Monday, 9 July 2012

Book Review: Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre 
Fourth Estate 2008 
Purchased from Amazon

I can't recall ever before reading a book three times. I may even read it for a fourth time. This is a best-seller and truly deserves its position. It needs to be a compulsory textbook for all scientists, journalists, healthcare professionals, teachers, parents - well, everyone can benefit by digesting its contents.


Ben Goldacre has carved a niche for himself in highlighting the daft and downright dishonest reports that abuse statistics to sell products, pills, methods and interventions. If he writes a sequel, it hope he names it something like "Wise Up, You Idiots!".


Through compelling and sometimes controversial case studies, Goldacre teaches the reader how statistics can be and are manipulated for the benefit of some. Although I am not too bad at handling statistics I finished this book, each time, with a far greater understanding of the analysis, manipulation and presentation of data. For me, the best best aspect of the book is the totally no nonsense approach of the writing. It is perhaps toned down a wee bit compared to his blog http://www.badscience.net/.


So if you want to know the statistical facts behind the Brain Gym, the Media's MMR Hoax, Dr Gillian McKeith, Homeopathy, Professor Patrick Holford and other juicy topics which form part of our perceived wisdom, then read the book - at least twice.

A well deserved 5* (a rare award)

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