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Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks Paperback – 1600


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Reprint edition (1600)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865479186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865479180
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #257,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Juan on Feb. 21 2013
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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By drugskeptic on 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: 105 reviews
55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
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!)
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
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.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
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.
49 of 60 people found the following review helpful
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.
50 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Potentially great subject gets mediocre spokesman Feb. 19 2012
By michael - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Upfront, I am a sucker for books with this sort of title and content. Just get me started on the errors in thinking that abound, and I can go for as long as the refreshments and good company hold out.

So maybe it was a case of me not liking my own medicine.

What is good about the book? He shows that in matters of science:
1) Things are probably more complicated than the media makes it
2) You have to be skeptical of any scientific report - whether it is from a university, a pharma company, a acupuncturist, or even your mother
3) Be very careful about any statistical statements
4) A lot of sham medicine has been and is being perpetrated

That's about it. And it is very good to have someone take the time to present arguments and examples from the real world to back up those warnings.

What I found unsatisfying about the book? His tone. He doth protest too much, repeatedly telling us that he does not have axes to grind, or that he is level-headed, objective, and only strictly presenting the truth. The number of times he bashes Homeopathy and all the idiots who follow it made me want to go out and get a Homeopathy treatment and get better, just to spite him. I did plenty of page flips through sections where he was on a tear, looking for when the vitriol cooled and he would get back to some facts.

He says outright that before 1934 doctors were useless. Wow. For a book that warns against making claims without empirical substantiation, that is a pretty strong statement. He lumps all other forms of medicine, throughout all time, into the useless bucket. And all humanity who has practiced or received medicine before 1934 in the West into the idiot bucket. So I kept waiting for him to balance his rants with the facts about his implicitly superior profession of conventional medicine. He holds up the fact that doctors recently proved that smoking causes most lung cancer (and makes no mention of why this only started happening after WWII.) He implies that antibiotics have saved many lives.

He bravely admits that only 15% of existing conventional medical treatments are based upon statistical evidence that show benefit. Another wow. So what is it exactly that is so superior about our evidence based medicine compared to mumbo-jumbo, voodoo (quoting here) quacks if 85% of our treatments are based upon...nothing?

I do appreciate his attempt to stay focused on the topic of critical thinking, and evidence-based claims. But there is a big gap in the exposition that would justify his self-proclaimed superiority.

--Michael Clarage

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