Illusions of control

December 3rd, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, irrationality research, psychology of woo | 29 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 4 December 2010

Why do clever people believe stupid things? It’s difficult to make sense of the world from the small atoms of experience that we each gather as we wander around it, and a new paper in the British Journal of Psychology this month shows how we can create illusions of causality, much like visual illusions, if we manipulate the cues and clues we present. Read the rest of this entry »

The plausibility effect

July 12th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity, Lucy Johnston, Lucy Johnston Express, psychology of woo, roger coghill, secret data | 31 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday July 12, 2008

You will remember, two weeks ago now, we saw the Sunday Express claiming on its front page that an impressive government adviser called Dr Roger Coghill had performed a research study demonstrating that the Bridgend suicide cases all lived closer to a mobile phone mast than average. When I contacted Coghill it turned out he wasn’t really a government adviser, he had previously claimed that Aids was caused by power cables, he said the Express had made a mistake in calling him a doctor, he had lost the data, and he couldn’t even explain what he meant by “average”.

You will be very pleased to hear that Dr Coghill has now found the data. Read the rest of this entry »