Bad Science is such a timely book that I am sure to return to it again in the coming months. It was published in 2008 and its content is more relevant today than ever before. It is a shakedown of the bad science that is perpetuated by pseudoscience that envelopes alternative medicine, nutritionists and even anti-vaxxers. No more relevant time to reassess the evidence-based science that underpins medical science than in the middle of a pandemic where conspiracy theories and quack cures are grabbing the headlines as a novel virus holds sway.
The Madagascar “cure” for COVID-19 is in the news and the tired perception that African “cures” are often derided because of their origin is making the rounds again. Reading Bad Science proves that the xenophobic charge is false and silly. There are as many fake cures in the western world as in the developing world. The derision is not because of their origin but because they do not hold up to scrutiny when examined under the critical eye of evidence-based science. Bad Science is a polemic that takes down health solutions that are not backed by evidence-based science. It deals with serious issues laced with a good dose of humour, data and history.
Some of the crunching takedowns include irritants like nutritionists, homeopaths and magic pill salesmen. There is a common thread that runs through all of these well-established pseudosciences; the lack of evidence-based data to back up their effectiveness. The lack of control experiments, the wilful misunderstanding of placebo effects and the cherry-picking of study results. Same deficiencies are present in the anti-vaxxers campaign. One does not have to be a scientist to spot the missing links in these products but one needs to be inquisitive and willing to question every health fad. It is for this reason that I would revisit this book again as its content is too important to be read once. Recommended.