I’ve referred earlier this week to the work of Ioannidis, who argues that most published medical statistics are wrong. The British Medical Journal regularly uses its Xmas issue to publish some disconcerting, off-beat papers. In a previous issue, they produced the findings of a randomised control trial which showed an apparently impossible result: praying for people whose outcomes were already decided several years ago seemed to work. The message: don’t trust randomised control trials, because they’re randomised. This year, an article, “Like a virgin”, identifies 45 women in a sample of nearly 5,500 who claim to have had a virgin birth. The message: don’t believe everything people tell you in surveys. If only medical journals applied the same rigour to some of their ‘serious’ results.