Well this has been an interesting experience for me. Thanks to this post by Ben Goldacre, my “Behind the Smokescreen” post has received around 50 times the traffic I usually get in my quiet little corner of the blogosphere. For the sake of new readers, I should clarify that I am not Ben Goldacre. I […]

(Warning: compared to my usual posts this is a bit long and a bit grumpy) I’m a non-smoking epidemiologist, with an academic focus on non-communicable disease. I should be in favour of reducing the public health threat of smoking, right? You bet! And I should be delighted by the BMA’s recommendations that smoking in cars […]

So, I need to know what the population of the UK, and then specifically England and Wales, has been each year for the last 10 years for some analysis I’m doing. Naturally I thought to look at the Office of National Statistics for the most reliable estimates. After a couple of false starts, I found […]

I read an article today which called for the NHS to ready itself for a ‘genetic revolution’ in healthcare. Leaving aside the perpetually optimistic claims of the genetic world, and the cost implications for a health service that is being asked to cut back on some basic surgical procedures, there was a throwaway line that […]

The Infinite Monkey theorem, in which an endless typing pool of monkeys is hypothesised to one day produce Shakespearean output, is well known. Now an enthusiastic programmer has decided to exploit cloud computing capabilities to simulate millions of ‘virtual monkeys’ typing away randomly, to see how long it takes before those sonnets arise. Quite wisely, […]

Hospitals and other medical services record a lot of data on their patients – contact details, demographics, treatments and outcomes. Lots of detail is also recorded about illnesses and injuries, and it helps if this is done in a systematic and consistent fashion. In the UK, ‘Read Codes‘ do the job, but another worldwide standard […]

Earlier this year The Guardian and The Wellcome Trust launched a new science writing prize. The shortlist was announced recently and I didn’t make the cut. But on the plus side I’m now free to do as I wish with my entry. I found it quite hard to work out what to write about. The area […]

The bizarre chain of events in the UK of late, where protest gave way to riot, which yielded to brazen arson and looting, has given people plenty to chew over. Early commentators have noted that the perpetrators are not just the ‘obvious’ or the ‘usual suspects’, but a more diverse mixture with various motivations. It […]

Nice to hear a radio programme about lifecourse epidemiology and longitudinal studies this week.   It’s not often that population health gets such a measured presentation.  I was particularly pleased to hear reference (24 mins onward) to the potential of using existing data from patient records to give new insights to health, disease and clinical […]

I’m a massive fan of the webcomic xkcd. Don’t be surprised if you find me using Randall Munroe’s creative outputs on a regular basis to help me get my point across. It’s easy to find things that correlate in every day life. Cold weather spells correlate with higher fuel bills. The start of the festival […]