The Valley of Death

September, 25, 2018 | 13 Comments


  1. This poem was written to memorialize a suicidal charge by light cavalry over open terrain by British forces in the Battle of Balaclava (Ukraine) in the Crimean War (1854-56). 247 men of the 637 in the charge were killed or wounded. Britain entered the war, which was fought by Russia against Turkey, Britain and France, because Russia sought to control the Dardanelles. Russian control of the Dardanelles threatened British sea routes.

    Many in the west best know of this war today because of Florence Nightingale, who trained and led nurses aiding the wounded during the war in a manner innovative for those times. The War was also noteworthy as an early example of the work of modern war correspondents.

    The Charge Of The Light Brigade
    by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    The Charge of the ‘Light’ Brigade and the Valley of ‘Death’ and ‘modern war correspondents’

    Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon behind them

  2. “Nobody so far has mentioned the fact that 50% over the age of 45 are on 3 or more drugs and 50% of us over the age of 65 are on 5 or more drugs…”

    Of course, James Le Fanu has been mentioning this quite a lot but you may not hear it on the BBC News.

  3. “Whether industry assays or medical trials, RCTs compromise safety by focusing on a primary outcome – does this drug “work” – rather than on the 99 other things that drugs can do. This act of hypnosis leads industry RCTs to suggest that, for instance, 5% of people on an SSRI have sexual dysfunction when effectively 100% do.
    Throw in some pixie dust – any side effects there might have been cannot by definition be statistically significant (statistical significance only applies to primary outcomes) – and the chances of an RCT making any contribution to safety completely vanish.”

    I don’t follow this. How does focusing on a primary outcome mean that RCTs suggest 5% of SSRI users have sexual dysfunction when really 100% do? And in what way does statistical significance only apply to primary outcomes? Thanks.

  4. I guess Tennyson actually admired the Light Brigade for loyally following orders:

    But tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone had blundered

    Not so Pete Seeger, who had some very different advice for Our Troops:

    Waist Deep in the Big Muddy (1967)

    A WWII captain orders his platoon to ford a river — and keeps ordering them to “Push On” as they sink deeper and deeper. When the sergeant tries to object, the frustrated captain takes the lead, and promptly drowns. The troops turn around, and live. (The song was rumored to have something to do with the Vietnam War. Gosh, I wouldn’t know.)

    The final verse:

    Well, I’m not going to point any moral
    I’ll leave that for yourself
    Maybe you’re still walking, you’re still talking
    You’d like to keep your health
    But every time I read the papers
    That old feeling comes on:
    We’re — waist deep in the Big Muddy
    And the big fool says to push on!

    • I don’t think there is any doubt that Tennyson was genuinely horrified, and though no social revolutionary – more Whig progressive – his poem did place a question over the military caste. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop the Somme six decades later. The lesson we learn is that no lesson is ever learnt, or if it is the wrong people who learn it.

  5. Video of Cochrane’s Annual General Meeting 2018

    Let’s talk about – THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM – that is is how one of the members insisted on asking the question everyone was most concerned about after the chair tried to start shutting down the meeting – a question amongst a whole lot of very critical questions aimed at the way Peter G and colleagues have been treated by the trustees – including that members are still being kept in the dark about proceedings by a board which promotes transparency in other areas but not it seems in their own dealings. There was also an attempt to shut up Peter .G himself up when he began speaking about the ‘show trial’ rather than just accepting oblique references made about him by the trustees. There was a suggestion that the whole board resign – any bets on that happening? Instead it seems the same group will be drawing up new codes and complaints procedures That will be interesting considering the fiasco they’ve generated already. Video of Annual General Meeting 2018 begin at 1:10:25

  6. World Report

    September 29, 2018

    The Cochrane board votes to expel Peter Gotzsche

    The reconstituted board was scheduled to meet as The Lancet went to press, when Gøtzsche’s appeal will presumably be decided. Cochrane says that it will be in a position to make more information available after this meeting.

    Some people are beginning to question whether the board can survive. “I think we need a fresh start”, said one insider. “This whole thing has done a lot of damage to Cochrane; the only way to regain trust will be to replace the entire management board.”

  7. Not at the 2018 AGM?


    Peter is that you

    I’m the no longer existing Cochrane collaborator…

    Peter C. Gøtzsche’s comments on:

    Statement from the Cochrane Governing Board about alleged bad behaviour of “one individual”øtzsche-comments-on-Statement-by-Cochrane-Governing-Board-from-17-Sept.pdf

    Just watched the video, Susanne, and they expected Peter Gotzsche to just sit there and take all that.

    How humiliating, and he was then accused of making ‘serious allegations’…

    What a ‘Show Trial’ with ‘pointing of fingers’ …

    Prof. Peter Gøtzsche

    Russian methods in Cochrane headquarters: tampered with our website behind our backs. Nordic Cochrane Centre withdrew from Cochrane Collaboration yesterday.

    #sundpol (link:

    5:06 am · 29 Sep 2018

    Cochrane in moral downfall

    17 September. David Healy: Cochrane Cock-up.
    Front page of the website for the Nordic Cochrane Centre 26 September 2018: (after Cochrane headquaarters had tampered with it behind ouar backs

  8. Peter C Gøtzsche
    October 1, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    It is strange to see so many false statements in so little space, by co-chair of the Cochrane Governing Board Marguerite Koster. I recommend people to look up where the events are described in chronological order.
    Contraty to Koster’s statements, the lawyers report exonerated me about the issue of using my centre’s letterhead (12 September B. Counsel’s report, which exonerates Gøtzsche from all charges).

    I did not breach confidentiality and violated my responsibilities as a member of the Board after 13 September, as Koster claims. Since I was expelled from the Board on 13 September, I had no obligations towards the Board, and I needed to defend myself against the show trial I had been exposed to.

    It is blatantly false when Koster claims that the decision to expel me had nothing to do with my criticism of the Cochrane review of HPV vaccines. It had a lot to do with this (look up 17 September F).

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