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Bad Science Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (705 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 942 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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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Wright on 24 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a must-read for anybody who ever finds themselves wondering about why the quality of science journalism is so poor. Goldacre goes into great depth about the evils of corporations, and has some very funny anecdotes about some of the more questionable pesudo-science bandied about to so-called 'alternative therapists'. My problem with the book is the clear contempt he has for his subjects. I understand more than most how annoying it is to confront scientific ignorance (I'm a science teacher, so I see my share of stupidity), but there are a lot of frankly spiteful diatribes against the academic qualifications of anybody who Goldacre disagrees with. I'm all for exposing people who lie or deliberately distort facts, but this book seems more to be a waspish attack on anybody who doesn't have the same level of education that those who have completed a science degree poses. For example, there are numerous uses of the phrase 'journalists with humanities degrees", which seems unnecessary to me. In one section, Goldacre brushes off the fact that one person he wrote about may have commited suicide as a result of this book. While I concur that the man in question - somebody who established a microbiology lab in his garden shed - was clearly under-qualified for the work he did, I felt that there was a distatestful attempt to justify the treatment meted out in the book. Clearly there is always a need to question the credentials of those purporting to have made amazing new discoveries, but the snide comments about 'using kitchen tables' as lab benches actually weakened the appeal of the book, by mocking a mans environment rather than the actual work he carried out.

This is disappointing, as I found it difficult to carry on reading something that I agree with when there was so much nastiness veiled as incisive commentary. I can understand the source of that anger - I just think it was overdone.
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596 of 643 people found the following review helpful By Bill Cutter on 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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218 of 237 people found the following review helpful By William James, Brasenose on 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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113 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Ms. R. L. A. Amelan VINE VOICE on 20 Mar. 2010
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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