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Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Bad Science (edition 2009)

by Ben Goldacre

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2,013773,333 (4.18)109
Title:Bad Science
Authors:Ben Goldacre
Info:Harper Perennial (2009), Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science, medicine, drugs, ethics

Work details

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre

  1. 80
    Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh (edwbaker)
  2. 50
    The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan (gward101)
  3. 20
    Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society and Neurosexism Create Difference by Cordelia Fine (wandering_star)
  4. 20
    Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions by James Randi (MyriadBooks)
  5. 10
    Three Steps to the Universe: From the Sun to Black Holes to the Mystery of Dark Matter by David Garfinkle (nsblumenfeld)
    nsblumenfeld: Although they write about astronomy rather than medicine, the authors share Goldacre's interest in process and methodology as well as results; they make how we know what we know in the field a primary concern and are interested in giving their readers the tools to avoid pseudoscience and bogus "sciencey" claims.… (more)
  6. 21
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (Rynooo)
  7. 00
    Counterknowledge by Damian Thompson (bertilak)
  8. 00
    The Duck that Won the Lottery by Julian Baggini (vguy)
    vguy: Goes into greater depth on a selected number of issues (eg Homeopathy, MMR vaccine). Helps one understand scientific method, specifically blind controlled randomised trials. For all that, an amusing and popular approach.
  9. 00
    Flat Earth News: An Award-Winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies (peter_vandenbrande)
  10. 00
    Denying Science: Conspiracy Theories, Media Distortions, and the War Against Reality by John Grant (nsblumenfeld)
    nsblumenfeld: Why does bad science get so much exposure?
  11. 00
    Yes, We Have No Neutrons: An Eye-Opening Tour through the Twists and Turns of Bad Science by A. K. Dewdney (bertilak)
  12. 00
    How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich (preater)
  13. 00
    De cholesteroloorlog waarom geneesmiddelen zo duur zijn by Dirk Van Duppen (peter_vandenbrande)

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» See also 109 mentions

English (75)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
There are a great many (universally ignored and unread) books on this subject that exist and that I've enjoyed. This particular one stands out for two reasons: 1) The writer has a huge humor-flecked chip on his shoulder that is readily apparent from his clever and smarmy affronts to the quacks and hacks. 2) He largerly discusses phenomena that the reader can either test for him/herself or read the available data to allow one to come to a logical and responsible conclusion. The final chapter, The Media MMR Hoax, is paramount reading for all of humanity, and once again proves my theory that Jenny McCarthy should go to hell, to take her literal and figurative boobs with her, and leave the rest of us to clean up the mess she created.
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
The author made some good points and I did learn more about the placebo effect, statistics, and indicators of my own biases. However, a good portion of this book was boring/over my head. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I'm glad I read it. ( )
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
Though focused in the UK, and mostly about health-related science, this is still relevant & interesting to all. And it's entertainingly written. I will write a detailed review soon, and I will also check out Goldacre's own website.


His website does look interesting & fun, just like the book. And for those of you who like animated gifs, here's a cute one: http://www.badscience.net/2013/10/


So, I've been reading a lot of science books over the years. Lately I've been reading a lot of neuro-science and psychology books about how easily we can mislead ourselves and others, books like [b:Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain|9827912|Incognito The Secret Lives of the Brain|David Eagleman|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348669116s/9827912.jpg|14423132] and [b:Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions|1713426|Predictably Irrational The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions|Dan Ariely|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1255573980s/1713426.jpg|3074803]. I've also read a couple of 'bad medicine' books by [a:Nortin M. Hadler|490348|Nortin M. Hadler|https://www.goodreads.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-d9f6a4a5badfda0f69e70cc94d962125.png] ([b:Rethinking Aging: Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society|12022065|Rethinking Aging Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society|Nortin M. Hadler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348290973s/12022065.jpg|16987674] and [b:Worried Sick: A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America|2410909|Worried Sick A Prescription for Health in an Overtreated America|Nortin M. Hadler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347633366s/2410909.jpg|2418086]). I found it perfectly apt to segue into [b:Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart|1081413|Super Crunchers Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart|Ian Ayres|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1320449889s/1081413.jpg|2022993] and into this book. The thing is, we know enough to do randomized testing and case control studies. And computer power is now cheap enough, and the attitude towards the sharing of data clear enough, that there's no excuse for consumers of health care to blindly accept the word of the grizzled doc, or more especially of the 'alternative medicine' snake-oil salesmen.

Goldacre specifically addresses the non-existent MMR/autism link, chiropractic, homeopathy, and certain frauds that have preyed on the Brits w/ infomercial-style marketing. If you've ever bought a healing magnet or asked your doctor for the latest drug promoted in a magazine, or decided that 'mainstream medicine' is bad, you need to read this book.

Meanwhile, you can visit www.cochrane.org to see some "crunching" of health care data. Type in a drug or condition of interest to you, and odds are that the Cochrane Collaboration has done an analysis and written a summary for you to read. Wonderful resource, and yet Goldacre's book is the first I've heard of it.

And here's an interesting (secondhand, from Kruger & Dunning) quote. "{P}eople who are incompetent suffer a dual burden: not only are they incompetent, but they may also be too incompetent to assay their own incompetence, because the skills which underlie and ability to make a correct judgement are the same as the skills required to recognize a correct judgement."

(Do note that this is not meant to be pejorative - incompetent simply means not trained, not knowledgeable - anyone can improve one's competence with effort.) ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Worth the price just to read his chapter destroying Gillian McKeith (or however you spell the stupid woman's name) ( )
  nwdavies | Aug 21, 2014 |
Should be required reading for high school students

Got this one for Christmas--my family knows me! Goldacre debunks the pseudoscience used by the cosmetics, drug, and complementary/alternative medicine industries, among others. Accessible, engaging writing--this book has some of the clearest explanations of sneaky statistical tricks I've ever read.

I wish this book could be taught in high school, especially to future science journalists...we'd have a lot fewer "Broccoli cures cancer!" stories floating around, that's for sure. Highly recommended, needless to say. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
Ben Goldacre is exasperated. He’s not exactly angry — that would be much less fun to read — except in certain circumstances. He is irked, vexed, bugged, ticked off at the sometimes inadvertent (because of stupidity) but more often deliberate deceptions perpetrated in the name of science. And he wants you, the reader, to share his feelings.
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To whom it may concern
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Let me tell you how bad things have become.
The aim of this book is that you should be future-proofed against new variants of bullshit.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Guardian columnist Dr Ben Goldacre takes us on a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the bad science we're fed by the worst of the hacks and the quacks! When Dr Ben Goldacre saw someone on daytime TV dipping her feet in an 'Aqua Detox' footbath, releasing her toxins into the water and turning it brown, he thought he'd try the same at home. 'Like some kind of Johnny Ball cum Witchfinder General', using his girlfriend's Barbie doll, he gently passed an electrical current through the warm salt water. It turned brown. In his words: 'before my very eyes, the world's first Detox Barbie was sat, with her feet in a pool of brown sludge, purged of a weekend's immorality.' Dr Ben Goldacre is the author of the 'Bad Science' column in the Guardian and his book is about all the 'bad science' we are constantly bombarded with in the media and in advertising. At a time when science is used to prove everything and nothing, everyone has their own 'bad science' moments -- from the useless pie-chart on the back of cereal packets to the use of the word 'visibly' in cosmetics ads.This book will help people to quantify their instincts -- that a lot of the so-called 'science' which appears in the media and in advertising is just wrong or misleading. Satirical and amusing -- and unafraid to expose the ridiculous -- it provides the reader with the facts they need to differentiate the good from the bad. Full of spleen, this is a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the world of 'bad science'.
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Everyone has their own 'bad science' moments, encompassing everything from the useless pie charts on the back of cereal boxes to the use of the word 'visibly' in cosmetics adverts. Full of spleen, Ben Goldacre takes the reader on a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the world of bad science.… (more)

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