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1 742212 742212.3 4 2008. This book is both fascinating and frustrating, and illustrates that the only way to get the real info on anything is to be a scientist Data scientist, research scientist, medical scientist, science scientist, mad scientist But the good news is that one doesn t need to be a PROFESSIONAL scientist in order to get to the truth of an issue, but one just has to have the kind of critical thinking that a good scientist applies After all 87.3% of people know that 77% of statistics can be made to show anything at all, and 31% of statistics are made up on the spot It s a real problem, because 68% of all people believe 54% of all statistics they encounter, and question only 1.8% of them And those only because they are less than 45% in agreement with their pre determined position on the topic So, what all that means is that you should dust off your bullshit detector I know that I ve had to pull mine out of storage There were birds nesting in it I ve relocated them to a lovely tree in my back yard They re settling in nicely There is just so much conflicting information out there that it can be hard to know what is real and what isn t, and this book seeks to help you educate yourself on how to find out And it takes work You have to be willing to dig for info, and not just fall into line with the first scare tactic headline you read You have to be diligent in not only doing your own research but being analytical enough to make sense of it, and open minded enough to accept it as the truth, even if it s not the answer you wanted You would think that so much of what is related in this book would be common sense, but it is kinda scary how much stock people put in a sensational headline, or a passionate celebrity with anecdotes to spare I totally include myself in that, and I don t fault anyone for trying to raise awareness to an issue that they feel passionately about But manipulating facts to make a claim, or having no facts at all and just going by what sounds plausible or feels right is not OK, especially if it means that society is put at risk because of a fear of vaccinations For example This book is kind of a hybrid of The Panic Virus A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear and Idiot America How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free both of which I highly recommend , but with scientific method and bringing awareness to the bullshit method And it was great Enlightening and eye opening, but there s a flaw in Goldacre s reasoning about some things, and it bothered me just enough to drop a star Throughout this book, Goldacre talks about manipulation possibilities for clinical trials, ways that they drug companies, etc can make the product they are testing and spending many millions of dollars to develop look as beneficial as possible This runs the gamut from testing them against placebo, or inaccurate doses of a competitor s drug, so that theirs comes out performing better, or the competitor s drug causes side effects from the inaccurate dosage, or running a trial for longer than originally designed until the data bears out better results or shorter so that the results don t start going downhill after a good start , or selectively choosing people likely to respond well, or not randomizing, or not blinding the study, or moving the goal posts drug was developed as a pain reliever, but didn t perform well for that purpose, but people are dropping weight like a bad habit, so now they re calling it a diet pill , or just not publishing or purposefully publishing the study in an obscure place , etc All these methods of manipulating the results or making it hard for people to find out what was actually in the study, and yet Goldacre still puts a lot of credence and trust in published studies in general While I, the cynical one, am sitting here thinking Why do you assume that they aren t lying Why do you assume that they are going to publish that they gave the improper dosage of a competitor s drug in the trials They have a stake in ensuring that their drug comes out on top, and it s clear that manipulation happens, so why would anyone think that it would then be published in their report Is it not likely, if they lack ethics enough to manipulate the data in the trial itself, to then report that they did not I just felt that assuming that reports are going to accurately reflect EXACTLY what was tested is a stretch, especially when we re talking about people and companies with a financial stake in marketing their product, and questionable, shady ethics Anyway aside from that one thing, this book was great I really enjoyed it, and felt that it was the right mix of serious and humor, as well as the right mix of science and narrative I definitely recommend this The audiobook is pretty great as well I liked the reader a lot. 10 star book Edit I have edited the review as the book is now available in the US Truly a worthwhile read, one up for us against big Pharma Until recently this book was not available in the US as books that attack big Pharma, alternative medicine gurus especially the tv variety and sacred cows like the MMR Autism myth get sued just to stop publication even if there is no hope of winning the suit This is an important book and illuminates the part the media plays in the dissemination of information truths, half truths and outright but very profitable lies in the medical, health and nutrition fields and why we are taken in Why the truth is both deliberately and in a very cavalier manner hidden from us by all that stand to make a buck, even peripherally like some columnist for a news rag It also explains, after a fashion, the still not properly understood placebo effect and why therapies that can have no possible physical effects whatsoever, particularly homeopathy with its dilution of the active ingredient to the nth degree, still work We are amazing The book is too. This is a marvelous book about people getting science mostly medical and nutritional science really really wrong I was struck by an amazing coincidence from the very first page Just two weeks before I read this book, a friend described to me the foot bath that he had undergone, exactly as described in the book Bad Science He is scientifically oriented, so he was just flabbergasted when the procedure left a brown sludge in the foot bath, but the treatment removed all the pain in his knees from some injury for a couple of weeks He had no idea how the treatment worked Very likely, the placebo effect was working.Dr Ben Goldacre is a psychiatrist, and a weekly columnist in The Guardian He describes many techniques for spotting bad science He traces the history of all sorts of wild, so called science based gimmicks, like Brain Gym , homeopathy, anti oxidants and nutritionists Goldacre analyzes why people like to believe in stupid things Goldacre does not beat around the bush he calls a spade a spade He calls the pharmaceutical industry evil He describes dozens of subtle, hard to catch statistical gimmicks that are frequently used to justify licensing pharmaceutical drugs I just loved the quote by Richard Feynman You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in throught the parking lot And you won t believe what happened I saw a car with the license plate ARW 157 Can you imagine Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight Amazing Goldacre traces the history of the anti vaccine movement, starting with paper written by Dr Anthony Wakefield on the relationship between the MMR vaccine Measles, Mumps, Rubella and autism in children It was published in The Lancet in 1998 Wakefield immediately earned about 70,000 for his research, by lawyers who were suing on behalf of parents of autistic children Eventually he was to receive ten times that much from a legal aid fund While the paper was truly bad, Goldacre finds most of the fault in the anti MMR scare not in the paper itself, but in the media frenzy that followed it The media picked up the story and uncritically pushed the story to the public Goldacre writes,bullshit has become an extremely important public health issue,The media fail science spectacularly While newspapers have specialized health and science correspondents who understand science, but editors will always cynically sideline those people and give stupid stories to generalists, for the simple reason that they want stupid stories Science is beyond their intellectual horizon, so they assume you can just make it up anyway. This book is definitely eye opening It is well written, engaging, humorous at times, but at the same time completely serious And, after reading this book, you will be in a far better position to objectively evaluate the quality of medical research Highly recommended Beads that sparkle like a prism, snake oil for your rheumatism, Calico and gingham for the girls.Cast your eye on Dr Borer s patent pending hair restorer,guaranteed to grow hair on a billiard ballHands up who doesn t recognise which gender bending musical those portentous words emanate from Okay, it was Calamity Jane You knew that, I know Can t just be me whose mind is stuffed with the lyrical junk of six decades.Onward to the review.Ben Goodacre is the sworn foe of all modern day medical mountebanks, and there s a whole internet full of those around, than you can shake a juju stick at, so he has a lot to do and he bounds out of bed each morning and rattles off his Guardian column about let s say homeopathy and just how REALLY INSANE it is then jumps in his E Type Jag and straight to the airport where a plane is waiting to take him to Minnesota where the local tv station in St Paul is about to interview Dr Cleothilde Barnfather who is recommending everyone to take fishoil pills every day, but only particular ones enriched with antioxidants and infused with chlorophyll, yeah that s right, only his own brand Barnfather Live Forever Fish Oil tag line they re easy to swallow because they come from a fish now then, brave Ben is about to reveal the author of the bestselling Fish Oil Will Enable You To Outlive Your Great Grandchildren as none other than gasp Randy Merckenschlitzfer, failed used tumbledrier salesman and no doctor at all his PHD was obtained through the post from some institution in Albuquerque which frankly no one has heard of including the janitor of the block of flats in which it is supposed to reside Ben has checked hah Take that And that Where s your double blind randomised clinical trial for your fishoil pills Doctor Barnfather , or should we say Randy Oh, there never was one How not surprised I am Viewers, this guy is a FAKE Naturally, everyone goes on buying the fishoil pills and Randy buys another swimming pool, this one made in the shape of a haddock, and Ben Goodacre writes some even angrier columns about it and feels marginally better, just as Randy s customers do.Knockabout aside, this book exposes the shoddy thinking and egregious lust for non existent breakthroughs, miracle cures and health horror stories which bedevil the British press and which are perpetrated by humanities graduates who do not understand scientific method or basic maths Two are given the full treatment the MRSA hospital superbug non epidemic and the MMR vaccine causes autism hoax and many other rubbish claims are debated in a breezy manner which alas all sounds like preaching to the converted to me, and also scores uncomfortably high on the science nerdometer for this English Theology graduate.There are graphs You have been warned. I wish that I could give this book 4 stars I tell you what, I give the idea for this book 4 stars Unfortunately though, the execution wasn t so fantastic That said, I do think that anyone interested in the way that the media are able to influence public opinion about serious matters, and in the recent explosion of health related reality TV should give it a read It is an interesting book if you can get over the shoddy editing and Goldacres pomp and ceremony.Goldacre insists that this should be an entertaining read but it just falls short Whoever edited it allows Goldacre to be all over the page, which is unnecessarily distracting Certain catchprases are also overused, which again makes me wonder who the editor was That said, he probably fought his publisher tooth and nail to ensure that his precious book didn t lose its essence or something For all of his insistence that Humanities graduates the journalists don t have the knowledge and wherewithal to write scientific news reports, Goldacre and his fancy pants BSc perhaps should have hired one to help him write an entertaining non fiction book.Which brings me to my final gripe about the book Goldacre has a condescending attitude towards anyone who does not have a BSc In fact, people who do have a BSc but have not had the opportunities to find a career in which to use it also get an irritating oh shame moment from him Actually, Ben Goldacre is just condescending This is a great pity because these are the very audience he has written this entertaining read for So, yes, it s ok It will certainly put you off homeopathy. |Free Kindle ♉ Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks ♶ 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 PhDs In Biochemistry, Tell What They Should Be Paying Attention To And What S, Well, Just Bullshit 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 This book has some important lessons to impart and, as loathe as I am to tell anybody what they should or shouldn t read, this is one of the few books I wish could be made compulsory reading.Goldacre writes with passion about subjects that are clearly important to him and yet still manages to write conversationally and with good humour Parts of this book made me laugh out loud and parts of this book, sometimes less than a page later, made me both angry and desperately sad One chapter on the MRSA debacle in UK hospitals actually brought tears to my eyes.Lessons this book illustrates extremely well 1 Correlation does not equal causation.2 Anecdotal evidence barely qualifies as evidence at all.3 Research must be performed correctly, with a control group and a large enough trial group for the study to be statistically significant Oh, and without a pre existing bias, obviously.4 Evidence should be checkable and from a reliable source If medical research has only been published in a colour Sunday supplement in a tabloid newspaper, it s most likely not worth the paper it s written on.There are many other lessons to take away from this book but if I add I run the risk of just paraphrasing the entire book and the author has explained it all a hundred times better than I could Just read the book I promise you you will learn something and be entertained along the way. Ben Goldacre is a man with a mission A UK doctor who writes a column for the Guardian, he d like it very much if people would stop making their health decisions on the basis of crap science.Unfortunately, there is an awful lot of crap science out there So Goldacre does his best to educate people about how to tell the difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly.Along the way, he entertainingly uses the usual suspects of homeopathy and foot detox baths to illustrate his points But he also takes on something called Brain Gym, a UK school program supposedly designed to improve learning, the rather outlandish claims of cosmetic cream manufactures, famous in the UK at least TV nutritionists pushing their own lines of fancy supplements, and the entire pharmaceutical industry.In the process, he strives to help readers understand why so much of the science reported in the media is unreliable His section on media distortions of science was among the most valuable parts of the book He highlights the malignant tendency of the media to publish sensationalistic scare stories based on only the thinnest of evidence One of his hints to keep in mind when reading a new story if a doctor announces an incredible new breakthrough via press release, rather than peer reviewed journal, be very, very skeptical.The book was written in 2008, after Andrew Wakefield s paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism had already been withdrawn, but before he was found guilty of the outright fraud he actually perpetuated Goldacre spends a section reviewing this scare in detail, pointing out that the media s later vilification of Wakefield would never have been necessary if anyone with a basic understanding of science had written the story to begin with the original paper was so flimsy it didn t warrant the attention it got even if it hadn t turned out to be fraudulent.It s Goldacre s discussion of the MRSA scare in the UK that is even disturbing, however, as he demonstrates how this scare was essentially fabricated by a media hungry for sensational news I m not sure I agree with him that this is the fault of humanities trained journalists who think science is subjective and therefore feel justified in giving equal time to totally unqualified experts, but there s no question the media s habit of reporting shaky sensational findings and completely ignoring follow up studies showing the original stories were in error is seriously hazardous to our health.It was also interesting to hear his theory that part of the reason that pharmaceutical companies are prone to sensationalizing mediocre results is because the low hanging medical fruit has already been harvested During the middle part of the century, phenomenal life saving breakthroughs were happening all the time Since the mid 70 s, however, very few of these have occurred, which Goldacre suggests is the reason why Pharma has turned to medicalizing common complaints and pumping up iffy research findings in effort to preserve profits.His chapter on HIV denialism in South Africa was also very enlightening He explains the cultural and political factors that combined with bad science to result in a devastating governmental policy of recommending beetroot to AIDS patients instead of antiretroviral drugs.Goldacre has real faith in the ability of non scientists to understand the basics of what makes good science if they have the motivation to do so But the overwhelming abundance of crap science in all areas of our lives has resulted in what he calls corrosive intellectual side effects While it may be harmless in the short term for people to indulge in a little homeopathy every now and again, the damage and death from things like declining vaccination rates and HIV denialism is all too real This book offers a powerful inoculation against that disease. A readable romp through the misuse and abuse of health related science in the media The analysis of homeopathy, mrs McKeith and the brain gym seemed like shooting fish in a barrel, but then I remember that people make a lot of money marketing that kind of nonsense.Although it is all very entertaining a book is perhaps not the right tool to use against such a Hydra unless the edition is so very big and heavy that it requires a Hercules to wield it in battle , this is perhaps an example of the move from blog view spoiler column in fact but that does not alliterate hide spoiler