Existential angst about the bigger picture

May 23rd, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in academic pr, academic publishing, publication bias, regulating research | 20 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 21 May 2011

Here’s no surprise: beliefs which we imagine to be rational are bound up in all kinds of other stuff. Political stances, for example, correlate with various personality features. One major review in 2003 looked at 38 different studies, containing data on 20,000 participants, and found that overall, political conservatism was associated with things like death anxiety, fear of threat and loss, intolerance of uncertainty, a lack of openness to experience, and a need for order, structure, and closure. Read the rest of this entry »

We should so blatantly do more randomised trials on policy

May 23rd, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in africa, evidence based policy, politics | 22 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 14 May 2011

Politicians are ignorant about trials, and they’re weird about evidence. It doesn’t need to be this way. In international development work, resources are tight, and people know that good intentions aren’t enough: in fact, good intentions can sometimes do harm. We need to know what works.

In two new books published this month – “More Than Good Intentions” and “Poor Economics” – four academics describe amazing work testing interventions around the world with proper randomised trials. This is something we’ve bizarrely failed to do at home. Read the rest of this entry »

Asking the wrong question: how crap research gets drugs to market

May 7th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in big pharma, numerical context | 26 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 7 May 2011

Some of the biggest problems in medicine don’t get written about, because they’re not about eyecatching things like one patient’s valiant struggle: they’re protected from public scrutiny by a wall of tediousness.

Here is one problem that affects millions of people. What if we had rubbish evidence on whether hundreds of common treatments really work, simply because nobody asked the right research question? A paper published this week looks at how much evidence there was for every one of the new drugs approved by the FDA between 2000 and 2010, at the time they were approved. Read the rest of this entry »