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Bad Science Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 770 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000728487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007284870
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (770 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Goldacre is a doctor and science writer who has written the ' Bad Science ' column in the Guardian since 2003. His work focuses on unpicking the evidence behind misleading claims from journalists, the pharmaceutical industry, alternative therapists, and government reports. He has made a number of documentaries for BBC Radio 4, and his book Bad Science reached Number One in the nonfiction charts, has sold over 500,000 copies, and is available in 22 countries.

Product Description

Review

'From an expert with a mail-order PhD to debunking the myths of homeopathy, Ben Goldacre talking the reader through some notable cases and shows how to you don't need a science degree to spot "bad science" yourself.' Independent (Book of the Year)

'His book aims to teach us better, in the hope that one day we write less nonsense.' Daily Telegraph (Book of the Year)

'For sheer savagery, the illusion-destroying, joyous attack on the self-regarding, know-nothing orthodoxies of the modern middle classes, "Bad Science" can not be beaten. You'll laugh your head off, then throw all those expensive health foods in the bin.'
Trevor Philips, Observer (Book of the Year)

'Unmissable! Laying about himself in a froth of entirely justified indignation, Goldacre slams the mountebanks and bullshitters who misuse science. Few escape: drug companies, self-styled nutritionists, deluded researchers and journalists all get thoroughly duffed up. It is enormously enjoyable.' The Times (Book of the Year)

'Thousands of books are enjoyable; many are enlightening; only a very few will ever rate as necessary to social health. This is one of them.' Independent

'It is an important book and if you were to pick up just one non-fiction book this year you'd do well to make it this one'
Benjamin Beasley-Murray, Daily Mail

'Goldacre's prose always reads well' TES

'Duck the health quacks with a brilliant new book that debunks medical nonsense.' Metro

'The book's light-hearted tone is a help to the reader nervous of science and statistics!This is a fundamentally good book.'
Druin Burch, TLS

'The most important book you'll read this year, and quite possibly the funniest.' Charlie Brooker

'One of the essential reads of the year so far.' New Scientist

'There aren't many out and out good eggs in British journalism but Ben Goldacre is one of them! Fight back. You could start by reading this book.'
Telegraph

'[A] hugely entertaining book!This isn't just an essential primer for anyone who has ever felt uneasy about news coverish of faddish scientific "breakthroughs", health scares and "studies have shown" stories -- it should be on the National Curriculum.'
Time Out

'A fine lesson in how to skewer the enemies of reason and the peddlers of cant and half-truths.'
Economist


'"Bad Science" introduces the basic scientific principles to help everyone to become an effective bullshit detector.'
Sir Iain Chalmers, Founder of the Cochrane Library


'This book reawakened my love of science.' BBC Focus (Peer Review)

'Read this book.' Sunday Business Post

'It is an important book and if you were to pick up just one non-fiction book this year, you'd do well to make it this one.' Daily Mail

Review

`It is an important book and if you were to pick up just one non-fiction book this year you'd do well to make it this one.'
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've been an intermittent reader of Goldacre's articles both online and in the Guardian. In general I find him easy to read and easy to understand, even when talking about something that's potentially quite complicated.

This book is an excellent introduction for the newcomer to his writings. It not only presents the arguments against all sorts of bunkum in a well-ordered manner, it also explains in detail how the scientific method works, and what to look for when presented with so-called "evidence".

To the reviewers that say he is arrogant, I'm sorry, I just can't see it. He lays out the arguments, then refutes the ones that have little or no value. I suspect the perception of arrogance comes from people having their views challenged, but then that is what science is all about.

I actually think everybody should read this, whatever they think about alternative medicine. Best case is that you will gain a lot of extra knowledge on how to think and act critically. Worst case is that you will feel the urge to write a ranty review here on Amazon, which I can't see hurting Mr. Goldacre in the slightest.

Another one in the same vein worth reading is: Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial. There's a lot of overlap between the two, but both are well-researched and well-written.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I would support all the positive comments made by other reviewers of the book itself. However, I feel very short-changed by Amazon over the Kindle edition. If they want to charge more for the Kindle edition (which can't be lent to a friend or donated to Oxfam) than the paperback version, they surely need to do a tiny bit of copy-editing, rather than dumping the OCRed version on their site as if it were a Project Gutenberg freebie. Most pages of this book had one of two simple typesetting errors that could have been corrected with about 30 minutes of a copy-editor's time: "soft" hyphens, which presumably occur at the ends of lines in the print edition, are retained in the mid-dle (sic) of words on the line; conversely, spaces between words areomitted (sic), which presumably reflects line breaks in the print edition. After a while, this annoyance becomes exasperating. To add a final twist, one cross-reference in the text retained its print format, as a reference to a page number in the regular book, utterly meaningless in the Kindle edition.

Come on Amazon! Kindle is a neat bit of technology, but the quality of Kindle editions needs at least to match that of the published book if you're going to charge bookshop prices, or you'll lose your customers.
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Format: Paperback
A thoroughly excellent book from a practising doctor and medical researcher, who is also one of the few science journalists to actually understand scientific method. He is nearly a lone voice in the media, exposing the astonishing journey of 'health news' from the pages of academic journals to the tabloids and broadsheets, without passing through a critical brain in between. Thus, on a daily basis, the papers produce "X CAUSES/CURES CANCER" stories, based on very shaky understanding of experiments done in a petri dish. Whilst these stories may give false hope or fear to thousands of people, which is bad enough, in the case of MMR, they actually caused harm. He also explains how and why science fails to explain itself clearly and loudly in the face of emotionally charged 'my son has autism due to MMR' stories.

Goldacre also lays bare the facts about such 'complementary' therapies such as Homeopathy and Nutritionism, which when stripped of the accolades given them in the media, are revealed to be little more than eccentric ideas which somehow have gained unquestioning credence in the popular mind, and even, perversely, created a deep-rooted suspicion of maninstream medicine which is now taken at face value.

I thoroughly recommend this book, especially for journalists, but it is also essential reading for scientists, doctors and anyone who finds their mouth flapping when trying to put their friends / family straight on why spending 100 quid on dipping their feet in water and watching it go brown is a spectacular waste of money.

Final thoughts - if this book demonstrates how bad science reporting is, what else is being reported badly that we should know about? Finance? Politics? Help!! Also, why is there no organisation with teeth that can bring people to account for irresponsible reporting? A free press is central to our world of course, but not a wild press, trampling all over everyone and everything without so much as a backward glance.
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Format: Paperback
Ben Goldacre, a junior doctor, writes about his many criticisms of dodgy science, and particularly the journalists who wrote about it and spread misinformation.

While it's well researched, true, educational and a good presentation of the science and lack of it behind various claims, the aggressive tone grates against the reader and the attempt to make me feel anger just turns into frustration at the book.

Goldacre's writing can Ben come across as egotistic in places, and he certainly doesn't write in a way that's likely to endear him to those who disagree with his views. It seems that he is preaching to the choir. A more relaxed style, even in alternating chapters, might have made the book easier to read, but as it is the continued stress of reading builds up to the point where I just couldn't wait for the final few chapters to finish so I could relax.

I do feel I've learnt a little from this book, particularly from the early sections on clinical trials, but I'm not convinced its the best way to communicate science.
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