We are constantly bombarded with inaccurate, contradictory and sometimes misleading information - until now.
Ben Goldacre masterfully dismantles the dubious science behind some of the great drug trials, court cases, and missed opportunities of our time. He also shows us the fascinating story of how we know what we know, and gives us the tools to uncover bad science for ourselves.
©2008 Ben Goldacre (P)2010 WF Howes Ltd
Ben Goldacre has the rare gift of making things that the media will tell you are boring seem fascinatingly interesting. Bad Science is filled with the clear-minded, witty writing that makes him such a success on the pages of the guardian... and on top of the book being really entertaining, it is hugely educational. Goldacre dismantles everything from antioxidant and fish oil nonsense to the evils of big pharma and shows up Patrick Holford for the quack he is. He does all this without malace and with clear and undisputable evidence. The book is a triumph of the mind in an age of ignorance. If it wasn't for some slightly too smug narration, it would have been frighteningly close to the perfect listen.
This book was very factual and most enjoyable in places. The narration was excellent and really captured the authors' passion, which could be misconstrued as arrogant, even pompous. I however found Goldacre's sarcastic delivery of information quite humorous. I would have given four stars but quite a substantial amount of material was repeated unnecessarily and the book could have easily been shorter. Overall, I definitely recommend but it's not a book that I would listen to again.
In an easy to understand style that never talks down to the reader, Ben Goldacre pokes an big stick into some of the organisations and characters that shape how science is understood outside academic circles. From debunking the use of scientific sounding names in marketing ("now with madeupnameium to make you look younger") to disecting some of the more dubious characters that pollute our media this book analyses the methods used to show how they are as far removed from real science as it is possible to be.
I would challenge any reader not to be horrified by the way in which the MMR scandal was prolonged and fanned by the media, in spite of mounting evidence being presented to show that there was no provable link with autism. And then, noting when this book was written, predicting how the media would then turn on Andrew Wakefield when he was placed before the GMC without ever considering the role they played in whole shameful episode.
This is a great book that opened my eyes to many of the practices that companies and individuals use to make themselves wealthy without ever showing if their product/service/diet etc is effective. Goldacre also delves into the power of placebo and how convenitional medicine if failing to exploit it.
I had to write a review for this book, it's just brilliant. Follow @bengoldacre on Twitter, or read his blog/Guardian articles at badscience.co.uk, and you'll see how realistic and cutting he can be, while warm and funny at the same time. He's a voice of sanity in a world of media (clich?d but quite frankly apt) 'gone mad' - especially around science, a.k.a., evidence. No, I didn't think that until I read the book, though I did have my suspicions from seeing various tabloid headlines!
It hasn't just been made fascinating reading by the content about warped newspaper stories, the laughable doctrine of homeopathy, and the health scares that needn't have existed and have actually eroded the nation's health. It also teaches some bare-bones science lessons which somehow I never got my head round in school (probably because we were trying to reproduce effects that were already certain!) about conducting fair experiments, allowing for and expecting bias, and considering other factors.
This has applied to so much of my life! I think differently and am much more willing to try new things - it's actually made more sense than the cognitive-behavioural therapy books I've read to combat my depression. And as a computer programmer, I've realised I'm constantly creating mini experiments all the time, finding out if my new addition to the code does what I hoped, what else could have made it go wrong, and so on.
Can't recommend this book enough.
Also recommend The Tiger That Wasn't for a similarly accessible and wildly successful attack on the stupid ways we're given statistics, and how they're more often than not interpreted by journalists entirely wrongly. You don't have to be a statistician to make sense of numbers, you just need a basic grip on the subject if you ever want to learn about the world!
Not really. I found the author's pompous and sarcastic tone really irritating. It was a real distraction from what could have been a interesting listen. I had to stop listening after a few chapters. I couldn't bear it any longer.
I think the book would have had more impact had the author written the book "straight", rather than trying (and really failing) to be funny. Instead, he comes across as being up his own bottom.
Rupert Farley's delivery was dreadful. He merely added to the general air of cynicism and arrogance.
Started and finished well but lost its way in the middle. The condescending nature of this book has been noted by other reviewers and, in my opinion, is down to the contempt the author has for some of his bad science 'targets'. Contempt clouds one's scientific judgement and means you don't consider both sides of the argument. I have the same issue with Richard Dawkins' God Delusion where his palpable contempt for creationists makes him lose focus and start to make basic scientific errors (a problem he doesn't have with, for example, The Selfish Gene). This book includes chapters on homeopathy and the placebo effect. If you want a scientific, rather than journalistic, treatment of these topics then try 13 Things That Don't Make Sense by Michael Brooks. Pharmaceutical companies come in for a bit of stick because they have a profit motive - just remember that if you don't have a public sector pension then it is the profits from big Pharma that are/will be paying for yours! I don't work for big Pharma but did work in the equally vilified (and poorly understood) oil industry! There is enough in this book worth listening to and I certainly don't regret buying it - it makes you think and, more importantly, it makes you question. The author makes a great point of following the scientific method - see if you can spot where he deviates from his own mantra.
Although I understand the view that the author can be seen as condescending I did not find this. I thought he apologised too often for that to be the case. He certainly can get caught up with individuals who have severely crossed the line, it is amusing to hear a doctor be so angry about it, but at the same time it is hugely helpful to understand just how very much some individuals have crossed the line (and shockingly, they truly have) at our expense (I personally have paid, so I have 1st hand experience). This audiobook is well worth time and spend, but do remember to engage your sense of humour at the same time as you engage your brain, you will then enjoy this book all the more.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and felt my eyes opened to some specific scandals in the health-food and pharmaceutical industries. My only criticisms are that the topics/chapters are a little repetitive in parts, and that the narration can be somewhat patronising in tone (though I notice some of the reviews on Amazon make this comment about the book itself, so maybe the narrator is being true to the text?!). Anyway, I'd certainly recommend this.
This book really scared me. It opens your eyes to the potential misleading that is inherently baked into the science we believe. Ben goldacre divides opinion - some see him as a anti new age cynic who bangs on about proof and pooh poohs a whole sector of natural health care. I actually found him balanced in his views he is equally sceptical about pharmaceutical industry as he is about alternative health care. Whilst this book is primarily aimed at alternative health care his other book bad pharma really does shine a light on the mistakes through to criminal corruption inherent in the system. His view is proper evidence and transparency with proper regulation is the only way to move forward. I agree and i think Ben would suggest you read the book and make up your own mind.
"Great book, better in hard copy"
This fascinating and persuasive book will give you loads of fodder for heated dinner party conversations. But I recommend that you buy the hard copy rather, for two reasons:
- the delivery of the narrator is excessively vehement, overbearing and forceful which doesn't match the tone the book is written in, and makes for painful listening, and
- it's the kind of book that you want to refer back to to verify a statistic or clarify a point, which is one of the rare occasions when I'd rather have a paper book than an audio book.
Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. It's just that I'll be buying several hard copies for myself and for general dishing out.
"Great content, engaging narration"
Dr. Goldacre leads us through a masterful educational experience that should vastly improve the scientific media literacy of any layperson listening to this book. More importantly, he blends this grave and potentially depressing content with a sense of humour that makes it not just bearable, but delightful!
I'm glad I wasn't dissuaded from listening to this by the reviews describing the narration as terrible, because I found the delivery delightful, and a perfect match for Goldacre's charming sarcastic tone.
I seldom have so much fun listening to accounts of terrible betrayals of the public trust.
"Good content, painful narrator"
I'm a skeptic at heart, so I enjoy this book. And I do think that as long as I wasn't a died-in-the-wool believer of some sort, but not necessarily a skeptic, I would get a lot out of this. It's absolutely amazing when you realize how much rubbish is successfully peddled these days and the more books we have with a solid basis in science instead of the next quick-fix diet, longevity potion, cancer cure etc, the better it is IMO. Only thing that I find quite trying listening to this is the narrator. Whatever sample they make available, have a listen and think if you can endure this for several hours... If I was more neutral about him, I'd definitely give this book a 4 or 5 star.
"Uncomfortable and Enlightening"
A book to make the world better, at least if everyone read/listened to it. I felt that maybe Rupert Farley made Dr Goldacre sound more condescending than he needed to. Other than that his narration grew on me. The book itself was (insofar as I'm any judge) excellent, impassioned, important, and thoroughly-researched. I've certainly had to re-think some of what I believed to be true. I do think that Dr Goldacre overstates the ability of the layperson to interpret studies, particularly given the length at which he describes the analytic land mines one can step on in trying. Nevertheless, in my opinion a great book.
Ben Goldacre draws us into his world of science. His quest is to have you, the reader, able to identify bad science. A fine introduction to scientific method. Uses relevant examples, like the MMR vaccine scare. Rupert Farley has a pleasant narrating style. I really enjoyed this book.
"important topic, chaotic drama, worst narrator"
The topic is important and the autor competent. The narrator wants to act, but he is the worst actor: tries to mock voices and exagerates the tones.
This is a comprehensive black book of the health and beauty industry. Not that it shows every single case but it rehears most of the mechanisms
I will eat more vegetables and fruits and no vitamine pilles, because its the only real thing
"Probably better in print"
I suspect the print version would be much better as the narration style is poorly suited to the material.
Wrong for this
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