Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

I can’t quite remember how I heard of this book, but it was definitely related to Do You Believe in Magic, which was a fantastic look at alternative medicine. Bad Science also looks at alternative medicine, but is much broader and looks at science as whole.

The book starts off with a look at experiments and what they mean (very important because you need to be able to understand what reliable studies are before you can decide if things are being reported correctly), before going on to homeopathy and nutritionists. The last section of the book looks at how the media misrepresents science and it might make you lose trust in medical reporting.

This book was fantastic! I really liked how the author used humour to make his points because it helped me to remember them better. For example, when he’s talking about all those expensive facial creams and how the skin absorbs things, he writes that “in general, you don’t absorb things very well through the skin, because its purpose is to be relatively impermeable. When you sit in a bath of baked beans for charity, you do not get fat, nor do you start farting.”

My sense of humour is probably on the juvenile side but the mental image of someone farting uncontrollably in a tub of baked beans made me laugh.

That said, my favourite chapter was Chapter 13, Why clever people believe stupid things, where he makes the following points (among others):

- We see patterns where there is only random noise

- We see casual relationships where there are none

- We tend to be biased towards evidence we want to believe in.

All the points are made with plenty of examples to back them up. In fact, if you want a clear and convincing explanation on why vaccinations don’t cause autism, you should read the chapter on it. It’s very clear that no one should have believe the studies and that the media had a role in playing up this ‘scare’.

Anyone who enjoys science will enjoy this. The book is well-written and easy to understand. You could probably get the same information if you search long enough on the Internet, but since it’s all gathered conveniently into one place, you should just read the book.


  1. I can see why this would be a worthwhile read, especially in this day and age of misinformation. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention, Eustacia. I will definitely be on the look out for it.

    1. Hope you manage to find it! It's very eye-opening.


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