The Gold Effect

Written by Professor Denis G Rancourt


From Wikipedia: The Gold Effect is the phenomenon in which a scientific (often medical) idea is developed to the status of an accepted position within a professional body or association by the social process itself of scientific conferences, committees, and consensus building, despite not being supported by conclusive evidence.teamwork

The effect was described by Professor T. Gold in 1979.[1] The effect was reviewed by Drs. Petr Skrabanek and James McCormick in their book “Follies and Fallacies in Medicine”.[2] The Gold Effect is used to analyze errors in public health policy and practice, such as the widespread use of cholesterol screening in the prevention of cardiovascular disease.[3]In their book, Skrabanek and McCormick describe the Gold Effect as: “At the beginning a few people arrive at a state of near belief in some idea. A meeting is held to discuss the pros and cons of the idea. More people favouring the idea than those disinterested will be present. A representative committee will be nominated to prepare a collective volume to propagate and foster interest in the idea. The totality of resulting articles based on the idea will appear to show an increasing consensus. A specialised journal will be launched. Only orthodox or near orthodox articles will pass the referees and the editor.” 



  1. Lyttleton RA : The Gold Effect. In: Lying Truths. A critical scrutiny of current beliefs and conventions. Duncan R, Weston-Smith M, Eds. Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1979, pp. 182-198.

  2. Skrabanek P and McCormick J. Follies and Fallacies in Medicine. Third Edition. Tarragon Press, Whithorn. 1998. pp. 54-55.

  3. Hann A and Peckham S. Cholesterol screening and the Gold Effect. Health, Risk & Society, vol. 12, 2010, pp. 33-50. DOI: 10.1080/13698570903499608


Denis G Rancourt is a former Professor of Physics at the University of Ottawa and an Environmental Science researcher. His scientific research has been concentrated in the areas of spectroscopic and diffraction measurement methods, magnetism, reactive environmental nanoparticles, aquatic sediments and nutrients, and boreal forest lakes.

Read his blog: Climate Guy

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Comments (4)

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    “He is not immune to AGW propaganda.” He has identified the Denier meme in operation, however and seems a believer in rational disputation : a trait I hope you value as well. He has been forthright in going public with a defense of Scientific Method at apparent personal cost.
    As far as being immune to propaganda goes, the analogy of the Onion is a good one : you unravel layers of deceit and cry at the loss of illusions.

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    Greg House


    [quote]Read his blog: Climate Guy[/quote]

    I just did a little bit.

    [i]”Greenhouse forcing”[/i], really?

    [i]”a post-industrial warming due only to CO2 increase of 0.4°C, a temperature increase from doubling the present CO2 concentration alone equal to 1.4°C”[/i]? (

    Who is next? Spencer? Monckton?

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      Greg, yes Rancourt seems certainly still caught up in the GHE myth but coming round slowly. We’ve had comms and recommended to him our science debunking the GHE. If he applies the Gold Effect to his own beliefs we feel sure he will see he has been duped by climatist group think.

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      I followed your link also found the following statement by Rancourt: “Satelite spectroscopic measurements are
      unambiguous that CO2 contributes 1/4 to 1/3 of all longwave absorption by the
      atmosphere . . .”
      I could find noghing to indicate he has a rational basis for this belief. In the least, it seems he is not immune to AGW propaganda.

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