Shouting At The Irish

January 31st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, gillian mckeith, nutritionists, onanism | 21 Comments »

I was on The Panel RTE-2 in Ireland last Monday, video below. It’s a pretty funny show, I sat in the green room being fed peeled fruit by naked groupies wondering what it would be like to be the least funny person in the room. Luckily we joined forces and devised an innovative public health promotion strategy.

the panel

Picking up this show online, and watching some of the other excellent RTE stuff from the same site, really makes you realise how rubbish most telly on the telly is. Recently I’ve been procrastinating my way through where there’s a load of proper high resolution vintage material (discretely packaged up with a creative commons political agenda). Carnivorous Plants is excellent early creationist nonsense, and Nosferatu is as good as they say, in fact they’ve got some great old feature films, as well as cracking trailers like The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T.

For the more pretentiously minded, Ubu has a book-deadline-torpedoing collection of old arts docs, including Peter Greenaway’s Four American Composers series with Philip Glass and John Cage, and this corker on Borges.

But the big hitter for me is‘s superb collection of 1950s “social guidance” shorts. Coronet Films are the ones to watch, Sharing Work At Home makes a pretty unarguable case, Are You Popular? will make your blood run cold, and “A Holiday From Rules?” is certainly food for thought. Are you sure you want a holiday from rules, children? Well are you?

The theory underlying all of these films – that it’s possible to reason people out of unreasonable behaviour – reminds me of Dawkins in a funny way, but even so, whenever I’ve been at home working, over the past few months, I’ve had social guidance shorts playing in the background, just on the off chance.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

21 Responses

  1. raygirvan said,

    January 31, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    > great old feature films

    … such as the wonderful D.O.A.. I was surprised nobody in the media I know of picked up on the resemblance between this and the Alexander Litvinenko case.

  2. phayes said,

    January 31, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Yeah – D.O.A. is a classic. I also liked Scarlet Street, Dressed to Kill and The Abe Lincoln of nth Avenue.

  3. Ben Goldacre said,

    January 31, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    for working while watching these movies i’d recommend having a movie player with the “always on top” option on, in the bottom corner of the screen. VLC is easily the most efficient player around.

  4. Junkmonkey said,

    January 31, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    At the running the risk of turning this into a movie review thread; I would avoid ‘Teenage Zombies’ and ‘The Day the Sky Exploded’. Unless you too are a truly dedicated bad movie lover. The best things about them being the titles. Fortunately for the rest of you I watch this stuff so you don’t have to…

  5. Dr* T said,

    January 31, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    I would like to clear up any confusion that, although I am Irish, I have the standard number of fingers. What would a man do with 5000?

  6. RS said,

    January 31, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    Blanchardstown? Classy.

  7. DocOperon said,

    January 31, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    And, on that note – excellent show, Ben!

    Just so long as you don’t add a “funny noise” mp3 at the end of every post from now on…

  8. Nurn said,

    January 31, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    Hey Ben – saw you on The Panel the other night – love the show and was pleasantly surprised to see you on it. Well done!

  9. ToeKnee said,

    February 1, 2007 at 12:47 am

    You looked shorter than I imagined. Must be the font you normally use.

  10. raygirvan said,

    February 1, 2007 at 1:37 am

    I have the standard number of fingers. What would a man do with 5000?

    Play Chopsticks on a giant piano, of course.

  11. AitchJay said,

    February 1, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Heh, my partner thinks you’re pretty cute..

    Up until she asked if you were retarded – might have been the pixellation on the video – not sure though..

    Good show!

  12. Delster said,

    February 1, 2007 at 8:14 am

    RS… nothing wrong with northside!

  13. Mork said,

    February 1, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Ahh, The 5,000 Fingers of Doctor T. “Albert Zabladowski, your plumber and husband.”

    Happy days…

  14. oneiros said,

    February 1, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Great stuff Ben.

  15. ayupmeduck said,

    February 2, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Good performance on a very tricky subject. Still, I sadly think that with the attention span of most television watchers, you’re gonna need to develop some more bells and whistles to really draw people in.

  16. Junkmonkey said,

    February 2, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Not sure it’s the television watchers per se, more to do with the people who produce TV who assume we are all as ignorant as they. Most film / TV people at the production direction level that I have met know a lot about film and TV and nothing about anything else.

  17. Nurn said,

    February 3, 2007 at 12:16 am

    OMG television-watchers! What a bunch of idiots! We would never do that! Because….(?) fill in the blanks…

  18. mark014 said,

    February 9, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Ben, sort of missed the bus on this thread but just wanted to say that I watched you on “The Panel” last week when I was over in Cork. It was good to finally put a face to the name at last. I think it’s great that you’re finally getting air time to show up people like McKeith for the idiots that they are. Any chance of seeing you on British TV soon? Somebody needs to sound a voice of reason to fight the tide of unscientific pap parading as helpful advice presented on British tv (McKeith being the main culprit). One suggestion though Ben, and please don’t take this the wrong way: is there any chance you could maybe take some advice from professionals on your presentation of these issues? On “The Panel” your delivery came across as being almost apologetic (for example, don’t keep saying how boring the story you’re telling is!) when there’s nothing to apologise for. What you’re doing is incredibly important and should be shouted from the rooftops not hidden under a bushel. You’re pretty much the sole voice of reason in a medium awash with people spouting nothing but ignorance and quackery. Keep up the good work.

  19. magenta said,

    February 11, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Congratulations, and thanks for a bunch of things. For informing me that RTE has TV programmes available for download, which will cheer up my parents no end and give them an excuse for their broadband connection; and for pointing me at the wonders of ubuweb, and in particular the greenaway/glass/cage stuff which I’m watching as I write this.

    I’ll add my voice to that of mark04: you don’ t need to apologise for what you’re saying. It is interesting, you make it sound interesting, and those people wanted you there because they thought so too.

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