MMR: the scare stories are back

July 18th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 23 Comments »

Here’s my piece from the British Medical Journal, or at least the last version I saw of it.

Medicine and the media
Ben Goldacre
doctor and writer, London,
Guardian and BMJ columnist
DOI 10.1136/bmj.39280.447419.59

A UK newspaper has once again linked autism with MMR and sparked a spate of media scaremongering. But the original story was wrong on every count, writes Ben Goldacre

It was Read the rest of this entry »

The MMR story that wasn’t

July 18th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in MMR | 36 Comments »

Bad science
Ben Goldacre
Wednesday July 18, 2007
The Guardian

Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media. Just one week before his GMC hearing, yet another factless “MMR causes autism” news story appeared: and even though it ran on the front page of our very own Observer, I am dismantling it on this page. We’re all grown-ups around here. Read the rest of this entry »

Loopy blog competition, and field reports from the GMC

July 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MMR | 40 Comments »

I thought you might be amused by this email nugget I just got from a journalist friend who was covering the GMC yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »

Complaints upheld against BBC over Alternative Medicine “The Evidence”

July 16th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 17 Comments »

I always felt it would have been fine if they’d called it “Alternative Medicine: what Kathy Sykes would like to say about it”. The subtitle was definitely the problem, gotta do what you say on the tin.

This from Simon Singh, i’m bunging it up with his permission so that anyone can see it on the grounds that it is “important” and he spent ages sorting it out.

More on the same program from Colquhoun here, including his admirable tracking down of all those so-called “signatories” the BBC claimed they had, but who actually didnt sign the letter. Stylish…

Read the rest of this entry »

I am not unwell

July 16th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MMR | 33 Comments »

Thank you for your emails, I am not unwell, nor have I died “in a strange sexual experiment that went horribly wrong”.

As people suspected I was hoping to write about the Observer’s astonishing front page story on MMR, in fact I was hoping to do it for the comment pages last weds, but then there was a problem, and then again in the column, but again there was a problem.

I have to say the Guardian have been very positive about the idea of me doing it “in principle”, I am a fan, I don’t feel particularly stifled, and with any other newspaper group it wouldn’t even be an option, so there you go, what a cracking institution, no melodrama, and hopefully there’ll be more joy this week.

Hilarious Steorn post-mortem video

July 12th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, perpetual motion | 20 Comments »

Here is a video of Steorn director Sean chatting to some people in the aftermath of his failed demonstration, it gets particularly funny about 4 minutes in. You just want to reach into the screen and go “Oh, all six of the bearings all broke in three machines and that’s not happened before? It’s alright mate, don’t worry about it, we’ll get some new ones straight away. Fly them in? No problem, you’ve got plenty of cash, this is obviously important. Really? Okay, no don’t go home. We’ll have a whip round. No seriously mate, don’t pack up, stay there, we’ll have your bearings in a mo. Just a delay. Don’t call off the demo. Sean? Sean?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Positive Internet are the new gods * * * hot badscience 2.0 action

July 11th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 47 Comments »

So as you might remember, my previous web hosts suddenly noticed that I was running a site with a forum, a blog, a wiki, and 90,000 unique visitors a month (12,000 a day) on a jokey little budget web hosting plan that cost $6 a month. They promptly pulled the plug and I had to fight just to get the blog back up temporarily.

Amazingly a minor avalanche of hot web2.0 geeks came to my aid, and then Positive Internet stepped in to give us a free and rather enormous dedicated server. This is generosity beyond my wildest dreams, especially since I clearly lack the funds to keep the site up with anything like that kind of resource, and as a result, is now spectacularly overpowered: I want you to picture a small hornby carriage being dragged up the east coast mainline at 140mph by a full-size nuclear powered freight locomotive. This is Orca. She’s hot.

Now obviously I nearly died with shock, but it’s fair to say that Positive Internet are a pretty amazing organisation. They also host, for example, Richard Stallman, free software guru and digital activist, and Read the rest of this entry »

The forums are open again

July 10th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 7 Comments »

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“Try Me, Sh*thead” – the strange case of Carol Stott, Wakefield, and the Observer – including bizarre update

July 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, MMR, scare stories | 40 Comments »

Update 10:30pm Sunday 8/7/07:

Just got this reply from Dr Scott, in response to my email below: she seems to say the Observer have concocted something, but it’s certainly vague. Have asked her for clarification, but no response (still none as of 17:15 9/7/07 despite various emails and phone call). [i should clarify that sincec then its become clear that scott is definitely one of the good people]

NOTE: It’s worth following up this story, it turned out Fiona Scott was indeed grotesquely and repeatedly misrepresented by the Observer Read the rest of this entry »

Perpetual truths

July 7th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, magnets, perpetual motion | 34 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday July 7, 2007
The Guardian

You might remember an Irish company called Steorn: in August 2006 they took out a full page advert in the Economist to announce that they had discovered a source of free energy, a perpetual motion machine no less, in triumphant defiance of that stuffy first law of thermodynamics. Read the rest of this entry »