Some bad science can make you laugh, and some kills

By Phil Plait | December 23, 2010 7:00 am

Ben Goldacre is a gift to skepticism. He writes for The Guardian and attacks all manners of bad science (which is why he calls his column "Bad Science"), from alt-medders to pharmaceutical companies. He doesn’t let any misuse of science in the medical field stand, and that’s why I love him.

And now you can too: watch this video of Ben at the Pop!Tech conference held in Camden, Maine in October.

Ben’s book, oddly enough titled Bad Science, is great as well, and I highly recommend it. There’s a chapter he had to take out due to litigation by a guy named Mathias Rath, who says vitamins can cure AIDS. Yes, you read that correctly. Ben posted that chapter on his website, and it may be one of the most important things ever written in the area of critical thinking. Lack of proper treatment for AIDS kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa alone. Hundreds of thousands.

When people like Ben win, lives are saved. The more people who know about him, the better. He’s a true hero of skepticism.

Related posts:

Diluting Homeopathy
Science blogging versus journalism
Slamming UK antiscience

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Debunking, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: AIDS, Ben Goldacre, Pop!Tech

Alt med: win some and lose some

By Phil Plait | October 9, 2009 10:48 am

In the crazy topsy-turvy world of alternative medicine, the forces of reality win some and lose some.

WIN: An alleged quack who allegedly sold herbal cures for cancer has been slapped with a fraud lawsuit. The charges are that this ordained Pentecostal minister preyed on vulnerable terminal cancer patients using religious trappings. Nice.

LOSE: The Natural News altmed website — which promotes all sorts of nonsense, including connecting vaccines and autism — reports that a "health freedom attorney" (heh) has filed a suit against the FDA to halt the distribution of swine flu vaccine. However, their claims of this vaccine being rushed, untested, and so on, are all completely false.

Y’know, if people want to take tinctures and poultices and whatever that does nothing whatsoever instead of real medicine, that’s their right. But when they try to stop others from getting real medicine — medicine that can save many lives — because of their own gross misunderstanding of science, then that becomes a public threat. I hope the judge throws this case out of court, and then fines all those involved for frivolous lawsuits.

Not-so-incidentally, the Natural News website says this suit is being filed on behalf of Gary Null, and a perusal of his website shows him to be antivax as well as an AIDS denialist (someone who doesn’t think HIV causes AIDS)… and I am shocked, shocked, to find out he has his own line of alternative cures. These are the kinds of folks we’re dealing with, and why I get so very upset about all this.

So this really isn’t a "lose" yet, but it’s a lose in the sense that people with such a tenuous grasp of reality attack it with such fervor. They are putting everyone at risk: you, me, everyone. That’s why I am so vocal, and will continue to be.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Alt-Med, Antiscience, Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: AIDS, antivax, cancer, fraud, HIV, vaccines

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar