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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  23,031 Ratings  ·  1,265 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by McClelland & Stewart (first published 2008)
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Michael Jones This version actually has a chapter which starts with: "This chapter did not appear in the original British edition of this book..." [because of a…moreThis version actually has a chapter which starts with: "This chapter did not appear in the original British edition of this book..." [because of a lawsuit at the time] - so presumably it is an American edition. The Copyright notice lists all three years 2008, 2009, 2010.(less)
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Mar 08, 2015 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So, you are about to tuck into a lentil burger with chia seed extract for that omega three boast you know your body has been crying out for since your last detox, especially since you aren’t completely sure if the cannabis oil you’ve been baking into your gluten free cookies has given you indigestion or if it is the start of the stomach cancer you thought you might have had and was the reason why you started eating the damn things in the first place. The guy on the Internet who sold you the oil ...more
Petar 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
Feb 05, 2015 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Gendou
This is a marvelous book about people getting science--mostly medical and nutritional science--really really wrong. I was struck by an amazing coincidence from the very first page. Just two weeks before I read this book, a friend described to me the foot bath that he had undergone, exactly as described in the book Bad Science. He is scientifically oriented, so he was just flabbergasted when the procedure left a brown sludge in the foot bath, but the treatment removed all the pain in his knees fr ...more
This book is both fascinating and frustrating, and illustrates that the only way to get the real info on anything is to be a scientist. Data scientist, research scientist, medical scientist, science scientist, mad scientist...

But the good news is that one doesn't need to be a PROFESSIONAL scientist in order to get to the truth of an issue, but one just has to have the kind of critical thinking that a good scientist applies. After all 87.3% of people know that 77% of statistics can be made to sh
Mar 15, 2011 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Bryant
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
Dec 24, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2non-fiction, 1audio
I knew there was a lot of bad science & horrible media coverage out there, but I had no idea just how bad. This isn't a book just about that, though. While Goldacre does give some very good examples, he spends a lot of time teaching the reader how to spot bad science specifically in the field of medicine. I knew a lot of it, but the only statistics class I took was quite a while ago. The refresher was needed.

As Goldacre so aptly shows, numbers can easily lie, especially when blasted on headl
Oct 25, 2010 Tania rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2016 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook. The guy doing the audiobook has a ton of passion.


Bad Science is an excellent book about how to approach news articles about scientific papers. He goes over what flaws to look out for in the studies themselves, as well as the common ways journalists completely screw up reporting about subjects they don't always understand. In particular, he focuses a lot on homeopathy and the MMR autism link (which doesn't actually exist), both of which he destroys.

The takeaways f
Feb 21, 2016 Mairita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Vērtīga (ne vienmēr viegli lasāma) lasāmviela ikvienam par muļķībām, ko mums baro pašpasludināti uztura speciālisti, krūmu dakteri, intuīcijā balstītu pierādījumu piekritēji, negodīgi farmācijas uzņēmumi un plašsaziņas līdzekļi. Īsumā - viss ir slikti, bet pēc šīs grāmatas vismaz spēsiet noteikt, kāpēc ir slikti.
Pilnā atsauksme
"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
Ken Robert
Apr 02, 2011 Ken Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2016 Sibilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Viss vienmēr ir sarežģītāk nekā izskatās un vienkāršu atbilžu nav.
Vispār ļoti laba grāmata, kas veicina kritisko domāšanu.
Feb 29, 2012 Dekks rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 24, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: 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
Oct 27, 2011 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Petar 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
Feb 20, 2016 Ints rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pērkot šo grāmatu īpašu izpēti neveicu, šķita, ka tā būs kārtējā par fiziku un astronomiju. Tādēļ jāatzīst, biju nedaudz pārsteigts, ka gaidītās fizikas un astronomijas vietā ieraudzīju medicīnu. Ja tā no rīta nebūtu paņemta līdzi lasīšanai, tad diez tuvākajā laikā viņai būtu bijušas izredzes tapt izlasītai.

Autors „slikto zinātni” apskata no mediķa skatu punkta. Pamatota kritika tiek veltīta homeopātiem, pārtikas piedevu tirgotājiem, brīnumzāļu pārdevējiem, lielo farmācijas kompāniju mārketinga
May 09, 2010 Jafar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 04, 2009 Deirdre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
seryal olcay
Mar 02, 2016 seryal olcay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me long to finish it but OMG what a wonderful book for those who are interested in real scientific evidence based facts to charlatans who believes in their imagination or stupid nutritionists, homeopathists. I had a lot inspriration from the book and enjoyed the reading very much.
I'd like to quote; 'The true cost of sth , as the Economist says, 'is what you give up to get it.
So much loss of money, health resources on to get rid of superstitious accusations, belief , bullshitters.
The anti
Terry Clague
Dec 07, 2009 Terry Clague rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2011 Gordon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book about very bad science. The author is a British physician, psychiatrist and journalist who writes both a blog ( 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
Fay Bee
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
Alina Apine
Jan 07, 2014 Alina Apine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The greatest problem of all is dumbing down. /Bad Science/

This book provides a wonderful insight into how skewed our understanding of science has gotten. How we've been craving simple solutions and falling for bogus ideas, which have not been based in any substantial research and evidence. It also provides an insight into , how much the media craves sensations that it is willing to report dubious and very selective research thus creating media scares, which actually harm people.

The most appallin
Feb 12, 2016 Vilis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sākumā šķita gandrīz obligātā literatūra, bet pamazām sāku nogurt no autora apsēstības sīki iztirzāt katru atsevišķo keisu.

Edits pēc vairākām pārlasīšanām: atsevišķās lietas ir iztirzātas ļoti smalki, taču tas notiek lielāka mērķa vārdā un pa lielam ir tikai iegansts, lai runātu par attiecīgās nodaļas virstēmu.
عمر الحمادي
هذا الكتاب يجب أن يصنف من ضمن أعظم كتب العصر الحديث في نقد العلم الزائف بأدوات العلم الصحيح، فلقد استفاد الطبيب بن جولدكير من خلفيته الطبية والتجريبية في قراءة الأبحاث لكي يقدم للناس الحقيقة في قالب الأسطورة، وعند انتهائك من قراءة الكتاب ستعرف كيف تقرأ إعلانات الصحف والقنوات المرئية للمنتجات الدوائية بكل حرفية !

تطرق المؤلف للكثير من الادعاءات مثل ارتباط التطعيم الثلاثي بمرض التوحد و وجود مرض الإيدز الذي أنكره رئيس جنوب أفريقيا و ادعاءات خبراء التغذية في إطالة الحياة.

يستطيع أي متمكن من كتابة مثل
Sep 07, 2015 Carly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I spend a lot of time talking to people who disagree with me - I would go so far as to say that it's my favourite leisure activity.”
I'm an avid fan of More or Less , the popular statistics radio programme on BBC Radio, and I always enjoy Ben Goldacre's appearances on the show. At one point, I remember Tim Hartford introducing him as something like "the perennially angry Guardian columnist," to which Goldacre responded, "I am not perennially angry!" or similar. He got quite heated about it, muc
Nov 20, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly difficult book to review as on one hand Goldacre has a point in that much of the science coverage we get in the media is questionable at best and a lot of the experts in non-science fields, particularly homeopathy and other alternative medicines have a tendacy to use science to back up their claims and beliefs when its not entirely appropriate. On the other hand these alternatives do have a place for many people, as do many other things, although they shouldn't be treated ...more
Nov 11, 2009 Ross rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 25, 2013 Zachariah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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
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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 about Ben Goldacre...

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“You cannot reason people out of a position that they did not reason themselves into.” 183 likes
“You are a placebo responder. Your body plays tricks on your mind. You cannot be trusted.” 39 likes
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