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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks [Paperback]

Ben Goldacre
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a let down. Feb. 21 2013
By Juan
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The message of the book could have been conveyed in one third of the content. The narrative is awfully padded. The emotionally loaded arguments detracts legitimacy to their credibility. The impact of the messages could have been greater if the arguments had been presented in a more clear and moderate manner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must read ! ! ! May 24 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a must read for anyone who wants to cut through the sensationalist crap about health published in our newspapers. Clearly & humorously written. It's a modern day antidote to outing con-artists & correcting friends' spouting on about the latest diet fad or medical miracle.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  93 reviews
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science for non-science people Oct. 13 2010
By E. Fields - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Full disclosure: I am an ex-English major who hasn't taken a science class since high school. When I started reading this book (I got my copy when it was released in England), I was scared that I wouldn't be able to follow along. But I was SO WRONG- this book really gets beneath the pseudo-science (and flat out WRONG science claims) and explains everything in such a relaxed, simple, and intuitive way, I never had a problem. I learned so much from this, and I had considered myself pretty well informed BEFORE I read the book! This should be mandatory reading for ANYONE who is anti-vaccination, or pro-homeopathy. Brilliant stuff. (His blog is great too!)
46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We're on the same side Mr. Goldacre. June 15 2011
By Anthony Fischetti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We're on the same side Mr. Goldacre.
That being said, I was a little disappointed in the way the author presents the subject. For example, his knocking of homeopathy and charlatan "science" frequently devolves into ad hominem. This is wholly unnecessary; we have the upper hand because science is on our side. Additionally, the author's style of writing is abrasively arrogant, which, is distracting. Most importantly, though, this book does little to promote critical thinking skills. The author spoon-feeds us the secret to the "magic" of those ludicrous detox foot pads without properly explaining why it sounds fishy, and the consequences of taking similar products' claims on its word. The reader may be left skeptical of homeopathy and the like (a good start) but lack the ability to personally assess *why* its claims are bogus and the science behind it.

Overall, however, the book was a interesting read. The reason I had to give 3.5 stars is the subject matter is *so* important that I have to hold this work to a very high standard. If you're interested in the *value* of skepticism and how to apply it generally, might I suggest "The Demon-Haunted World" (Sagan)? If you want to learn more about how statistics can be misleading... well, I'm currently reading "How To Lie With Statistics" (Huff) and a review is forthcoming.
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended for all skeptics (and even more so for the credulous) Nov. 4 2010
By Neurasthenic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bad Science is an excellent entry to the genre of skeptical books that are, in this country, associated with Michael Shermer, James Randi, and Paul Kurtz. It is a pleasure to read, both because Goldacre writes well, and because the books from Shermer, et al, are very similar to each other and this one is in many regards refreshingly different.

Part of this stems from its national origin -- this is a very British book. As a result, it has a lot more about the MMR-vaccine-causes-autism nonsense than would have appeared in an American book, as the media panic in the U.K. was much greater than the one here. It similarly has less on faith healing and other topics that loom larger in the American consciousness.

But the book also differs in approach. In the quintessential American members of the genre, various bits of nonsense are debunked with a combination of common sense and powerful anecdote. American writers are particularly fond of grand gestures, sneaking into the back room and discovering the wizard hiding behind the curtain. That's not Goldacre's style at all. Instead, his favorite tool is the statistical blobbogram. The main targets of his scorn are holistic healers, vendors of pharmaceuticals and vitamins, who lie and abuse statistical techniques to mislead people into buying products that don't work instead of using ones that do. He similarly rails against the journalists who enable these malefactors.

Goldacre is a physician, so he spends most of his time on medical topics, but not all.

I enjoyed and appreciated every chapter of this book, and I hope many other people read it too.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent Oct. 12 2010
By Gem Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read this book several years ago, after ordering it from amazon.co.uk, and am very pleased that it's coming to North America. Although many of the examples used will be UK-specific, and thus perhaps unfamiliar to readers, the content remains very pertinent. Science and skepticism are sorely needed everywhere, but most especially in the field of medicine. In this book Dr. Ben Goldacre provides us with a wonderful primer on evaluating claims made in this most important of areas.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK as far as it goes Jan. 22 2011
By Atra Bilious - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The attacks on fraudulent and dubious claims about vitamins, drugs, miracle cures, etc., are on target, but they get a little tedious by the end. As a collection of newspaper columns, the book is fine, but the exposition of EBM, meta-analysis, clinical trials, etc., is not especially thorough or memorable.
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