Monday, 11 November 2013

Book review: Bad Science and I Used to Know That- History

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Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.
I whizzed through this book, which was actually quite entertaining, as well as thought-provoking. Essentially, he explains the 'bad science' behind alternative remedies/medicine, the dubious credentials of some famous providers of health and nutritional advice, and discusses the media storm around healthcare stories, such as the MMR vaccine's link (or not, as it turned out) to autism.

I felt like I was already vaguely familiar with a lot of the information on how scientific research is conducted (although the last time I did anything even close a scientific experiment was about 10 years ago, at A-Level) but there was a lot that I have forgotten, or was not familiar with in such depth. This was a very accessible book, which didn't treat the reader as stupid. It has given me a healthy suspicion of health/science stories as reported in the media...I suppose I always thought there were a lot of dubious/exaggerated stories which may have misunderstood the science, but now I will be reading Ben Goldacre's website and this website, mentioned in the book, to have a look at the research myself and hopefully make up my own mind. I am looking forward to being more informed about these topics!

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I Used to Know That- History by Emma Marriott
Despite having a history degree, I sometimes feel that I have large gaps in my historical knowledge, particularly when it comes to modern history. This book aimed to give an overview of history (albeit from a British/European perspective). Due to my patchy knowledge, it became more useful the further into it I read, and I think it was quite good at showing how the 'headlines' of history fitted together.
One issue that I had with this book in Kindle format was that what were probably well laid out information boxes in the print version became jumbled up in the Kindle version, so I found that I was jumping between the main paragraph and the 'detail' box- annoying!

I seem to be getting through the Kindle books quite speedily (and making slow progress on the print books- if only the print books would hold themselves open whilst I knit!). Next up is 'A Brief History of the Third Reich'- bought in an attempt to fill in my knowledge gaps, I think!

2 comments:

  1. Hi Nicola, I really liked Bad Science, and as you probably know, the author also wrote Bad Pharma, which I haven't read yet. I would benefit from reading the history book - having no degree in history, my gaps are yawning chasms! BTW, from one of your previous posts, I have heard of that snail book and I think I would like it.

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    1. I think Bad Pharma will be on my list to read once I have got through my backlog! I wonder if our local library has it digitally..hmm!
      The snail book was quite calming, in an odd way- I think the slow pace of the snail filtered through whilst I was reading.

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