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Bad Medicine: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to Vitamin O Paperback – October 3, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0471434993 ISBN-10: 047143499X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047143499X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471434993
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,348,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

&Wanjek shoots and scores when he tackles the major myths of medicine& -- Focus, February 2003

For skeptics, always fans of science: The first two books in a series devoted to "bad science," Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait and Bad Medicine (Wiley, $15.95) by Christopher Wanjek, may warm even a Scrooge's heart. In short chapters, Plait tackles misperceptions about why the moon looks larger on the horizon and why stars twinkle before moving on, dismantling conspiracy kooks who doubt the moon landing and offering a top 10 list of bad science moments in movie history. Wanjek, a science writer who has also written jokes for The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, takes an edgy and funny tack in debunking myths such as humans using only 100f their brains, the utility of "anti-bacterial" toys and the safety of "natural" herbal remedies, ones often loaded with powerful chemicals. (USA TODAY, December 3, 2002)

"...Bad Medicine is an enjoyable romp through a host of biomedical misconceptions..." (New Scientist, 21 December 2002)

"...Wanjek shoots and scores when he tackles the major myths of medicine..." (Focus, February 2003)

 &Bad Medicine is an enjoyable romp through a host of biomedical misconceptions& -- New Scientist, 21 December 2002

Review

&Wanjek shoots and scores when he tackles the major myths of medicine& -- Focus, February 2003For skeptics, always fans of science: The first two books in a series devoted to "bad science," Bad Astronomy by Philip Plait and Bad Medicine (Wiley, $15.95) by Christopher Wanjek, may warm even a Scrooge's heart. In short chapters, Plait tackles misperceptions about why the moon looks larger on the horizon and why stars twinkle before moving on, dismantling conspiracy kooks who doubt the moon landing and offering a top 10 list of bad science moments in movie history. Wanjek, a science writer who has also written jokes for The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live, takes an edgy and funny tack in debunking myths such as humans using only 100f their brains, the utility of "anti-bacterial" toys and the safety of "natural" herbal remedies, ones often loaded with powerful chemicals. (USA TODAY, December 3, 2002)

"...Bad Medicine is an enjoyable romp through a host of biomedical misconceptions..." (New Scientist, 21 December 2002)

"...Wanjek shoots and scores when he tackles the major myths of medicine..." (Focus, February 2003) &Bad Medicine is an enjoyable romp through a host of biomedical misconceptions& -- New Scientist, 21 December 2002


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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Christophe Checchia on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been fascinated reading the reviews of this book, which seem to focus almost entirely on one small chapter on alternative medicine. No one seems to refute the funny "Hollywood" chapter, where we learn that getting knocked out with a bottle over the head can lead to a lifetime of neurological problems. No one says a word about the informative chapters on aging, the nature of disease, nutrition, the body, and how science is conducted. Do I sense a bit of defensiveness from the alternative medicine crowd?
I do not think the author suggests that that which is unproven by science is therefore wrong, as so many of these reviews claim. (This must be a standard defense with that crowd.) The author seems fascinated by acupuncture and sees promise in it. He explains that herbal medicine is not alternative; the science of pharmacology is based on creating medicine from plants. He explains that yoga and tai chi are useful because they are forms of exercise, just like running and stretching. These aren't alternative; they're common sense. What the author, Christopher Wanjek, dismisses is psychic healing, which is always proven to be fraudulent. He dismisses astrology. He laments the fact that children die because their parents rely on the power of prayer instead of medicine or because they don't "believe" in vaccination. He lashes out at "ancient" mind-body cures that, for example, claim to eliminate childbirth complications when it should be obvious that childbirth ultimately killed so many women in the ancient world. He seems annoyed by all the people who refuse useful treatment for "natural" cures (like the apricot pit cancer cure scam) when there's no such concept as "natural" anyway -- a chemical is a chemical, be it from "natural" hemlock or salt water.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Douglas BULLIS on November 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a wide-ranging explanation of most people's health concerns written in most people's terms. It is especially good at reinforcing time and again that proper diet, nutrition, and exercise throughout life are the surest and cheapest keys to good health. Along the way Mr. Wanjek dispatches no end of windmills, from the myth of racial exceptionalism to where, exactly, does the tongue taste sweetness and saltiness. The tiny little appendix (the one inside us, not the somewhat more commodious one at the end of the book) really does have a use after all and shouldn't be willy-nilly snipped out whilst the belly is open for other reasons. Kidneys, liver, skin, hair, the resident populations of microbes-all these get a fair hearing and an even better explanation. As a periodic refresher on why it is a great idea to take care of oneself, this book is about as good as they come.
Mr. Wanjek gives thoughtful explanations when to take health claims at their word and when to look deeper. Chapter 24, entitled "Organic Food," starts off with a appetite-vaporizing set of facts about the secretive industry that calls itself "Organic". Milk sold under that rubric is in fact produced by cows penned up in the same ghastly poop-palace conditions as the more traditional variety. They are simply fed organic food (whatever that might be) instead of the truly dangerous stuff the industrial-food lads have dreamed up. If we take off the rose-colored glasses with the word "organic" silk-screened on the surface, we find many similarities in the minds of "Organic" corporate nutrition designers and the minds of the tetracycline-and-ground-brains designers. Corporate, after all, is corporate.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
Actually some of the medicine debunked here is merely not effective beyond the placebo. Homeopathy is a case in point. Wanjek includes it because he believes that people relying on such medicines tend to deprive themselves of real medicine. This may indeed be the case sometimes, but more often people turn to alternative medicine when conventional medicine fails. Clearly if one has an affliction that can be cured by conventional medicine and instead flies to the Philippines for some fake surgery, this is not good. On the other hand if the medical profession has stopped treating somebody's cancer, it is understandable that one might try anything. Still even this is sad since such desperation rewards quacks and charlatans.
But this book is about much more than bad medicine. Wanjek actually takes on a wide range of phoniness from bad TV health reporting to urban witch doctors, from why we go gray to why the Rambo-like violence in movies is unrealistic and dangerously misleading In fact, Wanjek's book is the widest ranging book of its kind that I have read and I've read a few; furthermore as far as I can tell he is right on the money.
Some things I learned with interest: what the appendix actually does, and where the silly idea that we only use ten percent of our brain comes from, and why "Vitamin O" (oxygen) is just so much bunk. Also: how health studies are conducted well and not so well and how they can be fudged, and why it is highly unlikely that Julius Caesar was born of a Caesarean section since his mother lived on and in those days nobody, but nobody ever survived such an operation.
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