How to Protect Yourself from Bad Science

Bad Science

Today it has become easy not only to fall into the trap of pseudo-science, which outwardly appears to be real science, but also to follow advice that is a misinterpretation of valid scientific studies (which, like we’ll see, is pretty much the default operation in newspapers and magazines).

Or worse, to follow advice based on biased scientific studies or having serious methodological problems that make them invalid (such as the famous Séralini study on rats with cancer after eating GMOs, which was recently retracted by the newspaper that published it, because “the findings presented […] are not conclusive”).

A British author, Ben Goldacre, doctor and author of the excellent book Bad Science, recently gave a short presentation at TED in which he explains:

  • How to know if health advice heard on the radio, on TV or read in a magazine is correct.
  • How to debunk false evidence, whether It’s from alternative medicine or big pharma.
  • Bad science claims made by fear-mongering journalists, ill-advised governments, overly-marketed drug companies, and con artists, and how to spot them.

Here we go!

Sources:

  • The Cochrane France site, which allows you to search for the results of hundreds of meta-analyses; i.e. analyses of several tens or hundreds of scientific studies on a given subject; with their conclusion in plain language (Is such treatment, such food supplement; such practice really effective?)
  • The book Bad Science, by Ben Goldacre, the author of the TED presentation (Kindle version), which I highly recommend!

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