Book of the Month: And our Geek Lit winner is... BAD SCIENCE by Ben Goldacre (discussion night Tue 30 March)

(121 Posts)

BAD SCIENCE by Ben Goldacre has grabbed the winning title of March Book of the Month with a staggering 50 votes, streaks ahead of his competitors.

We will get together to chat about the book on Tuesday 30 March, 8-9.30pm.

For those that missed it, here were the choices and the March poll results.

And for anyone new to Bookclub, here is how it works.

I'm hoping Ben may be able to join us to answer all your questions - will keep you posted.

Pofacedagain Tue 30-Mar-10 23:16:10

Yes definitely we do. There a lots of studies that show and link between fish oil and brain health. Trying to find them. Here is

one

MuchaFriki Tue 30-Mar-10 23:20:09

Hehe not to worry Pofacedagain i am already distracted by the Power Balance bracelet http://www.powerbalance.com/powerbalance - the hologram activates my body's energy fields! Spanish royalty are wearing them!

*glances at the washing up pile, backs away* wink

SuziKettles Tue 30-Mar-10 23:24:19

Now, my critical appraisal skills are pretty tenuous so I'm going to be out of my depth pretty soon grin, but:

The study group that got the active ingredient numbered 88 students

The study group who received the placebo numbered only 33

Why was that?

Pofacedagain Tue 30-Mar-10 23:46:12

'In all, 72 children were assessed (33 in the fish oil group and 39 in the olive oil group).'

Isn't that right?

Pofacedagain Tue 30-Mar-10 23:48:59

LOL at the power bracelet
<furiously searches internet for peer reviewed study>

MuchaFriki Tue 30-Mar-10 23:49:12

SuziKettles, Pofaced, right, I can't see enough context in the article about fish oil supplements in pregnancy, to find the original research in BMJ's "Archives of disease in childhood".

But there's nothing to suggest there that the same effects cannot be achieved by eating oily fish and other good sources of omega-3.

But that kind of coverage leaves me as a mother feeling (as the Bad Science book points out) was i negligent not to eat fish oil pills while incubating DS? Is he this manic due to too much mercury?

Why do the journal publishers shop individual studies round the press? Why is there so much interest in the effects of fish oils on kids? So more research and meta-analysis goes on, and we wonder and worry while it's being concluded....

SuziKettles Tue 30-Mar-10 23:54:31

Sorry, my post of 23:24 refers to your study about anxiety in students helped by a mixture of essential fatty acids. There seems to be a pretty large discrepancy between the numbers in the placebo group and the group who received the active ingredient. Might not be important but it seems odd.

Mucha, the original article (I have an Athens password) states that because pregnant women are advised to limit their oily fish intake because of mercury worries there is a concern that they're not getting enough DHA for optimal brain development of the unborn child, hence the supplement.

Pofacedagain Tue 30-Mar-10 23:55:20

the 'Mixture of essential fatty acids lowers test anxiety' study is interesting, but cannot access full text at moment.

Questions over flawed research and manipulated stats occur in pharma drug and vaccine research too. this research [which I suspect is flawed itself] calls into question previous research on Hib vaccine safety. I am not for one moment suggesting Hib vaccine is not safe, but I found it interesting in its suggestion that the previous research was deliberately skewed.

SuziKettles Tue 30-Mar-10 23:55:23

Well there's a lot of money in fish oil capsules <cynic>

SuziKettles Tue 30-Mar-10 23:57:32

Oh yes, big pharma are dreadful re: flawed research etc. I was gobsmacked (as a medical librarian) to read about one of the big drug companies - think it was Merck - getting Elsevier to basically publishe as so-called journal that only had their (positive, natch) studies in it.

SuziKettles Tue 30-Mar-10 23:59:14

I went to a statistics study day once where a bunch of journal articles were pulled apart. Quite often there's no actual badness behind the "bad" science, just carelessness. The waste of research time/money etc is shocking.

SuziKettles Wed 31-Mar-10 00:02:43

Here re: fake journals.

SuziKettles Wed 31-Mar-10 00:03:53

And of course, Merck own SevenSeas so are up to their eyes in fish oil capsules.

Pofacedagain Wed 31-Mar-10 00:04:51

shock at that link Suzi.

Sputnik Wed 31-Mar-10 21:28:30

Going off at a bit of a tangent here but, I really enjoyed the book, however one thing is still bugging me 2 years after reading it. At one point he talks about putting your sperm under a microscope. Not simply sperm, or your or your partner's sperm, but your sperm.

Not having any sperm of my own I felt a little excluded by this, and I got the impression reading the book that he had a male readership in mind when he wrote it, and women are more likely to be the people falling for all the detox, Mckeith, homeopathy bullshit.

I'm not normally sensitive about this kind of thing, did anyone else get that impression?

Pofacedagain Wed 31-Mar-10 22:14:31

Interesting point.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 31-Mar-10 22:54:11

I've read that criticism before [and before i read the book] so did read it with that in mind and i did think it was gendered. However, can't say I would have felt that way if I had read the book before reading the gendered critique of it.

seeker Thu 01-Apr-10 07:41:23

Just because something is published in a scientific-looking journal doesn't mean that the journal is one of record or that it is peer reviewed. And just because someone is Professor of Something or Other at Somewhere or Other University doesn"t mean that he or she is a genuine academic from a reputable academic institution.

Pofacedagain Thu 01-Apr-10 11:10:06

The articles I linked to where summaries of studies from the BMJ I think.

Care to comment on BG's 'pseudodiagnostic' categorization of Asperger's syndrome? Doesn't sound particularly 'scientific' to me.

resurrecting this, as I have a few questions and am generally interested (no time to read the thread now but will later)

Sputnik I did notice that (I am re reading it at the moment and read your comment first) but I've also noticed that in other places in the book he refers to female researchers, academics etc. I don't get the impression GM is 'picked on' because she's femal, but for all the reasons he lists.

He does write in the style of Jeremy Clarkson though - a lot of the time I hear his voice in my head when I'm reading it

sorken Sun 23-May-10 16:39:58

yeah seen this here too: http://www.tvdrawing.com

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