Caroline Pidgeon (lib dem) falls for bogus Rentokil story, in the London Assembly… UPDATED for un-fail

March 18th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science | 33 Comments »

Briefly. Read the rest of this entry »

Obvious quacks: the tip of a scary medical iceberg

February 26th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, alternative medicine, bad science, big pharma, evidence, regulating research | 119 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 27 February, 2010

After the Science and Technology committee report this week, and the jaw dropping stupidity of “we bring you both sides” in the media coverage afterwards, you are bored of homeopathy. So am I, but it gives a very simple window into the wider disasters in all of medicine. Read the rest of this entry »

Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist

May 15th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, competing interests, great popularisers of science, scare stories | 74 Comments »

Edit midday Saturday: I’ve just read the Guardian version and it’s been cut a bit, whole chunks missing, and bits rewritten. This is the best reason to have a blog. Anyway, if Baroness Greenfield responds – and naturally I hope she will, as there is a great deal more to say on this topic – I hope she will respond to what I actually wrote, below.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 16 May 2009

You will be familiar with the work of Professor Baroness Susan Greenfield. She is head of the Royal Institute Institution of Great Britain, where she has charged herself with promoting the public’s understanding of science, of what it means for there to be evidence for a given proposition. This is important work.

You will also doubtless be aware of her more prominent activity on the many terrifying risks of computers, exemplified in the Daily Mail headline “Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist”, “Computers could be fuelling obesity crisis, says Baroness Susan Greenfield” in the Telegraph, “Do you have Facebook flab? Computer use could make you eat too much, warns professor” in the Mail again, Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

The Medicalisation of Everyday Life

September 1st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, alternative medicine, bad science, big pharma, celebs, equazen, fish oil, medicalisation, nutritionists | 45 Comments »

As the pace of medical innovation slows to a crawl, how do drug companies stay in profit? By ‘discovering’ new illnesses to fit existing products. But, says Ben Goldacre, in the second extract from his new book, for many problems the cure will never be found in a pill.


Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Monday September 1 2008

When you’ve been working with bullshit for as long as I have, you start to spot recurring themes: quacks and the pharmaceutical industry use the exact same tricks to sell their pills, everybody loves a “science bit” – even if it’s wrong – and when people introduce pseudoscience into any explanation, it’s usually because there’s something else they’re trying desperately not to talk about. But my favourite is this: alternative therapists, the media, and the drug industry all conspire to sell us reductionist, bio-medical explanations for problems that might more sensibly and constructively be thought of as social, political, or personal. And this medicalisation of everyday life isn’t done to us; in fact, we eat it up. Read the rest of this entry »

Dore – the media’s miracle cure for dyslexia

May 24th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, bbc, dore, ITV, miracles | 37 Comments »

How do you judge if an intervention is effective when you hear about it in the media? Perhaps you tot up the balance of opinions. Perhaps you do it unconsciously.

image You might have noticed the Dore “miracle cure” for dyslexia, invented by millionaire paint entrepreneur Wynford Dore. It’s hard to ignore. In fact just recently you may have seen “Strictly Come Dancing” star Kenny Logan – a rugby superhero, with 70 caps in 13 years – promoting the Dore Dyslexia Program with his own personal testimonials on the Jeremy Vine Show, Channel Five News, Radio Five Live, BBC London, ITV Central, ITV Yorkshire, in the Daily Mail, the Daily Record, Scotland on Sunday, and many, many more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pep, zing, oomph, ker-ching. CoQ10.

March 15th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, medicalisation, nutritionists, times | 35 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday March 15 2008

Doctors love pills: so do the public, and the media, and of course so do pill companies. When one pill dies, another must take its place. Are you feeling tired? Demotivated? I bet you are. But there is a solution – a pill – pushed by no less than Dr Thomas Stuttaford of the Times. Just two days ago in an article about “office tiredness” he cheerfully rehashed a press release on Boots’ exciting new pep pills. He opines at length on how tired we all feel in the office. So tired.

Why not try Coenzyme Q10, Read the rest of this entry »

Washing the numbers, selling the model

January 26th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, big pharma, medicalisation, neurostuff, regulating research | 57 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday January 26 2008

If there’s one thing I love, it’s academics who take on the work of investigative journalism, because they are dogged. This has been a bad week for the SSRI antidepressants. Read the rest of this entry »

Epistemological Indulgences

December 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, chocolate, nutritionists | 14 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 22 2007

Christmas is a time for harmless lies, the chocolatey indulgences of the thought world. We know when to stop, because if we all acted on our belief in Santa there would be no presents: and then Christmas would be meaningless.

My favourite Christmas traditions are the “red wine is good for you” and “chocolate is good for you” stories, which have Read the rest of this entry »

The fishy reckoning

September 22nd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, alternative medicine, bad science, cash-for-"stories", fish oil, mail, media, medicalisation, mirror, nutritionists | 29 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday September 22 2007

So you will remember the fish oil pill stories of last year. For the new kids: pill company Equazen and Durham Council said they were doing a trial on them with their GCSE year, but it wasn’t really a proper trial, for example there was no control group, and they had lots of similarly dodgy “trials” dotted about, which were being pimped successfully to the media as “positive”. When asked, Durham refused to release the detailed information you would expect from a proper piece of research. Even now, for all this pretending, there still has never been a single controlled trial, even a cheap one, of omega-3 fish oil supplements in normal children. Ridiculously.

Read the rest of this entry »