Ben Goldacre on medical journalism

Ben Oldacre of Bad Science is in the midst of a spat with science journalist Steve Connor of the Independent.  Ben and his two colleagues have written a letter which they hope (good luck!) Connor's employer might publish. It's a beauty and the second para elegantly skewers mainstream media's reporting of serious medical matters.

Your science journalist Steve Connor is furious that we are holding a small public meeting in a pub to discuss the problem that science journalists are often lazy and inaccurate. He gets the date wrong, claiming the meeting has already happened (it has not). He says we are three medics (only one of us is). He then invokes some stereotypes about arrogant doctors, which we hope are becoming outdated.

In fact, all three of us believe passionately in empowering patients, with good quality information, so they can make their own decisions about their health. People often rely on the media for this kind of information. Sadly, in the field of science and medicine, on subjects as diverse as MMR, sexual health, and cancer prevention, the public have been repeatedly and systematically misled by journalists.

We now believe this poses a serious threat to public health, and it is sad to see the problem belittled in a serious newspaper. Steve Connor is very welcome to attend our meeting, which is free and open to all,


(Drs) Vaughan Bell, Petra Boynton, Ben Goldacre


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measles, mumps, rubella Full medical glossary