DC's Improbable Science

Truth, falsehood and evidence: investigations of dubious and dishonest science

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Entries Tagged as 'badscience'

Cupping: bruises for the gullible, and other myths in sport

August 10th, 2016 · 1 Comment

This is my version of a post which I was asked to write for the Independent. It’s been published, though so many changes were made by the editor that I’m posting the original here (below).
Superstition is rife in all sports. Mostly it does no harm, and it might even have a placebo effect […]

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Tags: acupuncture · Anti-science · badscience · Bait and switch · CAM · Quackery · Sports

Two more cases of hype in glamour journals: magnets, cocoa and memory

November 2nd, 2014 · 5 Comments

In the course of thinking about metrics, I keep coming across cases of over-promoted research. An early case was “Why honey isn’t a wonder cough cure: more academic spin“. More recently, I noticed these examples.
“Effect of Vitamin E and Memantine on Functional Decline in Alzheimer Disease".(Spoiler -very little), published in the Journal of the […]

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Tags: Academia · altmetrics · Alzheimer's · Bad journalism · badscience · false discovery rate · Journalism · public engagement · Public relations · Public understanding · publishing · randomisation · randomization · RCT · science · science communication

Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: a review

April 16th, 2014 · 5 Comments

This is a web version of a review of Peter Gotzsche’s book. It appeared in the April 2014 Healthwatch Newsletter. Read the whole newsletter. It has lots of good stuff. Their newsletters are here. Healthwatch has been exposing quackery since 1989. Their very first newsletter is still relevant.

Most new drugs and vaccines […]

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Tags: Academia · badscience · Big Pharma · blogosphere

We know little about the effect of diet on health. That’s why so much is written about it

November 18th, 2013 · 21 Comments

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One of my scientific heroes is Bernard Katz. The closing words of his inaugural lecture, as professor of biophysics at UCL, hang on the wall of my office as a salutory reminder to refrain from talking about ‘how the brain works’. After speaking about his discoveries about synaptic transmission, he ended thus.

"My […]

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Tags: badscience · Bernard Katz · nutribollocks · nutrition · nutritional therapy · randomisation · randomization · RCT · regulation

One incompetent regulator, the Professional Standards Authority, approves another, the CNHC

October 13th, 2013 · 10 Comments

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The consistent failure of ‘regulators’ to do their job has been a constant theme on this blog. There is a synopsis of dozens of them at Regulation of alternative medicine: why it doesn’t work, and never can. And it isn’t only quackery where this happens. The ineptitude (and extravagance) of the Quality Assurance […]

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Tags: Anti-science · antiscience · badscience · CNHC · NOS · Professional Standards Authority · Quality assessment · regulation

A review of Do You Believe in Magic, by Paul Offit. And a fine piece of timidity from Nature Medicine

August 27th, 2013 · 5 Comments

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Despite the First Amendment in the US and a new Defamation Act in the UK, fear of legal threats continue to suppress the expression of honest scientific opinion.
I was asked by Nature Medicine (which is published in the USA) to write a review of Paul Offit’s new book. He’s something of […]

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Tags: badscience · Bait and switch · herbal medicine · herbalism · regulation · supplements

Acupuncture is a theatrical placebo: the end of a myth

May 30th, 2013 · 62 Comments

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Anesthesia & Analgesia is the official journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society. In 2012 its editor, Steven Shafer, proposed a head-to-head contest between those who believe that acupuncture works and those who don’t. I was asked to write the latter. It has now appeared in June 2013 edition of […]

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Tags: Academia · acupuncture · badscience · Bait and switch · quackademia

A curious letter from David Tredinnick MP, the government’s resident medical loon

May 15th, 2013 · 5 Comments

It’s hard to know what to make of  David Tredinnick MP (Cons, Bosworth). He is certainly an extreme example of the scientific ignorance of our parliamentary representatives, but he isn’t alone in that. Our present minister of Education, Michael Gove, memorably referred to Newton’s Laws of Thermodynamics, blissfully unaware that thermodynamics was a 19th century […]

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Tags: Andrew Lansely · Anti-science · antiscience · badscience · Bait and switch · Department of Health · Health Professions Council · herbal medicine · herbalism · homeopathy · NCCAM · NHS · Pittilo · Prince Charles · Prince of Wales · Prince's Foundation · TCM · vice-chancellors

Regulation of alternative medicine: why it doesn’t work, and never can

October 15th, 2012 · 14 Comments

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The Scottish Universities Medical Journal asked me to write about the regulation of alternative medicine. It’s an interesting topic and not easy to follow because of the veritable maze of more than twenty overlapping regulators and quangos which fail utterly to protect the public against health fraud. In fact they mostly promote […]

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Tags: Academia · acupuncture · Anna van der Gaag · antiscience · ASA · badscience · Bait and switch · Care Quality Commission · CHRE · CNHC · College of Medicine · craniosacral · crystal healing · Dangerous advice · David Peters · Department of Health · evidence · Fair trading · Foundation for Integrated Health · General Chiropractic Council · Graeme Catto · Health Professions Council · HEFCE · herbal medicine · herbalism · homeopathy · hot stone · HPC · HR bollocks · managerialism · Marc Clement · Margaret Coats · Michael Dixon · NOS · OfQual · Peter Dixon · Politicians · politics · PR · Prince Charles · Prince of Wales · Prince's Foundation · RLHH · Royal London Homeopathic · Steiner · TCM · Traditional Chinese medicine · UCLH · Universities · University of Westminster · vice-chancellors · Westminster university

Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma. Buy it now. Then do something.

September 25th, 2012 · 16 Comments

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This is a very important book.
Buy it now (that link is to Waterstone’s Amazon don’t pay tax in the UK, so don’t use them).
When you’ve read it, do something about it. The book has lots of suggestions about what to do.

Stolen from badscience.net

Peter Medawar, the eminent biologist, in his classic book Advice to […]

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Tags: Academia · badscience · Big Pharma · BMJ · CAM · Clinical trials · Continuing med education · corruption · Freedom of Information Act · randomisation · RCT · Universities

Bait and switch by herbalists, Chinese and Western. Simon Mills speaks.

June 10th, 2012 · 14 Comments

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Although many university courses in quackery have now closed, two subjects that hang on in a few places are western herbalism, and traditional Chinese medicine (including acupuncture). The University of Westminster still runs Chinese medicine, and Western herbal medicine (with dowsing). So do the University of Middlesex and University of East London.
Since the […]

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Tags: Academia · Anti-science · antiscience · badscience · Bait and switch · College of Medicine · Dangerous advice · Foundation for Integrated Health · Graeme Catto · herbal medicine · herbalism · Michael Dixon · Prince Charles · Prince of Wales · Prince's Foundation · University of Southampton · University of Westminster

Which? magazine: “…high street nutritional therapists are a waste of money”

January 16th, 2012 · 16 Comments

Our undercover investigation finds evidence of nutritional therapists giving out advice that could seriously harm patients’ health
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That’s the title of an article in February’s Which? magazine. (That’s similar to Consumer Reports in the USA).
“When Which? sent researchers to investigate the quality of advice from nutritional therapists, some was so bad that patients’ health […]

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Tags: Anti-science · antiscience · badscience · BANT · CNHC · nutritional therapy · Patrick Holford · quackademia · Thames Valley · University of Westminster

The demise of quackademia. Progress in the last 5 years leaves Michael Driscoll and Geoffrey Petts isolated.

January 1st, 2012 · 39 Comments

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Since writing about anti-scientific degrees in Nature (March 2007), much has been revealed about the nonsense that is taught on these degrees. New Year’s day seems like a good time to assess how far we’ve got, five years on.
At the beginning of 2007 UCAS (the universities central admission service) offered 45 different BSc […]

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Tags: Academia · acupuncture · antiscience · aromatherapy · badscience · BPP University · CAM · Central Lancashire · Chinese medicine · chiropractic · College of Medicine · corporate · craniosacral · Edinburgh Napier University · Freedom of Information Act · General Chiropractic Council · Geoffrey Petts · George Lewith · herbal medicine · herbalism · HRH · Kate Chatfield · Malcolm McVicar · MHRA · Michael Driscoll · Michael Harloe · Middlesex university · Napier university · Skills for Care · Skills for Health · Thames Valley · University of Salford · University of Southampton · University of Westminster · UUK · vice-chancellors · Westminster university

Apologists for Andrew Wakefield at Southampton University: a Russell group university teaching some dangerous nonsense

July 3rd, 2011 · 26 Comments

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Almost all the revelations about what’s taught on university courses in alternative medicine have come from post-1992 universities. (For readers not in the UK, post-1992 universities are the many new univerities created in 1992, from former polytechnics etc, and Russell group universities are the "top 20" research-intensive universities)
It is true that all […]

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Tags: Academia · acupuncture · Anti-science · antioxidant · Back pain · badscience · Bait and switch · chiropractic · College of Medicine · Education · homeopathy · NCCAM · quackademia · Stephen Holgate · subluxation · supplements · University of Southampton

Yet more dangerous nonsense inflicted on students by Edinburgh Napier University

March 14th, 2011 · 24 Comments

As promised in my last post about Edinburgh Napier University, I wrote to the vice-chancellor of the university, Professor Dame Joan K. Stringer DBE, BA (Hons) CertEd PhD CCMI FRSA FRSE, to invite her to respond.

7 February, 2011
Dear Professor Stringer,
I should be grateful if you could let me know about your opinion of the degrees […]

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Tags: aromatherapy · badscience · CAM · Edinburgh Napier University · evidence · Joan Stringer · Napier · reflexology · Universities · vice-chancellors