The Guardian's Dr Ben Goldacre has published a free ebook to accompany his recent book Bad Science, an expose on the junk science that infects policy and health in the UK. The ebook, "The Doctor Will Sue You Now," contains a chapter that Goldacre had to cut from the printed edition, because its subject, a vitamin salesman named Matthias Rath, tied Goldacre up in £500,000 worth of litigation over its contents. — Read the rest
A leading form of statistical malpractice in scientific studies is to retroactively comb through the data for "interesting" patterns; while such patterns may provide useful leads for future investigations, simply cherry-picking data that looks significant out of a study that has otherwise failed to prove out the researcher's initial hypothesis can generate false — but plausible-seeming — conclusions. — Read the rest
I chanced upon an ancient backup of my RSS feed subscriptions, a cold hard stone of data from my time at Wired in the mid-2000s. The last-modified date on the file is December 2007. I wiped my feeds upon coming to Boing Boing thenabouts: a fresh start and a new perspective. — Read the rest
The UK government has passed rules banning academics who receive public funding from "lobbying" ministers and MPs about their research, meaning that the people whom the government pays to acquire expertise in matters of public policy aren't allowed to speak to policy-makers anymore.
Crofton Black is a British counterterrorism investigator who has spent years tracking down the detritus of extraordinary rendition — a polite euphemism for the government practice of snatching people, flying them to a distant country, and torturing them.
"Radical ecology" has come to mean a kind of left-wing back-to-the-landism that throws off consumer culture and mass production for a pastoral low-tech lifestyle. But as the brilliant science journalist and Marxist Leigh Phillips writes in Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defence Of Growth, Progress, Industry And Stuff, if the left has a future, it has to reclaim its Promethean commitment to elevating every human being to a condition of luxurious, material abundance and leisure through technological progress.
Peer review and replication are critical to the scientific method, but in medical trials, a combination of pharma company intransigence and scientists' fear of being pilloried for human error means that the raw data that we base life-or-death decisions upon is routinely withheld, meaning that the errors lurk undetected in the data for years — and sometimes forever.
I met Caspar in 2001 while working for EFF; he was working for the Foundation for Internet Policy Research, which tirelessly lobbied the Lords and Parliament on the new surveillance powers that the Blair government wanted to bring in.
Pfizer's patent on pregabalin — an anti-epilepsy med — expires this year, but there's another patent on using the public domain drug to treat neuropathic pain; in a shocking letter to UK doctors, the pharma giant warns of dire consequences should medical professionals dare to prescribe the generic for the patented use.
An alarming report from the California Dietetic Association describes a kind of corporatist apocalyptic nightmare where junk-food companies pony up fat sponsorships in order to pervert the agenda and distort the science. Nutritionists, like other medical professionals, have to attend educational meetings in order to keep up their credentials. — Read the rest
Ben Goldacre and David Spiegelhalter have published a paper in the British Medical Journal called "
Bicycle helmets and the law", exploring the complex epidemiological conundrum presented by research on safety and bike helmets. As Goldacre pointed out, this is a perfect teaching case about the difficulty of evaluating risk and its relationship to law and the behavior. — Read the rest