‘Unprecedented’ rise in measles

January 9, 2009 at 8:42 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The BBC has reported that “there were 1,217 cases of measles from January to November 2008, the highest figure for over a decade.” Report. The HPA press release is here and includes Read the rest of this entry »

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Competing Interests in the Mainstream Media

December 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm (Media) (, , , , , , , , )

Here, it was suggested that

Articles in medical journals more and more routinely carry ‘declaration of interest’ type information. Perhaps we should be thinking about similar for writers of articles on health matters in mainstream media?

Now I think that’s an excellent idea, but let us for a moment go even further and imagine a world where articles on all matters in the mainstream media carried declarations of competing interests. Because it will give me a chance to have a go at the Daily Mail. Read the rest of this entry »

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Horizon: how offensive are you? [UPDATED]

October 31, 2008 at 10:16 pm (Bad Science, Media) (, , )

[See bottom of post for update] I saw an advert for this programme last night and my heart sank. It is called Horizon: How mad are you? and I groaned inwardly thinking of the way the clumsily worded title reminded me of oh so many media reports of how many mentally ill patients murder people or front page headlines referring to some celebrity losing it. Not to mention the BBC getting someone to speculate on the Prime Minister’s health. [Gimpy] Unlike the vast majority of the complainants in the Brand-Ross-Sachs fiasco (I’m guessing here), I don’t complain about things I haven’t watched or heard but I can hardly wait to find out more about this show because I was already nervously pondering (having seen only a snatch of an advert and remembering nothing but the title) just how bad it could be. I think I may be worrying unduly. I hope so. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paracetamol and Asthma – Media Reports

September 19, 2008 at 7:40 pm (Bad Science, Media) (, , , , )

I looked at a recent news story about a paper on asthma and paracetamol. According to the Daily Mail Taking paracetamol regularly ‘triples risk of asthma’ and the headline on Read the rest of this entry »

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Justice, Awareness and Basic Support. Or: JABS Forum – Vile and Abusive

September 5, 2008 at 12:47 pm (Anti-Vaccination) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Very brief post, just to say that I’ve been following the JABS reaction to the new study replicating Wakefield’s original study and showing that the MMR jab is not linked to autism. Their reaction is to call people ‘prick’ and ‘puff’. Very grown-up, very sensitive and not at all homophobic or intolerant. Read the rest of this entry »

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More on the Media’s MMR Hoax

September 4, 2008 at 10:31 am (Anti-Vaccination, Media) (, , , , , , , )

Actually there’s no point me telling you any more about the media’s MMR hoax, as the definitive account has already been written – it’s in Ben Goldacre’s book and you can read an edited extract here: badscience.net. What I am going to point you to is a new study Read the rest of this entry »

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Retinol and Wrinkles – Evidence Please. Or: Yet Another Media Myth?

August 29, 2008 at 1:36 pm (Cosmetics, Media) (, , , , )

Hypothesis: I reckon there are loads of claims made in the press that don’t have adequate (or sometimes any) evidence to support them. As an example, I took a quick look at the mentions of retinol and wrinkles in UK publications over the last two years. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Media Think You Are Morons

August 27, 2008 at 1:39 pm (Bad Science, Media) (, , , , , )

Recently, I wrote about the media covering stories about science, health and academic papers without providing references. I wrote to several newspapers and the BBC to complain about this. What I’ve found is that not only do the media not bother to give references to the academic work they are writing about, but they don’t bother to respond promptly to enquiries about their policy of keeping this information from us. The most likely conclusion is, I think, that they consider the general public to be morons incapable of understanding references – and they don’t think they need to explain themselves to their readers either. I don’t know about you, but I find that incredibly insulting. They will tell you what the story is, because they don’t just report the news – oh no, they make the news. Fair enough – I won’t keep badgering them about it (well, except perhaps for a brief reminder email to make sure they haven’t simply forgotten). I’ll just leave them to continue reporting on the science and bringing us valuable news like “MMR Causes Autism” [1] and “Red Wine May Prevent Cancer” [2]. After all, with a mainstream media like ours providing us with the truth behind these stories and writing responsible, accurate pieces like these… why would we need references in order to check out the papers ourselves? We have the Great British Media to tell us what’s what.

[1] Bad Science on MMR, Measles outbreak, Wakefield scapegoated by the media

[2] Dangerous Media Nutribollocks

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Health/Science/Academia – References Please!

August 19, 2008 at 6:17 pm (Campaigns, Media) (, , , , , )

Sick of reading reports of academic papers or scientific studies that have been cribbed from a press release? Wish they’d cite the damn reference so you could find the actual paper more easily? Frustrated by the general lack of references in mainstream media stories? So was I – so I wrote an email to a few bods. Read the rest of this entry »

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Companies Buying Science for Cheap Publicity

August 1, 2008 at 10:28 am (Business, Media Whores) (, , , , , , , , )

The Bad Science blog has a category titled Cash for “Stories” and the Apathy Sketchpad blog has recently covered equations in The Telegraph and the Daily Mail. It occurs to me that, rather than demeaning science and making media whores of academics (usually mathemeticians or scientists as far as I can tell), the firms buying science for cheap publicity could actually get publicity and make themselves look good by sponsoring worthwhile research. Read the rest of this entry »

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