Fish Oil Trials In Viz

November 30th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, equazen, fish oil | 24 Comments »

Don’t let me distract you from the important work in the other fish post, but you might have missed this from the current affairs monthly Viz, which was pointed out to me in the senior common room today: Read the rest of this entry »

You vexatious TROUBLEMAKERS!

November 29th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, equazen, fish oil | 43 Comments »

Hahahaha, well the struggle to get meaningful scientific information out of Madeleine Portwood et al in Durham regarding her famous positive fish oil “trials” continues. To me this is very simple. They talk about positive trial data, at length, for a long time, in the media. We want to see it. Portwood is eager to go on telly and talk about her positive findings to journalists, but the information behind the claims is somehow less forthcoming.

Pasted below is the rejection that a couple of hundred of you have had. Read the rest of this entry »

Now with audio, and in stereo: I am an arsehole and a prick…

November 29th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, postmodernist bollocks, roland kapferer | 12 Comments »


Remember poor old Roland Kapferer, the man who told everyone that he’d proved Agatha Christie affects your neurotransmitters, and then backtracked loopily into pomo nonsense when I pointed out that he’d done no such thing?

The Mystery Of The Steaming Turd

Well it seems it still hurts. Here he is on the radio last Sunday giving his first response to my criticisms since the article was published:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I think he makes some excellent points very early on.

And some cheeky scamp, in the course of today, it would seem, has contacted Google, and asked them to remove their link to the posts here on Roland. Heh.

Anyway, here’s the tip off email if you can’t be bothered to listen to the audio:

Hi Ben,

The other day I was listening to one of my favourite radio shows,
‘Sunday Night Safran’ here on Australian radio (specifically last
Sunday’s show, which you can hear via the podcast here: They were talking to Roland
Kapferer, a semi-regular guest that they talk to about world politics
and the like. He mentioned his latest TV show ‘The Agatha Christie
Code’ and how it was panned by “a real arsehole guy from the Guardian”
who accused it of being bad science… I knew immediately the
“arsehole” he was referring to 🙂 He went on Read the rest of this entry »


November 26th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in onanism | 8 Comments »

You can hear me wittering on about stuff that has nothing to do with science tonight at 11pm on Radio 4, listen again link working from tomorrow. I wandered into the recording studio late after outpatients and needing a wee so I might sound a bit distracted.

An Illustrated History Of Food Gurus

November 25th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, gillian mckeith, nutritionists | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday November 25, 2006
The Guardian

It would be almost too easy to poke fun at Dr Gillian McKeith PhD, just because she’s been busted by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority this week for selling sordid medicinal products without a license. But as my girlfriend could happily tell you, I’m not a complicated man. So, Ms McKeith’s “Wild Pink” and “Horny Goat Weed” sex supplements are sold for “maintaining erections, orgasmic pleasure, ejaculation… lubrication, satisfaction, and arousal”, and sexual pleasure is, historically, the natural domain of quackery: but without the appropriate license, demonstrating safety, quality, and efficacy, her products were illegal.

Interestingly, although the contemporary nutritionism movement likes to present itself as a thoroughly modern and evidence based enterprise, the food guru industry, with its outlandish promises, moralising, and sexual obsessions, goes back at least 170 years. Like our modern food gurus, the historical figures of nutritionism were mostly enthusiastic lay people; and just like our modern food gurus, they all claimed to understand nutritional science, nature, evidence, and medicine, better than the scientists of their time. The advice Read the rest of this entry »

In Praise of Genius

November 24th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes of bad science | 5 Comments »

Superlative quackhunting by the formidable (in the french pronunciation of the word) Prof David Colquhoun FRS, chasing down those cheeky scamps from “Stop Snoring”, and their claim-rich TV adverts. They bang on about clinical trials. Colquhoun… finds them and reads them…

Ah me, simple pleasures. It’s amazing how the Read the rest of this entry »

Heroin On Prescription

November 23rd, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, drurrrgs, onanism | 32 Comments »

Suddenly heroin prescription is back in the news, so here’s an archaeological find from the hard-drive: an essay I wrote in praise of heroin prescription, for the “Roger Hole Essay Prize in Medical Scepticism”, as a young undergraduate in medicine, in 1998. The prize was judged by Lewis Wolpert, and winning it netted me the enormous sum of £250 (a month’s rent!) and a signed certificate from Prof Souhami (of Souhami and Moxham fame!).

Bit of background in the box, if you’re interested, otherwise skip to the essay below.

This essay, weirdly, also served up an early insight for me in the lameness of reporting on science and health in the media, and their obsession with quoting “authority”. A friend of mine who worked for a drug law reform pressure group gave my number to somebody working on campaigning journalist Read the rest of this entry »

The Awful Poo Lady

November 21st, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, channel 4, gillian mckeith, nutritionists | 48 Comments »

Hahahahahahahaa this just off the wires from the MHRA at 00:01am. Busted! Just remember, yer old uncle Ben was here speaking the truth when Channel 4 and the rest were loving her. Surprisingly vicious for an MHRA press release, I have to say. I guess they want to be taken seriously as policing this kind of nonsense, given recent events (on which more soon, heh)… Anyway, here’s what the MHRA sent out on the wires:

MHRA order removal of Gillian McKeith’s illegal products

Dr Gillian McKeith’s organisation has had to Read the rest of this entry »

Large Hardon Collider

November 20th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 33 Comments »

Since the Large Hardon Collider is in the news today, I thought I’d repost this golden gasser from April/yesteryear: Read the rest of this entry »

Tesco Value Science

November 18th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, cash-for-"stories", evening standard | 50 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday November 18, 2006
The Guardian

I am going into PR: it's just too easy. Let's say you're running the account for some Tesco "sports initiative". You're doing great work for the kids, but nobody cares, because it's just another corporate wheeze. You could always pay for adverts. Or you could just find an academic cheap enough to sell you their good name, and their university's name, concoct some stupid "equation" that means nothing, and get your corporate brand in the papers.

I give you Cary Cooper, professor of Read the rest of this entry »