Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks
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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  14,682 ratings  ·  932 reviews
The informative and witty expose of the "bad science" we are all subjected to, called "one of the essential reads of the year" by New Scientist.

We are obsessed with our health. And yet — from the media's "world-expert microbiologist" with a mail-order Ph.D. in his garden shed laboratory, and via multiple health scares and miracle cures— we are constantly bombarded with ina...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2007)
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Petra X
10-star book

Edit - I have edited the review as the book is now available in the US. Truly a worthwhile read, one up for us against big Pharma!

Until recently this book was not available in the US as books that attack big Pharma, alternative medicine gurus (especially the tv variety) and sacred cows like the MMR-Autism myth get sued just to stop publication even if there is no hope of winning the suit.

This is an important book and illuminates the part the media plays in the dissemination of info...more
Paul
Beads that sparkle like a prism, snake oil for your rheumatism,
Calico and gingham for the girls.
Cast your eye on Dr. Borer’s patent-pending hair restorer,
guaranteed to grow hair on a billiard ball


Hands up who doesn't recognise which gender-bending musical those portentous words emanate from ?

Okay, it was Calamity Jane. You knew that, I know. Can't just be me whose mind is stuffed with the lyrical junk of six decades.

Onward to the review.

Ben Goodacre is the sworn foe of all modern-day medical mo...more
Lena
Ben Goldacre is a man with a mission. A UK doctor who writes a column for the Guardian, he'd like it very much if people would stop making their health decisions on the basis of crap science.

Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of crap science out there. So Goldacre does his best to educate people about how to tell the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Along the way, he entertainingly uses the usual suspects of homeopathy and foot detox baths to illustrate his points. But he als...more
Tania
I wish that I could give this book 4 stars. I tell you what, I give the idea for this book 4 stars. Unfortunately though, the execution wasn't so fantastic. That said, I do think that anyone interested in the way that the media are able to influence public opinion about serious matters, and in the recent explosion of health-related reality TV should give it a read. It is an interesting book if you can get over the shoddy editing and Goldacres' pomp and ceremony.

Goldacre insists that this should...more
Ken Robert
No one is spared in this delightfully infuriating tour of the myriad ways we can be duped by bad advice on health and medicine.

The author, Dr. Ben Goldacre, skewers alternative medicine quack jobs, data dithering drug researchers, scare mongering journalists, pinheaded politicians, and simple minded celebrities who would all gleefully sell us horse manure if we were willing to buy it.

And he does it with a flair for making the confusing understandable as well as entertaining.

Read this book and yo...more
Deirdre
An extension of his blog, this is a collection of basically rants about how science and statistics are abused by a variety of people. It also looks at faulty science behind some nutritionists and some of their dodgy "credentials". His emphasis is on making people question "facts" and double check the evidence.

However, people don't have the time for a lot of this, and when you're offered a glimmer of hope people tend to take it. The placebo effect is explored here and he does admit that it works...more
Nancy
Oct 27, 2011 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Petra X
Shelves: science, health
I've read about most of the topics covered in this book elsewhere, but Goldacre does a great job of teaching us to spot the failures of Big Pharma, alternative medicine and journalism. He does this in an entertaining way using ripped-from-the-headlines stories.

Last week I was in the mood to read some non-fiction so went to the shelves of one of my goodreads friends and made a list of her 5 star health and science books. Armed with that,I found several of those books at the library and have been...more
Dekks
Excellent book that I think everyone should read, I don't consider myself to be a particular naive person, and I'm not a conspiracy nut whatsoever, but at the same time am under no illusions about Big Pharma. That said, it was a real eye opener to see just how biased and flawed some of the medical studies were and that very reputable medical journals regularly publish findings and studies that should be very suspect to the professional scientist.

The only problem with this book, and why I only ga...more
Matt
Mar 17, 2010 Matt rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: ebook, favorites
This excellent book written by the intelligent and entertaining doctor and health communicator Ben Goldacre is a must read for anyone who has an opinion about any health issue you've seen, heard or read about in the media. Although written in the context of the UK, its lessons and advice apply to anyone anywhere.

Covering everything from CAM (including chiropractic and homeopathy) to vaccinations to self-proclaimed "TV professors" (like Gillian McKeith) to the pros & cons of the pharmaceutica...more
Nikki
"Just as the Big Bang theory is far more interesting than the creation story in Genesis, so the story that science can tell us about the natural world is far more interesting than any fable about magic pills concocted by an alternative therapist." Well, no. Stories are important. They tell us what people's preoccupations are, what people want and what they're scared of. Scientifically, Goldacre's right -- but science isn't the only thing to be concerned about. I'm sure he'd think this reaction t...more
Phase Reading
The passion of Ben Goldacre on his topic of "Bad Science" is undeniable. This is a doctor with a bee in his bonnet, a snarky tone and no qualms about telling it like it is and whom he might offend. Undoubtedly, I imagine, most readers will be offended - scientists, researchers, naturopaths and other alternative "quacks", journalists, statisticians, university deans, nutritionists, Big Pharma, the average you and me - we all will get a swipe in Bad Science.

What I liked about this book was the mes...more
Henry
A while ago I was in the London Borough of Waltham Forest where, for the third year running, I was a judge at a science debate competition. Teams of youngsters from secondary schools across the borough pitted their oratory, rhetoric and critical thinking skills against one another on a scientific issue of the day. In previous years we’ve covered nuclear power and climate change. On this occasion the house debated the pros and cons of stem-cell therapy. It’s a great day out for all concerned, and...more
Jafar
This is the kind of the book that I would make everyone read when I get to rule the world. There’s so much nonsense going around these days in the name of science and research that a lot of people would be quite shocked with this book. Examples are endless. Detox treatment? Just a big hoax. Homeopathy? Even a bigger hoax. All those fancy and expensive cosmetic products that supposedly do magic to your skin? Just a waste of money. Vitamin C prevents and treats cold? Not really. Antioxidants slow...more
Ross
Ben Goldacre is a crusader against charlatans , humbuggers and the ignorant in their claims for the efficacy of alternative and conventional therapies and in the application of so called 'science' to a range of issues. Among his targets are the likes of homeopaths , big pharma , prosecutors and the defense at law and journalists , of whom he is particularly scathing . He also takes on some UK specific personalities . Along the way he arms his readers with a range of logic , statistical and psyc...more
Gordon
This is a very good book about very bad science. The author is a British physician, psychiatrist and journalist who writes both a blog (www.badscience.net) and a weekly column for The Guardian newspaper in the UK.

Goldacre's focus, not surprisingly, is the form of bad science that that thrives so riotously in the field of medicine and health -- including everything from homeopathy to food supplements to anti-vaccination nuttiness to Brain Gym. Common to all these forms of bad science is an aversi...more
Zachariah
Every once and a while I read a book and think "I should buy this for everyone I know..." This is one of those books.

But unlike some of those books, this book is not long and is written to the general public--and seasoned with humor. (For those who care the audio book has a wonderful British narrator.)

In Bad Science, Ben Goldacre does a fabulous job weaving explanations of true science into criticisms of the bullshit we see and hear every day. But he doesn't only pick the low hanging fruit of al...more
Francis Kayiwa
Apr 22, 2010 Francis Kayiwa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
THIS BOOK SHOULD BE IN EVERY HOME AND MUST BE REQUIRED READING!

Science reporting is bad...no Science reporting is ATROCIOUS. Many a night I've sat and watched the news, read a newspaper article and just cringed! I like to think that I know a tiny bit about science, so I can spot the poor reporting more easily. I've always wondered about the reason for this. Unfortunately it has always made me doubt ANY reporting as a result. Reading Bad Science is a good tonic and provides insight on this and th...more
Terry Clague
Simply: a brilliant book which should be used as a set text for the entire nation.

I've been a fan of the Bad Science column in The Guardian for years and the only reason I didn't snap this book up sooner was that I thought it might simply recycle those columns. Nothing could be further from the truth and I will be urging everyone who's anyone to read the book at the earliest opportunity.

There isn't anything in the book which doesn't leap off the page, but here are some favourite bits:

"The nove...more
Austin
Goldacre is a physician in the UK who has dedicated himself, through his column in The Guardian, to combating pseudoscience - particularly in health care. He starts the book by making some pretty well-worn arguments against homeopathy and other alternative medicine. That said, he does a much better job than most because he sets up his standards for proof of efficacy in a very thorough and well-organized way. In the process, he comes to the best description I've come across so far of what makes a...more
Katarzyna Bodziony-szweda
No i jak tu wystawić ocenę? Z jednej strony fundamentalnie zgadzam się z wszystkimi zawartymi w tej książce poglądami i uważam, że Goldcare ma lekkie i przyjemne pióro.
Z drugiej strony niezmiernie nużył mnie jego styl erudyty przemawiającego do wioskowych głupków, puszczającego jednocześnie oko do tej "elyty", która podziela jego poglądy. "Well done, you're middle class too", że zacytuję Jimmiego Carra. Nieco nudne były też rozdziały, w których wpadał w wielostronicowe, powtarzające te same arg...more
Jakob
This book is a great introduction to understanding the basics of the scientific method and logical thinking. A lot of this stuff I studied in Uni but none of it was as clearly set forth as it is here. Ben Goldacre writes in a clear and entertaining way at the same time he's educating you about the seriousness of misleading people by using bad science. People who are very much into homeopathy and are not willing to look at that field objectively may not like this book. That said the parts about t...more
Manal Saad
This is an eyeopener book, I find it very interesting and informative.. the stories the author mentioned in the book are unbelievable!

Part of the scientific things he talked about like study design, randomization and statistics are what I do for a living nowadays and I can't stress how important it is to have a valid data and information as it's going to be generalized to the worldwide population.

The pharmaceutical industry and the media along with scientists wannabies are manipulating the pub...more
Tamarah
Good, entertaining book. And given what I am going to save now that I stop buying omega-3 capsules for the kids, one of the best investments I've made.

The down-side is that it is very British. Goldacre ripped into British personages (McKeith) whom I had never heard of, and English news (Durham fish-oil trial, MSRA scare) which similarly were new to me. A lot of it was really criticism of the British press, which wasn't too relevant to me.

The new chapter on Rath, and the handling of HIV in South...more
Karin Slaughter
All right, I'm pretty terrified now. Hope you become the same.
Katie
This book speaks to my critical nature! The conversational and personal tone make it very easy to read. I found the HIV/AIDS lack-of-treatment and vaccine scare chapters the most interesting because they provide very good talking points for my job. The author Dr. Goldacre asks people to exercise common sense and, above all, to trust science - not the sciencey-ness used in the marketing of everything from diet fads to homeopathic medicine and so on. This is a good read, if for nothing else, to re...more
Emanuella
За повечето неща имах предположение, че са мошеничество, но някои наистина ме изненадаха! Книгата е написана на професионален език, но с чувство за хумор - на места съм се смяла с глас :) Само последната глава ми стана малко отегчителна с подробностите около ваксината МПР.

След като я прочетох, в главата ми се въртят само две неща:
1. Защо интелигентните хора продължават да вярват на глупости и шарлатани?!
2. Колко е тъжно, че човек не може да се довери на лекарите и учените.
Catherine
I'd always fancied myself as being fairly aware in a vague way (definitely a vague way) that pharmaceutical companies were generally unscrupulous. It was just commonsense that Big Pharma oversold their products, hid disappointing figures from the public and doctors and generally charged too much for their products because they could. The fact that some medicines are feted as the best thing since sliced bread and then withdrawn after a while because there are undesirable side-effects in too many...more
Elaine
Very very interesting. Will posts some thoughts soon.
Katie
As a professor of biology who tries to teach my students a healthy skepticism of science in the media I really appreciate that this book was written and so well received by the general public. I think it could have had a much bigger and stronger impact if it was a touch shorter. The author hammers the points home. And then hammers them home again. Maybe because I knew most of what he was saying it stuck out that much more to me.

The questions he raises about how the media represent science (the...more
T. Edmund
Apologies for the spoiler (never quite sure what constitutes a spoiler in non-fiction) but this book is best explained by one of the many hilarious/head-against-brick-wall insights found within.

- you'll always find the science reporting in newspapers (and other mass medias) dummed down, however notice that the financial, sports and literature sections are not thusly treated -

Bad Science is pretty much about what it says its about. In perhaps a similar vein to "The Republician War on Science" Gol...more
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1387272
Ben Goldacre is a British science writer and psychiatrist, born in 1974. He is the author of The Guardian newspaper's weekly Bad Science column and a book of the same title, published by Fourth Estate in September 2008.
Goldacre is the son of Michael Goldacre, professor of public health at the University of Oxford, the nephew of science journalist Robyn Williams, and the great-great-grandson of Sir...more
More about Ben Goldacre...
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“You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.” 106 likes
“You are a placebo responder. Your body plays tricks on your mind. You cannot be trusted.” 32 likes
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