Ben Goldacre on BBC 1’s One Show

Ben Goldacre BBC One Show September 8 2008.

Ben Goldacre BBC One Show September 8 2008.

Dr Ben Goldacre was on BBC 1’s One Show. Watch out for it on BBC iPlayer for September 8 (from 8:10 to 12:00 or thereabouts if you crave the added wisdom of Len Goodman). [Update, please use the iPlayer link if you can because this tells the BBC that you were interested in the Bad Science segment. For those who can’t, or for when it disappears, there is a YouTube.]

In an action-packed segment that serves as a lively precis of his book, Goldacre admonished the media for their poor science coverage and then took the viewer on a rapid tour of the Media Hall of Shame for Science Reporting and Obsession with Miracle Cures.

We learned that Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research would not have had such a profound influence had it not been for the ready echo-chamber of a credulous media and some inept handling by the medical authorities and their corduroyed antediluvian representatives. MMR was treated as an opportunity to attack the government and the NHS rather than as a topic that deserved appropriate coverage by specialist reporters.

Goldacre even made up some special topic boards for the ever-entertaining Daily Mail just to illustrate its particular flip-flopping on what might cause or prevent cancer depending on the date and the press release. One example was red wine which, in different stories, either prevented cancer or caused it: sadly, these pieces were even by the same journalist, Kate Devlin.

Tom Sanders BBC One Show September 8 2008 tells us about spoon benders - his term for nutritionists

Tom Sanders BBC One Show September 8 2008 tells us about spoon benders - his term for nutritionists

Goldacre visited an open-air market with vegetables and fruit especially primped, polished and looking full of virtue and vitamins. We heard a nicely succinct message on the benefits of eating said virtuous foods and riding your bike and ignoring the over-complicated nonsense that passes for nutritionism. Cram-packed though the segment was, there was a short contribution from Il Fabuloso and Pithy Remarker In Chief, Professor Tom Sanders, who deadpanned superbly as he introduced us to a new term for nutritional therapists:

Spoon benders. They make it up as they go along. They promote the use of supplements quite often where supplements are totally unnecessary.

Watch it. There is much to learn and to amuse – both of which are A Good Thing. If you want to learn or laugh more, take a look through the book: Bad Science or browse through the website



Filed under Ben Goldacre, supplements, Wakefield

10 responses to “Ben Goldacre on BBC 1’s One Show

  1. Mary Parsons

    Sometimes with those automated WordPress ‘possibly related posts’, it is hard to believe that some cat-stroking Post-Modernist isn’t at work, trying to throw in an uncomprehending oar wherever possible. Either that, or the software has unsuspected depths of irony that would delight Frye.

    Irony is naturally a sophisticated mode, and the chief difference between sophisticated and naive irony is that the naive ironist calls attention to the fact that he is being ironic, whereas sophisticated irony merely states, and lets the reader add the ironic tone himself.
    –Northrop Frye in Anatomy of Criticism

    Speaking of which – Ben Goldacre’s segment was good but it would have benefited from a studio discussion involving the man himself than Len “A little bit of what you fancy including too many high scores and bad puns” Goodman.

    Offhand, I don’t know if Tom Sanders’ soubriquet for nutritionists is more likely to have him mugged by people who adore their lifestyle gurus or see him soundly embraced by women who are sick of the invasion of this piffle in every ‘women’s section’ or magazine.

    Ben G was more animated and less world-weary than I expected from his writing. Nice showcase for his style although it’s not clear that the One Show knew what to make of him.

  2. Mike

    Anyone know where I can see this clip from outside the UK? iPlayer is region-restricted.

  3. gimpy

    Is there any link to youtube or such for those of us who do not have a UK IP address?

  4. Simon

    Here’s the clip on YouTube.

    Admin edit: Thank you. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for posting this, enjoyed watching that clip (even the Len “a bit of what you fancy” Goodman bit was decent – his advice was probably more sensible than that of a fair few nutritional therapists).

    @ Mary Parsons: “Sometimes with those automated WordPress ‘possibly related posts’, it is hard to believe that some cat-stroking Post-Modernist isn’t at work”
    That is so true – I either get links to blogs belonging to people selling AltMed remedies or I get totally random links that seem to have no connection whatever to the subject I’m writing about.

  6. @Mary Parsons and jdc – yes. In the same way in which obscenity filters show no evidence of human intelligence or comprehension.

    Meh to Len Goodman. But this is because I was bored to tears by people discussing the marking on Strictly last year. Plus – they didn’t put up a name banner for Ben Goldacre (like they did for Tom Sanders) and combining that with the lack of a camera shot of the book – it all felt a little bit shoe-horned in rather than a thought-out and well-placed segment. However, this may say more about the fact that this is possibly the first time I’ve ever seen more than 1 minute of the One Show.

  7. “However, this may say more about the fact that this is possibly the first time I’ve ever seen more than 1 minute of the One Show.”
    I was watching Mock the Week the other night and they threatened to send one of the comedians to work on the One Show. I don’t think it is universally loved.

    Blessedly, I have been spared discussion of Strictly Come Dancing. Friends and acquaintances tend to know better now than to discuss “reality” TV with me. Unless they really want to listen to a 10-minute rant.

    Re the youtube link – did anyone spot the related video “Ode to Ben Goldacre” that was linked in the youtube sidebar?

  8. The ode seems to be from an admirer rather than a stalker but, eh…it is totally different to recording the programme and then freeze-framing your way through it to find a half-way decent image to photograph. Totally different I tell you.

  9. …and whole BBC1’s program with Ben Goldacre. Here:

    Admin edit: Very useful. Thank you.

  10. mc

    Goldacre looks like a right prat in his sleevless jumper and his little sideburns

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