Bad Science
Book

Bad Science

Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks

FSG, 2010

Rating

9

Qualities

  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Eye Opening

Review

Doctor, academic and science writer Ben Goldacre remind you that science is not a magical authority you should unquestioningly accept. He makes clear that science is a process accessible to everyone, and that it allows you to gain a more accurate view of the world. Goldacre uses stories and examples to help you understand proper research methods and how scientists and laypeople violate them. Cynics will surely enjoy Goldacre’s acerbic wit. The gullible, who will likely bristle when Goldacre tears their favorite fad diets, pills and other “commodifiable solutions” apart, may emerge from reading him with a healthy sense of skepticism. In a era when everything from cranberries to cosmetics markets using statistics and when reporters create public health crises via sensationalist headlines, Goldacre seeks to empower you recognize the difference between flimflam and legitimate information. He will help you develop this instinct and help you recognize false claims and faulty science. 

Impure Purification

Goldacre asserts that pharma companies, reporters and marketers co-opt and misinterpret research to legitimize and sell products, publications and services. Most of these products prove harmless when they reach the public – except to people’s pockets. Even so, Goldacre says their claims derive from pseudoscientific claims that make  the public dumber and enable dependence on “experts” who demonstrate a frightening lack of knowledge.

Goldacre offers detox treatments as an example. Purification rituals have been around for a long time and for good reason: They act as a reset button after unhealthy behavior. While fasting and special diets might retrain you to have healthy eating habits, other approaches – such as footbaths, ear candles and detox patches – don’t remove “toxins” from the body, whatever those “toxins” may be. Most purification rituals, Goldacre says, include unnecessary superstitious features, and couching these features in pseudoscientific terms is only natural for a culture that adopts science as its primary means of understanding the world.

About the Author

Doctor, academic and science writer Ben Goldacre is the author of the Bad Science website and three books: Bad Science, Bad Pharma, and I Think You’ll Find It’s a Bit More Complicated than That.


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