San Francisco action?

August 5th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in onanism | 13 Comments »

Admin note really, do ignore. Sorry to be busy elsewhere and a bit low on the radar, although all that’s about to change (the book is off with the printers, and there are fun activities to come).

I’ve been doing a fair few talks recently, and someone mentioned I should be organised and pimp them on the site, which I will, in the Miniblog or in the blog if there are a few at once. If you ever see I’m doing something near you, hassle me to do something else while I’m there, and kill two birds (Friday 15th I’m in Edinburgh for the lit fest, and 16th I’m at the Green Man festival, lots and lots more to follow).

On that tip, I’m popping over to San Francisco for Sci Foo (at which I will be the least clever person in the room) August 8-10. I’ve no real sense of whether anyone in America wants to hear one of Britain’s leading C-list public intellectuals talk about evidence, medicine, science, pseudoscience, culture and the media, but if anyone has a room, it’d be fun to do something while I’m over there, since I might not be back for a while, so do email me,

More importantly, let me know if there are any nerd activities I shouldn’t miss while I’m there (I’ll have about two halves of a day since I need to get back for grant applications) and if there’s anyone in SF I should say hi to. Also, if you’ve been hassling me to do something over the last 6 months, and I’ve been saying “in a few months”, that time is now.

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! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

13 Responses

  1. dbhb said,

    August 5, 2008 at 8:29 am

    On the PR front, on Facebook I was looking to ‘become a fan’ of Ben Goldacre the other day and threeby help to spread the good word, but you’ve not got a ‘business’ entry- just a personal page and I’m too shy to nag you with a friend request (plus it doesn’t really work as PR). Any plans on that front now the book is imminent?

  2. SitP Leicester said,

    August 5, 2008 at 8:50 am

    It’s not quite San Francisco, but seeing as you’re doing talks it would be great to see you at Leicester Skeptics in the Pub ( You’ve got a lot of fans there.


  3. PhilEdwards said,

    August 5, 2008 at 9:39 am

    One from the MiniBlog – I’ve just looked up Hall’s Wine (“It cannot fail to improve your whole being and so give you exuberant vitality. And the amazing thing is that you can feel this tonic doing you good *within thirty seconds after taking*”).

    Google Scholar found a paper on tonic wines by Mary D. Sturge MD, writing in the _British Journal of Inebriety_ in 1911 (I think it was reprinted in _Addiction_). She quotes some ad copy for another wine (“Note how it invigorates you – how it strengthens you – how it sends the blood dancing through your veins”) and adds, “Of course, to a trained mind, this description is that of the action of alcohol.”

    She also has a table of strengths of different tonic wines, some of which contained meat extract (anyone for Bovril Wine?) Hall’s Wine was 17.8% a.b.v. – and 0.003% cocaine. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I understand that cocaine is fairly powerful stuff (Vin Mariani (the one Edward VII drank) was 16% alcohol and 0.01% cocaine).

    Back to the advert:
    “A wineglassful two or three times a day will have a wonderful effect.” I bet it would.

    PS From the Not The Same Thing At All department:

    Bach Flower Remedies – #39 Rescue Remedy
    ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: 5x dilution of Helianthemum nummularium HPUS, Clematis vitalba HPUS, Impatiens gladulifera HPUS, Ornithogalum umbellatum HPUS.

  4. dbhb said,

    August 5, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Small world Simon.. this is Dave who used to run Leicester’s Cafe Scientifique. Now I distinctly remember Ben begrudgingly saying he’d come and do a Cafe for us “maybe.. if I’ve got a book to promote or something”, and now that you guys have taken over, I’m sure that promise must be transferable. 😉

  5. Wonk411 said,

    August 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    An e-mail on the way. What did you have in mind for ‘nerd’ actvities?

    For instance:

    The Exploratorium ( an audience that is mostly children but does some fun sciency stuff.

    The California Academy of Sciences would be great, but it won’t reopen for 53 days ( although early tours can apparently be arranged.

    University of California, Berkeley is right across the Bay (accessible by BART pretty much) and might be an interesting visit.

    The Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic which started during the Summer of Love is still going strong. I have no idea if they entertain visiting firemen, but visiting doctors might be welcome, who knows?

  6. Conor O'Neill said,

    August 5, 2008 at 11:04 pm

    You might consider using Yahoo’s to add all the events you’ll be speaking at. You can then add a simple widget to your blog sidebar which will show them.

    You could also join Twitter and send mini-updates or nuggets of wisdom from there 🙂

  7. Andy said,

    August 5, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    You need people to tell you nerdy things to do in the SF area? This area has the greatest concentration of nerds on the planet although they are mainly a little further south, given you only have half days you probably don’t want to spend 45 minutes to an hour driving down to silicon valley and then the same back again.

    In San Francisco if you don’t know the area at all then you’ll probably want to try the traditional touristy things like a visit to Alcatraz, a cable car ride etc… They are all rather cliched but part of the SF experience.

    The exploratorium is the only particularly nerdy place I can think of off hand that’s up in the city but that’s not too different from what you can find elsewhere.

  8. Groinhammer said,

    August 6, 2008 at 11:35 am

    As you are on the West coast, perhaps you could get some valuable face to face time with the venerable Dr Yury Kronn, master of Subtle Energy, and creator of Vital Force Technology (VFT).

    I for one would feel it a wasted journey if you missed out on the opportunity to meet this former Professor of Moscow University. Perhaps you could pick up a few of the creams and Gem Elixirs he has developed.

    “Still on his mission to export his knowledge for the good of humanity, Dr. Kronn’s immediate application of his research was in medicine. With the U.S. alternative health business booming, Dr. Kronn found many eager ears for his theories and his work, and soon was able to construct the Subtle Energy Field Infusion Generator (SEFIG).

    The SEFIG had the unique ability to separate the “dark matter” or subtle energy from the electromagnetic energy residing in any substance. It was able to extract and “save” this subtle energy “signature” and then generate this signal and infuse it into any object. Associations with alternative medicine practitioners, medical doctors and scientists, provided ample opportunity to test the effects of this subtle energy infusion on people. “You know that traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy use the term ‘Chi’ for the energy which, according to them, sustains life in all living organisms,” says Dr. Kronn. “Indians use the term ‘Prana’ for this same universal force. Actually each culture has its own term for this force. My technology is based on equipment that allows access to the world of that mysterious force we call subtle energy.”

  9. Dr Aust said,

    August 6, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Top place, SF. Apart from anything else, you can get around on public transport or even walking.

    Hope you’ll find the time to take the Sausalito ferry over to Marin County, one of the original 1970s homes of “natural woo”. I always reckon taking a cheap ferry ride somewhere is the best way to see a harbour city.

  10. colmcq said,

    August 6, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    yup, marin is hella woo-ey.

    If you were a fan of Forbidden Planet, there’s THE Robbie the Robot in The Metreon, (I think 3rd and mission).

  11. jonathanhearsey said,

    August 7, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    With you having a bit of ‘Goldacre down-time’ and in view of the fact that Andy Burman has now left the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council I think it is only right and proper that we mount an internet viral campaign to get the CNHC to act appropriately and replace Mr. Burman with someone that will regulate the bloomin CAMs in such a stringent way that they actually behave, do some research and fall on their swords if the research doesn’t hold up to scrutiny!

    What say you?


    (And if you bump into Steve Jobs in SF then ask him why my feckin 3G iPhone doesn’t work!!!)

  12. MrIncognito said,

    August 16, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    See a movie at the Castro. It’s an older (by US standards) art deco style theater with an organist that plays before the films.

    Get a beer at the Beach Chalet. It’s pricey but has a nice view of the Pacific.

    Avoid Fisherman’s wharf. It’s mostly souvenir stands and not worth the time. Alcatraz has the prison, but Angel Island is a nice place to take a hike and see the bay.

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