When I was very young (but old enough to have cooperative siblings) I used to write elaborate stories and adapt them for public performances. I was slightly hampered by the lack of props and improvised with whatever was to hand (my bricoleur years). Some of the props weaved a certain theatrical magic but others didn’t have quite the impact that I had intended.
One of the more notable failures was my recreation of the view from a hot-air balloon: my sisters’ constant requests for stories that involved fairies over-taxed my costume design and creation skills as well as resources and actual interest in fairies. Instead of fairies, I decided to include an element of high-rise excitement by offering a bit-part as Madeleine Sophie Armant Blanchard. Everyone got to share in the hot-air ballooning experience by queuing up for their turn to kneel on my grandfather’s somewhat wobbly saw horse to which I had tacked a basket weave of cardboard strips that I had stained with tea (both sides for the full illusion); Continue reading
The Journal of the American Medical Association has recently published a good quality, placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind trial looking at whether vitamin C and E supplementation can reduce cardiovascular events. It ran for 10 years, and included “14 641 US male physicians enrolled, who were initially aged 50 years or older, including 754 men (5.1%) with prevalent cardiovascular disease at randomization.” The trial concluded that “[t]hese data provide no support for the use of these supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged and older men.”
I was surprised to see that the alternative nutrition industry has not yet responded to this – I was waiting with bated breath for Sir Cliff Richard’s definitive critique of the science – so I thought that I would respond on their behalf: frankly, the alternative nutrition industry’s response to such trials has become tediously predictable so there seems to be little point in waiting.
I will list a number of likely industry responses below; I will then enjoy the small satisfaction of ticking them off when they appear in industry press releases: Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Radio 4’s You & Yours today discussed the issues arising from the alleged injury of a client of nutritional therapist Barbara Nash, when Nash put the client onto a ‘detox diet’.
The programme (here and you can listen again here, while it’s still available) includes an interview with registered dietitian Catherine Collins, and the BANT Chair Emma Stiles: extraordinarily, Stiles apparently acknowledges that nutritional therapists do not practise evidence-based medicine. However, the segment began with Mr Page telling the sad story of how this diet – including lots of water and low sodium – progressed. Dawn Page consulted a nutritional therapist because she wanted to lose some weight, but she ended up in intensive care and still suffers from cognitive problems (this case was settled out of court for £810,000; Nash continues to deny responsibility for the injuries to Mrs Page, and due to the settlement there has not been a court finding on this case). Continue reading
Reading the comments on a dubious New York Times blog post offering a list of 11 foods to eat, we were very concerned to see Tara Parker-Pope’s response to one comment. The comment states that “Your list of 11 foods is fine except for anyone on a renal diet in advanced stages of CKD [Chronic Kidney Disease].” Tara Parker-Pope replies by advising that “obviously people with specific dietary concerns need to discuss the issue with their doctor or nutritionist.”
Unfortunately, as we have explained on many occasions, ‘nutritionist’ is not usually a protected title. While there are no doubt a number of well-qualified, university-level-credentialled and capable individuals practising as nutritionists, in most states absolutely anyone is able to call themselves a nutritionist. As Ben Goldacre’s dead cat Hettie demonstrated, you don’t even need to be alive or human in order to be a credentialled nutritionist. Continue reading