Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist

May 15th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, competing interests, great popularisers of science, scare stories | 74 Comments »

Edit midday Saturday: I’ve just read the Guardian version and it’s been cut a bit, whole chunks missing, and bits rewritten. This is the best reason to have a blog. Anyway, if Baroness Greenfield responds – and naturally I hope she will, as there is a great deal more to say on this topic – I hope she will respond to what I actually wrote, below.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 16 May 2009

You will be familiar with the work of Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield. She is head of the Royal Institute Institution of Great Britain, where she has charged herself with promoting the public’s understanding of science, of what it means for there to be evidence for a given proposition. This is important work.

You will also doubtless be aware of her more prominent activity on the many terrifying risks of computers, exemplified in the Daily Mail headline “Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist”, “Computers could be fuelling obesity crisis, says Baroness Susan Greenfield” in the Telegraph, “Do you have Facebook flab? Computer use could make you eat too much, warns professor” in the Mail again, Read the rest of this entry »

PARMAGEDDON

April 29th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, scare stories, uncertainty | 61 Comments »

This is possibly the most boring thing I’ve ever written in the Guardian, but I have been genuinely weirded out by the number of people inviting me to be a naysayer on the aporkalypse. I’m not, it’s a genuine risk. I ought to add that most of the people who rang, when I explained my position, invited me on anyway, but I’m a bit busy with other stuff, and more importantly (a) I’m not an infectious diseases epidemiologist, and (b) the world doesn’t need another arbitrary pundit to say “it’s a bit of a risk, yes”. [Oh incidentally comments on the site might take a while to appear since alexlomas has activated wp-cache after boingboing very excitingly linked the new Rath chapter.]

Ben Goldacre
guardian.co.uk
Wednesday 29 April 2009 18.30 BST
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 »

LBC, MMR, Jeni Barnett, an Early Day Motion, the Times, and, er, a bit of Stephen Fry…

February 10th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, dangers, jeni barnett, LBC, legal chill, MMR, regulating media, scare stories, stifling criticism | 155 Comments »

I thought since a few days have passed that I should let you know what’s happening with the slightly ridiculous LBC situation. If you skip to the bottom you will find a discussion on some mischievous activism which I think has great potential.

Since LBC unwisely threw their legal weight around to prevent you from being able to freely experience and ponder that astonishing 44 minute tirade against MMR, the inevitable has happened. The audio has been posted on a huge number of websites around the world, over 120 blogs so far are linking to the story, and more importantly, hundreds of thousands of people are talking and reading about the ignorance that Jeni Barnett exemplified in that worrying broadcast. It has been covered in the Times, and an Early Day Motion is being set down in parliament.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mischief PR and more top secret data.

July 5th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, pr guff, scare stories, secret data, statistics, survey data | 25 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday July 5 2008

Anyone would think the cold war was still on, with all this top secret scientific data that journalists constantly seem to be writing about. In last week’s column, as you will remember, we saw the Sunday Express front page claiming that a scientist and government adviser called Dr Coghill had performed scientific research, and found that the Bridgend suicide cases all lived closer to a mobile phone mast than average: this was an issue of great public health significance, but when I contacted the researcher, he wasn’t a doctor, he wasn’t really a government adviser, he couldn’t tell me what he meant by “average”, and he had, in a twist of almost incomprehensible ridiculousness, “lost” the data.

This week we have the same thing, from the insurance company Esure, and their agents Mischief PR. Read the rest of this entry »

Foreign substances in your precious bodily fluids

February 9th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, references, scare stories, statistics | 47 Comments »

You’ll find fluoride in tea, beer and fish, which might sound like a balanced diet to you. This week Alan Johnson announced a major new push for putting it in the drinking water, with some very grand promises, and in the face of serious opposition.

General Ripper first developed his theories about environmental poisoning and bodily fluids when he experienced impotence, fatigue, and a pervasive sense of emptiness during the physical act of love. Read the rest of this entry »

A rather long build up to one punchline

December 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, mail, scare stories | 39 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 8 2007

The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause – or cure – cancer. The only tragedy is that one day, amongst the noise, they might genuinely be on to something, and we would simply laugh.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Joy of Ingelfingering

September 21st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, media, references, scare stories | 25 Comments »

This is a response (as they say in Youtube) to a previous piece in the Times Higher by Bob Ward, which is pasted at the bottom. Hey, I’m in the THES. I am officially “old”.

Clinical cost of making headlines
Ben Goldacre
21 September 2007
Times Higher Education Supplement

Paul Broca was a French craniologist who measured brains. He was famous, and his name is given to Broca’s area, the part of the brain involved in generating speech, which is often damaged in strokes. But Broca had a problem: his German brain specimens were 100g heavier than his French ones, and by rights, the French should have been superior. Read the rest of this entry »

“Try Me, Sh*thead” – the strange case of Carol Stott, Wakefield, and the Observer – including bizarre update

July 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MMR, scare stories | 40 Comments »

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 »

Electrosensitives: the new cash cow of the woo industry

June 2nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity, independent, patrick holford, powerwatch - alasdair philips, scare stories | 125 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday June 2, 2007
The Guardian

The Independent has put its green columnist Julia Stephenson on to Panorama’s Wi-Fi scare story: a charming green party candidate and beef heiress living in Chelsea on a trust fund, who believes her symptoms of tiredness and headache are caused by electromagnetic radiation from phones and Wi-Fi.
Read the rest of this entry »