You might be amused by this piece from the Independent’s health reporter Jeremy Laurance today. It’s about what a bad man I am for pointing out when science and health journalists get things wrong. Alongside the lengthy ad hominem – a matter of taste for you – there are a number of mistakes and, more than that, a worrying resistance to the idea that anyone should dare to engage in legitimate criticism. He also explains that health journalists simply can’t be expected to check facts. This worries me. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 5 June 2010
“Fish oil helps schoolchildren to concentrate” was the headline in the Observer. Regular readers will remember the omega-3 fish oil pill issue, as the entire British news media has been claiming for several years now that there are trials showing it improves school performance and behaviour in mainstream children, despite the fact that no such trial has ever been published. There is something very attractive about the idea that solutions to complex problems in education can be found in a pill. Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday 29 July 2009
Today the Australian magazine Cosmos, along with a vast number of other blogs and publications, reprinted an article by Simon Singh, in slightly tweaked form, in an act of solidarity. The British Chiropractic Association has been suing Singh personally for the past 15 months, over a piece in the Guardian where he criticised the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines. Read the rest of this entry »
Just so that your visual search strategy is correctly callibrated for bookshops and friends’ living rooms, here is the cover of the new and cheaper edition of Bad Science. It features both an index and a new chapter, which I will post for free on the web in a minute. More below.
If you’re wondering why there is a new paperback, Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday December 29 2007
Nobody listens to a word I say: I’ve been saying it for so long now that I think I’d be sorry if they did. Scaremongering season kicked off with the Panorama WiFi special. Among its many crimes against sense, this program featured “independent testing” by – oh, hang on – a campaigner against WiFi, who also sells his own brand of special protective equipment to those frightened about WiFi. The BBC have since upheld complaints. Immediately after the show was broadcast, the Independent were promoting elaborate quack devices to protect against WiFi: these will take off in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »
I went to a lecture by the Freakonomics guys a while ago, and someone asked about the routine inaccuracy of news stories in the media. Look, said one of them (although I’ve got no idea who): the thing about journalism is, people expect it to be a true account of the world, but we’ve forgotten what the nature of journalism is. A reporter isn’t a superhuman essayist researcher, they are your surrogate, your proxy. When there is a fire on your street at two in the morning, and you can’t be bothered to go out in the rain, a reporter goes along in your place, and tells you what’s going on, but he only does what you’d do: gossips with the neighbours; gets a word or two from whichever member of the emergency services happens to be walking past; and passes that on.
Danie Krugel is an ex-policeman in South Africa who believes he can pinpoint the location of missing people anywhere on the map. He does this by using his special magic box, which works through something to do with “quantum physics”, but you aren’t allowed to know any more than that: these are “complex and secret science techniques”, driven by a “secret energy source” driving a “matter orientation system machine“. By simply popping a strand of the missing person’s hair – or some other source of DNA – into his box of tricks, Krugel can pinpoint that person’s location, anywhere.
I’m trying to get in touch with Danie Krugel, following his dramatic discovery of forensic evidence in the Madeleine McCann case, as reported in the Observer. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed he hasn’t spookily contacted me on my private mobile number already, as this blogger reported recently in Read the rest of this entry »
Madeleine McCann is a 4 year old girl who went missing from her parents’ holiday hotel room in Portugal 5 months ago. Danie Krugel is an ex-policeman in South Africa who believes he can pinpoint the location of missing people anywhere in the world.
He does this using his special magic box, which works by something to do with “quantum physics”, “complex and secret science techniques”, a secret energy source which nobody is allowed to know about, and a strand of the missing person’s hair or some other source of DNA. His secret method can miraculously pinpoint the missing person’s location anywhere in the world on a map, using their DNA and international GPS technology, so he says.
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 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”