Article Archive for August 2007

Imaginary numbers
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 31 August 2007
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[This piece got massively cut for space in the paper, fair enough but personally I can’t bear to look. Here’s the last version I saw, with added email action from Professor Weber at the bottom.]
Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
September 1st, 2007
“Jessica Alba has the perfect wiggle, study says”. You have to respect a paper like the Telegraph, [...]

The Future of Homeopathy in the UK
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 31 August 2007
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After several decades of increasing popularity, the homeopathic community is finding itself under growing pressure. There is an increasing level of criticism of the practice coming from many quarters, including Richard Dawkins recent Channel 4 programme, lots of bloggers and academics too.

Importantly, homeopathy is not being seen as as benign as its adherents’ propaganda suggests and that there

New community to look at.
By The Broken Hut
Posted in on 31 August 2007
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Calling all lolcat fans, go check out [info]lolscience - it’s the biz.

Stolen sniffer dog.
By The Broken Hut
Posted in on 31 August 2007
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Thieves Steal Drug-Sniffing Dog:

Rex IV, a highly trained Belgian Malinois sheepdog with a string of drug hauls behind him, was checked on to a flight from Mexico City this week with seven other police dogs bound for an operation in the northern state of Sinaloa.

But when the dogs arrived at Mazatlan airport, Sinaloa, their police handlers discovered a small black mongrel puppy inside Rex IV’s cage, with the sniffer dog nowhere to be seen.

There are various suggestions given in the comments for why they stole the dog and then later abandoned. But no-one seems to have hit on my first inclination:

The thieves were stoned out of their minds and had no idea where they hid the rest of their stash in their messy apartment. In their addled state, the immediately sensible strategy was to ‘borrow’ a sniffer dog to find their drugs…

Alternatives?

Ten pieces of advice for old media
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 30 August 2007
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I have to read a lot of newspapers, and I enjoy doing it. Recently I found myself in a gentlemens’ club, chatting, in passing, with a couple of fairly senior chaps from the better known ones. This is the kind of situation I would generally avoid, but emboldened by the Diet Pepsi I began to [...]

Scare-stories R Us
By teekblog
Posted in syndicated on 30 August 2007
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Replacing animal experiments
By pj
Posted in on 30 August 2007
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Nick Anthis at the Scientific Activist finds another article about the evils of animal research published in Bioessays. Gill Langley from the “Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research” gets some real scientists in on the act: “Universities are failing to ta…

More on Rao et al. homeopathy tomfoolery
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 30 August 2007
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If anyone out there has read the stuff on this blog (here and here) about the recent special issue of the pseudojournal Homeopathy dealing with the memory of water, and the Rao et al. paper in it, they’ll know there are some serious problems with the p…

Invitation to a debagging
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 30 August 2007
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I’ve been having a good laugh at the recent rash of media stories referring to Manchester’s murder triangle (e.g. this one in the Grauniad). If you look at a map of said triangle, we live pretty much on the southern edge of it. There are bad areas arou…

politics and science, or not…
By teekblog
Posted in syndicated on 29 August 2007
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Blog Rolling
By coracle
Posted in on 29 August 2007
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Quite a few of the regulars over at the BadScience forums now have blogs, so I thought it would be worth doing a round up. I’ll be adding these blogs to the side bar on the right. Teek has his blog consider, evaluate, act, “Quite simply, the thoughts of a regular punter as I consider the world as we see it, evaluate how things could get better, and try to act to make it so…” Here’s hoping it

tale of two ecomonies
By teekblog
Posted in syndicated on 29 August 2007
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Solving The Wrong Problem (From Section B)
By andrew
Posted in on 29 August 2007
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According to the BBC, via the Times, “exam boards in England are planning to put more simple questions in science papers”. This is in response to lowering science grades and corresponding drops in science A-level and university course uptake.
Okay. But might it also be an idea to put more science questions in there? Science is [...]

On-hold at Telewest.
By The Broken Hut
Posted in on 29 August 2007
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We are still without internet access in our new flat. Last night the two of us played the “please hold, your call is important to us” relay game for an hour with Telewest, passing the phone between each other at the point that we each got bored and wanted a toilet break. And their call-waiting tune is boring too.

Patrick Holford’s CV: the strange case of Dr Marks
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 28 August 2007
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Patrick Holford cites glowing endorsements from Dr John Marks (Dr John Marks, Life Fellow and former Director of Medical Studies, Cambridge University) in four places on his website, and also in the CV submitted to the University of Teesside in support of his visiting professorship. But enquiries show that Dr Marks, now 83, had written to Holford some time ago to say that I was not prepared any longer to support his work or views in any way and to please stop using my name as a supporter of his work,

As Clear As Glass
By andrew
Posted in on 27 August 2007
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This is another sciencey post. If you want something more trivial, read Channel Flip, although lately I have been mostly discussing science there as well. I’ll try to blog about something trivial later on. If not, then hey, it’ll be September soon and I’ll need a new Religious Crackpot…
In the meantime, here’s a Clever Analogy. There are people, or [...]

Geek merchandise
By coracle
Posted in on 27 August 2007
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Via naturenetwork member (and current opinion in chemical biology editor) Matt Brown, comes this little article about cell biology top trump cards. These are probably about as cool as it is possible to be. They come from a new visitor centre in London called the Centre of the Cell. I will absolutely go when it opens in Spring, 2008. Technorati tags: cell biology

Miscellanea: Wellington Grey Gets Married
By Grey
Posted in on 27 August 2007
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As some of you have noticed, I took a break from Miscellanea this month. Well, the reason is I got married to a beautiful girl. This week’s comic is a bit different from the others, normal service to start shortly.

Enjoy Miscellanea: Wellington Grey…

Charles Darwin and Homeopathy
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 26 August 2007
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The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows you check stuff, like the claims of quacks, in a way that was not possible just a few years ago. This blog entry would have taken many months of library work and correspondence without the web and some of its amazing content, and now I can do it between mowing the lawn and popping down the pub for a pint.

Dana Ullman (8 Canards), an American

Malaria “cures” scam: the follow up
By DC's IMPROBABLE SCIENCE
Posted in on 26 August 2007
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The curious world of homeopathy is in turmoil over the question of malaria “cures”. They are roundly condemned by the Faculty of Homeopaths, but the Society of Homeopaths (both UK and US) simply refuses to make any statement, despite the fact that claims to cure malaria clearly breach their own code of conduct. Chaos.

A Bloody Good Job
By andrew
Posted in on 25 August 2007
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Last night when I was trying to get to sleep, the only book within reach was The Student Bible. So I randomly opened it and started reading. I figured if the book of Numbers was anything to go by then I ought to drop off to sleep nice and fast. Unfortunately, I opened it to [...]

The effect of shifting socioeconomic stucture on GCSE results
By pj
Posted in on 25 August 2007
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There’s some discussion on badscience about GCSE grade inflation. I was wondering whether shifts in the socioeconomic stucture of the UK could be driving some of the increase in GCSE results, and I was just about to get into some serious analysis of da…

State Sponsored Quackery
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in on 25 August 2007
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Homeopathy is under threat within the NHS. A good thing too. But homeopaths are mounting a campaign to help ensure our health service spends its money on voodoo. Some MPs are calling for a debate in parliament in support of homeopathy. You can find out if your MP is on the ‘deluded list’ here.

The Early Day Motion being signed by MPs says the following,

That this House welcomes the positive

Pink, pink, pink, pink. Pink moan.
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 24 August 2007
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Ben Goldacre
The Guardian
Saturday August 25 2007
I want you to know that I love evolutionary psychologists, because the ideas, like “girls prefer pink because they need to be better at hunting berries” are so much fun. Sure there are problems, like, we don’t know a lot about life in the pleistocene period through which humans evolved; [...]

Yet More Proof MPs Are Idiots
By andrew
Posted in on 24 August 2007
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A thread on the Bad Science forums has just directed me to this page, a parliamentary early day motion in favour of homeopathic hospitals, along with a list of the MPs who are stupid and/or ignorant enough to have signed it. Here’s the text of the motion:
That this House welcomes the positive contribution made to [...]

Better than beating the bloat - 2
By coracle
Posted in on 23 August 2007
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This is interesting, having mentioned the benefits for probiotics for preventing diarrhoea (mentioned previously here), there is a new study in the current issue of the BMJ: Probiotics for treatment of acute diarrhoea in children: randomised clinical trial of five different preparations. The results are rather interesting, as well as adding weight to the argument that probiotics may be beneficial

Calling all science teachers
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 23 August 2007
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Send me your old O level, CSE, GCSE and A level science and maths papers, any format, any condition, email ben@badscience.net, fax 020 7117 3593, snailmail 119 Farringdon Rd EC1R 3ER. Anything more than ten years old gratefully received. Ideally I’d like the accompanying marking schemes, where possible, but I’ll take anything you’ve got! [...]

Blue vs. pink
By Paul Wilson
Posted in on 23 August 2007
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There’s a study by Anya Hurlbert and Yazhu Ling in the latest issue of Current Biology (volume 17, No. 16, p. R623) that purports to show that women prefer the colour pink compared to men. The authors explained this as a result of hunter/gatherer era d…

RIP Joe Engressia, the original Phone Phreak
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in on 22 August 2007
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The deepest and most universal geek impulse is to screw the back off a piece of equipment and poke about, to understand how it works, and to work out how it can work better for you. It’s an impulse celebrated in the work at places like Make, but also more than that, in every good [...]

My First Post
By teekblog
Posted in syndicated on 22 August 2007
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