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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bicycle Helmets and the law: a perfect teaching case for epidemiology.

December 13th, 2013 by Ben Goldacre in epidemiology, risk, statistics | 15 Comments »

Hi all, I haven’t posted much on badscience.net due to exciting home events, fun dayjob activity, a ton of behind-the-scenes work on trials transparency with alltrials.net, activity on policy RCTs, exciting websites, and a zillion talks.  I’m going to post this year’s backlog over the next week or two (and maybe rejig the site if I get a chance). So first up…

Here’s an editorial I wrote in the British Medical Journal with David Spiegelhalter, about the complex contradictory mess of evidence on the impact of bicycle helmets. Like most places where there’s controversy and disagreement, this is a great opportunity to walk through the benefits and shortcomings of different epidemiological techniques, from case control studies to modelling. Epidemiology is my dayjob; Bad Science and Bad Pharma are both, effectively, epidemiology textbooks with bad guys; and since the techniques of epidemiology are at the core of most media stories and squabbles on health, it’s very weird that you don’t hear the word more often. More on that in another journal article, which I’ll post later on! Read the rest of this entry »