Oooooh I’m in the Minority Report!

October 31st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, religion | 87 Comments »

This is officially the most exciting moment of my hobby as a writer. The Parliamentary Science and Tech Select Committee have published a very sensible report about the evidence for and against a change in the Abortion laws. The Minority Report is an extra report, bolted on as an appendix: they are there for when there are members of a select committee who don’t like the actual report.

In the case of this Minority Report on abortion, it’s a rollercoaster ride of pseudoscience and dubious data, signed by one Tory MP with the support of one other, and I highly recommend giving it a read. I’ve posted the PDF here, until it appears on the parliament website.

If you want a good example of how spectacularly weak the evidence behind this “Minority Report” is, then you need look no further than the bit where they talk about, er, well, me, bafflingly:

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Sense prevails

October 31st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, religion | 16 Comments »

Ooh ooh I just got this in email at 00:01 and I hereby am posting it before the BBC or anyone. They lose valuable minutes by pretending not to copy and paste the press release, while I find that kind of theatre slightly childish. Meanwhile, pasted below is what our Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee on the Abortion Act recommended, after carefully reviewing the scientific evidence. The report itself is a masterful and surprisingly readable precis, which I’ll post as soon as the link goes live.

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Parlour games

October 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, religion | 10 Comments »

Here’s a fun parlour game suggested Read the rest of this entry »

Meaningful debates need clear information

October 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, references, religion, statistics | 42 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 27 2007

Where do all those numbers in the newspapers come from? Here’s a funny thing. The Commons committee on science and technology is taking evidence on “scientific developments relating to the Abortion Act 1967”.

Scientific and medical expert bodies giving evidence say that survival in births below 24 weeks has not significantly improved since the 1990s, when it was only 10-20%. But one expert, a professor of neonatal medicine, says survival at 22 and 23 weeks has improved. In fact, he says survival rates in this group can be phenomenally high: 42% of children born at 23 weeks at some top specialist centres. He is quoted widely: the Independent, Telegraph, Channel 4, on Newsnight, by Tory MPs, and so on. The figure has a life of its own. Read the rest of this entry »

Appendix: Andy’s incredibly polite email to the Society of Homeopaths

October 21st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in homeopathy, stifling criticism | 58 Comments »

To my mind this is one of the most important parts of the story about the Society of Homeopaths bullying its critics: it’s the incredibly polite and courteous email that Dr Andy Lewis sent to the SoH after his hosting company received the first threatening letter from their solicitors. Read the rest of this entry »

A corporate conspiracy to silence alternative medicine?

October 20th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, homeopathy, stifling criticism | 45 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 20 2007

Let’s imagine that we live in an exotic parallel universe where I am able to use an amusing but trivial news event to illustrate a wider cultural and intellectual issue. Dr Andy Lewis runs a website called Quackometer: he criticised the Society of Homeopaths (Europe ’s largest professional organisation of homeopaths) in no uncertain terms. Read the rest of this entry »

Stylish correction from the Observer readers’ editor

October 14th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in danie krugel | 70 Comments »

I went to a lecture by the Freakonomics guys a while ago, and someone asked about the routine inaccuracy of news stories in the media. Look, said one of them (although I’ve got no idea who): the thing about journalism is, people expect it to be a true account of the world, but we’ve forgotten what the nature of journalism is. A reporter isn’t a superhuman essayist researcher, they are your surrogate, your proxy. When there is a fire on your street at two in the morning, and you can’t be bothered to go out in the rain, a reporter goes along in your place, and tells you what’s going on, but he only does what you’d do: gossips with the neighbours; gets a word or two from whichever member of the emergency services happens to be walking past; and passes that on.

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After Madeleine, why not Bin Laden?

October 13th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, dna | 40 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 13 2007

Danie Krugel is an ex-policeman in South Africa who believes he can pinpoint the location of missing people anywhere on the map. He does this by using his special magic box, which works through something to do with “quantum physics”, but you aren’t allowed to know any more than that: these are “complex and secret science techniques”, driven by a “secret energy source” driving a “matter orientation system machine“. By simply popping a strand of the missing person’s hair – or some other source of DNA – into his box of tricks, Krugel can pinpoint that person’s location, anywhere.

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Buy your Powerwatch goodies today!

October 12th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in electrosensitivity, powerwatch - alasdair philips | 18 Comments »

I thought I’d briefly share this email which just arrived. As you can see the Powerwatch/EMFields product range is expanding, and as they say, electromagnetic hypersensitivity has been officially recognised as a disability by the government. If you’re frightened about electromagnetic radiation you can pay £28 to subscribe to the Powerwatch website. You can read for free.

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Danie Krugel: can you please call me?

October 9th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 31 Comments »

I’m trying to get in touch with Danie Krugel, following his dramatic discovery of forensic evidence in the Madeleine McCann case, as reported in the Observer. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed he hasn’t spookily contacted me on my private mobile number already, as this blogger reported recently in Read the rest of this entry »