Ben Goldacre on the use of psychiatry as a form of social control, and the politically-motivated diagnosis of mental illness. Feb 2003.
When I hear the phrase “political psychiatric diagnosis”, I start thinking about Soviet dissidents, dosed up on thioridazine, being physically restrained on lock-up wards. I like to think I would have had nothing to do with that kind of business, because I went into psychiatry to help people, not to be a jailer.
Ben Goldacre points to the analogies between the 'organic' food argument and the BigPharma vs homeopathy/'alternative medicine' - mainly that all niches will be filled under capitalism.
Ben Goldacre, of Bad Science fame, reports on the Soil Association's response a recent Food Standards Agency (FSA) report on organic food. Goldacre says the FSA's report shows "that organic food is no better than normal food, in terms of composition, or health benefits".
The United States military is still researching a controversial microwave weapon that could be deployed against crowds from aircraft.
The US military is to increase funding for the Active Denial System (ADS) from $2mil to $10mil despite the controversy surrounding the weapon. The ADS is described by the Pentagon as a 'non-lethal weapon' and is intended to be used a crowd control device.
Marxist biologists Richard Lewontin and Richard Levins remember the life and career of paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould, and his role in the social criticism of science.
Early this year, Stephen Gould developed lung cancer, which spread so quickly that there was no hope of survival. He died on May 20, 2002, at the age of sixty. Twenty years ago, he had escaped death from mesothelioma, induced, we all supposed, by some exposure to asbestos.
Marxist geneticist Richard Lewontin and economist Jean-Pierre Berlan discuss the economics of and role of capital in the production of hybrid corn. This article follows their 'Technology, research, and the penetration of capital: the case of U.S. agriculture' article.
Source: Monthly Review, July-August, 1986 by Jean-Pierre Berlan, R.C. Lewontin
Some recent hoax articles are demonstrating the flaws in the control of information and particularly academic publishing. A recent hoax demonstrates that, so long as you are willing to pay, you can get anything published, even computer generated mumbo-jumbo. And if you can't pay, you either don't publish, or the company owns the product of your labour. Open access isn't as open as it seems.
Not quite as lol-worthy as the 'Sokal hoax' but certainly a nice effort is the story of a recent hoax paper submitted to, and accepted, by an open-access information science journal.
Joseph K's 'favourite liberal', NHS doctor and science writer Ben Goldacre has written about bullshit medical research, bogus science reporting, the placebo effect, and everything else from postmodernism to evolutionary psychology.
He's just made available the missing chapter from his Bad Science book, in case anyone's interested.
A paper in medical journal The Lancet last week shows that poor vaccination uptake in some European countries has lead to measles outbreaks across Europe, with just five countries in Europe accounting for 85% of cases. The growing 'exportation' of measles from Europe to regions thought to be clear of measles has undermined immunity elsewhere and setback the worldwide eradication program.
After the previous discussion of the measles outbreak in Cheshire, a timely paper in The Lancet last week highlighted how daft anti-vaccination nonsense is.
In 1925, teacher John T. Scopes was tried in Dayton, Tennessee, for teaching evolution in a science classroom. Stephen Jay Gould pointed out a number of misconceptions relating to the trial, and radio feature this week revisited the small town that became known for one of the most famous trials in US history.
In 2008, the year that marked the 150th anniversary of Darwin and Wallace's ideas on evolution by natural selection first being presented, at least seven US states experienced legal challenges to evolution (most of which died) being taught in the science classroom, and in the past decade, many more states have seen teachers subjected to the whims of creationist lobbyists on school boards.