The noble and ancient tradition of moron-baiting

May 28th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, heroes of bad science | 23 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 29 May 2010

This week a man called Martin Gardner died, aged 95. His popular maths column in Scientific American (and 50 books on the subject) spanned the decades, but in 1952 he published a book about pseudoscience, quacks, and credulous journalists. How much do you think has changed over 60 years?

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Righteous mischief from Archie Cochrane

April 14th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, heroes of bad science, statistics, uncertainty | 10 Comments »

imageWorking on an editorial about the importance of evidence based social policy, I re-discovered this moment of genius from Archie Cochrane which I thought I’d share. It’s 1971, he’s part way through a randomised trial comparing Coronary Care Units against home care, and the time has come to share some results with the cardiologists.

I am not asking you to appreciate the results: this was a long time ago, and the findings will not be generalisable to modern CCU’s.

I am inviting you to appreciate the mischief.

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Today’s bible reading

December 25th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, heroes of bad science, religion | 26 Comments »

On the birthday of Jesus Christ – who was clearly a very nice guy, giant sky wizard issues aside – I can think of no better bible reading than this, Daniel 1:8, a description of the first ever clinical trial.

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A new all-time low

January 20th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in africa, bad science, dangers, heroes, matthias rath, nutritionists | 55 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday January 20, 2007
The Guardian

If you think the nutritionists and vitamin peddlers in the UK are weird, you really want to go to South Africa, where President Thabo Mbeki has a long history of siding with the HIV denialists, who believe that HIV does not cause Aids (but that treatments for it do), and where his health minister talks up fruit and vegetables as a treatment, as we have previously covered here.

In this world, Zackie Achmat is a hero: Read the rest of this entry »

Free Bad Science Book Give Away

August 21st, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, statistics | 40 Comments »

Okay not mine, because I’ve got a bit over-ambitious with the content, but this is a bit of a find: free books by one of the early pioneers of popularising critical appraisal, epidemiologist Petr Skrabanek. Few today will remember his fantastic “Follies and Fallacies in Medicine” (co-authored with GP James McCormick) in which they take on everything from the bad maths of breast cancer screening, through the validity of psychiatric diagnoses, and on to homeopathy and “electroquackupuncture devices”. Their “Fistful of Fallacies” is particularly good.

At the time, this was regarded as a visionary classic, a book that changed the Read the rest of this entry »

Archie Cochrane: “Fascist”

August 19th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, heroes, postmodernist bollocks | 83 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday August 19, 2006
The Guardian

“Deconstructing the evidence-based discourse in health sciences: truth, power and fascism.” Even from looking at the title, you just know this academic paper, from the September edition of the International Journal of Evidence-based Healthcare, is going to be a corker. And it uses the word “fascist” (or elaborate derivatives) 28 times in 6 pages, which even Rik Mayall in the Young Ones might regard as over-egged.

I say!

Now obviously post modernist intellectuals are about a thousand times more intelligent than me – because I only know about science and computers – but I found this paper so confusing I thought it might be a spoof. After all, who could forget the great Sokal hoax, where Read the rest of this entry »