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Ben Goldacre

Settembre 2009
Scrive ogni settimana sul Guardian puntando il dito contro i ciarlatani e gli pseudoscienziati che diffondono informazioni errate sulla salute pubblica. I suoi articoli sono stati raccolti in un libro, Bad Science, che smaschera le fandonie della ‘cattiva scienza’ e insegna come riconoscerle. Un successo strepitoso.

di John Rigg

File audio:

Ben Goldacre
Ben Goldacre

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

Ben Goldacre is a medical doctor, journalist and writer. He fights against bad science: he exposes pseudo-scientists, bad journalism and lies. His book Bad Science is a top ten UK bestseller.

THE FACTS

Goldacre has written the column Bad Science for The Guardian since 2003. The “science” stories he discredits come in three main categories: stories with bizarre headlines like “Infidelity is genetic” and “Electricity allergy is real, say scientists.” Then there are health stories like “Chocolate is good for you” and “Eat as much fat as you want, but only at the right time of day.” But the category tabloid newspapers love most are scare stories. Here’s a typical example: “Mobile phones cause brain cancer?”

BAD JOURNALISM

Goldacre says journalists simply do not understand science. A journalist will see the results of one scientific experiment and report the results. What is wrong with this? Science takes the results of many tests before coming to any conclusions.
Consider today’s successful Omega 3 fish oil business. This began with a small experiment at a Durham school where normal test procedures were ignored – there was no control group. The result was apparently spectacular, but not scientifically valid. The Omega 3 business remains enormous, even if subsequent trials haven’t confirmed the Durham results.

RIDICULOUS

There’s no danger in children taking fish oil, but other cases have serious consequences. The Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) triple vaccination scare is a terrible example, and one of Goldacre’s most important causes: the media linked the vaccination to autism, and many parents decided not to vaccinate their children. The result was an epidemic of measles, which can be fatal.
What does Goldacre consider a genuine medical danger today? “Food, too much or too little, depending on where we live.” If you have an example of bad science, send it to Goldacre at ben@badscience.net

For further information, visit: www.badscience.net


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Glossary

he exposes - denuncia.

lies - bugie.

column - rubrica.

stories - articoli (di giornale).

headlines - titoli.

health stories - articoli sulla salute.

chocolate is good for you - il cioccolato fa bene.

tabloid newspapers - giornali scandalistici.

scare stories - articoli che diffondono paure, spesso ingiustificate.

rials - esperimenti.

Measles Mumps Rubella - morbillo, parotite e rosolia.

linked - collegò.