I’d expect this from UKIP, or the Daily Mail. Not from a government leaflet.

April 16th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, politics | 37 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 15 April 2011

HM Government have issued a new leaflet to justify their NHS reforms: Working Together For A Stronger NHS. It was produced by Number 10, appears on the Department of Health website, and many of the figures it contains are misleading, out of date, or flatly incorrect.

It begins, like much pseudoscience, with uncontroversial truths: the number of people over 85 will double, and the cost of drugs is rising.

Then the trouble starts. In large letters, alone on one entire page, you see: “If the NHS was performing at truly world-class levels we would save an extra 5,000 lives from cancer every year.” The reference for this is a paper in the British Journal of Cancer called “What if cancer survival in Britain were the same as in Europe: how many deaths are avoidable?” Read the rest of this entry »

One of my t-shirts is in the… in the Daily Mail

July 29th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, onanism | 53 Comments »

Good Grief.



Sporting “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that” from the BadScience classic range (mm must make more t-shirts). I can also inform you, looking at our deservedly rubbish sales figures, that this well-dressed young lady is one of 10 people in the universe to own such a t-shirt. Buy one now, and you have a one in ten chance of appearing in the Daily Mail yourself: that’s science.



Haha w00t I am “Health Book Of The Week” in the Daily Mail

September 30th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, book, book reviews, mail, onanism | 26 Comments »


Read the rest of this entry »

Seriously. Is the Daily Mail any worse than your average academic journal?

September 20th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in regulating research | 32 Comments »

As someone who is nerdishly fascinated by the systematic analysis of health risk data – check me out, ladies – I sometimes look at the health pages and try to work out what they’re supposed to do, what kind of information they offer, and for who.

This week, for example, you’ll have found: “Teenager helps his twin brother by donating a piece of his back“; “In pain? Take one Botticelli three times a day“; “Taking antibiotics to prevent premature birth can ‘increase risk’ of cerebral palsy“; Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Telegraph misrepresent a scientist’s work, then refuse to correct it when he writes to them.

January 8th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in climate change, telegraph | 109 Comments »

People in the “public engagement” community often talk about how scientists should do more to communicate with the media. I take a different line: scientists have good grounds to be extremely nervous, and some entities and journalists could quite fairly be blacklisted.

Here’s just one more example. It doesn’t stand out, I get sent plenty every week, and when I get a moment I’ll find a way to archive the tips efficiently online: but I’m posting this one here because the Telegraph have misrepresented a scientists work, refused to correct it when he writes to them, and then refused even to let him post an online comment on the article which misrepresented his own work. This strikes me as harsh.

Read the rest of this entry »

I totally just touched my new book: Collected Journalism, out next week!

October 17th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in book, onanism | 1 Comment »

new coverExcitement.

My new book is out next week.

It’s a collection of journalism, essays, academic papers, government reports (woo!) and other stuff.

It’s called “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that”.

A copy just arrived and it is a beautiful, big, thing.

The content is all completely different to Bad Science and Bad Pharma, with much more focus on bad behaviour by politicians, journalists, and scientists themselves: some golden gassers from yesteryear, some recent stuff, the odd government report, Susan Greenfield, embarrassing juvenilia, that kind of thing. It’s a fun christmas compendium, an epidemiology and research methods toilet book, if you will. I’ll post the intro and other bits to the blog next week, setting out the shape.




Pre-orders links below:

……  Amazon  ………………….

………….  Waterstones  ……..

….. Kindle   ……………………..

……….   Local  ………………….

…….. Harper Collins  ………..


Longstanding readers might remember “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that” was a Bad Science t-shirt about 800 million years ago. I’ve just had a look, and these are somehow still available, through an endearing Web 1.0 interface. Their true power is unleashed when you sidle over and stand next to other people wearing slogan t-shirts, for covert photos. “Drop beats not bombs”. “I need a hug”. That kind of thing. This joke took time to grow old. Your mileage may vary.

Here is a picture of someone wearing one on the pages of the Daily Mail, in an article about the evils of Atheist Summer Camp. This is almost as good as when the “MMR is safe, tell your friends” baby bib went on display in the Science Museum.




Is this the worst government statistic ever created?

April 23rd, 2012 by Ben Goldacre in economics, evidence based policy, government reports, politics, pr guff, statistics | 24 Comments »

I forgot to post this column up last year. It’s a fun one: the Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a truly farcical piece of evidence, and promoted it very hard, claiming it as good stats. I noticed the column was missing today, because Private Eye have published on the same report in their current issue, finding emails that have gone missing through FOI applications, and other nonsense. That part is all neatly summarised online in the Local Government Chronicle here.

Is this the worst government statistic ever created?

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, 24 June 2011.

Every now and then, the government will push a report that’s so assinine, and so thin, you have to check it’s not a spoof. The Daily Mail was clear in its coverage: “Council incompetence ‘costs every household £452 a year’“; “Up to £10bn a year is wasted by clueless councils.” And the Express agreed. Where will this money come from? “Up to £10bn a year could be saved … if councils better analysed spending from their £50bn procurement budgets.” Read the rest of this entry »

Cherry picking is bad. At least warn us when you do it.

September 29th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in academic pr, academic publishing, aric sigman, schools, systematic reviews | 9 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 24 September 2011

Last week the Daily Mail and the Today programme took some bait from Aric Sigman, an author of popular sciencey books about the merits of traditional values. “Sending babies and toddlers to daycare could do untold damage to the development of their brains and their future health,” explained the Mail.

These news stories were based on a scientific paper by Sigman in The Biologist. It misrepresents individual studies, as Professor Dorothy Bishop demonstrated almost immediately, and it cherry-picks the scientific literature, selectively referencing only the studies that support Sigman’s view. Normally this charge of cherry-picking would take a column of effort to prove, but this time Sigman himself admits it, frankly, in a PDF posted on his own website. Read the rest of this entry »

When journalists do primary research

April 9th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 18 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 9 April 2011

This week some journalists found a pattern in some data, and ascribed a cause to it. “Recession linked to huge rise in antidepressants” said the Telegraph. “Economic woes fuel dramatic rise in use of antidepressants” said the Daily Mail. “Record numbers of people are being handed antidepressants” said The Express. Even the Guardian joined in, and it seems to have come from a BBC report. Read the rest of this entry »

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources?

March 19th, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 66 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 19 March 2011

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources? Whether it’s a press release, an academic journal article, a formal report, or perhaps (if everyone’s feeling brave) the full transcript of an interview, the primary source contains more information for interested readers, it shows your working, and it allows people to check whether what you wrote was true. Perhaps linking to primary sources would just be too embarrassing. Here are three short stories. Read the rest of this entry »