Dr Ben Goldacre’s Grovelling Apology For Sexual Abuse, Bullying & Harassment of Female Doctor & Medical Journalist By His BadScience Forum Trolls and Bullies

As the media now frequently report deaths of individuals who have taken their own lives linked to online cyber bullying and harassment we bring our readers a grovelling apology [more details below] from Dr Ben Goldacre and his BadScience Forum given to another medical doctor, Dr Rita Pal and seemingly offered through gritted teeth following Dr Pal’s threat to Goldacre of legal proceedings.

Dr Pal was subjected to bullying and harassment for supporting another medical doctor hounded by some members of Dr Ben Goldacre’s forum.  Dr Pal was threatened with sexual violence.  She and the other hounded doctor she courageously supported had also been victimised individually and quite separately by the UK’s General Medical Council.  This reflects the current moral condition and systemic decline of significant parts of the British medical elite and the British establishment generally and the seemingly organised bullying and harassment that goes on.

Dr Pal is a fighter not a quitter, who has managed on other occasions also to protect herself and secure her rights when needed by legal action.  She extracted the grovelling apology from Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum.  This demonstrates the level of responsibility [or not] to be expected of the likes of some of the medically qualified members of the British establishment scene like Dr Goldacre.

Goldacre tries to give the impression he does not know what his disciples do on and off his BadScience forum.  Yet his forum seems like a cult, attracting some people who seem to “get off” by bullying and harassing others.  Dr Goldacre himself appears to have posted on the site where members are encouraged to engage in direct action [“activism”], writing:

The time for talking has passed. I draw the line at kidnapping, incidentally.”

So we ask you to ask yourself: is it possible Dr Ben Goldacre really does not know what kinds of behaviour his BadScience Forum members engage in?  And if he really does not know, is that an excuse or a defence or wilful ignorance?  It is his forum.  He owns and operates it. He clearly encourages the behaviour, so can he excuse himself when it happens? And what of the fact an apology was elicited after legal proceedings were threatened?  What does that tell you of the mentality of Dr Goldacre and his BadScience Forum and how they view their conduct.  One view might be it says to the world “as far as we are concerned anything goes and we don’t care“?

This CHS article follows CHS exposing a case of a patient taking their own life linked to the hounding by some of Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum members of another dedicated and female medical Doctor and the bullying and harassment engaged in by one too many of them.

Dr Pal is a former UK National Health Service whistleblower who sued the UK’s General Medical Council. Dr Pal is also an independent health journalist.   She commented on the previous CHS article and in turn linked to her own article in which she referred to her experience of Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum: [Ben Goldacre and his dysfunctional Forums Friday, 3 January 2014].

Here is an edited quote from Dr Pal:

The problem with Ben’s grotesque Bad Science forum is that it is largely populated by men who are aggressive, have no respect for anyone and move around in groups trolling anyone who disagrees with their world view. They believe that they should right the world and challenge anyone they consider “quacks”. What they forget is that many fragile patients rely on alternative therapies and just about survive on it.

My experience of Ben Goldacre’s forum was quite simple. I supported my friend …… against the GMC. For that, I was criticized and maligned. ……. for that, I was threatened with sexual assault and numerous other things via the Bad Science Forums. 

Here is Dr Ben Goldacre’s BadScience Forum apology to Dr Pal [and notice it does not start out with the customary “Dear” as is usual eg “Dear Dr Pal” it starts just “Dr Pal”.  Impolite?  Through gritted teeth?  Or both?  And is being a thug and a bully endemic to Dr Goldacre’s BadScience Forum or just applicable to the small minority?]:

——- Original Message ——–
Subject: From the Bad Science Forum Moderation Team
Date: Sat, 30 Oct 2010 20:19:00 +0100
From: Badscience Mods <badsciencemods@gmail.com>

Dr Pal,

We are writing to express our apologies for the way in which abuse has been directed at you via the Bad Science Forums, on behalf of everyone who is a member there. Whilst the forum has a history of vigorous, robust debate and argument, we recognise that the comments on the forum went far beyond that which could be reasonably expected.

Whilst Ben Goldacre owns and hosts the forum, he has posted very little there in the last two years, and was completely unaware of the nature of the comments there, until you brought it to his attention. Please be assured that the member responsible for the comments, about which you have complained, has been banned. In addition to this, Ben is requiring the forum to undergo a process of change, in that there will be more moderation and supervision of future comments by more people, and we will be doing our best to remove any past forum comments or threads which could be justifiably judged to be unnecessarily and unacceptably offensive. Please be patient with us while we go about this, and if you have any more cause for complaint about comments in the forum, please get in touch with the moderation team at this email address.

We are keen to ensure that, in the future, whilst we would like to maintain the challenging and frank nature of debate on the forums at badscience.net, we are deeply unhappy with anyone who brings the reputation of Ben, Bad Science, or the forum into disrepute, and we will deal with comments like this much more swiftly and directly.

Once again, our deepest apologies for any offence that the utterly unacceptable comments caused.

Many thanks,

The Bad Science Forum Moderators Team.

2 Responses

  1. I have been monitoring Ben Goldacre’s repulsive bullying for more than a decade, and nothing about him surprises me. The underlying strategy is the ad hominem anyone who challenges his version of the science. On one occasion he engaged through the Guardian newspaper in a personalised attack on a fellow journalist who reported on the adverse effects she experienced fro WiFi radiation (not disclosing that his then institution, the Institute of Psychiatry, housed the industry funded Mobile Phones Unit). Typical of the intimidatory manner was the advice on his Bad Science blog:

    “..personal anecdotes about your MMR tragedy will be deleted for your own safety”

    His website also sold/sells novelty items (thongs, mugs, bibs etc.) declaring safety of MMR, or attacking the scientific credentials of nutritionists and homeopaths. In 2007 when I questioned the purity of his position on industry sponsorship of journalism in a letter to BMJ the JABS Forum (with which I was then closely associated) was over-run by a mob from the Bad Science Forum within minutes of my letter being submitted, let alone published.

    The mob tactics were particularly notable in the Jeni Barnett MMR episode, when the Bad Science gang attacked LBC. While Barnett did not not know a lot about the science her instinct about the way the debate was being controlled was amply demonstrated: the principle of ‘ask any questions and we will take you out” was put into instant effect.

    When an Observer journalist reported accurately on an unpublished study suggesting autism levels reaching approx 1 in 60 amongst school children living in Cambridgeshire ahead of the GMC hearing against Wakefield and colleagues Goldacre led a putsch against the Observer’s editor from within Guardian newspapers, who was forced to resign.

    On another occasion, seemingly operating in favour of the commercial interests of GSK, he led an attack on Sunday Express health journalist Lucy Johnston over an article about HPV vaccines, leading to a well-researched article being taken down.

    The brutal and misogynistic culture of the Bad Science Forum is shameful and horrific.



    The fact that Goldacre is allowed to pose in the mainstream media as some kind of honest broker in scientific debate is truly dismaying.

  2. The point about Goldacre is that though he may engage cursorily with scientific issues (though with a flawed bias towards statistical analysis) the great project is fundamentally coercive, dictatorial, aimed at closing down legitmate, tolerant discussion and fundamentally anti-scientific in spirit – really just the preservation of authority.

    Perhaps his wild appearance is part of a strategy to make him seem subversive. It goes along with Brian Deer’s fantasy that the establishment is against him, when really they are hiding behind him.

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