Article Archive for March 2008

Poppy Shakespeare
By pj
Posted in , syndicated on 31 March 2008
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WTF? Adapted from the novel (which I haven’t read) which received nothing but plaudits, and it looks like the film will be treated the same, but it seemed to me like the sort of work I’d expect from a middle class re-imagining of ‘One Flew Over the Cuc…

BBC put Holford’s science to the test. It fails.
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 31 March 2008
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The second part of the BBC Radio 4 show The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists (listen again here, later tonight) starts by noting that “Everybody wants to be healthy, but how do you know who to trust?” Ben Goldacre then spends a considerable amount of time speaking to a number of eminent professors, [...]

Now with audio - The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists Part II - BBC Radio 4
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in , syndicated on 31 March 2008
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Busy bee today, sorry for the late link, the second part of the BBC Radio 4 two-part series “The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists” is going out at 8pm this evening, presented by yours truly (part one here) and produced by the excellently sharp Rami Tzabar from the BBC Radio Science Unit. I think [...]

Homeopaths capitulate [by guest blogger Olaf Priol]
By Paul Wilson
Posted in syndicated on 31 March 2008
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The Rise & Fall of Lifestyle Nutritionists
By Dr* T
Posted in syndicated on 31 March 2008
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Miscellanea: The Trouble with Tech Support
By Grey
Posted in syndicated on 31 March 2008
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Holford tries to respond to questions raised by BBC documentary. He fails.
By jonhw
Posted in , syndicated on 31 March 2008
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Having just posted about Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University’s curious relationship with the mainstream media, we were fascinated to see Patrick Holford responding to the Radio 4 programme: The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists. From what he writes, it sounds like he does feature in Part 2 of the series. I haven’t [...]

Whale Disposal Gone Wrong (video)
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 31 March 2008
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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time - one dead whale needing disposal, several kilos of high explosive gathering dust in a sheriff’s office somewhere… And everyone knows, blowing something up - even a large whale - results in its instant vaporisation, right? Wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtVSzU20ZGk

Professor Patrick Holford and the Mainstream Media: A Love Story?
By dvnutrix
Posted in syndicated on 30 March 2008
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Holford Myths has asked an interesting question: Why Do Mainstream Media Promote Patrick Holford? We, too, are stumped by this. Of course, many journalists who have profiled Professor Holford of Teesside University have all but stated that he has fragrance, charm and charisma. They wax lyrical about the healthy breakfasts he prepares for them, the [...]

Creationist tours in natural history museum
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 30 March 2008
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ABC show Nightline does a good job covering the story of Biblically Correct Tours, a organisation of Young Earth Creationists that takes children on tours of natural history museums, distorting the science on display and deploying a dazzling array of straw man arguments, circular logic, and outright lies.  The museum tolerates the tours in the [...]

The Age of Quackery
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 30 March 2008
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In my last post I discussed how Hopi Ear Candles has nothing to do with the American Hopi tribe and was a technique that had only been scalding ear drums since the Eighties. Quackery likes to sell itself on its ancient roots and traditional heritage. But, by the looks of it, most quackery techniques have much more modern roots. Someone emailed me to ask if I could expand on this, so here goes:

Tasty Cultural Treats
By Frank the SciencePunk
Posted in syndicated on 30 March 2008
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Before you start drooling too much over this tasty-looking dessert, you should know that this is actually a mixture of bacterial cultures! Creator Mark Rehorst explains:
I’ve had a few microbiology classes and cultured many different types of bacteria on different media, so I thought it would be fun to make dessert that [...]

Kirsch et al update
By pj
Posted in syndicated on 30 March 2008
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Following on from the reply by Johnson et al, my re-analyses and Robert Waldmann’s work of the last few weeks there’s been a nice discussion of the paper by Nick Barrowman on Log base 2 which refers to both my, and Robert’s reservations.Robert has subm…

The perfect murder
By mugsandmoney
Posted in syndicated on 29 March 2008
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This post is dedicated to the memory of Ling ‘Carrie’ Wang

Unfortunately, details of her death are had to come by. The coroner recorded a verdict of misadventure, and there’s more about her death in this article in the Daily Mail, and this article in the Newcastle Chronicle.
Here’s what we know, and what’s missing:

the newspapers don’t [...]

The fish oil zombie swims again in Durham: the fabulous mutating press release
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 29 March 2008
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In a fine example of convergent evolution, some information posted on HolfordWatch, the digging by Letting off Steam and Ben Goldacre’s tenacity have a welcome airing as the Durham fish oil zombie once again swims through the nutrient-rich waters of the Bad Science blog. This week, Ben Goldacre returns again to the Durham fish [...]

The trial that never was.
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in , syndicated on 29 March 2008
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Ben Goldacre
The Guardian,
Saturday March 29 2008
And so an epic saga comes to a close. You will remember the Durham Fish Oil tale - don’t switch off now, the punchline’s funny. The county council said it was doing a “trial” of fish oil pills in children, but the trial was designed so that it couldn’t possibly [...]

Vaccine Science - Propaganda (part two)
By jdc325
Posted in , syndicated on 28 March 2008
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OK, just a little bit more on Inside Vaccines. Here is a post that is based on an editorial in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
The first thing I would like to point out to the good people at Inside Vaccines is that the editorial is broadly pro-vaccine. The authors argue that the Indian Government “must resuscitate [...]

Holford, Nutritionism and the Mainstream Media
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 28 March 2008
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We’ve seen a couple of interesting posts this week about Holford, nutritionism and the mainstream media. HolfordMyths argue that in the mainstream medi
Professor Patrick Holford is a popular media pundit who is celebrated for his scientific approach to nutrition. Pundit brand equity may partially explain why the mainstream media do not seem to care [...]

Why Do Mainstream Media Promote Patrick Holford?
By menefreghismo
Posted in syndicated on 28 March 2008
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Professor Patrick Holford is a popular media pundit who is celebrated for his scientific approach to nutrition. The mainstream media do not seem to care that his work is riddled with errors that substantially undercut some of the scientific claims that he makes: that is irritating but understandable, given the economics of advertising. Mainstream media may also find it difficult to admit that they were duped or indifferent to the accuracy of what they were offering.

However, it does not explain why the University of Teesside persists in lending him academic credibility or why reputable scientists continue to be associated with him. Ironically, perhaps these people who should know better would only be prompted into appropriate action if the mainstream media were to cover his errors. Maybe Ben Goldacre will mention something in the next instalment of The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists.

Serotonin Pills in the Media
By jdc325
Posted in , , syndicated on 27 March 2008
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Introduction: The way different sectors are reported in the media is interesting. Take serotonin pills as an example. There are several pills that can affect levels of serotonin and examples include: illegal recreational drugs such as Ecstasy tablets (methylene deoxy-methamphetamine); pharmaceutical products including SSRIs (such as fluoxetine and citalopram hydrobromide); and dietary supplements like 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan). [...]

Hopi Ear Candling - Removing the Grey Goo Between Your Ears
By Le Canard Noir
Posted in syndicated on 27 March 2008
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Quacks like to tell us that their healing arts are thousands of years old and based on ancient principles that have withstood the test of time. Like most things in their advertising spiel, it is a canard and does not bear any resemblance to the truth. Reiki, Reflexology, Osteopathy and Chiropractic are around a hundred years old. Homeopathy is about 200 years old and even acupuncture as we know

Integrative medicine - cat herding for the uninitiated
By majikthyse
Posted in , syndicated on 26 March 2008
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I confess to having quite a bit of fun by writing letters to medical and scientific journals. The web of course has opened up huge opportunities for this - indeed it was originally designed for scientists to exchange information. One online journal I rather like is MedScape, edited by George Lundberg who previously edited the [...]

Holford, autism, Wakefield and a manufactured disease
By jonhw
Posted in syndicated on 26 March 2008
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In a 17/3/08 e-mail to his mailing list, Prof Patrick Holford of Teesside University discusses Wakefield’s work and the possible role of the gut in autism.
Wakefield’s hypothesis can be summarised as follows:
[A] subset of children…develop[e] a particular form of developmental regression following previously normal development, in combination with a novel form of inflammatory bowel disease…Exposure [...]

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine - dangerous
By jdc325
Posted in , syndicated on 26 March 2008
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There has been a reported case of poisoning by herbal remedy. This has been discussed on the Bad Science forum and was also reported in an online news article that featured on Ben Goldacre’s Miniblog. I can’t see a report of this case on the herbal remedies page at whats the harm yet, but hopefully it will soon be up [...]

BBC sees the light: removes Alternative Medicine Pages
By David Colquhoun
Posted in , , syndicated on 26 March 2008
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In a wonderful demonstration of common sense, the BBC has removed all the alternative medicine pages from BBC Health web site. I expect that it was helped in making that decision by the many complaints it had received about statements on these pages that were simply not true, The existence of these pages [...]

The new gimmick: How famous people are related to each other.
By Lave
Posted in syndicated on 26 March 2008
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I can’t be the only one who finds this annoyingm can I? Or am I just being more surly than normal? A new trend seems to be that people like the New England Historic Genealogical Society are making a big fuss about how if you go back in time long enoug…

Bluffer’s Guide to Consumer-related Science Papers - Part 2
By Dr* T
Posted in syndicated on 25 March 2008
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In Part 1, we looked at a few basic questions to ask when looking at a scientific paper to establish whether the research is much cop.The questions were as follows:1. What Journal is the paper published in and is it any good?2. How many people were in …

Radio 4 The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists
By Ben Goldacre
Posted in , syndicated on 25 March 2008
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Well, very excitingly - to me - the first half of my two-parter on Radio 4 went out over the airwaves last night. You can listen to it here:

Part 2 is here.
It’s Radio 4’s “Choice of the Day” for Monday

The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists: “food has become a modern obsession”
By jonhw
Posted in , syndicated on 24 March 2008
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In the first part of this two-parter, Ben Goldacre does an excellent job of reminding us that of how “food has become a modern obsession”. We’re taken through the colourful history of nutritionism in the US - and, in a sense, this is a rather sad story. If you missed it the first time [...]

Not Snowed Under…
By Dr* T
Posted in syndicated on 24 March 2008
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Just spent the main part of the weekend traipsing the first 30 miles of the South West Coast Path (in glorious sunshine, and not snow like apparently everywhere else) and got back wanting to blog the sinister PR emanating from the Catholic Church this …