Muthafuckin’ BBC….I HATE you!

So, I’m in my second pissing contest with BBC complaints in a year.


The context: On the 5th January, BBC Breakfast did a piece on how we are all eating too many calories. To start the piece, they sent a journalist into a shopping mall to interview people about how many calories they think they should be eating a day. They then whipped out their online BMR calculator to show them all how silly they were and what a bunch of porkers they are for eating too many calories a day. You could clearly see the BMR calculator on the journalist’s tablet: it even said BMR and the number in bold capitals.


The problem? BMR is your base metabolic rate, not calorie intake. To calculate calorie intake you have to put that number into the Harris Benedict Equation. Even if you are a lard ass that sits in front of your computer all day like me and gets no exercise you still have to multiple the BMR by at least 1.2 to get calorie intake.


So, BMR IS NOT calorie intake.


The piece was, therefore, misleading to say that they are the same thing.


Why is this important?


For the people being interviewed they have left that mall thinking that they are eating far too many calories and may cut right back to what was suggested by the BMR calculator. For the viewers, they may go and try to calculate it themselves. While some website state that you need to then use the HB equation, many do not.


The ramifications? Malnutrition. Organ damage. Osteoporosis. Extreme dieting. Eating disorders. Death.


So, I complained.


What did I get in response?


“We understand you feel this programme gave misleading information on the number of calories people require as it didn’t take into account the Harris Benedict Equation.”


FEEL? Wha? It WAS! You said that BMR IS calorie intake!


The whole BBC complaints system is based on trying to brush you off at the first point by making out that the problem is that you are overly sensitive and they’ve done nothing wrong. If that doesn’t work, then they try to pound you into submission by giving you the run around until you give up. At the most, you get a final “sorry” but they will not admit that they have ever done anything wrong and they never do anything about it.


I would boycott paying my TV license if I could but the BBC cannily have the law on their side so that no-one can protest the disgrace that the BBC have become.


NICE refuses to fund £90k breast cancer drug: But are certain people more deserving of it than others?

Story on BBC Breakfast about NICE refusing to fund £90k breast cancer drug.

Firstly, NICE aren’t really the problem. It is Roche that make it. The price tag is disgraceful. Although, I am starting to get the feeling that NICE are only here to ensure that everyone in the UK gets mediocre health care.

But, what I was rather annoyed about was the woman on who is currently on the drug. While I agree with many of her arguments, they are purely from her own perspective. And the argument that really annoyed me was when she said that she deserved the drug because she was a mother.

The basis of her argument up to this point was the, very understandable one, of how can you put a price tag on a person’s life. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. But, she then invalidated her argument with her suggestion that she was more deserving than other women because she was a mother. Women without kids are just as important as you, m’dear. Their lives mean just as much to them, and to their families, as yours does.

We can’t have people thinking that they are more deserving than others. If you go down that route, where do you start? What about those who are caring for someone who is not a child? Do they go above or below mothers? Do we decide that those with disabilities are less deserving? Women of child bearing age but no kids go above those past the menopause? It is a slippery slope.

The only decision that should be used is a prediction of who is healthy enough to tolerate the treatment and who will benefit.

Teenagers using e-cigarettes

Quelle suprise!

ASH, the anti-smoking campaign group, have conducted a survey with hardly any participants and found that “loads” of teenagers are using e-cigarettes.

Oh, I am so shocked!

We complain when big pharma et al do this kind of biased research, we should be just as sceptical when a biased campaign group perform or sponsor research.

Caution warranted: Take with pinch of salt.

Forgettable research in Alzheimer’s disease

None of the major news outlets could provide the info this week. I don’t even think they knew that they should be publishing it. Why let such a trivial thing get in the way of a big headline?

The journal that it was published in couldn’t even be arsed to co-ordinate publishing this study in line with the massive PR campaign. So, why should we care?

What am I talking about, dear reader?

The leading health story this week about a supposed “test” for Alzehimer’s disease.

I blogged earlier in the week about my dissatisfaction with the way the PR was handled. But my biggest grumble was that the false alarm rate for this test was never mentioned in the massive PR campaign, which I found very suss.

As the journal can’t seem to be arsed to publish the article, it was left to New Scientist, who are not exactly known for casting a critical eye over science and publish some absolute tosh that is badly flawed both experimentally and statistically, but, a hoorah for them! They actually, for once pointed out that, while the detection rate might be 87.5%, the false alarm rate was 10%.


Now I know why the Lancet didn’t publish the work!

With a FA rate of 10% this research is going NOWHERE!

If you don’t think that’s a big deal, think of it this way….

Think of all those people you supposedly “know” on facebook. Ten percent of them would be diagnosed with AD when they didn’t have it. Think how devastating it would be to be told that your brain is rotting and you are slowly going to turn into the living dead. Ten percent misdiagnosis is atrocious. What is even more atrocious is the false hope this has given to millions of people because the researchers had to big up their reputations, flaunt themselves in front of the media, and the media being so poorly trained in science that they overlooked the big flaw in the research.

I suppose it is ironic, given that it is AD research, that in a week’s time everyone will have forgotten about this disaster

Loneliness social survey results

Ah, the new social survey data are out showing the negative impact of loneliness.

Apparently, it is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Of course, smokers aren’t lonely because they chat to everyone outside shops, work, pubs while having a fag!


But, while the survey is a bonus for a purely psychological explanation, I predict within 10 years that neuroscience will have found the brain area and neurotransmitter responsible!


See, you’re not lonely, you have a disease!

Where is this hallowed Alzheimer’s biomarker paper?

I was most interested today to see the top story on a new blood test for Alzheimer’s.

Over 1000 people had there blood tested and their brain scans.

We need to stop for a moment and consider that amount of money and time that must have gone into scanning over 1000 people.

The proteins together predict future Alzheimer’s with 87.5% accuracy.

The paper is published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Which in itself is curious. If this study is so important, so methodologically robust, why wasn’t it published in the Lancet or the New England Journal?

As accuracy is not the whole story (we need to know the false alarm rate as well), I went to find this paper to read it more thoroughly.

*drum roll please*

It hasn’t been published yet.

It might have been accepted for publication, but the proofs certainly aren’t online either through the journal or the lead author’s webpage. The journal even has a section on their front page for papers in the news and it isn’t even mentioned.

With all this info, take from it what you will. But, media rule of thumb, if you are going to start crowing about your new paper in the news, it better be available for people to scrutinise.

And, if when I do get hold of it, the grand claims tooted in the media don’t stack up, you’ll be hearing about it

Media psychologist seeks work

Dear Channel 5,

I am a “media psychologist” looking for work.

I have an undergraduate degree in psychology but no further training that would allow me to make sharp and insightful critiques of research studies other than what I find in the concluding paragraph of a General Discussion (but you aren’t looking for that, are you *cough* Big Brother *cough*). However, I sound confident and can con the public into thinking I know what I’m talking about even when I’m talking out my arse. I can be your paid-by-the-hour expert on any topic on human behaviour. Whether it be angry drivers, potty training, sleep disorder, or offenders, I’m your “media psychologist”.

I have a £800k house to pay for, a growing family, and a floundering career. As no-one with a respectable job in academic psychology would ever lower themselves to work with Channel 5/soft porn channel, I am confident that I can con you into offering me a job.

Best wishes,


PS. I’m available for multiple shows/topics