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Bad Science Paperback – April 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


'From an expert with a mail-order PhD to debunking the myths of homeopathy, Ben Goldacre talking the reader through some notable cases and shows how to you don't need a science degree to spot "bad science" yourself.' Independent (Book of the Year) 'His book aims to teach us better, in the hope that one day we write less nonsense.' Daily Telegraph (Book of the Year) 'For sheer savagery, the illusion-destroying, joyous attack on the self-regarding, know-nothing orthodoxies of the modern middle classes, "Bad Science" can not be beaten. You'll laugh your head off, then throw all those expensive health foods in the bin.' Trevor Philips, Observer (Book of the Year) 'Unmissable...laying about himself in a froth of entirely justified indignation, Goldacre slams the mountebanks and bullshitters who misuse science. Few escape: drug companies, self-styled nutritionists, deluded researchers and journalists all get thoroughly duffed up. It is enormously enjoyable.' The Times (Book of the Year)

About the Author

Ben Goldacre is a doctor, writer, broadcaster and academic who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims from drug companies, newspapers, government reports, PR people and quacks. Bad Science reached Number One in the non-fiction charts, sold over 400,000 copies in the UK alone, and has been translated into 25 languages. He is 38 and lives in London.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (GB) (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000728487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007284870
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #265,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By P. Haggerty on October 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
I had to have someone traveling to London bring it back for me, and very worth it!! If you want a painless (and funny) intro into understanding science news, this is the place to get it.

Dr. Goldacre may be writing in Britain, but everything he says is relevant to the way science and medicine is reported in this country. What are drug companies hiding? What is behind the good for you/bad for you news on health? What about alternative medicine and vitamins? How can I judge evidence for myself? You can learn quite a bit from this slender volume.

Find a way to get it!
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on December 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ben Goldacre is a doctor who writes a weekly column in the Guardian exposing bad medicine. He writes, "The hole in our culture is gaping: evidence-based medicine, the ultimate applied science, contains some of the cleverest ideas from the past two centuries, it has saved millions of lives, but there has never once been a single exhibit on the subject in London's Science Museum."

He attacks the idea that social and political problems can be solved by pills, even Patrick Holford's Optimal Nutrition pills, or those of the TV 'nutritionist' Gillian McKeith, with her PhD from a non-accredited correspondence course 'college' in the USA. Their advice is just 'a manifesto of right-wing individualism', blaming people's ill-health on their food choices, not on the social inequality that drives health inequality.

Dr Goldacre writes, "All too often this spurious privatisation of common sense is happening in areas where we could be taking control, doing it ourselves, feeling our own potency and our ability to make sensible decisions; instead we are fostering our dependence on expensive outside systems and people."

He praises the brilliant Cochrane reviews of medical literature. He notes that to say that giving placebos in trials of treatments is unethical is to assume that the treatment is better, which is to assume what is being tested. We don't know the result of the trial before we do it - that is why we do trials.

For example, trials have proven that the painkiller Vioxx caused 80,000-139,000 heart attacks, a third probably fatal, during its five years on the market. Trials have also discredited antioxidants, hormone replacement therapy and calcium supplements.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By W. P. Gibbons on March 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Maybe you are unfamiliar with Ben, maybe because he is a Brit, maybe because you don't read the Guardian newspaper (for shame), or maybe because you skip Ben's piece because he plays rough? Well for years I've been turning to his column first. Now there is a great book.

Ben's Bad Science is a brilliant, well-argued polemic against charlatanism of all kind.

I was first drawn to him as he exposed my favorite pet peeve - homeopathy. Then he trained his sights on the food supplements industry and its 'anti-oxidant' and 'super-food' shenanigans.

But Bad Science doesn't just take aim at alternative quackery.

Ben takes aim at Big Pharma for its shady research practices, and shameful marketing practice. (Thank Jesus he doesn't live in the US with its prime-time onslaught of drug advertising - I don't think his blood pressure could take it.) He takes aim at Big Media - for misrepresenting and misusing science and for irresponsible reporting (MMR and MRSA).

Well done Ben. If in your lifetime you can, chipping away, restore some sanity to the public understanding of science - you will make us all better off.

Check out his site: [...]

Paul Gibbons
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matt on March 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Update December 2010: The previous Kindle version made frequent references to graphs, tables, diagrams and images that were not present (limiting its value), however there has just been an update that includes all this missing information. This updated review reflects that change.

This excellent book written by the intelligent and entertaining doctor and health communicator Ben Goldacre is a must read for anyone who has an opinion about any health issue you've seen, heard or read about in the media. Although written in the context of the UK, its lessons and advice apply to anyone anywhere.

Covering everything from complementary and alternative medicine (including chiropractic and homeopathy) to vaccinations to self-proclaimed "TV professors" to the pros & cons of the pharmaceutical industry, the author shows the reader both sides of the story, shows the evidence, and explains the problems. But these are not just his proclamations on the issues: he points to scientific papers, additional resources, metastudies, and sites like the brilliant Cochrane Collaboration. While some of it is about correcting the egregious falsehoods proclaimed by journalists and snake oil peddlers, it is mostly about arming the reader with the tools to determine for yourself whether a topic or a position is as described or worth further investigation. Critical thinking, logic and scepticism... skills that everyone needs, but most are lacking.

Everyone should read this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By formosus on June 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've written a review of this book as a whole previously, and there are plenty of reviews on the product pages. Instead, I'll focus on the additional chapter "The Doctor Will Sue You Now".

Ben Goldacre was take to court in a libel lawsuit for pointing out the quack Matthias Rath's dishonesty. Well, he won the court case, and as a result, knows more about this man than most people alive. Goldacre posted this chapter, in its entirety, online and open source. It is a good sample of his writing style, and if you like the chapter you will like the book as a whole. I suggest you check it out, and then buy the book. Without this lawsuit and the publishing of this chapter, I doubt that I would have heard of, purchased, and thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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