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Book review: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre


Stefan Johansson

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This is not a book about neonatal medicine. But read it anyway! You will have a good time and feel enlighted about a fascinating world outside your neonatal unit. Where strong commercial interests and strange characters profit BIG MONEY from people aiming for a healthy life-style.

Bad Science is written by the British doctor and writer Ben Goldacre. The book is based on his column in the Guardian, a leading newspapers in the UK. His mission is (what is seems) to bring basic principles of science to the general public, thereby uncovering the critical eye of people who are cheated to spend on miracle cures because of "studies have shown"-statements. As you know, most goods and services in the healthy-life-style industry are nothing but fraudulent rubbish.

Ben Goldacre cleverly dismantles pseudo-science, such as Detox, Homeopathy, Pills solving complex social problems, etcera. Even when Ben Goldacre refers to hyped health prophets in the UK I haven't heard of, I find Bad Science truly amusing reading. His bottom-line: "If I had a T-shirt slogan for this whole book it would be I'll think you'll find it is a bit more complicated than that".

Taking antioxidant pills (and the wide spread belief that these pills do good to you...) as an example, Goldacre goes through the four major errors in pseudo-science. Does data exist at all? The concepts of observation and intervention, are they mixed up? Is lab data being extrapolated far beyond reason? Are positive trials cherry-picked?

A large bit of the book is about heavy irrationality, but Bad Science also deals with a more serious side of science. As you know, the quality of medical research varies quite a lot... For example, in the chapter "Is mainstream medicine evil?" Goldacre goes through ("for the doctors who bought the book to laugh at homeopaths") common statistical tricks that may boost scientific reporting of, for example, trials sponsored by pharmaceutical industry. These tricks include play with the baseline, ignore drop-outs, change outcome to fit your needs of a positive trial and after the study is completed, "torture the data and it will confess to anything", and "try every button on the computer". He also problematize the fact that media promote the public misunderstanding of science due its traditional way of communicating "good stories", and why "clever people believe stupid things".

The only alternative to read Bad Science would to follow Goldacre's Guardian column and blog, both freely available here and here.

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You can buy this book from Amazon.com. 99nicu is a partner of Amazon and a purchase using the link below, results in a small portion of the order value being paid back to 99nicu. At no extra cost for you.

Click here to order this book through Amazon.com!

99nicu has set up collections of books that are useful in everyday clinical work in the NICU, in Amazon-driven book shops. Click below to view the bookshops for

European customers, in collaboration with Amazon.co.uk

US and International customers, in collaboration with Amazon.com

If you would like to purchase regular books, electronics, DVDs etc, you can use the links below to go to the regular Amazon websites.

Click here to go to AMAZON.COM and here to go to AMAZON.CO.UK

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