Have you ever wondered how one day the media can assert that alcohol is bad for us and the next unashamedly run a story touting the benefits of daily alcohol consumption? Or how a drug that is pulled off the market for causing heart attacks ever got approved in the first place? How can average readers, who aren't medical doctors or Ph.D.s in biochemistry, tell what they should be paying attention to and what's, well, just more b******t?
Ben Goldacre has made a point of exposing quack doctors and nutritionists, bogus credentialing programs, and biased scientific studies. He has also taken the media to task for its willingness to throw facts and proof out the window. But he's not here just to tell you what's wrong. Goldacre is here to teach you how to evaluate placebo effects, double-blind studies, and sample sizes, so that you can recognize bad science when you see it. You're about to feel a whole lot better.
Goldacre is the acerbic quackbuster who's a thorn in the side of celebrity nutritionists and alternative medicine practitioners in Britain through his "Bad Science" column in the Guardian. And now this M.D. and formidable investigative journalist brings his eye-popping insistence on rigorous science to this side of the Atlantic. There's plenty to debunk, like the detox footbaths that turn brown whether your feet are in them or not. Or the homeopathic remedies that are no more effective than placebos (i.e., sugar pills). Goldacre's on to Big Pharma as well, skewering the industry's manipulation of statistics and suppression of negative results in clinical trials. The media take their hits as well for fueling the scare over the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine's link to autism a link that researchers have definitively debunked. And there's hell to pay for the growing legion of nutritionists and the lucrative nutritional supplement business, which come under Goldacre's special derision as "The Nonsense Du Jour" and "intellectual crimes." Not that Goldacre's always so solemn or scolding. His ongoing battle with Brit nutritionist Gillian McKeith is both unsettling and an amusing illustration of how simple it is to pull back the curtain on the wizard of Oz.
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Highly enjoyable and entertaining
Check out the author's TED talk to get a flavor for the subject matter and his style of delivery. You will learn something, most probably a great many things, and have a blast in doing so.