Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bad Science

Last week I read two books that were so good I feel like they should be required reading in school. One was named Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre, and the other was Do You Believe in Magic?, by Paul Offit.

Bad Science's description: "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 Ph.D.s in biochemistry, tell what they should be paying attention to and what's, well, just more BS?"

"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."

Do You Believe in Magic?'s description: "In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly."

"Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health."

"An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, 'There’s no such thing as alternative medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.'"

I really loved both of these books. They were easy to read, and fascinating.

Both explain why you should critically examine health claims made by those in the media, and how to critically examine them. Both were fascinating, fun to read, and full of crazy stuff that's ignored or misunderstood by the media. For example, did you know that antioxidant supplements not only have been found to have no benefit, but actually increase your chance of dying from cancer or heart disease? I had no idea.

I highly recommend them if you'd like to have the ability to be able to critically examine health, medical, or science claims made by those on the news, podcasts, blogs, news websites, etc.

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