Alternative MethodsConventional Methods


Ben Goldacre

Confirmed Luminary

Ben Goldacre

Ben is a best-selling author, broadcaster, campaigner, medical doctor and academic who specialises in unpicking the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, quacks, drug companies, and more.

His first book “Bad Science” (4th Estate) has sold over 500,000 copies to date, is published in 18 countries, and reached number one in the UK non-fiction bestseller charts. Bad Pharma, is on bad behaviour in the pharmaceutical industry and medicine more broadly: it is a top ten UK best seller. His Collected Journalism and Papers is the perfect toilet book for a nerd.

In policy work, he co-authored this influential Cabinet Office paper in 2012, advocating for randomised trials in government, and setting out mechanisms to drive this forwards. In 2013 he conducted an independent external review for the Department for Education, on improving the creation and use of evidence in the teaching sector (the public component of this work is published here). He is the co-founder of the AllTrials campaign – now supported by over 50,000 individuals, 120 patient groups, GSK, and all major academic and medical bodies in the UK – working towards a concrete fix for the ongoing problem of clinical trial results being withheld. He has given evidence on numerous occasions to multiple parliamentary select committees including the Public Accounts Committee (withheld clinical trials and Tamiflu),Science and Technology (withheld clinical trials, homeopathy), Health (privacy and electronic patient data), and Culture Media & Sport (libel).

Ben is currently a Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in the Department of Primary Care in the University of Oxford, and a Research Fellow in Epidemiology at LSHTM. He runs the EBMdataLab in the University of Oxford, building fun live tools to create and use data more effectively in healthcare and academia, like OpenPrescribing which has identified hundreds of millions of pounds of cost savings for the NHS, and OpenTrials, the missing index for all clinical trial data and documents. His work bio is here.

Ben wrote the weekly Bad Science column in the Guardian for a decade. It’s archived on this site along with blogposts, columns for the British Medical Journal, academic papers, government reports, lectures, radio shows, and more.

There are lots of clips of Ben on telly here, and a talk at TEDGlobal here. He has made various documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and The World Service on science, libel, policy, and epidemiology: The Placebo Effect is a two-part series, The Rise of the Lifestyle Nutritionists is another. He’s appeared on the Today programme lots of times, QI, Any Questions, Newsnight, Start The Week, The Now Show, Loose Ends, PM, Quote Unquote, Watchdog, and various other things. In the US he’s been on shows such as On The Media and Radiolab. You can find plenty of this if you dig around on the site, along with lectures, podcast interviews, maybe start here.

He has toured theatres and rock venues and given over 300 talks in the past 5 years, from comedy clubs and music festivals to universities and schools, from various government departments to the Hammersmith Apollo, lecturing regularly to audiences of thousands.

He’s received lots of awards for writing, and a few honorary doctorates.

Recommended luminaries
Penelope Trunk

Penelope Trunk is an American businesswoman, author, and blogger. Her work concentrates on the intersection of work and life. Trunk is the author of the books Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success, The New American Dream: A Blueprint for a New Path to Success, and The Power of Mentors: The Guide to Finding and Learning from Your Ideal Mentor. She blogged at Brazen Careerist before leaving that company.

She is now the head of Quistic, her latest start-up venture—an education company—and maintains an eponymous blog featuring career advice. Trunk wrote a column for the Boston Globe that was syndicated in 200 newspapers across the United States.

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins, in full Clinton Richard Dawkins, (born March 26, 1941, Nairobi, Kenya), British evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and popular-science writer who emphasized the gene as the driving force of evolution and generated significant controversy with his enthusiastic advocacy of atheism.

Dawkins spent his early childhood in Kenya, where his father was stationed during World War II. The family returned to England in 1949. In 1959 Dawkins entered Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1962. He remained at Oxford, earning his master’s and doctorate degrees in zoology in 1966 under famed ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen. Dawkins assisted Tinbergen before becoming an assistant professor of zoology (1967–69) at the University of California, Berkeley. He returned to Oxford to lecture in zoology in 1970.

In 1976 he published his first book, The Selfish Gene, in which he tried to rectify what he maintained was a widespread misunderstanding of Darwinism. Dawkins argued that natural selection takes place at the genetic rather than the species or individual level, as was often assumed. Genes, he maintained, use the bodies of living things to further their own survival. He also introduced the concept of “memes,” the cultural equivalent of genes. Ideas and concepts, from fashion to music, take on a life of their own within society and, by propagating and mutating from mind to mind, affect the progress of human evolution. Dawkins named the concept after the Greek word mimeme, meaning “to imitate.” It later spawned an entire field of study called memetics. The book was notable not just because of what it espoused but also because of its approachable style, which made it accessible to a popular audience.

More books followed, including The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), which won the Royal Society of Literature Award in 1987, and River Out of Eden (1995). Dawkins particularly sought to address a growing misapprehension of what exactly Darwinian natural selection entailed in Climbing Mount Improbable (1996). Stressing the gradual nature of response to selective pressures, Dawkins took care to point out that intricate structures such as the eye do not manifest randomly but instead successively increase in sophistication. He also released The Evolution of Life (1996), an interactive CD-ROM with which users could create “biomorphs,” computer-simulated examples of evolution first introduced in The Blind Watchmaker.

Dawkins was named the first Charles Simonyi professor of public understanding of science at Oxford (1995–2008). In that capacity he continued to publish prolifically and produced an array of television programs. His 1996 documentary Break the Science Barrier featured Dawkins conversing with an array of prominent scientists about their discoveries. In the volume Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), Dawkins contended that evolutionary theory is aesthetically superior to supernatural explanations of the world. The Ancestor’s Tale (2004), structured after Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, traced the human branch of the phylogenetic tree back to points where it converges with the evolution of other species. Further publications include The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009), a tribute to, and vehement defense of, the theory of evolution by natural selection, and The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True (2011), a book for young readers that juxtaposed the scientific understandings of various phenomena with mythologies that purported to explain them. He also edited The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing (2008).

Though much of Dawkins’s oeuvre generated debate for asserting the supremacy of science over religion in explaining the world, nothing matched the response to the polemical The God Delusion (2006). The book relentlessly points out the logical fallacies in religious belief and ultimately concludes that the laws of probability preclude the existence of an omnipotent creator. Dawkins used the book as a platform to launch the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (2006), an organization that, in dual American and British incarnations, sought to foster the acceptance of atheism and championed scientific answers to existential questions. Along with fellow atheists Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel C. Dennett, he embarked on a campaign of lectures and public debates proselytizing and defending a secular worldview. Dawkins launched the Out Campaign in 2007 in order to urge atheists to publicly declare their beliefs.

In addition to promoting his organization through its Web site and YouTube channel, Dawkins produced several more television documentaries, variously declaiming the problems created by religion and superstition in Root of All Evil? (2006) and The Enemies of Reason (2007) and celebrating the achievements of Darwin in The Genius of Charles Darwin (2008). Sex, Death, and the Meaning of Life (2012) explores the implications of living without religious faith. In the memoir An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist (2013), Dawkins chronicled his life up to the publication of The Selfish Gene. A second volume of memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science (2015), recorded episodes from the latter part of his career.

Dawkins was named a fellow of the Royal Society in 2001.

Lisa Hubbard

Lisa Hubbard

Lisa Hubbard is the Creator and Founder of Rhythm Pilates® and is an Associate Faculty Member for world renowned BASI Pilates®. She is an internationally recognized Pilates figure in the industry and has been featured in many award winning Pilates projects, including DVDs, textbooks and is a second-time cover model for Pilates Style Magazine®. She has dedicated over twenty years to training in the method and has been teaching for over eighteen years. In addition to her dance background, she holds certifications in GYROTONIC®, The National Pilates Certification Program, Yoga and owns a successful private Pilates studio in Southern California. Lisa is an inspiration to many movement practitioners whom have found her wealth of knowledge and creativity to only be surpassed by her fantastic energy. She is continuously recognized by her peers and by industry specialists as an outstanding representative of the Pilates method. Lisa has been featured presenter at the prestigious Asian Academy for Sports and Fitness Professionals in China and Hong Kong at the Asian Fitness Education Expo.

Lisa continues to shares her passion for movement and is honored to be amongst the highest caliber and most distinguished instructors in the industry as a visiting instructor at Pilates Anytime, showcasing her Rhythm Pilates total body workouts. Her online classes are one of the sites’ most popular, having been in the top five.

Lisa teaches Pilates, GYROTONIC® and Yoga in her private studio to a diverse clientele including both professional and young aspiring dancers, ice skaters, athletes, martial artists, Pilates instructors, as well as the beginning student. She also works with the geriatric population providing specialized instruction to meet their unique needs. Lisa’s classes focus on anatomy, alignment, proper technique and well-being.

Her passion, commitment and dedication to excellence in teaching empower her to enhance her skills through continuing education of the body-mind-spirit techniques, daily training and a balanced lifestyle.

At home in California, Lisa devotes her time to her family and their dog, friends, and enjoys reading, travel and various outdoor activities.

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