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
"Making science truly entertaining"
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.
"Best (non-fiction?) book I ever read"
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!
"VERY INTERESTING AND ENLIGHTNING"
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.
"Get this book."
It will change the way you look at the world.
Fantastic pace and very entertaining.
"A bit of an eye opener"
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.
"More journalism than science"
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.
"Absolutely Eye Opening!"
This book makes you question science reporting in the media, in fact all reporting can have a more sceptical eye applied to it once you have read this. Obviously it concentrates on science in its various branches, how it is done correctly, and then real world/real life (and British) examples of how wrong it can really be (Dr. Gillian McKeith PhD please stand up!).
Absolutely fascinating, especially the chapters on MMR and Autism, debunking MRSA and our favourite nutritionist... Dr Gillian. Written in the classic style of a Guardian journo; well explained whilst being witty and engaging at the same time.
It's just that I can't watch or listen to science news anymore... breakthroughs... pah, rubbish!
If you can get past the slightly patronising tone of the narration, this book is truly enlightening. Highly recommended.
An interesting rant by the author on nutritional advisors etc. - but far too long and personalised. Whilst the arguments appeared valid they could have been made more succinctly and with less aggression. Range of 'sciences' were limited. The narration was good - but the arguments lost my attention.
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