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.
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.
Ignorance is not bliss and Ben Goldacre highlights that fact beautifully in this book.
His assertion of the importance of questioning our sources of information and challenging ourselves to be mindful and objective, as far as possible, is both apt and timely. We are bombarded from all sides by information, so never has it been more important to be able to distinguish the genuinely noteworthy from the lazily headline grabbing.
For a book which I agree with so much, it made me surprisingly angry at times. Whilst it is mainly a good point quite well made, it tends towards being patronising.
As both a Humanities graduate and a teacher (both of which come under rather extensive scrutiny in the book), I felt almost attacked. Yes, I have a BA and MA, but I also know my way around the Cambridge Book of Statistical Tables and SPSS (though not Stata, I admit). As a university graduate, I am more that passingly familar with critical thinking, analysis of sources and the evaluation of evidence. The notion that simply because I am not a Science graduate I could not possibly know/understand/care about these things is both offensive and contrary to the message of the book: anyone can understand this if they want to.
Dr Goldacre also invited teachers to join doctors in the world of evidence-based practice. It is appalling to think that he has clearly assumed that this is the case rather than actually asking a teacher. We do action research in our classrooms. We research which methods are appropriate and apply them. There are vast numbers of journals constantly publishing research on just that. We have studied questions around practice and are mindful of them, to suggest otherwise is simply false. Certainly, it is not the case that all teachers conduct research, but neither is it the case for all doctors.On a different note, I also disliked how much he implied, or in some cases flat out stated, that to disagree with him was to be wrong. I am a fan of nuance and discussion and this attitude kills it dead. Even if your overall point is correct, that doesn't mean it doesn't need refinement and as an academic, you should always be open to that.
There were a host of points that niggled, but overall, that does not detract from the importance of the book. Read it, listen to it, but as the book itself asks, do so with an objective, critical mind.
Ben Goldacre detests the way in which the media dumb down health and science issues and in so doing cause such negative effects as panic, unwise spending and even death. He covers topics like brain gym, detox treatments, homeopathy, Patrick Holford, placebos and more; all of which one is glad to see exposed to clear scientific light, stripped bare of fuzzy, false and emotive claims. Even the fairly scientific among us can fall prey to the pressures of the media when constantly battered by reports and common assumptions. This book encourages readers to think scientifically, especially before spending their money or becoming hopeful of health or cosmetic transformations (Money is the common motivator for most of the claims made). Although I didn't find the book quite as funny as I had been led to believe I would and occasionally grew tired of the journalistic tone, I am delighted and grateful to have been so entertainingly enlightened. Furthermore I feel better equipped to confront future reports with an objective mind.
You'll be quoting Ben for weeks after listening to this. It's witty and informative and certainly one of those audio books where you make extra time to just hear a little bit more.
"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.
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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