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Bad Science [Paperback]

Ben Goldacre
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (563 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 April 2009

Ben Goldacre’s wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations.

Since 2003 Dr Ben Goldacre has been exposing dodgy medical data in his popular Guardian column. In this eye-opening book he takes on the MMR hoax and misleading cosmetics ads, acupuncture and homeopathy, vitamins and mankind’s vexed relationship with all manner of ‘toxins’. Along the way, the self-confessed ‘Johnny Ball cum Witchfinder General’ performs a successful detox on a Barbie doll, sees his dead cat become a certified nutritionist and probes the supposed medical qualifications of ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith.

Full spleen and satire, Ben Goldacre takes us on a hilarious, invigorating and ultimately alarming journey through the bad science we are fed daily by hacks and quacks.


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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 (563 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,098 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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
579 of 621 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly excellent 7 Oct 2008
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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190 of 206 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book but poor Kindle version 17 Jan 2011
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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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
By Ms. R. L. A. Amelan VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I have been towing this book around with me for some weeks reading a chapter here and there. Sitting in cafes and other public venues, I have frightened passers-by with my screams of laughter at Goldacre's entertaining prose which can make some fairly dry topics not only accessible but downright funny.

I feel that I have a genuine reason for reviewing this book because I am a nurse working in clinical audit and know only too well how easy it is to manipulate statistics to mean exactly what you want. I have thus recommended this to more than one doctor about to embark on audit as a useful insight into the subject.

Frankly, I learned loads from this volume, which actually frightens me because I thought that I had a passing grasp of the power of stats. As a result, I now treat the information that comes up on my pivot tables and graphs with a new respect and query it much more closely.

My favourite part of the book has to be about Goldacre's handling of Gillian McKeith, the food guru (or whatever she is). His handling of her lack of bioscientific knowledge was excellent and made me smile. What I particularly liked was his correct explanations of the science behind the facts. There is something very elegant and beautiful about true science and he brought this out to perfection. He is clearly a great enthusiast and, at the end of the book, he recommends people to adopt a greater spirit of enquiry into the subject. Go for it!

Initially, I, like many, had thought that Mr. Goldacre would just debunk alternative therapies but I was in for a surprise. His comments on mainstream scientific research were illuminating and I must say that I had not realised that responsible minds could skew things this much - through both good intention and mendacity.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Bought this for the Kindle just for something to read and it's given me so much more than that, not only is it well written in an easy to read tone which informs and amuses, but the resources it also mentions such as the author's website, forum and blog and the resources they also provide will keep me reading and interested in a topic I must admit I had little interest in and was not completely but fairly ignorant to until reading this book.
From the start this book is engaging and educational, I've recommended it to anyone who'll listen and I think it should be required reading for everyone, they should be giving this book out in schools.
Even if you're someone who already knows alot on this subject (or atleast you think you do) I still highly recommend this book and other books by this author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Ben Goldacre (who writes a weekly column with the same title for the Observer group) knows his onions from his eschallots and writes so well that this potentially sleep-inducing... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Alex Brunel
5.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining and Important Read!
I don't usually go to the effort of writing book reviews here on Amazon, but because of the sheer excellence and genius of this book, I am compelled to do so. Read more
Published 12 days ago by L. D. Vere
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius
I would like to make this book a focus of a research project in schools to teach critical thinking. I children need to ask more questions.
Published 14 days ago by K. J. Stone
4.0 out of 5 stars Try it!
Great book for people with an interest in interpreting scientific data. He rants a bit at times but with justifiable cause. Read more
Published 15 days ago by A Powell
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be compulsory reading
An excellently written book with plenty of insight but most importantly no hidden agenda. The author simply sets out to educate the reader so that they can read between the lines... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Martin Finlayson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
An entertaining and very easy to follow introduction to the principles of evidence based medicine and science in general. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, buy it now!
Ben Goldacre is such a hero - this book is well written, entertaining, educating, and you should buy it right now.
Published 23 days ago by Sophie Karlsson
2.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Rants
There were a few things that I found interesting in this book (food supplements) but, my goodness, the vitriol against particular individuals was quite disconcerting. Read more
Published 23 days ago by LettsM
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
A real must for anyone who believes in homeopathy, nutritionism and Dr. Gillian McKeith ("Or to give her her full medical title GIllian McKeith") Goldacre is very clever... Read more
Published 24 days ago by Mr. Richard Vowles
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Thought provoking and written in a way that kept me engaged from start to finish. A must read for anyone who believes all the scientific articles they read in the mass media.
Published 26 days ago by Jamie Morris
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