Dear Daily Mail Editors: congratulations on a very dramatic headline. A cancerous conspiracy to poison your faith in organic food: that is pure genius, building nicely on the recent reprimand to ‘the authorities’ for making us Scared to death? The REAL worry is today’s culture of fear. You will understand how many readers chuckled to read that the Daily Mail, of all newspapers, is accusing others of scare-mongering. Continue reading
Category Archives: Current events
Joanna Blythman: Please Read the Data Appendices About Organic Food Before Conjuring ‘Cancerous Conspiracies’: Part 1
Orlistat – branded as Alli – weight loss pills are now on sale over the counter in UK pharmacies. Weight loss drugs are frequently abused, and Dr Crippen raises concerns that the pharmacist working in a bricks and mortar shop selling Alli might
not understand the realities of the drug and in any case he (or his masters) will be concentrating on the flashing pound sign
However, we were concerned to see that Lloyds Pharmacy now sells Alli pills online. While pharmacists may struggle with advising patients they meet face-to-face on Alli, selling online raises additional issues.
Would-be purchasers from Lloyds do have to complete an online questionnaire, asking them to give details such as weight and age and confirm statements such as
I am ready to adopt a reduced calorie, lower-fat diet
Unfortunately, although the questionnaires are checked by a pharmacist before the pills are posted out, people sometimes lie on such questionnaires. If someone wants – for example – to use Alli for weight loss despite a low Body Mass Index, they could easily lie about their weight. If a would-be purchaser fails to confirm tick boxes to agree with statements such as that they are willing to follow a lower-fat diet, Lloyds’ website helpfully reminds them that they must check the appropriate box in order to buy the product. Continue reading
Sunday, March 14, 2009 published a CiF article by Kent Miller: The real agony of autism. It contained a common error about the MMR vaccine and mercury (UK thiomersal, US thimerosal):
A special US court overseeing a vaccination-liability fund recently ruled that the parents of an autistic girl, Michelle Cedillo, won’t get any money from it. The judge put a pretty firm kibosh on the argument that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine – or its mercury preservative, thimerosal – had caused Michelle’s disability.
Now, we have been round this topic with both the Guardian and The Observer on previous occasions. Continue reading
Daily Express, Better You, The Leadership Factor and Laura Clout: the Yes Minister approach to market research
We were shocked to see a Sunday Express story by Laura Clout, stating that:
Research by natural health firm BetterYou [which sells nutritional supplements] found that more than eight in ten of us do not eat fruit and vegetables in our daily diet.
These is a really striking figure, so we asked BetterYou for the research behind it. They, and their PR agency Lucre Communications, were very helpful with our questions: the research was carried out online by The Leadership Factor, with a total sample of 1,000 adults. However, we found a number of issues with this research. As you’ll see in the above Yes Minister clip, there is a noble British tradition of surveys which reliably give certain answers and – while this may be entirely accidental – The Leadership Factor and BetterYou appear to have followed this great tradition. Continue reading
HolfordWatch is pleased to host a guest piece from a researcher in the Public Understanding of Science.
Over the last twenty or so years the academic study of science communication, also know by the less fortunate name of “Public Understanding of Science” (PUS) has moved from tentative and naïve beginnings, to questioning some of the core assumptions behind science communication.
Among the problematic concepts were: What do we mean by “Public”, what do we mean by “Science“, and what do we mean by “Understanding”? Continue reading
There is a credit card scam making the rounds. Targets ostensibly receive a letter from their credit card company that informs them that they have gone over their credit limit and that further transactions are suspended until the over-payment is paid and that must be done immediately.
The target is invited to contact the credit card company on 0800 03 11 03 (their spacing, 0800 031103) to discuss any queries and make the payment.
If you call the number, you will be asked for a Switch or Delta card number to make this payment. Continue reading
Special Court that Heard the Autism Omnibus Says that Measles Vaccine Is Not Associated with Neurological Damage: Some Detail from the Rulings
The Autism Omnibus held hearings into three tests cases that were intended to establish a principle of general causation that links vaccinations with developmental conditions or neurological damage and would therefore qualify for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Three families agreed to be the test cases presented in court – the Cedillos, the Hazelhursts and the Snyders – on behalf of the Petitioners’ Steering Committee (PSC). However, the panel of Special Masters has ruled that the PSC did not presented sufficient plausible or adequante evidence to demonstrate that vaccines are causally linked to autism in these children, even using the comparatively light standard of the ‘preponderance of evidence’. Brief ruling note.
Thousands of parents who claimed that childhood vaccines had caused their children to develop autism are wrong and not entitled to federal compensation, a special court ruled today in three decisions with far-reaching implications for a bitterly fought medical controversy…
The decision by three independent special masters is especially telling because the special court’s rules did not require plaintiffs to prove their cases with scientific certainty — all the parents needed to show was that a preponderance of the evidence, or “50 percent and a hair,” supported their claims. The vaccine court effectively said today that the thousands of pending claims represented by the three test cases are on extremely shaky ground.
In his ruling on one case, special master George Hastings said the parents of Michelle Cedillo — who had charged that a measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine caused their child to develop autism — had “been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.”
There is some additional information on US Court of Federal Claims and the detailed rulings behind the decisions are available. Continue reading