Sense About Science have very kindly given me the transcripts from their excellent Malaria and homeopathy sting from last month, and have let me stick it up here as a public archive for anyone who’s interested. Some amusing video from Read the rest of this entry »
Me and a dozen other academics all just wrote basically the same thing about Open Science in the Journal Of Clinical Epidemiology. After the technical bits, me and Tracey get our tank out. That’s for a reason: publishing academic papers about structural problems in science is a necessary condition for change, but it’s not sufficient. We don’t need any more cohort studies on the global public health problem of publication bias; we need action, of which the AllTrials.net campaign is just one example (and as part of that, we do still need many more audits giving performance figures on individual companies, researchers and institutions, as I explain here). We have a paper coming shortly on the methods and strategies of the AllTrials campaign that I hope will shed a little more light on this, because policy change for public health is a professional activity, not a hobby. Where academics are sneery about implementation, problems go unsolved, and patients are harmed.
Ironically all these papers on Open Science are behind an academic paywall. The full final text of our paper is posted below. If you’re an academic and you’ve ever wondered whether you’re allowed to do this, but felt overwhelmed by complex terms and conditions, you can check every academic journal’s blanket policy very easily here.
And lastly, if you’re in a hurry: the last two paragraphs are the money shot. Enjoy.
Fixing flaws in science must be professionalised. Read the rest of this entry »
The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee are currently looking at the problem of clinical trial results being withheld from doctors and patients (partly, the committee says, in response to Bad Pharma, which is heartening). A clear, thoughtful report and policy recommendations from this committee could be an important step towards fixing these problems.
I gave oral evidence this week on a panel with Roche, GSK, and the ABPI (who have previously tried to pretend that all the issues in Bad Pharma were “historic” and “long addressed”). I’ve posted the video below, and I’ve posted my written evidence underneath that. First is my submission addressing the specific questions posed by the Committee, and then my appendix, giving background on the problem of withheld trial results. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 18 December 2010
It’s been a marvellous year for bullshit. We saw quantitative evidence showing that drug adverts aimed at doctors are routinely factually inaccurate, while pharmaceutical company ghostwriters were the secret hands behind letters to the Times, and a whole series of academic papers. We saw more drug companies and even regulators withholding evidence from doctors and patients that a drug was dangerous – the most important and neglected ethical issue in modern medicine — and that whistleblowers have a rubbish life. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 13 November 2010
If science has any credibility, it derives from transparency: when you make a claim about how something works, you provide references to experiments, which describe openly and in full what was done, in enough detail for the experiment to be replicated, detailing what was measured, and how. Then people discuss what they think this all means in the real world.
Maria Hatzistefanis is a star of lifestyle pages and the owner of Rodial, the cosmetics company who sell a product called “Boob Job” which they claim will give you a “fuller bust” “increase the bust size” and “plump up the décolleté area” with “an instant lifting and firming effect”, and an increase of half a cup size in 56 days. Or rather an increase of “8.4%”. It’s all very precise. Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 19 December 2009
It’s been a vintage year for dodgy science in government. We saw reports on cocaine that were disappeared, dodgy evidence to justify DNA retention, and some government advisors who estimated the cost of piracy at 10% of GDP, to media applause, and then failed to tell everyone they’d got the figure wrong by 1000%.
Read the rest of this entry »
I gave evidence at the Parliamentary SciTech committtee today for their enquiry into whether the government had used scientific evidence properly in making their decisions about MHRA licenses for homeopathic pills, and homeopathy treatment on the NHS. This was a mini-enquiry as a result of interest expressed by the public, which is excellently democratic, you can see the whole thing online here, and some of it is quite good fun.
Personal highlights, from memory, include:
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 »
April 4 2009
If there is one great joy to be derived from scanning the scientific literature over a week, it is the barrage of studies that challenge your beliefs and preconceptions, demonstrating the weakness of intuition: because if we knew all the answers to start with, there’d be no point in doing research.
On an abstract level, there’s a good short report in the journal Cortex, where some researchers in Bologna demonstrate the spectacular hopelessness of memory. One morning in 1980, a bomb exploded in Bologna station: 85 people died, and the clock stopped ominously showing 10.25, the time of the explosion. This image became a famous symbol for the event, but the clock was repaired soon after, and worked perfectly for the next 16 years. When it broke again in 1996, it was decided to leave the clock showing 10.25 permanently, as a memorial. Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday April 19 2008
Paranormal phenomena are on the rise this spring, as any viewer of Street Psychic, Most Haunted Live, The Psychic Detective, Psychic Investigators, Mystic Challenge, and Psychic School would know. In Durham, Easington district council has paid for psychic Suzanne Hadwin to exorcise a poltergeist from the home of one of its tenants, who complained of objects moving, doors slamming, and a dressing gown floating down the stairs.
The family report that the spirit has now gone, and the house has a “lovely atmosphere”: an excellent psychic service at a competitive price (only £60).
But there is a darker side. In February a psychic was called to investigate a reported zombie in underground tunnels at an Eastbourne sewage plant. “It’s not funny going to work and worrying that a zombie might be around the corner,” said one plant worker. It’s even less funny for a consumer to be cynically exploited by a psychic, because everybody knows that although psychics have their merits, they are entirely useless in this situation: to kill a zombie, you must destroy its brain. Read the rest of this entry »