Photoshopping, fraud and circular logic in research

‘It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.’
Marcia Angell

Check out this image from a peer reviewed research paper that supposedly shows skin lesions being treated by a laser:

I left the Bitcoin community five years ago. My final essay explaining why — “The resolution of the Bitcoin experiment” — is to my great surprise even half a decade later still being reshared on social media every few days and gets a steady stream of visits. I also regularly get emails asking me about it.

Although that was the last essay I published on Bitcoin, it wasn’t the last I actually wrote. The other essay was shared with a few people privately over the years but never made public. There was no deep reason for this: at the time…

I’ve published a report prepared for Steve Baker MP into some of the issues I’ve seen in the past half year of reading papers and models from the world of epidemiology.

It can be found on my website here:

Summary of methodological issues in epidemiology

It discusses a mix of programming, statistical, logical and communication related issues with some suggestions to the government for how to better incorporate research into decision making.

Mr Baker has written an op-ed titled “I cannot support a second lockdown”. It’s unfortunately behind the Telegraph paywall, but he references the report in this paragraph:


This weekend I finished reading the new book Science Fictions, by Stuart Ritchie. It’s about the replication crisis in science, the underlying causes and ways to make science more reliable.

In this article I’ll review it and ponder some of the issues it raises. I’ll also suggest some topics that it didn’t cover.

Not got time to read a book? No problem! There’s a comic version of it too!


Overall conclusion: buy it. It’s a great book about a vitally important topic.

Especially if you’ve enjoyed my essays on unreliable science then you’ll enjoy this, because Science Fictions is…

A quick followup

The last post on why under current definitions COVID will never end picked up some interest. Other people have started writing articles about it too in recent days.

It wasn’t the most focused writing I’ve ever done, to be honest. Here I’ll try to simply summarise the key points about COVID PCR testing false positives, instead of using a narrative format. New information is provided and all claims are sourced.

  1. Many scientists and governments consider COVID testing to be highly accurate, without any meaningful number of false positives. For example Switzerland’s COVID task force page says “The specificity of PCR…

Why COVID-19 is guaranteed to never end

Aerial view of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

(a bullet-point version of this article is also available, with additional sources)

The whooping cough ripped through the hospital like wildfire.

It started with an internist and spread from there, with a severe cough quickly developing in other healthcare workers. Whilst not deadly for healthy adults the disease can be fatal for the elderly, the frail and very young children, so the health system moved quickly. There was no time to lose — within weeks over 1,000 staff were furloughed and quarantined. 142 people tested positive for the disease, thousands of people were given antibiotics and ICU beds were closed…

A closer look at the field informing current events

There’s a famous saying about simulations of the real world: “all models are wrong, but some are useful. A critical question to ask right now is whether epidemiological models are wrong but useful, or just wrong.

Update 2nd April 2020

Here are links to other analysis that I found after publication of this article

Are epidemiological models useful?

It’s up to governments to decide what advice to follow. Nothing in this analysis should be taken as a suggestion to ignore their…

Since Sunday’s analysis quite a lot has been happening. I’ve been asked to post a quick update.

It feels like a lot of people are simultaneously hitting on the same ideas, looking for information and ending up on my blog. Some of them have medical backgrounds, others are engineers or suppliers who want to do something.

Of those, some are then co-ordinating with each other on the mailing list:

You can join simply by sending an email to — no new accounts or passwords are needed. As can be seen in the archives, it’s already quite active.

Three key…

Research notes on using sleep apnea machines as ventilators

Update: Discuss this topic on the forum.

Also see: More CPAP for COVID

What is the idea?

Mass reclamation and reprogramming of the home mechanical ventilators prescribed to treat sleep apnea, for relieving ICU pressure by handling less severe cases during the current crisis.

Possible solutions for virus aerosolisation are discussed. Max capabilities of hardware are analysed and the potential for rapid upgrade via firmware modifications is examined. Software for monitoring fleets of CPAP machines via radio is proposed.

Is this stupid?

The Israeli military is already researching it. And a professor of pulmonary and critical care is also exploring the concept. So probably not, albeit…

More examples of unreliable narratives, radiocarbon dating

Hadrian’s Wall, in England
Hadrian’s Wall, in England

This is part 3 in a series on conspiracy theories which allege the scholarly consensus on European history is wrong. Please read part one for important disclaimers. Then read part two.

Near the border between Scotland and England lies a 73 mile wall. Conventional chronology tells us it was built by Emperor Hadrian in 117 AD. Given the sheer size of the thing and that it’s a key feature of history taught to British schoolchildren, how much evidence exists to support these apparently basic facts?

Surprisingly, there are just two pieces of evidence in support. The first is the testimony…

Mike Hearn

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