This week, Ben Goldacre, author of the Bad Science column in The Guardian, wrote about a “ragged band of science bloggers” who successfully took on the British Chiropractic Association and meticulously investigated its claims. Here’s a clip from The Guardian, found via the Online Journalism Blog:
The British Chiropractic Association has been suing [Simon] Singh personally for the past 15 months, over a piece in the Guardian where he criticised the BCA for claiming that its members could treat children for colic, ear infections, asthma, prolonged crying, and sleeping and feeding conditions by manipulating their spines.
The BCA maintains that the efficacy of these treatments is well documented. Singh said that claims were made without sufficient evidence, described the treatments as “bogus”, and criticised the BCA for “happily promoting” them.
… An international petition against the BCA has been signed by professors, journalists, celebrities and more … But it is a ragged band of science bloggers who has done the most detailed work. Fifteen months after the case began, the BCA finally released the academic evidence it was using to support specific claims. Within 24 hours this was taken apart meticulously by bloggers, referencing primary research papers, and looking in every corner.
Professor David Colquhoun of UCL pointed out, on infant colic, that the BCA cited weak evidence in its favour, while ignoring strong evidence contradicting its claims. He posted the evidence and explained it. LayScience flagged up the BCA selectively quoting a Cochrane review. Every stone was turned by Quackometer, APGaylard, Gimpyblog, EvidenceMatters, Dr Petra Boynton, MinistryofTruth, Holfordwatch, legal blogger Jack of Kent, and many more. At every turn they have taken the opportunity to explain a different principle of evidence based medicine—the sin of cherry-picking results, the ways a clinical trial can be unfair by design—to an engaged lay audience, with clarity as well as swagger.