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Rum Doings Special: Special Guest Ben Goldacre

by on Mar.10, 2011, under Rum Doings, The Rest

We’re very pleased to say that in episode 40, 50, 60 and 63 of Rum Doings (a four-way simulcast, and double-length), we are joined by very special guest, Dr. Ben Goldacre. The man behind the Bad Science blog and Guardian column, and the book of the same name, allows us into his London studio to discuss the subjects about which he and we are passionate. We think this was a unique opportunity for the subjects to be discussed with enough space to consider them properly, and for the good doctor to speak in a way that five minute radio interviews cannot.

In a sweary episode, we begin by talking about the peculiarities of those who threaten to sue Goldacre for libel, and the way quacks will create misleading statistics. Then via Nick’s desire for robot doctors, we discuss whether doctors are obliged to tell the truth to their patients, how new technology may change the role of doctors in diagnosis, and the potential for conflicts of interest depending upon how doctors are paid. And Nick lets John speak after the first half hour.

We ponder the potential privatisation of the NHS, and the impact that may have on patients and doctors, what happens when you privatise blood donation, and in turn, the nature of an altruistic act. We ask what doctors should be doing with drugs they know don’t perform better than placebo, even if they appear to help patients.

Dr Ben puts out the interesting idea that doctors should not be the final gatekeeper to a patient’s access to drugs, and indeed whether there should be legitimate access to outlawed drugs. There’s chat about how we should react when we see the vulnerable being tricked by quacks, how much John gets paid for writing in The Cat Magazine, how we can encourage big pharma to get out of their patenting model, and Nick’s LBC caller gets a good few outings.

All three of us express our concerns with the Comic Relief Walkers Crisps campaign, we hear Ben’s “Everything In This Box Is Bollocks” suggestion for letting adverts lie as much as they want, and Nick trots out his Trotsky theories. The idiocy of DRM rears its head, then Nick and John leap on Ben when they see a glimmer of an opportunity to evangelise free software models. And then a last second chat about Richard Stallman brings us to an end.

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