DC's Improbable Science

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

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Entries Tagged as 'Universities'

What to do about research assessment (the REF)?
A proposal for two-stage university education

February 1st, 2015 · 9 Comments

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DOI: 10.15200/winn.142809.94999
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is the latest in a series of 6-yearly attempts to assess the quality of research in UK universities. It’s used to decide how to allocate about £1.6 billion per year of taxpayers’ money, the so-called "quality-related" (QR) allocation.

It could have been done a lot worse. […]

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Tags: Academia · Education · Universities

Science is harmed by hype. How to live for 969 years.

December 31st, 2013 · 7 Comments

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[This an update of a 2006 post on my old blog]
The New York Times (17 January 2006) published a beautiful spoof that illustrates only too clearly some of the bad practices that have developed in real science (as well as in quackery). It shows that competition, when taken to excess, leads to dishonesty.
More […]

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Tags: Alzheimer's · Anti-science · Bad journalism · Big Pharma · Universities · Vitamin

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

Is Queen Mary University of London trying to commit scientific suicide?

June 29th, 2012 · 76 Comments

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Academic staff are going to be fired at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL). It’s possible that universities may have to contract a bit in hard times, so what’s wrong?
What’s wrong is that the victims are being selected in a way that I can describe only as insane. The criteria they use are […]

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Tags: Academia · assessment · HR bollocks · Human resources · management bollocks · managerialism · metrics · publishing · Queen Mary · Simon Gaskell · Universities

More dangerous nonsense from the University of Westminster: when will Professor Geoffrey Petts do something about it?

May 3rd, 2011 · 12 Comments

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One of my first posts about nonsense taught in universities was about the University of Westminster (April 2008): Westminster University BSc: “amethysts emit high yin energy”. since then, there have been several more revelations.
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Professor Petts

The vice-cnancellor of Westminster, Professor Geoffrey Petts, with whom the buck stops, […]

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Tags: Anti-science · antiscience · aromatherapy · Bait and switch · CAM · conflict of interest · craniosacral · David Peters · Freedom of Information Act · Geoffrey Petts · herbal medicine · herbalism · Michael McIntyre · naturopathy · nutribollocks · nutriceuticals · nutritional therapy · Red clover · supplements · Universities · University of Westminster · Vega test · Westminster university

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

Edinburgh Napier University teaches reflexology, aromatherapy and therapeutic touch. Scottish Information Commissioner says you should know.

February 3rd, 2011 · 22 Comments

In 2009 I asked Napier University Edinburgh for details of what was taught on its herbal medicine "BSc" course. At first it was refused, but then (as often seems to happen when threatened with exposure) the course was closed, and Napier sent what I’d asked for without waiting for the judgement from the Scottish Information […]

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Tags: aromatherapy · Joan Stringer · reflexology · Therapeutic touch · Universities

Why does lifelong education stop at 18?

January 3rd, 2011 · 11 Comments

Times Higher Education published today a version of an earlier post on this blog, Why should a postman pay for your university education?.
Although the submtted version was within length, it got shortened and, worse, a bit garbled in places. I got no chance to check the final version. The penultimate paragraph was not written […]

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Tags: Academia · religion · tuition fees · Universities · UUK

On Archibald Vivien Hill and the honours list

December 31st, 2010 · 14 Comments

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One of my greatest scientific heros is A.V.Hill, and its one of my great regrets that I saw him only in the distance. He’s a hero partly because of his science, but also because of his other interests, in particular his efforts to help scientists escape from pre-war Germany. Read the Biographical Memoir […]

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Tags: A.V. Hill · Academia · Bernard Katz · Honours · Universities

Why should a postman pay for your university education? And why does free education end at 18?

December 11th, 2010 · 25 Comments

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We hear a lot about lifelong education, and a good thing too. But we have a government that seems to think life ends at 18. The contrast between official attitudes to schools and post-school education is striking. The contrast is most striking in two areas: religious discrimination and public support for costs.
Religous discriminatiion […]

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Tags: Academia · politics · tuition fees · Universities · vice-chancellors

Nonsense about “research impact”. The Research Councils are as much a problem as the government

December 5th, 2010 · 40 Comments

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Research quangos lead to mediocrity is the headline title of a letter to The Times appeared on 6 December 2010. It is reproduced below for those who can’t (or won’t) pay Rupert Murdoch to see it.

The letter is about the current buzzword, "research impact", a term that trips off the lips of every […]

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Tags: Academia · Impact · Research Councils · Research Funding · Universities

Higher education needs a public commission before fees are trebled

November 29th, 2010 · 7 Comments

One problem with the Browne report is that it didn’t consider the whole picture. It looked only at how to fund universities as they are now, and concluded that arts and humanities weren’t worth funding at all. What it failed to do (and to be fair, it wasn’t asked to do) was think […]

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Tags: Academia · Browne report · Universities

Scandal of the University of Wales and the Quality Assurance Agency

November 15th, 2010 · 12 Comments

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The mainstream media eventually catch up with bloggers. BBC1 TV (Wales) produced an excellent TV programme that exposed the enormous degree validation scam run by the University of Wales. It also exposed the uselessness of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Both these things have been written about repeatedly here for some […]

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Tags: Academia · acupuncture · badscience · BBC · Chinese medicine · chiropractic · chiropractor · Freedom of Information Act · Marc Clement · Northern College of Acupuncture · Prince of Wales · Universities · vice-chancellors

The Steiner Waldorf cult uses bait and switch to get state funding. Part 2

October 21st, 2010 · 103 Comments

This is part 2 of a critique of Steiner Waldorf schools. Part 1 was The true nature of Steiner (Waldorf) education. Mystical barmpottery at taxpayers’ expense. Part 1
The part 3 is Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism.

This essay is largely devoted to the methods used by the Steiner movement in the […]

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Tags: Academia · anthroposophy · Steiner · Universities · Waldorf