Reading about the badger cull today, I noticed this column – on the evidence for badger culls – never got posted. Here it is!
Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 23 July 2011
Squabbles between farmers and animal rights’ protesters bore me senseless. This week, environment secretary Caroline Spelman announced that the scientific evidence supports her new policy of farmers killingbadgers to prevent bovine TB. It’s an overstatement, but more importantly, this story walks through several important issues in science. Read the rest of this entry »
This is very odd indeed. Westminster, one of the most expensive public schools in the UK, is holding a fund-raising auction. In this auction, you can buy an internship at Imperial College’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering, on the promise that this will look great on your CV. Read the rest of this entry »
The story of Amanda Berry’s rescue in Cleveland – after ten years in captivity - is extraordinary. In 2004, popular psychic Sylvia Brown told Amanda’s mother that her little girl was dead. Here is a contemporaneous account of that show. 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 »
The new advert from Hyundai features a depressed man attempting to commit suicide using the exhaust fumes from his car. Read the rest of this entry »
I was on Newsnight this evening, discussing the measles outbreak in Swansea, and how we can get people vaccinated with MMR when they’ve previously refused. In my view: prevention is better than cure, it’s hard to reverse a scare story once the toothpaste is out of the tube, and we must innoculate ourselves against future vaccine scares, because they will come. That’s why services like Behind The Headlines are important. Here’s the video:
At the end, Jeremy Paxman seemed (endearingly) amazed to hear that vaccine scares respect local cultural boundaries. Here’s what I was discussing, in an extract from my first book Bad Science (this bit’s from pages 292-4 of the red paperback):
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I made a film for The One Show on BBC1, which goes out tonight. It’s about “publication bias“: the problem of clinical trial results being withheld from doctors and patients. (I also get to go into an awesome underground bunker where documents are stored…).
You can watch it here:
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I was asked by Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Education) and the Department for Education to look at how to improve the use of evidence in schools. I think there are huge, positive opportunities for teachers here, that go way beyond just doing a few more trials: there is a need for a coherent “information architecture” that supports evidence based practice. I was asked to write something that explains what this would look like, specifically for teachers. Pasted below is the briefing note from DfE press office, and then the text of what I wrote for them, which came out this week. You can also download a PDF from the DfE website here. Read the rest of this entry »
We rely on clinical trials in medicine, but companies and researchers are able to withhold results wherever it suits them: this breaks evidence based medicine. The best available systematic review evidence estimates that around half of all trials for the treatments we use today have not been published: you can read the details on this problem, and the flawed efforts to remedy it, here.
We decided that something needed to be done, and so we set up www.alltrials.net, with Sense About Science, the BMJ, Sir Iain Chalmers (co-founder of Cochrane) and the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford. Since then the campaign has snowballed. We have been joined by groups as diverse as MRC, the Wellcome Trust, IQWiG (the German NICE), NPA (the US doctors body) and many more. Read the rest of this entry »
GSK have just this minute announced that they are signing up to the alltrials.net campaign.
This will be written in a hurry. Briefly: the results of clinical trials have been routinely withheld from doctors and patients throughout medicine, and this problem has not been fixed. The www.alltrials.net campaign is asking for all trials to be registered, for all summary results to be reported, and for full Clinical Study Reports to be made publicly available. CSRs are important, because it is now clear that brief summaries about trials (such as academic journal articles) can be incomplete or misleading. Last Friday I met with Andrew Witty, the head of GSK, to discuss these concerns, and it was clear that they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these issues.
I couldn’t be any happier. This is huge, and internationally huge. GSK have made a commitment to post CSRs online. Read the rest of this entry »