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Bad Science Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 839 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (839 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a tremendously important book in exposing and debunking much of the pseudo-science that bedevils much public discourse in this country. He focuses on a whole range of issues, including homeopathy, faddish nutritionists and health scares such as the MRSA and anti-MMR hoaxes. These cases have a number of factors in common, including the media's misunderstanding of basic research techniques and their misinterpretation of evidence and statistics, and the desire for medical stories to fit common templates such as "killer disease", "miracle cure" or "brave maverick doctor defies medical establishment", which leads to over or under-reporting of research depending on its findings and origin. These faults are, of course, not unique to the media, but the media's role as the bridge between science and the great majority of the public puts them in a unique position to influence public perceptions (as in other issues). The book is not perfect, there is a fair amount of repetition (though he covers very important points that are worth hammering home) and I found the author's tone occasionally a little patronising. However, its central messages are crucial to a healthy public debate about the opportunities and limitations of scientific research, not only within the medical sphere.
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A very stimulating book. I had just finished an online Edx course "Think101x The Science of Everyday Thinking" which taught critical thinking, before this purchase, and this really meshed with Ben Goldacre's book. It was interesting to see a number of the concepts e.g. Regression to the Mean coming alive. I shall definitely be spending time on his web site and following up some of his references.
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Good buy
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excellent book - should be compulsory reading for all sixth form students, to help them leave school with at least an appreciation of analytical, logical techniques
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Debunking popular ideas around moisturizing creams, omega 3, antioxidants, vitamin pills, MMR jabs, MRSA, and Gillian Mckeith. An interesting read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ben Goldacre explains his scientific knowlege in a way intelligible to the general public. He points out the way in which statistics can be manipulated, unwanted data suppressed or false claims made, enabling us to come to informed decisions.
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By Marand TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Mar. 2010
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A brilliant book - well-written, frequently very funny (an exquisite skewering of homeopathy and an absolutely hilarious chapter on the Brain Gym that is so beloved by many head teachers and education authorities), sometimes very depressing (the impact of a vitamin pill 'entrepreneur' on the treatment of HIV/Aids in South Africa). Goldacre's aim is to enable his readers to consider more rationally the "scientific" claims made by homeopaths, nutritionists, phramaceutical companies, vitamin pill & food supplement merchants, et al, and to better understand the statistics.

The book is also a plea for better reporting in the media, proper analysis of claims and clear explanations of the statistics rather than headline percentages that most people don't understand.

Goldacre makes the point that some of the sillier media reports serve only to diminish the standing of science and scientists in the eyes of the public. He mentions several of the daft equations which have appeared in recent years to define, for example, the most depressing day of the year (sponsored by a travel company trying to drum up bookings in the dark days of winter), the happiest day of the year (sponsored by an ice-cream manufacturer) and, somewhat improbably, an equation to determine which celebrity has the sexiest walk (sponsored by a hair removal cream outfit) - all of this originating from PR companies who, sadly, seem able to find academics & scientists who are prepared to put their names to such nonsense.

The chapter which describes the Brain Gym system is alarming too. It beggars belief that a teacher who will be introducing children to human biology should be spouting nonsense such as water should be held in the mouth so it is absorbed directly into the brain(!
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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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