We should teach epidemiology in schools.

December 14th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in epidemiology, schools | 5 Comments »

Just catching up with posting things from this year, here’s an editorial in The Lancet from Paul Fine, Andy Haines and me. We argue that epidemiology is the unsung hidden hand, whose techniques underpin a huge chunk of our causal reasoning about the world. It has helped to guide technical specialties like economics, but it’s also vital to everday lay thinking around what’s good for our health, or bad for us: and so it should be taught in schools. As I said yesterday, Bad Science and Bad Pharma are both essentially epidemiology textbooks with bad guys. 

I think the piece should be readable for free on this link if you register, but if that’s changed let me know, and I’ll hopefully be allowed to pay for it to be Open Access.


Screenshot 2013-12-14 15.46.15

This piece was part of the bicentenary celebrations for John Snow at LSHTM, and there was a two day conference with some amazing talks, from some of the most important people in epidemiology. Those are all online, at the link below, and I’ll pull out some of the best for blog posts next year:


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

5 Responses

  1. LeonStander said,

    December 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Ben. Glad you’re up and running again. I can’t access the article, it’s behind a paywall.

    If everything that everyone wants to be taught at schools actually was, school days will have to be 24 hours long, 365 days a year!

    Just a thought, it will be interesting to look at epidemiology from a behavioural economics perspective

  2. ddborowitz said,

    December 14, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I’m unable to download (in the US) even when logged in. Clicking the “PDF” link on the right-hand side just scrolls down to the part that says “To read this article in full you will need to make a payment.”

    I guess considering all I’ve read (including on this website!) about Elsevier I shouldn’t be surprised…

  3. Mark Wainwright said,

    December 14, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Same here (from the UK). But I managed to find this link where someone has helpfully posted a rip-off:


  4. mozmozmoz said,

    December 16, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve turned that weird adobe script-viewer thing into a png image so it’s a bit easier to read (2.3MB image):

  5. mozmozmoz said,

    December 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    Bah, that link is to a small jpeg. This one is the full png (sorry about that): postimg.org/image/ob5x4dz83/