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Bad Science

Ben Goldacre's Bad Science column from the Guardian and more...

Last Build Date: Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:42:25 +0000


Evidence to House of Commons Sci Tech Select Committee on Research Integrity

Tue, 05 Dec 2017 11:42:17 +0000

Sorry not to be in regular blogging mode at the moment. Here’s a video of our evidence session to parliament, where they are running an inquiry into research integrity. I think clinical trials are the best possible way to approach this issue. Lots of things in “research integrity” are hard to capture in hard logical […]

How do the world’s biggest drug companies compare, in their transparency commitments?

Thu, 27 Jul 2017 06:33:23 +0000

Here’s a paper, and associated website, that we launch today: we have assessed, and then ranked, all the biggest drug companies in the world, to compare their public commitments on trials transparency. Regular readers will be familiar with this ongoing battle. In medicine we use the results of clinical trials to make informed treatments about […]

Meaningful Transparency Commitments: the WHO Joint Statement from Trial Funders

Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:17:06 +0000

By now I hope you all know about the ongoing global scandal of clinical trial results being left unpublished, and of course our AllTrials campaign. Doctors, researchers, and patients cannot make truly informed choices about which treatments work best if they don’t have access to all the trial results. Earlier this year, I helped out […]

How many epidemiologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 12:49:44 +0000

Robin Ince just asked if I know any epidemiologist lightbulb jokes. I wrote this for him. How many epidemiologists does it take to change a lightbulb? We’ve found 12,000 switches hidden around the house. Some of them turn this lightbulb on, some of them don’t; some of them only work sometimes; and some of them […]

“Transparency, Beyond Publication Bias”. A video of my super-speedy talk at IJE.

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 08:01:43 +0000

People often talk about “trials transparency” as if this means “all trials must be published in an academic journal”. In reality, true transparency goes much further than this. We need Clinical Study Reports, and individual patient data, of course. But we also need the consent forms, so we can see what patients were told. We need […]

You should totally watch this entire day of the IJE conference

Fri, 07 Oct 2016 22:26:17 +0000

Today marks the end of an era. The International Journal of Epidemiology used to be a typical hotchpotch of isolated papers on worthy subjects. Occasionally, some were interesting, or related to your field. Under Shah Ebrahim and George Davey-Smith it became like nothing else: an epidemiology journal you’d happily subscribe to with your own money, and read in […]

An audio interview with The Conversation, on smashing the walls of the Ivory Tower

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 16:26:23 +0000

The Conversation is a great media outlet, because it’s run by academic nerds, but made for everyone. I had a nice time chatting with them last week: we discussed transparency, data sharing, statins, research integrity, risk communication, culture shift, academic activism, and why we should kick through the walls of the ivory tower. Caution: contains nerds!

Sarepta, eteplirsen: anecdote, data, surrogate outcomes, and the FDA

Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:55:44 +0000

The Duchenne’s treatment made by Sarepta (eteplirsen) has been in the news this week, as a troubling example of the FDA lowering its bar for approval of new medicines. The FDA expert advisory panel decided not to approve this treatment, because the evidence for any benefit is weak; but there was extensive lobbying from well-organised patients and, eventually, the FDA overturned the opinion of its own […]

The Cancer Drugs Fund is producing dangerous, bad data: randomise everyone, everywhere!

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 13:02:50 +0000

There are recurring howls in my work. One of them is this: in general, if you don’t know which intervention works best, then you should randomise everyone, everywhere. This is for good reason: uncertainty costs lives, through sub-optimal treatment. Wherever randomised trials are the right approach, you should embed them in routine clinical care. This is an argument I’ve made, with colleagues, in […]

Taking transparency beyond results: ethics committees must work in the open

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:22:35 +0000

Here’s a useful paper we’ve just published in the BMJ, documenting problems in transparency around approval processes for randomised trials. There’s a basic rule in clinical research: you’re only supposed to do a trial comparing two treatments when you really don’t know which one is best, otherwise you’d be knowingly randomising half your participants to an […]

Events in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Auckland

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 06:09:57 +0000

Hi there, I’m doing a few events in Australia and NZ this week: in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland (only 25 tickets left), and Brisbane. Here‘s a good fun interview I did with The Conversation that gets very nerdy, on the poor state of science, COMPare, statins, reproducibility and transparency. I’ll post a big backlog of interviews, and papers, over […]

Ban academics from talking to ministers? We should train them to do it!

Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:21:56 +0000

The Cabinet Office has come up with a crazy plan to ban academics like me from talking to politicians and civil servants. In this piece I explain why that is an almost surreally stupid idea. I also describe how I hustle, in Whitehall, to try and get government policy changed on open data, scientific transparency, and […]

So this company Cyagen is paying authors for citations in academic papers.

Fri, 14 Aug 2015 15:31:16 +0000

Here’s a strange thing, a seedy curio rather than a massive scandal, but I’d be interested to know what you make of it. This week lots of academics all received the same unsolicited marketing email from a large well known research company called Cyagen, who make transgenic mice, stem cells, and so on. The email was headed […]

Fixing flaws in science must be professionalised. By me in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology.

Fri, 10 Jul 2015 12:19:28 +0000

Me and a dozen other academics all just wrote basically the same thing about Open Science in the Journal Of Clinical Epidemiology. After the technical bits, me and Tracey get our tank out. That’s for a reason: publishing academic papers about structural problems in science is a necessary condition for change, but it’s not sufficient. We don’t need any […]

New BMJ editorial: “How Medicine is Broken, and How We Can Fix It”

Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:03:50 +0000

There are some big problems in medicine, and the public are right to be concerned about our shortcomings. Last week we found out that the Chief Medical Officer has written to the Academy of Medical Sciences, asking for an authoritative review into problems in the evidence we use to choose treatments, focusing especially on concerns […]

Two interviews on withheld trials, NPR and ABC

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 12:38:59 +0000

Here are a couple of fairly detailed interviews I’ve done over the last two weeks, both on the problem of clinical trial results being withheld. The first is with On The Media, an excellent NPR show, the clip is here. The second interview is with ABC and has two striking features. One is my big, fat, red face. The second […]

WHO announcement on withheld clinical trials, and my commentary in PLoS Medicine

Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:17:57 +0000

As you’ll hopefully know by now from reading Bad Science, Bad Pharma, and my endless columns on the subject, medicine has a problem: the results of clinical trials are routinely and legally withheld from doctors, researchers, and patients. We started the campaign two years ago to build a global campaign on this issue, and we’ll be publishing […]

I did a Newsnight thing about how politics needs better data

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 10:19:51 +0000

Here’s a 5 minute film I did on Newsnight last week, about how politics needs better data. Specifically, it’s about how politicians misuse statistics, how we can stop them, and how we can generate better evidence on what works, and what fails.   If you’re interested in more on this topic, well… there are some good examples […]

Richard Herring Leicester Square Theatre Show, interview, video…

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:29:04 +0000

I took great pride in the fact that my book Bad Science was first reviewed by Viz and the British Medical Journal. In that vein, here’s a 90 minute interview I did on stage with comedian Richard Herring in the Leicester Square Theatre. I have bad hair, we cover a lot of dorky material – […]

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

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:34:49 +0000

There 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 […]