Blue Monday is churnalism. Again.

January 20th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in blue monday, cash-for-"stories" | 1 Comment »

I have two problems with Blue Monday. One is that there isn’t really any good evidence for seasonal variation in mood:

The other is that serious mental health charities have been getting involved in using it, when they should be holding a line, advocating for patients based on good scientific evidence. Read the rest of this entry »

Lloyds and Carbon Monoxide

March 17th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", churnalism, statistics | 29 Comments »

Just looked this up myself and saw that for some reason it never got posted on the blog, so here it is.

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday 10th October 2008

What I like about Bad Science is that it’s a game the whole family can play. This month “Lloydspharmacy”, as Lloyds Pharmacy insist on being called, is trying to flog carbon monoxide detectors (for only £12.99). It is a noble calling, so it decided to follow industry protocol for getting its product and brand into the media: it produced a misleading set of superficially plausible survey figures to massage our prejudices, which journalists obediently copied and pasted out of the Lloyds press release email and into their word processors, to make a “news” article. Read the rest of this entry »

“Blue Monday” is churnalism, beware any journalist who puffs it

January 24th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in blue monday, cash-for-"stories" | 77 Comments »

The Guardian,
Saturday January 24 2009
Ben Goldacre

Read the rest of this entry »

Transparent excuse for printing a nice pair of hooters

December 13th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", churnalism, pr guff | 23 Comments »

Just to be clear, nobody listens to a word I say. More important equation news from the Sun this week, with the exciting headline “How to tell if the boobline is too low… use this equation 0=NP(20C+B)/75”. Alongside a photograph of poor old Britney with her boobs falling out. Read the rest of this entry »


August 2nd, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", celebs | 15 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 2 2008

It must be August. The Daily Mail is hunting for the Yeti again (they sent their own expedition out in 1954) and mathematical formula season has begun in earnest. PR guru Mark Borkowski’s “fame formula” was gushingly reported in the Telegraph, the Express, the Star, OK, Channel 4, ITN, and more. The Guardian were lucky enough to obtain the rights to extract his book at length, focusing on the formula. I trust the deal permits me also to reproduce large tracts of it here.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is your brain. This is your brain on politics. Any questions?

November 17th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories", neurostuff | 18 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday November 17 2007

Obviously we’re all interested in who the next US president is going to be, since it affects our risk of being blown up on the bus to work. According to the New York Times – which has covered this story at least three times – a commercial company which specialises in giving brain images to advertisers has discovered which parts of a voter’s brain are most activated by different candidates, by taking pictures of their brains while they supposedly think about them. 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 »

Clarion Communications respond on the rigged Jessica Alba wiggle…

September 20th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in adverts, bad science, cash-for-"stories" | 18 Comments »

There’s nothing I like better than people engaging in a discussion about ideas – and indeed criticising mine – but if there are two messages I’d really like to get out there, for general use, it’s these:

  1. ad hominem attacks are a bit pathetic
  2. you cannot make me go away simply by telling people my story was rubbish.

Read the rest of this entry »

Anything to declare?

September 7th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, cash-for-"stories" | 22 Comments »

Once every few weeks I get to write something extremely serious in the BMJ.

BMJ 2007;335:480 (8 September), doi:10.1136/bmj.39328.450000.59
Observations – Media watch
Journalists: anything to declare?
Ben Goldacre, doctor and writer, London


“Drug companies wouldn’t pay for the media to attend their events if they didn’t think it would affect coverage, yet journalists’ competing interests usually remain undeclared.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Imaginary numbers

September 1st, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in cash-for-"stories", evolutionary psychology, statistics | 36 Comments »

[This piece got massively cut for space in the paper, fair enough but personally I can’t bear to look. Here’s the last version I saw, with added email action from Professor Weber at the bottom.]

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
September 1st, 2007

“Jessica Alba has the perfect wiggle, study says”. You have to respect a paper like the Telegraph, especially when they report an important piece of science news like this on their news pages, especially when it gets picked up by other people like Fox news, and especially when it’s accompanied by a photograph of some hot totty. “Jessica Alba, the film actress, has the ultimate sexy strut, according to a team of Cambridge mathematicians.” Read the rest of this entry »