A rather long build up to one punchline

December 8th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, mail, scare stories | 39 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday December 8 2007

The Daily Mail, as you know, is engaged in a philosophical project of mythic proportions: for many years now it has diligently been sifting through all the inanimate objects in the world, soberly dividing them into the ones which either cause – or cure – cancer. The only tragedy is that one day, amongst the noise, they might genuinely be on to something, and we would simply laugh.
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The Decision Hedgehog

December 4th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, badscience | 114 Comments »

I’m honestly not wanting to be mean here. Seriously, I’m sure there’s value in this paper:

“The Decision Hedgehog – Enhancing Contextual Knowledge For Group Decision Authoring And Communication Support”

But I just can’t help daydreaming about the bit in the seminar where the audience start thinking, you know, I could see where you were going with this initially, but I’m just not sure if the hedgehog thing is going to carry the whole thesis…

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Meaningful debates need clear information

October 27th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, references, religion, statistics | 42 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 27 2007

Where do all those numbers in the newspapers come from? Here’s a funny thing. The Commons committee on science and technology is taking evidence on “scientific developments relating to the Abortion Act 1967”.

Scientific and medical expert bodies giving evidence say that survival in births below 24 weeks has not significantly improved since the 1990s, when it was only 10-20%. But one expert, a professor of neonatal medicine, says survival at 22 and 23 weeks has improved. In fact, he says survival rates in this group can be phenomenally high: 42% of children born at 23 weeks at some top specialist centres. He is quoted widely: the Independent, Telegraph, Channel 4, on Newsnight, by Tory MPs, and so on. The figure has a life of its own. Read the rest of this entry »

After Madeleine, why not Bin Laden?

October 13th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in badscience, dna | 40 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday October 13 2007

Danie Krugel is an ex-policeman in South Africa who believes he can pinpoint the location of missing people anywhere on the map. He does this by using his special magic box, which works through something to do with “quantum physics”, but you aren’t allowed to know any more than that: these are “complex and secret science techniques”, driven by a “secret energy source” driving a “matter orientation system machine“. By simply popping a strand of the missing person’s hair – or some other source of DNA – into his box of tricks, Krugel can pinpoint that person’s location, anywhere.

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