Nullius in verba. In verba? Nullius!

June 30th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in authority, bad science, guardian, media, open methods, show your working | 36 Comments »

Hi there, just back from Glastonbury, here’s my column from last Saturday. The Guardian didn’t take it, they said it was too soon to be critical of a Guardian journalist after the column on fish oil, and the issue was too technical. I’m not prone to melodrama, so I don’t see this as a big thing, but I was a bit baffled by the insistence on experiencing this column as critical, when it’s not written that way, and I don’t think it reads that way either. Read the rest of this entry »

Burn the scientists!

June 18th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, predictions, uncertainty | 51 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 19 June 2010

On the 6th of April 2009, an earthquake registering 5.8 on the richter scale hit the town of L’Aquila in Abruzzo, Italy. This was a tragedy, and hundreds of people died. It would be great if we could have firm predictions about every risk whose rare but tragic outcome cannot be accurately predicted, whether it is a flu outbreak, a murder, an illness, or an earthquake. Most of us recognise that this is impossible. Read the rest of this entry »


June 12th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, irrationality research | 61 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 12 June 2010

As someone who strives – sanctimoniously – to be right, I’m a masochistic fan of research showing that people who are wrong have better lives than I do. This is why I particularly enjoyed a study from the current edition of Psychological Science showing that being superstitious improves performance on a whole string of different tasks. Read the rest of this entry »

Jeremy Laurance gets angry about scrutiny for journalists’ claims

June 8th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, hate mail, independent | 62 Comments »

You might be amused by this piece from the Independent’s health reporter Jeremy Laurance today. It’s about what a bad man I am for pointing out when science and health journalists get things wrong. Alongside the lengthy ad hominem – a matter of taste for you – there are a number of mistakes and, more than that, a worrying resistance to the idea that anyone should dare to engage in legitimate criticism. He also explains that health journalists simply can’t be expected to check facts. This worries me. Read the rest of this entry »

Fish oil in the Observer: the return of a $2bn friend

June 5th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, evidence, fish oil, guardian, schools, statistics | 35 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 5 June 2010

Fish oil helps schoolchildren to concentrate” was the headline in the Observer. Regular readers will remember the omega-3 fish oil pill issue, as the entire British news media has been claiming for several years now that there are trials showing it improves school performance and behaviour in mainstream children, despite the fact that no such trial has ever been published. There is something very attractive about the idea that solutions to complex problems in education can be found in a pill. Read the rest of this entry »