Self-indulgent retrospective – 2007

December 28th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 29 2007

Nobody listens to a word I say: I’ve been saying it for so long now that I think I’d be sorry if they did. Scaremongering season kicked off with the Panorama WiFi special. Among its many crimes against sense, this program featured “independent testing” by – oh, hang on – a campaigner against WiFi, who also sells his own brand of special protective equipment to those frightened about WiFi. The BBC have since upheld complaints. Immediately after the show was broadcast, the Independent were promoting elaborate quack devices to protect against WiFi: these will take off in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemological Indulgences

December 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, chocolate, nutritionists | 14 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 22 2007

Christmas is a time for harmless lies, the chocolatey indulgences of the thought world. We know when to stop, because if we all acted on our belief in Santa there would be no presents: and then Christmas would be meaningless.

My favourite Christmas traditions are the “red wine is good for you” and “chocolate is good for you” stories, which have Read the rest of this entry »

God delights as Pope transpires not to be total ass.

December 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in climate change, mail, religion | 26 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 15 2007

The Pope condemns the climate change prophets of doom,” roared the headline on Thursday. Basically if the Daily Mail goes out of business, I’ll have to give up this column. “Pope Benedict XVI has launched a surprise attack on climate change prophets of doom, warning them that any solutions to global warming must be based on firm evidence and not on dubious ideology.” Read the rest of this entry »

A rather long build up to one punchline

December 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, mail, scare stories | 39 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 8 2007

The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause – or cure – cancer. The only tragedy is that one day, amongst the noise, they might genuinely be on to something, and we would simply laugh.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Decision Hedgehog

December 4th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience | 114 Comments »

I’m honestly not wanting to be mean here. Seriously, I’m sure there’s value in this paper:

“The Decision Hedgehog – Enhancing Contextual Knowledge For Group Decision Authoring And Communication Support”

But I just can’t help daydreaming about the bit in the seminar where the audience start thinking, you know, I could see where you were going with this initially, but I’m just not sure if the hedgehog thing is going to carry the whole thesis…

Read the rest of this entry »

Aids Quackery International Tour

December 1st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in africa, alternative medicine, bad science, herbal remedies, homeopathy | 97 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday December 1 2007

If you were going to be actuarial about media coverage – an eighth of a column inch for each premature death perhaps – then this paper would be filled with diarrhoea and Aids. Today is World Aids Day: so come with me on a world tour of Aids quackery.

South Africa is traditionally where we would start such a voyage, headed as it is by President Thabo Mbeki, a man who remains an HIV denialist and recently told a biographer that he regrets withdrawing from publicly discussing his beliefs. He has compared Aids scientists to Nazi concentration camp doctors and portrayed black people who accepted orthodox Aids science as “self-repressed” victims of a slave mentality. Read the rest of this entry »