Category Archives: Goldacre

Will Science Blogging Absolve the Mainstream Media of the Need to Provide Science Coverage?

Nick Davies’ corruscating Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media was warmly received by some readers and commended by some commentators who welcomed his pitiless assessment of the parlous state of journalism. Other readers have produced a measured disagreement along the lines of “Yes. But not us and you’ve overstated your case“. Still more indulged in faux outrage and managed to publish their over-wrought reviews in newspapers where they happy-slapped some of Davies’ arguments; or criticised Davis in radio interviews and blog pieces. Continue reading


Filed under blogging, Goldacre

Patrick Holford Responds to Radio 4 Programme and Misses the Point: Part 1

We are not entirely sure that Professor Patrick Holford of Teesside University and also Head of Science and Education at Biocare quite understands the purpose of issuing clarifications. Hint, the clue is in the name.

As it is impossible to comment on Holford’s page, we reproduce his clarifications here and address what is wrong with them. Here, we shall look at the vitamin C claim for colds. Continue reading


Filed under David Colquhoun, Goldacre, Holford, patrick holford, supplements, vitamin c, vitamins

Patrick Holford and His Alternative to Anti-Depressants

Professor Patrick Holford has a remarkably agile PR team with helpful lacunae in their collective memories. 27.02.2007, Holford’s email subscribers received an email, What’s the alternative to ineffective anti-depressants? Continue reading


Filed under chromium, depression, Food Is Better Medicine Than Drugs, GL diet, glycaemic load, glycemic load, Goldacre, health, Holford, Mental Health, nutrition, patrick holford, supplements

Patrick Holford Refers to Someone Else as Inaccurate

Nobody expects the spanish inquisition!
Prof Patrick Holford the international bowel-whisperer and supplement entrepreneur is familiar to us. We’ve even been dazzled by Patrick Holford the tap-dancer as he delivers a very partial account both of the training of nutritionists and the status of his own nutritional qualifications in a bravura performance on RTE’s The Late Late Show. But now, we have Patrick Holford the…well, judge for yourself. Continue reading


Filed under Ben Goldacre, Dunning, Electromagnetic Radiation, EMR, Goldacre, Holford, Kruger, patrick holford, vitamin c

Patrick Holford and The Wright Stuff/YouTube Debate

Cat claims new dimension
Patrick Holford participated in a Nutritionists Debate sponsored by The Wright Stuff and YouTube. Apparently, it was a classic and we have been fortunate enough to obtain a transcript of the video segment.

Transcript: Wright Stuff / YouTube Nutritionist Debate

MATTHEW WRIGHT, Wright Stuff host: Good morning, and welcome to the first Wright Stuff/ YouTube Nutrionists debate where experts answer questions of the day. We asked people from all over the UK to submit questions via, and the response was overwhelming. So, without further ado, let’s munch those seeds, swallow those supplements and prepare to listen really hard. Read on


Filed under Ben Goldacre, British Dietetic Association, catherine collins, Goldacre, Holford, patrick holford, Sarah Jarvis

Holford’s "letter published by the British Medical Journal"

As I’ve said, Holford has had a Rapid Response placed on the BMJ website. He’s clearly rather pleased about this, and has written about having a “letter published by the British Medical Journal in response to Dr Ben Goldacre’s article ‘Tell us the truth about nutritionists’“. If I’d had a response to a BMJ article publised as a letter in the Journal, I know I’d be proud of this – unfortunately, the ‘letter’ Holford’s writing about never appeared in the print edition of the BMJ. Instead, the BMJ only included Holford’s comments on its website as a Rapid Response.

Being published on the BMJ website might sound impressive, but when you look at the BMJ Operating Procedures for Rapid Responses, it becomes clear that they’ll publish most things which are submitted. As the BMJ say:

We expect to post nearly everything, but we don’t post responses that give information on patients without their written consent or are:


libellous (or would require us spending time and money to accept that they aren’t)

in some other way illegal (for example, inciting racial hatred)


incomprehensible […]

written in capital letters

not written in English[…]

Authors are responsible for the accuracy of what they say in their rapid responses. We cannot check facts…We also do not check
references to say that they really say what they are claimed to say: that too is the author’s responsibility.

There’s a few criteria I missed out – but basically all that Holford having a Rapid Response published shows is that he was able to write a response in reasonably good, comprehensible English, which wasn’t obscene, didn’t breach patient confidentiality, and wasn’t going to get the BMJ in legal trouble. Anyone can submit a Rapid Response, and the BMJ expects to publish ‘nearly everything’.

Holford writing about his ‘letter published in the BMJ’ might give the impression that they had judged his letter to be of high quality and importance. However, having had a Rapid Response put on their website really tells one very little about the quality of his contribution.

Holford even failed to meet the BMJ’s pretty minimal criteria for a Rapid Response: the BMJ does ask that those submitting Rapid Responses declare any competing interests, something that Holford did not do. Not only did Holford not have this response to Goldacre’s article published as a letter in the BMJ, Holford even failed to meet the BMJ’s standards for Rapid Responses on their website.


Filed under bmj, Goldacre, Holford, letter, patrick holford, rapid response