and medical (AZT, etc.)”; “HIV is a harmless 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 »

Evidence Based Prejudice

June 23rd, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, bad science, nutritionists, references | 58 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 24, 2006
The Guardian

It can sometimes seem like there are two competing ways to make a decision about any complex matter of evidence based medicine. One is to purchase and digest “How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-Based Medicine” by Professor Trisha Greenhalgh (BMA Books, a life changing experience if you have a week to spare), and then find, read, and critically appraise every single published academic study independently and in full for yourself. The other more common method is to rely on “experts”, or what I like to call “prejudice”.

But there is a third way: what we might call “Evidence Based Prejudice”. I can’t possibly debunk every single Read the rest of this entry »

Bring me a God helmet, and bring it now

June 16th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, magnets, references | 23 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 17, 2006
The Guardian

One of the biggest disappointments of my so-called adult life is the sad realisation that I can neither fly nor move objects with the power of my mind. This definitely sucks. But for all their broken promises, as the prison ships become more and more crowded, when I am prime minister of the One World Government, the psychics will be left well alone.

They’re just too much fun. Up in Scotland, the Evening Mail has been teasing “Angela’s Live Psychic Line”: the adverts say Read the rest of this entry »

Academics are as guilty as the media when it comes to publication bias

June 10th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, references, regulating research, scare stories, statistics | 31 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 10, 2006
The Guardian

When I am finally assassinated by an axe-wielding electrosensitive homeopathic anti-vaccine campaigner – and that day surely cannot be far off now – I should like to be remembered, primarily, for my childishness and immaturity. Occasionally, however, I like to write about serious issues. And I don’t just mean the increase in mumps cases from 94 people in 1996 to 43,322 in 2005. No.

One thing we cover regularly in Bad Science is the way that Read the rest of this entry »