“The media is game-like world of blurry truths, where the vague narrative shape of a story matters more than clarity, accuracy and evidence.”
In this book Ben Goldacre, doctor and author of the weekly Bad Science columns in The Guardian, extends his columns which criticise reports done on science and medicine in media nowadays. This book takes the reader through some of the aspects media misrepresentation of science which he disapproves of via clear-cut sections, making it very easy to understand.
Throughout the book, the most common theme noticeable will be Goldacre’s frustration at the lack of evidence-based science these days, commonly known as pseudoscience (collection of beliefs mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific methods). This means that the accounts reported as news don’t provide any substantial evidence for that result. Usually, the only people who are curious about these stories are those who have an interest in science of medicine and you can, therefore, presume that they’ll have the basic knowledge about the subject yet these articles are dumbed down to such an extent that it leaves out most of the crucial information, mostly because the journalists themselves don’t have any understanding of the matter.
The book takes you through 16 features of what’s thought to be “bad science”, starting off with detoxification processes which can be proved to be rubbish by some simple experiments (what I liked was that he would show you how to do the experiment at home so you get your own results, rather than taking his word for it). The more serious issues in the book comprise of homeopathy, where it is thought that a person can be cured by small doses of the substance that caused that disease, the placebo effect and the MMR vaccine deception, all of which is has the underlying message of how statistical facts to back up the hypothesis is lacking.
What I found particularly funny was how Gillian McKeith had her own personal chapter where Goldacre just completely tore her down with his ridicule (he really is not fond of nutritionists). An amusing quote which he’s used many times in any talks he gives is how she believes that dark-leaved vegetables, as they have a lot of chlorophyll in them, will “reoxygenate your blood”. I’m hoping that anyone with the basic GCSE education doesn’t need any explanation (watch the video above if you do but be warned, he speaks extremely fast).
What I’ve mentioned above is only some of the things talked about, read this book which reached #1 in the UK non-fiction charts to find out the rest!