The Observer and the Male Pill

What is it with Sunday newspapers and contraception? First we had the Mail on Sunday’s utterly irresponsible piece of front page scaremongering around the risks associated with third generation oral contraceptives, now we have Tim Lewis’s article on the problems of developing a ‘male pill’ in The Observer which contains this gloriously idiotic piece of gross understatement:

Amobi heard this story and he also discovered research from the early 1980s that there was another, very different drug with a similar side-effect: phenoxybenzamine, a medication for high-blood pressure. For some reason, these two treatments disrupted the so-called Mexican wave that a man experiences during sex to produce a “dry orgasm”. All Amobi and his team had to do was to find… Read more »

The Mail on Sunday and Oral Contraceptives

A couple of days ago the Director of the Hacked Off campaign group, Brian Cathcart, published an article on the Huffington Post containing a table of figures that the Press Complaints Commission would much prefer that the public didn’t see, one which shows which newspapers attracted the most PCC complaints in 2013. The top five newspapers on that list runs as follows:

1. Daily Mail – 1,214 complaints 2. The Sun – 638 complaints 3. Daily Telegraph – 300 complaints 4. Daily Mirror – 242 complaints 5. Mail on Sunday – 168 complaints

The Mail on Sunday, of course, publishes only one edition per week compared to the six per week published by the four newspapers ahead of it in the PCC’s chart of shame.  Its 168 complaints last year are the… Read more »

Jesus & Mo and Channel 4 News

So, without wishing to waste time recapping events that are probably already familiar to most of my regular readers, the ongoing shitstorm of the wonderful Jesus and Mo cartoon strip started with this tweet by Maajid Nawaz: To me, it matters that you can see that for yourself. Channel 4 News, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t feel the same way so when it covered this story the image that was shown to the British public was this one: This is perhaps a small improvement on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, where they declined to show any kind of image of this ‘offending cartoon’, but as I’m not aware that the BBC has yet put out any kind of statement that either… Read more »

Seagulling: An Urban Myth?

As regular visitors to the Ministry are well aware I’m something of an obsessive fact checker. Show me an article in the media that says ‘research has shown…’ or ‘scientists have said…’  and my immediate reaction is pretty much always ‘citation please’ unless the article to a field in which I’m already very familiar with the published research, in which the reaction will tend to be either ‘fair enough’ or ‘that looks like bullshit to me’. One way or another, I’m a stickler for facts so if you make any kind of factual claims then be prepared to back them up with evidence; and if you don’t and you catch my interest then you can be sure I’ll go looking… Read more »

Have Chinese Researchers Found A Link Between Abortion And Breast Cancer?

Even by my own standards this is a long article at a little over 14,000 words including references. The main subject of the article is a recent Chinese ‘ABC’ (Abortion-Breast Cancer) study, a meta-analysis of 36 studies looking at the relationship between induced abortion and women’s risk of subsequently developing breast cancer in which the authors claim to have found evidence that induced abortion does indeed increase women’s risk of developing breast cancer later in life. This, as you may well imagine, has got the anti-abortion lobby both here and in the United States very excited. So much so that earlier this week it was reported that one of the leading UK-based anti-abortion organisations, LIFE, has written to current Public Health minister,… Read more »

And all I said to my wife was: “That piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah”

By now I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that Maajid Nawaz, a Lib Dem PPC in Hampstead and Kilburn, stands accused of committing the thoroughly heinous crime of causing religiously aggravated butthurt in the first degree, the suggested punishment for which appears to be political career death by change.org petition. At the heart of this is, yet again, a completely innocuous Jesus & Mo cartoon which Maajid clearly considers to be anything but offensive, hence the following tweet: As you might have already guessed, this precipitated the usual tide of feigned outrage and assorted other venomous cockdribble together with the aforementioned petition, which I wouldn’t usually bother with were it not for the fact that it appears to… Read more »

The Independent’s ‘Lost Girls’ Wrap Up Show

I’ve never been one to leave a job half done so for this article I’m heading back to The Independent’s grossly overheated and incompetently executed ‘Lost Girls’ story to finish off the job I started last week by looking, albeit rather obliquely, at the two comment piece that the newspaper published to go with its main report. Of the two, perhaps the most interesting is that by Rajendra Kale, an Indian neurologist now working in Canada who, for a brief period (3 issues), also served as the interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) until his tenure ended shortly after the journal published an editorial on sex selective abortion which ‘generated a flood of commentary in the Canadian media’… Read more »

The Independent and Sex Selective Abortion: Not Even Wrong

According to The Independent:

Pressure is growing for the Government to curb the way that ultrasound scans can be used to inform pregnant women about the gender of their unborn babies following an investigation by The Independent suggesting that female foetuses are more likely to be aborted within certain ethnic groups living in Britain.

But how do we know that this alleged pressure is indeed growing? Well, its because The Independent has published articles on this particular issue for three days running, and in the parallel universe that newspaper editors and proprietors inhabit that’s all the proof they need. No newspaper will ever willingly admit, after flipping over into campaign mode, that their efforts to stir up a shit storm… Read more »

The Independent’s ‘Lost Girls’: A Truly Epic Fail in Data Journalism

Okay, quick recap: Yesterday, The Independent Newspaper published an article by its Science Editor, Steve Connor, in which its purports to have uncovered evidence of what it claims to be widespread use of illegal sex-selective abortions by ‘some UK ethnic groups’, all based on a bespoke data set extracted from the 2011 Census data by the Office for National Statistics at the newspaper’s request. I, of course, had a quick look at these claims and came to the conclusion that there were a number of potential problems with the newspaper’s assumptions and analysis, but couldn’t be absolutely sure at the time because I’d not seen the actual data set on which the article was based. That’s now changed. It turns out… Read more »

The Indie’s ‘Lost Girls’ may not be what it appears

Okay, this is a bit of rush job but even in the absence of any data to work with, the Independent’s claim to have uncovered evidence in the 2011 census data that gender selective abortion is being ‘widely used’ by some UK ethnic groups requires n immediate response:

The lost girls: Illegal abortion widely used by some UK ethnic groups to avoid daughters ‘has reduced female population by between 1,500 and 4,700’ The illegal abortion of female foetuses solely to ensure that families have sons is widely practised within some ethnic communities in Britain and has resulted in significant shortfalls in the proportion of girls, according to an investigation by The Independent. The practice of sex-selective abortion is now so commonplace that… Read more »