Scientific proof that we live in a warmer and more caring universe

November 29th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience, bbc, independent, mail, media, mirror, times | 170 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday November 29 2008

As usual, it’s not Watergate, it’s just slightly irritating. “Down’s births increase in a caring Britain”, said the Times: “More babies are being born with Down’s syndrome as parents feel increasingly that society is a more welcoming place for children with the condition.” That’s beautiful. “More mothers are choosing to keep their babies when diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome” said the Mail. “Parents appear to be more willing to bring a child with Down’s syndrome into the world because British society has become increasingly accepting of the genetic abnormality” said the Independent. “Children’s quality of life is better and acceptance has risen”, said The Mirror. Read the rest of this entry »

Whinge moan

November 22nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, irrationality research | 40 Comments »

Here is my slightly shite backup column. Apologies. I do, however, have something amazing up my sleeve for the next couple of days.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday November 22 2008
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You are 80% less likely to die from a meteor landing on your head if you wear a bicycle helmet all day.

November 15th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, presenting numbers, statistics | 24 Comments »

We’re all suckers for a big number, and you’ll be delighted to hear that the Journal of Consumer Research has huge teams of scientists all eagerly writing up their sinister research on how to exploit us.

One excellent study this month looked at how people choose a digital camera. This will become relevant in three paragraphs’ time. The researchers took a single image, then processed it in Photoshop to make two copies: one where the colours were more vivid, and one where the image was sharper. They told participants that each image came from a different camera, and asked which they wanted to buy. About a quarter chose the one with the more colourful sharper image. Read the rest of this entry »

“Incapacitated” on Radio 4

November 10th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in not bad science, onanism, podcast | 33 Comments »

So I’ve got a documentary on Radio 4 at 8pm this evening on incapacity benefit, and it’s a bit of a veer from the norm, because it’s a subject where I’m not entirely sure what I think.

Here’s why I care. I once sat drinking with a group of medics, arguing over what would be the single contemporary medical activity that future generations would look back on with horror, and think, “what, on earth, were you playing at?” Would it be another thalidomide, or perhaps a social issue that doctors blindly and obediently waded in on, like when we unhelpfully tried to electrocute gay people straight. The answer we came up with was “nurse-led prescribing”. Read the rest of this entry »

“I married a horse”

November 8th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in regulating media, regulating nonsense | 36 Comments »

* Ben Goldacre
* The Guardian, Saturday November 8 2008

Last week I failed to distinguish satisfactorily between the fantastical miasmatic theory of disease in the middle ages and the fantastical miasmatic theory of disease as meant by some homeopaths. This made no difference to my argument – that the science of a disease is more interesting than made up nonsense about it – but it was an error, it was mine, and there is no ignominy in clarifying that.

So you’re reading Woman’s Own, and you get to the “Real life – health” pages, and you see “Most people jump when the phone rings unexpectedly, but for Jackie Dewhurst, 39, it could be deadly”. Read the rest of this entry »

Hot foul air

November 1st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in alternative medicine, homeopathy, mondo academico, nutritionists, PhDs, doctors, and qualifications | 78 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 1st November 2008

Guy Ritchie has cancelled Madonna’s order for tens of thousands of pounds worth of special Kabbalah water to fill their swimming pool. It’s always uncomfortable when we have to humour someone close to us in the name of avoiding conflict. Right now in Thames Valley University, for example, entire science departments must be feeling slightly embarrassed about their degrees in quackery. Because despite the refusal of all universities to openly disclose what they teach on these – uniquely their ideas must be shielded from critical appraisal – the leaks keep coming, and Professor David Colquhoun of UCL continues to archive the comedy on his website.

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