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Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reviewed

I read this for two reasons: first it was a damaged copy from the shop, going nowhere but to the large pulping machine in the sky and secondly, I needed to read something to help me get my head around critiquing research fast. I've done a lot of research critiquing in the past in my previously life with the NHS. But I needed a brush up for university and this was perfect in many ways. It takes the shit out of stats and makes them friendly. I particularly liked the writing around Big Pharma and journalism and some of the pieces shocked me to the core. I was saddened to reflect upon the MMR debacle having been well and truly on the frontline when this kicked off. As a speech and language therapist I saw frightened parents daily worrying about giving their child the immunisations, as well as parents of children with ASD blaming themselves for having immunised. All the time I knew this research was a croc of crap, badly put together and not even concluding what the wretched journalists were claiming and yet it managed to put lives in danger, despite being so, so wrong. MMR is safer than non-MMR. End of debate.
If I had one criticsm, it would be the citations - I would have preferred them in with the text they were relating to, however, that is just the academic researcher in me, and I recognise that this is a book for the public at large. Ben writes in a very accessible way, funny and yet poignant, he manages to remind us that, while we can get angry with bad research, Big Pharma and poor journalism, and take the piss out of glaringly obvious mistakes, people die. Bad Science is no laughing matter and I am far better informed than I was before I read this. It's done its job.
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