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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 inaccurate, contradictory, and sometimes even misleading information. Until now. Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the questionable science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases, and missed opportunities of our time, but he also goes further: out of the bullshit, he shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves.


From the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Oct 6, 2008
ISBN: 9780771035760
List price: $19.99
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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 information - truths, half-truths and outright (but very profitable) lies in the medical, health and nutrition fields and why we are taken in. Why the truth is both deliberately and in a very cavalier manner hidden from us by all that stand to make a buck, even peripherally like some columnist for a news rag.

It also explains, after a fashion, the still not properly understood placebo effect and why therapies that can have no possible physical effects whatsoever, particularly homeopathy with its dilution of the active ingredient to the nth degree, still work! We are amazing! The book is too.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Just brilliant. A calm and sensible consideration of some of the widespread Alternative Medicine wondercures our press bandy around without a shred of evidence. Whether a cynic or a new ager, this is a must read.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bad Science uncovers the bad reporting of science and medicine in the media. It is written in a humorous and very readable style. The author, Ben Goldacre, has a talent for explaining complicated concepts in a way that is interesting to the general reader. He is up there with Malcolm Gladwell as a non-fiction writer who produces page turners you can't put down. Anyone who cares about science, ethics and informed citizenship should read this book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

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 information - truths, half-truths and outright (but very profitable) lies in the medical, health and nutrition fields and why we are taken in. Why the truth is both deliberately and in a very cavalier manner hidden from us by all that stand to make a buck, even peripherally like some columnist for a news rag.

It also explains, after a fashion, the still not properly understood placebo effect and why therapies that can have no possible physical effects whatsoever, particularly homeopathy with its dilution of the active ingredient to the nth degree, still work! We are amazing! The book is too.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Just brilliant. A calm and sensible consideration of some of the widespread Alternative Medicine wondercures our press bandy around without a shred of evidence. Whether a cynic or a new ager, this is a must read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bad Science uncovers the bad reporting of science and medicine in the media. It is written in a humorous and very readable style. The author, Ben Goldacre, has a talent for explaining complicated concepts in a way that is interesting to the general reader. He is up there with Malcolm Gladwell as a non-fiction writer who produces page turners you can't put down. Anyone who cares about science, ethics and informed citizenship should read this book.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I finished Bad Science by Ben Goldacre yesterday, and I have to say that it’s probably the best book I’ve read so far this year. It’s simply brilliant.Goldacre is a practising doctor in the NHS, but is also a columnist for the Guardian newspaper and his own website, badscience.net, which he uses to pick apart other newspaper articles on the subject of science.Rather than a collection of past columns, which I was half-expecting, this is an entirely new book and written as one, in that it references backwards and forwards in the text to things that are covered elsewhere.The subject material is media coverage of science in general, and in particular its coverage of pseudomedical treatments/cures. Goldacre criticises the media for simply not understanding the science behind most of their stories, and for not bothering to read the actual peer-reviewed trial results in academic publications.Indeed, that is if there are any published results. So many articles seem to be based on press releases from “scientists” who claim to have produced stunning datasets which completely contradict existing scientific theories, but then fail to show how these results came about, even years later.Goldacre does become a bit one-track in this, repeating the questions over and over again: “where is this data published? Is it in a scientific journal where it can be examined and criticised?” But you can forgive him this, because it is these simple questions that most journalists fail to ask, every time.Goldacre is an angry writer on this subject. When I read Gomorrah last month, it was by an equally angry author, but I felt that his anger tainted the writing somewhat. The narrative was a bit disjointed, and he just wanted to name and shame people.In Bad Science, Goldacre is equally eager to name and shame those who commit these crimes against journalism, but it’s in a more measured approach as he deconstructs exactly why they failed to write clearly or accurately. He also tears apart the celebrity “scientists” such as nutritionist Gillian McKeith, showing how their attempts to claim that their actions/theories are scientific are in fact complete tripe.Whilst Goldacre’s anger comes through in the text, so does his willingness to inform the public of the methods they should be using to examine science in the media. He writes that the sole intention of his book is to give the reader the skills to call bullshit when reading a newspaper, and to give clear reasons why the story in question is at best inaccurate and at worst a total crock of shit.He does so brilliantly. I feel so much cleverer after reading this book, even if I did consider myself to be an ultra-cynical consumer of the media beforehand. It’s simply incredible how often the media get it wrong when it comes to science stories, or chooses to extrapolate from a single data point to something which is neither claimed nor proved by the data as a whole.Goldacre reserves his strongest ire for generalist journalists who consider themselves to be cleverer than the scientists, and so re-interpret any data with which they are presented. Admittedly, his caricaturing of them all as humanities graduates is a little heavy-handed and unnecessary, but you can see why he does it.I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone that has even a passing interest in the media, science, medicine, “miracle cures” and how they interact. This should be prescribed reading for classrooms.
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I love this kind of non-fiction, so I found this book to be incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. I really enjoy anything that challenges my ideas and teaches me useful things at the same time, which is certainly what this book did. An excellent book, and pretty much everyone in the first world needs to read it.
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I bought this book because of a review in PPC. If you are a foody and don't know what PPC is, ask me.I had expected something a bit funnier, but Mr Goldacre is very serious indeed. He worries about our lack of understanding of science and he points out some very grave consequences. Please read the book.He is so angry that it may be relevant to note that his views aren't radical at all. This is a very sensible and if I may say so moderate person deeply worried about what is called the `culture gap' in the Netherlands.The only point where I disgree with him is when he doesn't take the New Age movement seriously as a threat to rationality. This may be because they are not in his remit (or maybe he just thinks that these people are nuts and so beyond hope). I don't know, I didn't ask him. But I in any case find it deeply worrying that people with academic degrees (and I know such people) seem willing to believe anything and everything without a single critical thought. Thank goodness I also know somebody who grew up as a child of two New Agers and is now studying godsdienstwetenschappen (I don't know how this is called in English. In Dutch it means Science of Religion which sounds odd to my ears) to make sense of that.
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