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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks [Hardcover]

4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (604 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771035780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771035784
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (604 customer reviews)

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.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
586 of 629 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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107 of 116 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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199 of 216 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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189 of 214 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable 15 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
Like the very best popular science, this book is patient but fascinating in building up your knowledge of the subject area - in this case medical (and 'alternative' medical) research. However, it goes beyond this in building up to a damning indictment of the media's handling of the MRSA and MMR scares, as part of their wider crimes against the public understanding of science.

In the hands of a polemecist such as Micheal Moore, these frauds perpetrated against the public would be described at a pitch of white hot rage (lkely with almost EVERY WORD IN CAPS). However Dr Goldacre describes the frankly horrifying details of these scares in patient and methodical detail, and is all the more compelling for it.

This book is compulsory reading. It should be forcefully inserted onto every reading list prepared by anyone, for anything.
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