- Paperback: 382 pages
- Publisher: Fourth Estate (GB); Reprint edition (1 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: 879 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Bad Science Paperback – 1 Apr 2009
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'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.'
'[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.'
'A fine lesson in how to skewer the enemies of reason and the peddlers of cant and half-truths.'
'"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
Guardian columnist Dr Ben Goldacre takes us on a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the bad science we're fed by the worst of the hacks and the quacks! When Dr Ben Goldacre saw someone on daytime TV dipping her feet in an 'Aqua Detox' footbath, releasing her toxins into the water and turning it brown, he thought he'd try the same at home. 'Like some kind of Johnny Ball cum Witchfinder General', using his girlfriend's Barbie doll, he gently passed an electrical current through the warm salt water. It turned brown. In his words: 'before my very eyes, the world's first Detox Barbie was sat, with her feet in a pool of brown sludge, purged of a weekend's immorality.' Dr Ben Goldacre is the author of the 'Bad Science' column in the Guardian and his book is about all the 'bad science' we are constantly bombarded with in the media and in advertising. At a time when science is used to prove everything and nothing, everyone has their own 'bad science' moments -- from the useless pie-chart on the back of cereal packets to the use of the word 'visibly' in cosmetics ads.This book will help people to quantify their instincts -- that a lot of the so-called 'science' which appears in the media and in advertising is just wrong or misleading.Satirical and amusing -- and unafraid to expose the ridiculous -- it provides the reader with the facts they need to differentiate the good from the bad. Full of spleen, this is a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the world of 'bad science'. See all Product description
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People can perhaps detect smugness in some of his writing - he is a Guardian columnist, after all - but this should not detract from the fact that alternative therapists not only peddle cures which have not been subjected to any kind of rigorous testing, but they attack and undermine established medicine among some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth - the chapter on the exploitation of South African AIDS sufferers by alternative therapists did not describe New Age dottiness, it described a crime against humanity.
The point that Goldacre makes is simple: if you want to sell your radical healthcare product to the public, test it, using double blinding, proper controls and ensure that the subjects are not tainted by physical contamination or conscious or unconscious biases, and then publish the results so that any scientist or government regulatory body can review your methods, your analysis of the results and your interpretations, reproduce them and agree - or not - with your findings. Dr Goldacre is perfectly open to properly tested therapies - he says so, repeatedly. Not that you'd get that from reading the 1-star reviews, which are mainly written by people who have not read the book properly, and of whom some admit to having a fiscal or intellectual stake in the unproven therapies he skewers throughout the book. Goldacre has little time either for Big Pharma's scientific methods, not that the 1-star pseudo-reviewers who accuse him of being a Big Pharma stooge would have read that part.
If you have any interest in how science is reported in the media, how it is sold to the public or just in science generally, this book provides an interesting an enlightening read.
Read it and weep!
There are still snakeoil merchants flogging us miracle cures, nostrums ,herbal remedies and spurious nutrional theory – the only changes since time immemorial have been the so-called sophistication in supporting the claims.
Ben Goldacre tackles the poor science behind the claims ( particularly poorly conducted performance trials and use of selective evidence ) and also exposes a number of charlatans along the way.
Whilst Pharma and other companies are quite strictly controlled about PR and claims , why not get sloppy journalism to report and promote new products. There are some classic examples here – certainly up to 2008.
I am a retired chemist ( I have seen my share of fudging of results and sales claims over the years and threatened to have one salesman fired for recommending an inappropriate product and calling me a liar to a customer) but anyone who can follow simple arguments will be educated ., informed , amused , horrified by Ben’s analysis of many so-called “ trials” of products – some ( not just Pharma companies with mega PR departments) but also involving councils and education departments where children have been used as guinea pigs in trials of pills to enhance intelligence resulting in zero / negligible data. The downside of many of the these fallacious schemes is the now common belief that ANY\THING can be fixed by a pill rather than a healthy lifestyle – SCARY.
There is a very interesting review of the Placebo effect ( as the old saying Nothing act faster than naadine – so take nothing) where patient expectations , beliefs , and doctors /patients attitudes can be as important as certain medications. This does not negate the real effects of drugs but it does have importance in marginal performance cases.
The author goes on to discuss the real tragedies where misplaced results , opportunism and sheer media frenzy resulted in the blocking of use of AIDS drugs in South Africa and the smearing of the triple MMR injection resulted in babies remaining unprotected until the results were critically re examined and original media hype was finally debunked.Sadly journalists only write miracle or scare stories - rarely the incremental development of medical science - often by arts and humanities graduates who cannot be bothered to assess the fundamentals of the science involved in clinical trials.
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