Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks- by Ben Goldacre

Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma FlacksBad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks by Ben Goldacre
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I cheated on my cycle and read two science books in a row. I suppose this one being pretty bland was my punishment for that mistake. I like being amused by bad science and hearing it debunked, but the book was very specific about a few bad ideas in science and not a broad overview. More specifically, the book is British and focused on bad science stories that are affecting the UK. Some of them were so unbelievably bad that I am having a hard time imagining that the ideas have as wide of a following as the author claims. If they do, then he does a good job debunking them, but I felt very disconnected from most of the issues he raised until he got to the last third of the book about medical issues. He focused on the issues of drug companies being in charge of policing themselves, of comparing new drugs to placebo-controlled trials rather than the best available alternative, extrapolating unintended results, and other ways that big pharma cuts corners. Additionally, there was an attack on the anti-vaccination movement that has hit the States hard and is something that I am passionate about because: 1) my daughter was gravely ill and has lingering problems because she didn't get a vaccine, and 2) herd health issues [including the illness and death of infants and young children who are put at risk because they are too young to yet get vaccinated. In that section, the author also mentioned [author:Aaron Carroll|2976372] by name, who I know from the YouTube channel Healthcare Triage. I haven't read any of Dr. Carroll's books yet, but he seems to be much more connected to bad science in [American] medical fields and I hope to be able to listen to one soon.
The greatest plus of this overly dull and difficult to connect to book was the last few paragraphs. Ben Goldacre wrote an eloquent and impassioned plea that should be required reading for all students entering medical, and probably all science fields, to be honest about the work they do and to make sure they hold individuals and the media who take what they say out of context accountable; scientists in all fields should develop good communication skills to build connections to society and to help society become more scientifically literate.

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