I love research about research

July 24th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, big pharma, regulating research, spin, subgroup analysis, trial registers | 32 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 24 July 2010

There is a pleasing symmetry in the ropey science you get from different players. When GlaxoSmithKline are confronted with an unflattering meta-analysis summarising the results of all 56 trials on one of their treatments, as we saw last week, their defense is to point at 7 positive trials, exactly as a homeopath would do. Politicians will often find a ray of positive sunshine in a failed policy’s appraisal, and promote that to the sky. Newspapers, similarly, will spin science to fit their political agenda, with surreal consequences (the Telegraph have claimed recently that shopping causes infertility in men, and the Daily Mail reckon housework prevents breast cancer in women).

But does the same thing happen in formal academic research?

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If you want to be trusted more: claim less

January 9th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, politics, spin, statistics | 55 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 8 January 2009

“Public sector pay races ahead in a recession” shouted the front page of this week’s Sunday Times. “Public sector workers earn 7% more on average than their peers in the private sector — a pay gulf that has more than doubled since the recession began.” The Telegraph followed up with a copycat story a few hours later.

In reality, this is one of those interesting areas where anybody who makes a firm statement is wrong, because there is not sufficient evidence to make a confident assertion in either direction.

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