What eight years of writing the Bad Science column have taught me
By BEN GOLDACRE - GUARIDAN.CO.UK
Added: Sat, 05 Nov 2011 11:33:38 UTC
Pulling bad science apart is the best teaching gimmick I know for explaining how good science works
Science isn’t about authority, or white coats, it’s about following a method.
Alternative therapists don't kill many people, but they do make a great teaching tool for the basics of evidence-based medicine, because their efforts to distort science are so extreme. When they pervert the activities of people who should know better – medicines regulators, or universities – it throws sharp relief onto the role of science and evidence in culture. Characters from this community who wonder why people keep writing about them should look at their libel cases and their awesomely bad behaviour under fire. You are a comedy factory. Don't go changing.
Next: the real story of how the world works is much weirder than anything a quack can make up. The placebo effect is maddening, the nocebo effect moreso, but the research on how we make decisions, and are misled by heuristics and mental shortcuts, is the wildest of all. Knowing about these belief-hacks gives you thrills, and power.
Pharmaceutical companies can behave dismally. Most important, they still won't publish all the results of all the clinical trials conducted on humans. This is indefensible, and because we tolerate it, we don't know the true effect sizes of the medicines that we give. This absurd situation mocks the whole of medicine: we need legislation to fix it, and popular movements to drive that. I'll join yours.
Dave Mosher - National Geographic Comments
The sun is the roundest natural object ever precisely measured, astronomers say.
Geraint Jones - The Guardian Comments
Scientists who encoded the book say it could soon be cheaper to store information in DNA than in conventional digital devices
Ed Yong - Nature News Comments
Under the supervision of guards and graduate students, a small group of prisoners is breeding the beautiful orange-and-white insects in a greenhouse outside the prison. They have even carried out research to show what plants the butterfly prefers to lay its eggs on.
- - Scientific American Comments
Teachers, scientists and policymakers have drafted ambitious new education standards. All 50 states should adopt them
John Roach - NBC News Comments
An artificial “brain” built by a 17-year-old whiz kid from Florida is able to accurately assess tissue samples for signs of breast cancer, providing more confidence to a minimally invasive procedure.
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Ben Goldacre - guardian.co.uk 33 Comments
If you have a serious new claim to make, it should go through scientific publication and peer review before you present it to the media