Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

Bad Science

October 25th, 2008 Posted in Bad media, General Science, Health

If you don’t do anything else I ever tell you, then make absolutely sure that you read Ben Goldacre’s book “Bad Science”. ┬áJust to make it easier for you, here’s the Amazon.co.uk link. Dr Goldacre is a trained medical doctor, and he is also extraordinary skilled at explaining the scientific method plainly to the layperson. The most important thing to take away from Dr Goldacre’s book is the terrifying degree to which the media is able to deliberately manipulate the available information to tell the most exciting story – the one that sells the most newspapers – not the one that is true.

The other thing I took away from the book is something that I guess I already knew – the aggression with which a party defends their claims varies inversely with the truth of those same claims. Dr Goldacre is altogether far too generous about the degree to which pseudoscientists are aware of their own delusions. He seems to think (or, at least, he claims in public) that most pseudoscientists are just confused, and they actually believe that they are right. I personally disagree. Given the ease by which evidence massively disproving their theories can be obtained, I think that it takes a particular kind of conscious deception to be able to go out in the wide world and push quack medicine on the unsuspecting public.

Anyway, as I said, go out and read the book – it may make you very angry, but in a good way.

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