Haha w00t I am “Health Book Of The Week” in the Daily Mail

September 30th, 2008 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, book, book reviews, mail, onanism | 26 Comments »


[Click on the image to read it].

I don’t know how I managed to miss this, but my cheeky tome “Bad Science” was Health Book Of The Week in the Daily Mail last Tuesday. There are three things I find interesting about their review.

1. I am Health Book Of The Week in the Daily Mail (and after all the mean things I’ve said about them). To me this says a great deal about the strangeness of the Daily Mail project – barrages of nonsense, interspersed with occasional moments of incongruous clarity. This phenomenon, for me, reached its pinnacle in their front page article on how miracle pixie dust made a man’s finger grow back. You will remember that this story was nonsense. After all the front page excitement, hidden away at the very end of their article, was a quote from someone who actually knew about this stuff, who said, quite simply, that the papers entire front page story was all cock. Brilliant, strange, and oddly endearing.

2. It’s really dry. I like Edzard Ernst, in the sense that I have greatly enjoyed drinking beer with him in a pub, and his simple but necessary project of producing systematic reviews and meta-analyses of CAM treatments has been enormously useful for all, although the results have upset some people. I also think that the vindictive harrassment he has been subjected to by the CAM industry as a result is a damning indictment of how angry and intolerant their profession can be. But he is very square. The world needs different kinds of people.

3. It’s right next to some absolute nonsense about Eye Gym. See also [1] above. Magnificent.

If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

26 Responses

  1. stever said,

    September 30, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    hahaha. Indeed they are an exotic and mysterious organ. I have noticed, in line with your description ‘barrages of nonsense, interspersed with occasional moments of incongruous clarity’ how in the field of drug policy they adopt a fervently punitive position (backed with all manner of bad science about the evils of drugs), labelling anyone who questions it some sort of pro-drug satanist – and then periodically run eminently sensible editorial calling for the legalisation of all drugs. odd.

    Ive blogged about one such recent foray here:


  2. emilypk said,

    September 30, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Why is one required to open a WordPress account to comment on this blog?

  3. muscleman said,

    September 30, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Emilypk that is common to a lot of blogs and no big deal. One thing it does is enable the site owner to delete offensive, libellous or spamming posts and if necessary ban that account from their blog.

    Think of it like this, you go to Ben’s house and to get in and join the party you are required to identify yourself to him. However having done so you can then don a masque and enter in whatever guise you so choose, and have a ball.

  4. emilypk said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Muscleman, I run 7 blogs–one for profit, using three different platforms. In my circle it is considered impolite at best to require an account (blogger, wordpress, squidoo, whatever). Especially as it is very easy to manage spam control and identify vistors by other methods (e.g. typing a name and email address). Not every contrary opinion (in fact, just a question) is based on ignorance.

  5. Teek said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    🙂 I like it – newspaper ridiculed in book features said book and encourages readers to buy it. the DM is indeed a strange organ, but book of the week is book of the week no matter what!

  6. Garulon said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Great, next stop the national curriculum!

  7. duboing said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Oh lordy, a third eye! Does it have any special powers?

  8. pv said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The Daily Heil’s mission is to play for both sides. One side understands little and has the memory span of a fish while the other side looks on incredulously. Then they publish stories about how scientists are always contradicting themselves.
    It’s a profitable deception.

  9. censored said,

    September 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    emilypk – I believe it’s much easier for users to log in with a verified account, than have to verify themselves every time. Besides, it’s not a WordPress account. It’s merely a registration for this, and only this, blog.

    On topic. I wonder if anyone at the Daily Heil actually read the book?!

  10. stever said,

    September 30, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    emilypk – because it gets about 30k hits a day this blog was being absolutely deluged with spam, despite best efforts, and theres no budget to mod it – so registration became a regrettable necessity.

  11. Mitton said,

    September 30, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Interesting to see that the DM prefers to use the US spelling for kilometre.

  12. kim said,

    September 30, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Or it could simply be that the Daily Mail books editor is Sandra Parsons, late of The Times, who takes a more serious approach to health and science than her colleagues. Was the review in the health pages or the books pages?

  13. Scrotley said,

    October 1, 2008 at 12:48 am

    A propos of nothing – the text immediately above the article reads “he starts probing around/model Caprice”. What’s that all about, Ben?

  14. gazza said,

    October 1, 2008 at 9:14 am

    The book’s a lot cheaper at Amazon, or Waterstones if you can pick up an order direct from the shop.

    One thing that worries me is that it has such unrelenting positive reviews on the Amazon site. Well deserved, of course. But I would have expected some slagging off from various cranks – surely it hasn’t given them pause for thought?

  15. NuclearChicken said,

    October 1, 2008 at 11:13 am

    This is a very surreal turn of events. Could the Daily Mail be trying to discredit the book by promoting it in their own pages?

  16. Daniel Rutter said,

    October 1, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I would not be so quick to condemn “Eye Gym”. I’ve been using exactly the same technique to strengthen my testes for six months, and can now bench-press seventy-five pounds using only my scrotum.

  17. Groinhammer said,

    October 1, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Thought it implied ‘Ben Goldacre recommends Eye Gym’ at first glance due to the proximity. For a terrifying moment I thought Ben had crossed over to the Dark Side.

    When you look at the woo nonsense for too long, is their a danger you could be sucked into the sparkly tights and ‘Ta Daaaa!’ world of the credulous? I was looking into the duck hunters Everest that is Scientology recently, and you do start to wonder what all the fuss is about. It initially reads like old school Christianity – giving up your wealth to the ‘church’, admonishing the unbeliever, secretive texts and rituals, persecution of heretics, top dogs penchant for the nubile and hard cash – nothing different to run of the mill historical vatican policy as far as I could tell. The Xenu/Xemu bit reads like a bad Star Trek episode though.

    Ben – Have you looked at Nelsons products? I was looking at a pack of their ‘Teetha’ (fast becoming a firm favorite with mums) which lists the active ingredient as 6c homeopathic potency of Chamomilla. ‘As the teething process can go on for up to 18 months you probably want to find a natural remedy that will work in tune with your baby’s body and one that is safe enough to be used every day. Nelsons Teetha is a firm been a favourite (sic) among parents for generations. The natural, sugar-free granules work with the whole body to soothe and calm your baby, and relieve the pain and discomfort of teething. The pleasant tasting powders are ready dosed so they can be taken anytime, anywhere. Just tip into your baby’s mouth or spoon-feed.’ The punchline is the precautions:
    ‘Keep out of the reach of children. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your doctor or homeopath.’

  18. ana said,

    October 2, 2008 at 1:46 am

    Ben – just finished your wonderful book.

    I am a veterinarian, but have decided to teach for a while. I am rather passionate about good science (some Public Health post-grad work got me all hot under the collar over the industry of pseudoscience – alive and well downunder).

    I have just spent this year doing a grad. teaching dip. at Uni of Auckland and, while my year group is lovely and interesting, they do not know a thing about critical analysis of scientific literature. I gave our science lecturer your book and she was utterly inspired.

    Anyway – my friends are getting a little tired of all my ‘bollocks-spotting’ lectures, so I now look forward to having a captive audience of ten year olds upon which to inflict my tirades against the abuse of science.

    For the sake of our children, every teacher should read your book. I will do my part to push it in New Zealand. If you are ever out this way – PLEASE let me rope you on to giving a talk to NZ teachers. They need your help (bribes of good red wine included).

    Cheers, Ana

    Oh yeah – for a laugh: enhanced external counter pulsation.. www.eecp.co.nz/EECP_Welcome_Page.html

  19. Pro-reason said,

    October 2, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Mitton, I don’t think it’s a matter of preferring, but of making a mistake. Since it’s in a quotation from the book, I just wonder whether it’s their or our Ben’s.

  20. Toenex said,

    October 2, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Someone should contact Alanis Morissette immediately and use this to explain to her the meaning of ironic. Well done Ben, at least someone at the Daily Mail appears to have a sense of humour.

  21. Persiflage said,

    October 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Priceless. Utterly priceless.

    The Alanis Morissette reference occurred to me too, but you beat me to it!

    Isn’t this going to induce some serious cognitive dissonance in the Daily Mail-reading public? I can see a sudden rush of confusion-stricken patients to the local homeopa… no, doctor… no, acupuncturist… no, doctor… Argh!

    If they *really* want to do the job properly, they should run a competition where the winner receives a signed copy of Bad Science, another of Testing Treatments, a collection of healing crystals, a homeopathic First Aid kit and a Q-Link pendant.

  22. Karin Haack said,

    October 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    And a psychic hat, please.

  23. nipsey said,

    October 4, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    your book isnt available in the amazon us store. stupid book.

  24. Robert Carnegie said,

    October 5, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    EECP grows new blood vessels to bypass blocked arteries? Is that like opening other roads in the event of a motorway beiing closed, then? And how well does that work typically?

  25. dave dunn said,

    February 26, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Not all reviews on Amazon are positive. Thought I’d post one from US Amazon for people’s delectation:

    This was such a waste of time and money. I bought this because I was purchasing another book on health by Jillian McKeith and one of the horrible reviews said that basically she is a hack and to buy this book instead. So I bought both.

    This book is full of non-information and written so badly a 6th grader could have done better. Long and drawn out. Jillian McKeith’s book is full of useful information and recipes. The author of Bad Medicine simply has a grudge against her because she is a millionaire. Shame on her for trying to make a good living. Does this author hate people who win the lotto too? He brings up money so often. I’m sorry, but isn’t he trying to make a bundle of money too? Oh, but that is okay.

    He is jealous of anyone with a lot money. Big deal. Poor and socialist people are like that – jealous and wishing they had money too. That’s what he sounds like in this whole book, if he doesn’t have a lot of money then McKeith shouldn’t either! Stupid book.

  26. bodyhealthdotco said,

    November 22, 2013 at 2:44 am

    if such type of book which are related to health,if available freely then we should try to get them for keeping ourself healthy.