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 »

Jeremy Laurance gets angry about scrutiny for journalists’ claims

June 8th, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, hate mail, independent | 62 Comments »

You might be amused by this piece from the Independent’s health reporter Jeremy Laurance today. It’s about what a bad man I am for pointing out when science and health journalists get things wrong. Alongside the lengthy ad hominem – a matter of taste for you – there are a number of mistakes and, more than that, a worrying resistance to the idea that anyone should dare to engage in legitimate criticism. He also explains that health journalists simply can’t be expected to check facts. This worries me. Read the rest of this entry »

World Conference of Science Journalists – Troublemakers Fringe, Penderel’s Oak Pub, Holborn, 1st July 8pm – Midnight

June 24th, 2009 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, science comms | 16 Comments »

Come and see me, Vaughan from Mindhacks.com and Petra from drpetra.co.uk talk in a pub on Wednesday.

Next week the World Conference of Science Journalists will be coming to London. A few of us felt they were might not adequately address some of the key problems in their profession, which has deteriorated to the point where they present a serious danger to public health, fail to keep geeks well nourished, and actively undermine the publics’ understanding of what it means for there to be evidence for a claim.

More importantly we fancied some troublemaking and a night in the pub.

As a result, you have the opportunity to come and see three angry nerds explain how and why mainstream media’s science coverage is broken, misleading, dangerous, lazy, venal, and silly. Join our angry rabble, and Read the rest of this entry »

Chapter 1024, in which my prejudices about journalists are rendered in quantitative form.

June 21st, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, media, media research | 19 Comments »

Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday June 21, 2008

The best thing about this job is you have an excuse to read the Daily Mail every day: but sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I worry that it might infect me. We are all biased by the information we expose ourselves to, through our friends, our reading, and our choices in life. I think science coverage is pretty poor, and a lot of it is plainly wrong. Am I biased by my work? Do I see only the bad, in a very literal sense? Like many before it, this is a problem which can only be cracked with an ingenious idea from 20,000BC called “counting” (quibblers are welcome, my date is from the notched “Ishango bone“).
Read the rest of this entry »

BMJ Column – Why don’t journalists mention the data?

June 15th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity | 28 Comments »

BMJ 2007;334:1249 (16 June)
doi:10.1136/bmj.39245.510718.59
Observations
Media watch
Why don’t journalists mention the data?

Have stories about “electrosensitivity” simply been lifted from those promoting this new diagnosis?

Sometimes, as a doctor who also writes in the newspapers, a dark thought comes across me: wouldn’t it be so refreshing -secretly, wouldn’t it feel so free – to leave the medical thing behind, and just make stuff up, say what I want, spin any story that pleases me, or any story that sells, and gaily ignore the evidence?

Read the rest of this entry »

How To Read A Paper – For Journalists

October 5th, 2006 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 52 Comments »

I know a fair few of you are journalists, and I thought I would mention something that I’m in the process of planning to see if you had any thoughts.

Along with a couple of friends I am setting up a short course for journalists on how to interpret scienific research data, especially health data, focusing on clinical trials, claims for efficacy, and claims of harm. This will open covering simple issues like “what is a trial”, “what is a placebo”, “what does statistical significance mean”, and so on, but it will go on to cover much more interesting and important areas, like how to spot the classic flaws in research data, the different ways of expressing Read the rest of this entry »

My BMJ editorial: how can we stop academic press releases misleading the public?

December 10th, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in bad science | 9 Comments »

Screenshot 2014-12-10 14.47.53There is an excellent research paper published today in the BMJ, showing that academic press releases routinely exaggerate scientific findings and mislead the public.

This is something I’ve often covered. In this story, for example, the BMJ’s own press release about their own paper was hopelessly and entirely misleading. And after this story, featuring a misleading press release from Great Ormond Street Hospital, the head of that institution wrote a paranoid and misguided defense (which I have proudly reprinted, in my new book, in full). Read the rest of this entry »

My new book is out today. Here is the introduction. Hooray!

October 23rd, 2014 by Ben Goldacre in book, ITYFIABMCTT, onanism | 14 Comments »

whooo wil buuuuy my loverly neeeew boooook whooo wil buuuuy my loverly boooook My new book is out today: a collection of columns, journalism and essays, but also some of my more colourful government reports, academic papers, and more.

It looks lovely.

Here is the introduction.

Hooray!

……  Amazon …………………..

…………………. Audible ………

……….  Waterstones  ……….

….. Kindle   ……………………..

……….   Local  ………………….

…….. Harper Collins  ………..

Introduction

This is a collection of my most fun fights: but the fighting is just an excuse. There’s nothing complicated about science, and people can understand anything, if they’re sufficiently motivated. Coincidentally, people like fights. That’s why I’ve spent the last ten years lashing science to mockery: it’s the cleanest way I know to help people see the joy of statistics, and the fascinating ways that evidence 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.

For now: I AM EXCITED TO TOUCH MY BOOK.

gif_gifsicle_140_gif_480x640_2b3349

 

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.

Screenshot-2