Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, & Big Pharma Flacks

by Ben Goldacre (2010)

I bought this book a couple of years ago but just got around to reading it. Glad that I finally picked it up. The author takes the media, big business, and stupid people in general to task. He goes after everyone from make-up companies to popular education methods to those who ignoring AIDS evidence with dire consequences.

For the most part its entertaining, and you will definitely learn a lot. I already knew that I didn’t like homeopathic medicine and that there are serious problems with the nutrition advice today, but this book will help show you why. Better yet, he also gives you the tools to evaluate things yourself.

A few things I learned:

  • I had never heard of Brain Gym, but it sounds ridiculous.
  • Learned a lot about the placebo effect (for instance, two placebo pills works better than one . . .)
  • Statistics are very misleading, which we all know. Goldacre shows you exactly how they are manipulated.
  • MMR vaccine hoax is dissected. I already knew it was false, he shows you how it happened and why.
  • The nonsense du jour chapter will point out four key errors that people make when evaluating health claims. Very helpful. He uses antioxidants as an example and makes a case for why they are not as good as everyone assumes they are.

This is an eye-opening read and well worth your time. One of my favorite books that has changed the way I think about advertising, food, and what is healthy is Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. This is close behind it, and will introduce you to many different topics. Highly Recommended.

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, & Big Pharma Flacks available on amazon