Health Warning: Exercise Makes You Fat

August 29th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, numerical context, telegraph | 81 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, 29 August 2009, The Guardian

Why would you listen to a government health message, or your GP practise nurse, when the Sunday Telegraph has much more exciting news? “Health warning: exercise makes you fat” is the kind of full-width headline you want to see across a broadsheet page: it’s affirmative, it’s reassuring, and it gives you clear permission to sit on your arse all day. “Re-programming body fat is the key to weight loss, not working out.” Praise be. “Is it possible that all that exercise is doing nothing to make us slimmer?” Please let the answer be yes.

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Ben Goldacre and Science Minister Lord Drayson debate: 16th Sept, Royal Institution, tickets are free on 020 7409 2992

August 27th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, media, politics | 14 Comments »

image A couple of months ago the science minister Lord Drayson was saying that British science journalism is fabulous, the lessons from MMR had been learnt, and so on. I disagreed, and after a bit of chat on twitter I’m very pleased to say that the minister’s office have organised a public discussion on the topic, together with Times Higher and the RI, details below, tickets may go swiftly so I would recommend booking now on 020 7409 2992 or online at

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PR-reviewed data

August 15th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, churnalism, survey data | 25 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 15 August 2009

You will have noticed – from the fish oil pill saga, and the Herceptin coverage – that journalists can cheerfully make grand claims for a product which would be impossible in any advert. This week the Advertising Standards Authority ruled that the Daily Express newspaper repeatedly tried to circumvent advertising rules by running pages with a glowing, supposedly editorial article about a miracle product, and then a more sanitised, paid-for advert at the bottom.

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National Healthcare: a breeding ground for terrorism?

August 14th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 77 Comments »

Ok. This is seriously next level.

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How myths are made

August 8th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, ghostwriters, publication bias, references, structured data, systematic reviews | 41 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, Saturday 8 August 2009, The Guardian.

Much of what we cover in this column revolves around the idea of a “systematic review”, where the literature is surveyed methodically, following a predetermined protocol, to find all the evidence on a given question. As we saw last week, for example, the Soil Association would rather have the freedom to selectively reference only research which supports their case, rather than the totality of the evidence.

Two disturbing news stories demonstrate how this rejection of best practice can also cut to the core of academia.

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Evidence Check: parliament being… good

August 4th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 31 Comments »

Select committees are pretty much the only place in parliament where MPs do what you’d naively hope they do all the time: sit down, hear a lot of evidence on an important issue, and then have a good hard think about it. In February the Department for Innovations, Universities, Science and Skills asked you what they should be looking at. Now they’ve identified a few key areas, and have formally requested government to report back on what evidence they have to underpin their activities in each one. Subjects include regulations for synthetic biology, the teaching of ‘pseudoscience’ at universities (which I suggested last time!), screening, the licensing of homeopathic products by the MHRA, the use of offender data, and more. They’re asking you for more, and you should give them your suggestion, instructions and email below.

Evidence based policy is really important, and it’s definitely worth getting involved in this kind of thing, especially since it looks like a few of the subjects they’re already looking at are drawn from the suggestions sent in by you and archived in the comments here: Read the rest of this entry »

Over there! An 8 mile high distraction made of posh chocolate!

August 1st, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, organic, systematic reviews | 78 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 1 August 2009

This week the Food Standards Agency published 2 review papers showing that organic food is no better than normal food, in terms of composition, or health benefits. The Soil Association’s response has been swift, receiving prominent and blanket right of reply: this is testament to the lobbying power of this £2bn industry, and the cultural values of people who work in the media. I don’t care about organic food. I am interested in bad arguments. Theirs has three components.

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