What’s New?

October 30, 2007 at 3:53 pm (Bad Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As I don’t have a ‘miniblog’, I thought I’d write a brief post detailing some of the things that have caught my eye over the last few days.

UPDATE: Check this out – http://nadine-dorries.blogspot.com/2007/11/welcome-to-nadine-dorries-feedback.html. MP Nadine Dorries has a Propaganda Page on teh interweb, masquerading as a blog. This feedback site is for rejected comments from her ‘blog’.

Firstly, Nick Cohen has written an article on homeopathy that can be seen on CiF – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2200815,00.html (and is also available in the October 28th print version of The Observer). Note the comment by LionelRM and the link provided by CommanderKeen to http://shpalman.livejournal.com/tag/lionel+milgrom.

Secondly, the Quackometer blog has a new post. It’s on homeopathy and (even better) it’s about the Society of Homeopaths – http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2007/10/society-of-homeopaths-truth-matters.html. This post has been advertised by Gimpy here (with a wonderful logo) – http://gimpyblog.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/society-of-homeopaths-in-burning-underwear-scandal-homeopathic-remedy-may-be-of-some-use/.

Briefly, a note of praise for Jon Ronson – his article in the Guardian Weekend on sick pretend-psychic Sylvia Brown is also here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2198928,00.html. My view is that people who go to psychics are very often vulnerable, desparate folk who should not be taken advantage of. Sylvia’s view (according to her ex-husband)? ‘Screw ’em. Anybody who believes this stuff oughtta be taken.’

Next up: Ben Goldacre has recently written about the Quackometer and the SoH – http://www.badscience.net/?p=553 and on Saturday in the Guardian, he moved on to the numbers being bandied around in the abortion debate – http://www.badscience.net/?p=557. This was followed by a blog posting on the use of the 40% figure in the media – http://www.badscience.net/?p=558. I decided to take a quick look at a Google News search for ‘23 weeks +abortion’ and the rest of my post consists of a snapshot of the UK press…

Google News Results – ‘23 weeks +abortion’


(Results read from bottom of page upwards)

Page 1- National UK Newspapers:

The first result was Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science piece, featuring both the 42% figure and the Epicure study. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/oct/27/1

Second –  a piece in the Mail headed ‘God help us all if Dr Death [mwahahahahaha] wins his fight for abortion on demand’ – the evidence for a 42% chance of survival is, apparently, ‘compelling’. Other figures included in the article are: 70% of Brits are Christian; 68 per cent of people want the upper limit reduced to around the European average of 12 weeks; 60 per cent want the overall number of abortions reduced, and 80 per cent want regular reviews of the law to keep pace with medical advances. Oh, and ‘politicians have spent 780 hours debating the killing of foxes, but not one minute on the termination of human foetuses’. But no mention of the Epicure figures. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=490048&in_page_id=1772&in_author_id=463. Third – the Times has a brief summary here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2752544.ece, which quotes the 11% survival rate, and omits the 40% figure. Number Four – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2007/10/29/hmax129.xml quotes 11-40%, but seems as concerned with euthanasia as abortion. No 5 – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/10/29/nabort129.xml quotes 40%. Six is the Daily Mail: Melanie Philips quotes the 10-15% figure, omits the 40% figure – but still argues that: ‘So now that newborn babies can be kept alive below 24 weeks, some very late abortions carried out just under this limit are therefore tantamount to unlawful killing. In itself, that should be enough justification for a reduction of the time limit.’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=490316&in_page_id=1772&in_author_id=256

Page 2- National UK Newspapers:

Reference on the Guardian News Blog – no figures quoted.

Page 3 – National UK Newspapers:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article2733710.ece – No figures quoted, but there is a comment to the article (quoted in full): “God will not be mocked forever. Judgement will come one day”. http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article3093768.ece quotes 1% for 22 weeks and 11% for 23 weeks. The Independent also refers to the debate here, but without quoting figures: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/article3093792.ece. The Telegraph again: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/10/25/dl2501.xml quotes the 40% figure and also has echoes of the Daily Mail piece on Dr Death (mwahahahahaha): ‘This is a Government that allowed 700 hours of parliamentary time to be devoted to the issue of hunting. That it is not prepared to devote any time at all to abortion is indefensible.’ The Scotsman refers to a baby born at 23 weeks and 5 days ‘reigniting the debate’, http://news.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1700372007 and quotes the 0%, 1% and 11% figures from Epicure. In http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2007/oct/25/health.medicineandhealth, James Randerson quotes Dawn Primarolo quoting the Epicure figures. The Telegraph has an excerpt from their story here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2007/10/25/BLACKBERRY25.xml – they quote the 10-15% figure and then claim it was misused by the Govt. Finally, the Daily Mirror here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/2007/10/25/no-evidence-to-cut-the-abortion-limit-89520-20005194/, quotes the 1% and 11% figures.

Results by Newspaper:

Paper: #Articles Quoting 40%: #Articles Quoting 1, 11 or 10-15%:
Telegraph 3 2
Times 0 1
Guardian 1 1
Mirror 0 1
Scotsman 0 1
Independent 0 1
Mail 1 1




A small sample, but I reckon the Torygraph takes first prize. I wonder if they know where the 40% figure came from or how it was worked out?

Update 20/3/08: Dorries is at it again. She has been propagating a hoax – http://www.badscience.net/?p=634 – relating to fetuses. She talks about reasons why the doctor concerned might deny the truth of what happened. This is masterful propaganda:

The pro-choice and pro-life lobbies in America are far more vociferous, and unfortunately violent, than they are in the UK; and one can only guess his reasons.

Right. He was in fear of his life because if he admitted the truth, violent pro-choice advocates would attack him. Bollocks.

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