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Omnilogikos: literati

I'll post here all the book related content that I usually share on my blog, be it comments, reviews, quotes or whatever else.

Currently reading

L'Assommoir (The Dram Shop)
Robin Buss, Émile Zola
Dicionário de Lugares Imaginários
Carlos Vaz Marques, Ana Falcão Bastos, Alberto Manguel, Gianni Guadalupi
Progress: 60/1040 pages

Bad Science

Bad Science - Ben Goldacre I ordered Bad Science because it was recommended by Amazon.co.uk. I knew nothing about this book or Ben Goldacre before reading it but I risked it because the description and people's reviews piqued my curiosity. Right from its cover one understands the author proposes to clarify a lot of the supposedly science-based bullshit going on in the mass-media and health market nowadays. Being a recently graduated doctor does mean that I am aware of most of it already, but its still interesting both to read about it from someone who just wants to clear stuff up, explain basic statistics and expel the drama associated with most health news today and also to get to know some of the most strikingly absurd examples of such nonsense. After reading it during my vacations - which means I had the concentration and attention span needed to understand and be critical about it - I must say that Ben Goldacre nailed it.But first things first: a nice way to get to know what the book is about is a talk by the author at TEDGlobal 2011 (go watch it as soon as possible). I admit he sounds a bit deranged, as he often does in the book, although there he has more space to explain, provide reference and overall be less hurried which is much more rewarding to the reader.Bad Science - the book - includes comments on people who consistently advertise conclusions based on bad science and on some of the most reported cases of the same bad science in the media. But what I consider the true achievement of the book and the reason why I recommend it is the way the author takes from these examples and explains the scientific method applied to health issues, its benefits and its flaws and how they are exploited to take advantage of the general public and sometimes ignored by the so called science reporters. After this, the reader will be armed with enough knowledge to appraise claims of scientific proof and decide for themselves whether they are total bullshit, just not enough to believe or something to be trusted, at least enough to consult someone who has more information about them. Of note are chapters such as "Homeopathy", "The Placebo Effect", "How the Media Promote the Public Misunderstanding of Science", "Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things", "Bad Stats" and "Health Scares". To further celebrate Ben Goldacre's achievement I'll just add, as an example, that he isn't limited to telling you how the placebo effect influences the results of studies or fakes the consequences of apparently awesome treatments. That's what you can get by reading the first result of a google search on the placebo effect. He goes from there to predict how the knowledge of what generates such effect might be used in the medical practice, for example in the way health care is organized, how treatments are explained, how health care personnel talks to patients. His real purpose seems not only to be the disillusionment of the people who are cheated by those who take advantage of bad science but also the utilization of the knowledge gained to improve our quality of life. All in all a very informative and interesting read which deals with concepts that all people in contemporary society should master while discrediting astonishing health scares and false propaganda.This review was adapted from my original publication on my blog.