More free energy now.

November 10th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bbc, mail, perpetual motion | 74 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday November 10 2007

When it comes to creating energy you can’t make something out of nothing, says the BBC newsreader, from behind the very important desk… “Until now. Because British scientists seem to have turned this fundamental law of physics upside down.” The Mail on Sunday loved it even more. “Amazing British invention creates MORE energy than you put into it – and could soon be warming your home,” it said. Taste the excitement. “It violates almost every known law of physics.” That’ll teach those so-called scientists a lesson.

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And science said atom bombs were safe too…

June 7th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, electrosensitivity, independent, powerwatch - alasdair philips | 51 Comments »

I’m in a dash, but I thought you deserved these two brave rebuttals of the peripheral criticisms that the ubiquitous electromagnetic radiation scaremongers have received. Read the rest of this entry »

Wi-Fi Wants To Kill Your Children… But Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch sells the cure!

May 26th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, electrosensitivity, powerwatch - alasdair philips, scare stories, very basic science | 163 Comments »

Hello visitors from boingboing/slashdot. I’m a doctor and I write in the Guardian and the BMJ about quackery, health scares, and pseudoscience in the media.

Ben Goldacre
Saturday May 26, 2007
The Guardian

Won’t somebody, please, think of the children? Three weeks ago I received my favourite email of all time, from a science teacher. “I’ve just had to ask a BBC Panorama film crew not to film in my school or in my class because of the bad science they were trying to carry out,” it began, describing in perfect detail the Panorama which aired this week.

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Paul Kenyon from BBC Panorama Responds on Wi-Fi Scare

May 25th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, electrosensitivity, powerwatch - alasdair philips, scare stories | 31 Comments »

I’ve just been sent this by the BBC publicity office, it is a response from Paul Kenyon, the presenter of the show, and very nice chap too.

He is talking about the posts here and here. Read the rest of this entry »

Amusing Leaked Letter – BBC Panorama Wi-Fi – now updated with further response from BBC

May 23rd, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, electrosensitivity, powerwatch - alasdair philips | 44 Comments »

This has fallen into my hands. It is – I am informed – the letter that the BBC complaints people are planning to send to people if they complain about the ludicrous Panorama Wi-Fi show from Monday, featuring Alasdair Philips and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

I thought it might amuse you to know that it has apparently been written before you managed to write to them. Do please let us all know if you receive anything eerily similar yourself…

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You And Yours – An all time low in consumer reporting

May 4th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, cosmetics | 11 Comments »

You and Yours has just broadcast one of the weakest pieces of journalism I have heard in a very long time. The Boots No7 face cream has precipitated a mass stampede of wrinkly ladies since it was endorsed by BBC Horizon: it is, people say, the only “scientifically proven” cream.

The reaction of You and Yours to this?

A hysterical witch hunt about the fact that Boots paid for the research. Read the rest of this entry »

Maths Professor Divides By Zero, Says BBC

December 7th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, statistics, very basic science | 96 Comments »

As an infinite number of people have emailed in to tell me over the past 15 minutes, there’s a maths professor in Reading who reckons he’s been teaching schoolchildren to divide by zero. I’m not saying this is necessarily unbridled nonsense, but it’s interesting, for starters, that this spectacular breakthrough has only been picked up by a local TV newshound, and is being peer reviewed by schoolchildren.

It mainly seems to involve saying that the answer to a sum where you divide by zero is “not a number”, which is, as several people have pointed out, “not a breakthrough”. Computers can tell when they’re about to get a divide by zero error, and they are generally programmed to catch it. Even Excel has this feature. Planes do not drop out of the sky. Pacemakers do not stop firing. Anyway, not entirely my field but some entertaining commentary coming in. The BBC news story is archived below (they do have a tendency to change their stories after they appear on badscience…):

1200-year-old problem ‘easy’

Schoolchildren in Caversham have become the first in the country to learn about a new number – ‘nullity’ – which solves maths problems neither Newton nor Pythagoras could conquer.

Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading’s computer science department, says his new theorem solves an extremely important problem – the problem of nothing. Read the rest of this entry »

Tesco Value Science

November 18th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, cash-for-"stories", evening standard | 50 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday November 18, 2006
The Guardian

I am going into PR: it's just too easy. Let's say you're running the account for some Tesco "sports initiative". You're doing great work for the kids, but nobody cares, because it's just another corporate wheeze. You could always pay for adverts. Or you could just find an academic cheap enough to sell you their good name, and their university's name, concoct some stupid "equation" that means nothing, and get your corporate brand in the papers.

I give you Cary Cooper, professor of Read the rest of this entry »

BBC Judge John Deed, Anyone?

February 24th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, media, MMR, scare stories | 54 Comments »

Okay, here’s a problem. I got the email below from a reader last week, laying out his her concerns about irresponsible pseudoscience in Judge John Deed on BBC One. Apparently they do things like link phone masts to brain tumours and motor neurone disease, and promote some childish and destructive ideas about MMR. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mystery Of The Steaming Turd

January 20th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, bbc, ITV, media, postmodernist bollocks, references, roland kapferer, statistics, telegraph, times | 88 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
Saturday January 21, 2006
The Guardian

I seem to have opened up a whole new front of bad science by looking into the high end hi-fi industry: but that will have to wait for next week. “Scientists claimed yesterday that they have solved the mystery behind the success of Agatha Christie’s novels,” says the Telegraph. “Novelist Agatha Christie used words that invoked a chemical response in Read the rest of this entry »