He is a leader in showing how to expose and falsify unsubstantiated claims - not just those of homeopaths, fake-medicine enthusiasts and psychics, but also those of journalists, pharmaceutical companies and anyone at all who makes public claims.
So what happened today? Goldacre made the following assertion on twitter this evening:
What's the difference between this and a homeopath who doesn't need evidence because he "just believes" that his medicines work? Not much.
To be fair to him, Goldacre replied to me on this:
True. But any one person's "just reckoning" is inferior to the carefully calibrated (and openly published, and peer reviewed) inflation measure engineered by the ONS statisticians whose job it is to work out these figures. While technically there's nothing intellectually invalid about his claim, it's still a strange one to make.
The subject of inflation is certainly complex. Different inflation rates certainly apply to different people. Some economists argue that inflation is always lower than reported, because it can't take into account substitution effects (when some products get more expensive, people automatically stop buying as many of them). Scott Sumner doesn't believe in inflation at all, and thinks we should just measure total cash spent in the economy instead of trying to work out the average price of all products. So it's absolutely valid to raise questions about the use of a single aggregate measure across the whole economy.
But disagreeing with established data, which has the consensus of hundreds of professional economists, and a widely tested, peer-reviewed theory, behind it - on the basis of your feelings about personal experience - should automatically make any scientist wary. Economics may not be physics, but it's still more scientific than anyone's feelings. Even Ben Goldacre's.