Proper science shows when things don’t work.

It’s a pleasure to write about well-designed, properly performed scientific studies. Unfortunately, they’re often the very ones that get ignored in the wider media. That might be because they tend to make disappointing headlines.

Take this study in JAMA, about Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo is one of those herbs that everyone swears by, that everyone ‘knows’ works to stave off Alzheimer’s disease and improve memory. The studies done so far have been small and inconclusive, leaving the outside chance it may, indeed, work for some people.

Then along comes this whacking great randomised controlled trial which shows that, actually, no it doesn’t. The study was a joy to read, a text-book example of how to run a big study, in a relevant population group, powered and timescaled to give you reliable results.

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