‘Ben Goldacre’s wise and witty bestseller, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, lifts the lid on quack doctors, flaky statistics, scaremongering journalists and evil pharmaceutical corporations.
Since 2003 Dr Ben Goldacre has been exposing dodgy medical data in his popular Guardian column. In this eye-opening book he takes on the MMR hoax and misleading cosmetics ads, acupuncture and homeopathy, vitamins and mankind’s vexed relationship with all manner of ‘toxins’. Along the way, the self-confessed ‘Johnny Ball cum Witchfinder General’ performs a successful detox on a Barbie doll, sees his dead cat become a certified nutritionist and probes the supposed medical qualifications of ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith.
Full spleen and satire, Ben Goldacre takes us on a hilarious, invigorating and ultimately alarming journey through the bad science we are fed daily by hacks and quacks.’
This book is enlightening, if that is not too hyperbolic a word to use. I normally struggle to finish non-fiction books but I devoured this one and then spent the last two weeks telling everyone I met what I was reading and how fascinating it is.
Honestly everyone should read this book. Everyone. I feel much more equipped now to spot –less-than-true ‘science prattle’ that is out there. Every time I read a science story in the media now it is with my Bad Science filter on, and I think that is a good thing.
There were plenty of chapters that had me sniggering especially the one on Gillian McKeith.
But there were also a few pages that left my blood cold, where Goldacre brings home the devastating cost of bad science which can sometimes be counted in fatalities.
Reading these tougher pages I was amazed at how well Goldacre managed to keep his tone polite and balanced when it would have been so easy to move into a passionate rage.
This book has made me appreciate how much integrity is essential to Science. Science is about finding the truth of how this world works. To accomplish this scientists have to think and work pedantically and systematically, distrusting their personal intuition in favour of evidence, subject their work to thorough criticism, and resist influence from their funding providers.
It is a mammoth ask of anyone and it is no wonder that not all who claim to be scientists meet these standards. But by highlighting and exposing ‘Bad Science’ Goldacre also raises the profile and wonder of ‘Good Science’, and I guess the more attuned we all are to spotting the meaningless bad science prattle that is out there, the more space and attention we will be able to devote to the Science that is truly worthy of our time.
So go on and get this book, read it and then lend it to someone else. You won’t regret it.