Suggested Reads

We recommend these books, but suggest reading with an open mind, and constant questioning!


Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
by R. Barker Bausell (Author)

Hailed in the New York Times as entertaining and immensely educational, Snake Oil Science is not only a brilliant critique of alternative medicine, but also a first-rate introduction to interpreting scientific research of any sort. The book's ultimate goal is to illustrate how the placebo effect conspires to make medical therapies appear to be effective–not just to consumers, but to therapists and poorly trained scientists as well. Bausell explores this remarkable phenomenon and explains why research on any therapy that does not factor in the placebo effect (and other placebo-like effects) will inevitably produce false results. Moreover, as the author shows in an impressive survey of research from high-quality scientific journals, studies employing credible placebo controls do not indicate positive effects for alternative therapies beyond those attributable to random chance. Readers will come away from this book with a healthy skepticism of claims about the latest miracle cure, be it St. John's Wort for depression or acupuncture for chronic pain.





Bad Science

Bad Science
by Ben Goldacre (Author)

Full of spleen, this will be a hilarious, invigorating and informative journey through the world of Bad Science.





Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry
by Dan Hurley (Author)

A riveting work of investigative journalism that charts the rise of the dietary supplement craze and reveals the dangerous—and sometimes deadly—side of these highly popular and completely unregulated products.






Muscles, Speed, and Lies: What the Sport Supplement Industry Does Not Want Athletes or Consumers to Know
by David Lightsey (Author)

"The most thorough investigation [of the sport supplement industry] has been conducted by David Lightsey, an exercise physiologist and nutritionist who coordinates the National Council Against Health Frauds Task Force on Ergogenic Aids." –Stephen Barrett, MD, and Victor Herbert, MD, JD, authors of The Vitamin Pushers: How the Health Food Industry Is Selling America a Bill of Goods

Product Description In 2005, health-conscious consumers and athletes combined spent approximately $6 billion on various sport supplements that promised to enhance their health, physical development, or performance. But do these supplements really offer the benefits they claim in their advertising and on their packaging? And are they safe? David Lightsey, MS, a nutrition and food science advisor to an award-winning consumer advocacy Web site, maintains that the sports supplement industry regularly and knowingly makes false claims, and since it has yet to be properly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, consumers are unprotected from products that are unnecessary, may cause great harm, or even lead to death. Aware that much of the problem stems from a lack of information about general nutrition, dietary supplements, and beneficial lifestyle changes, Lightsey provides answers to such questions as:

Do excessive protein supplements actually hinder performance and strength gains? Can over-the-counter supplements be more effective than steroids? Why are fat cells so easy to accumulate and so hard to diminish in size? Are antioxidant supplements helpful or harmful? Which dietary changes have the most effect on physical development and training? How much body fat can safely be lost in one week? How much muscle mass can realistically be developed in one week without steroids?

In Muscles, Speed & Lies, Lightsey helps educators, consumers, coaches, athletes, and parents navigate through all of the hype about supplements, and he offers advice on alternative dietary changes that can yield much healthier and longer-lasting results than the latest “miracle” pill.




Trick or Treatment

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine
by Edzard Ernst, Simon Singh (Authors)

From Publishers Weekly
Noted science writer Singh and British professor of complementary medicine Ernst offer a reasoned examination of the research on acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine and other alternative treatments. Singh (Fermat's Last Theorem) and Ernst work hard to be objective, but their conclusion is that these therapies are largely worthless. As they examine the research on various alternative therapies, the authors explore the principles of evidence-based medicine on which their conclusions are based, including clinical trials and the placebo effect; they also explore related ethical issues. The authors report that many patients will improve with any alternative remedy—but no more than those given a placebo. Exceptions exist; some herbal remedies (e.g., St. John's wort, echinacea) can be helpful though not always advisable, and chiropractors can relieve low back pain under certain circumstances. This is a stimulating and informative account that will be indispensable to anyone considering an alternative treatment, though it may not dissuade true believers. 16 illus. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Product Description
The truth about the potions, lotions, pills and needles, pummelling and energizing that lie beyond the realms of conventional medicine. Whether you are an ardent believer in alternative medicine, a skeptic, or are simply baffled by the range of services and opinions, this guide lays to rest doubts and contradictions with authority, integrity, and clarity. In this groundbreaking analysis, over thirty of the most popular treatments—acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, chiropractic, and herbal medicines—are examined for their benefits and potential dangers. Questions answered include: What works and what doesn't? What are the secrets, and what are the lies? Who can you trust, and who is ripping you off? Can science decide what is best, or do the old wives' tales really tap into ancient, superior wisdom? In their scrutiny of alternative and complementary cures, authors Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst also strive to reassert the primacy of the scientific method as a means for determining public health practice and policy.






Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health, Revised and Expanded Edition
 by Marion Nestle (Author) Review
 In the U.S., we're bombarded with nutritional advice–the work, we assume, of reliable authorities with our best interests at heart. Far from it, says Marion Nestle, whose Food Politics absorbingly details how the food industry–through lobbying, advertising, and the co-opting of experts–influences our dietary choices to our detriment. Central to her argument is the American "paradox of plenty," the recognition that our food abundance (we've enough calories to meet every citizen's needs twice over) leads profit-fixated food producers to do everything possible to broaden their market portion, thus swaying us to eat more when we should do the opposite. The result is compromised health: epidemic obesity to start, and increased vulnerability to heart and lung disease, cancer, and stroke–reversible if the constantly suppressed "eat less, move more" message that most nutritionists shout could be heard.

Nestle, nutrition chair at New York University and editor of the 1988 Surgeon General Report, has served her time in the dietary trenches and is ideally suited to revealing how government nutritional advice is watered down when a message might threaten industry sales. (Her report on byzantine nutritional food-pyramid rewordings to avoid "eat less" recommendations is both predictable and astonishing.) She has other "war stories," too, that involve marketing to children in school (in the form of soft-drink "pouring rights" agreements, hallway advertising, and fast-food coupon giveaways), and diet-supplement dramas in which manufacturers and the government enter regulation frays, with the industry championing "free choice" even as that position counters consumer protection. Is there hope? "If we want to encourage people to eat better diets," says Nestle, "we need to target societal means to counter food industry lobbying and marketing practices as well as the education of individuals." It's a telling conclusion in an engrossing and masterfully panoramic exposé. –Arthur Boehm –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal Nestle (chair, nutrition and food studies, NYU) offers an expos‚ of the tactics used by the food industry to protect its economic interests and influence public opinion. She shows how the industry promotes sales by resorting to lobbying, lawsuits, financial contributions, public relations, advertising, alliances, and philanthropy to influence Congress, federal agencies, and nutrition and health professionals. She also describes the food industry's opposition to government regulation, its efforts to discredit nutritional recommendations while pushing soft drinks to children via alliances with schools, and its intimidation of critics who question its products or its claims. Nestle berates the food companies for going to great lengths to protect what she calls "techno-foods" by confusing the public regarding distinctions among foods, supplements, and drugs, thus making it difficult for federal regulators to guard the public. She urges readers to inform themselves, choose foods wisely, demand ethical behavior and scientific honesty, and promote better cooperation among industry and government. This provocative work will cause quite a stir in food industry circles. Highly recommended. Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll., NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.





Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry
 by Dan Hurley (Author) Review
Scientific error, says Robert Park, "has a way of evolving … from self-delusion to fraud. I use the term voodoo science to cover them all: pathological science, junk science, pseudoscience, and fraudulent science." In pathological science, scientists fool themselves. Junk science refers to scientists who use their expertise to befuddle and mislead others (usually juries or lawmakers). Pseudoscience has the trappings of science without any evidence. Fraudulent science is, well, fraud–old-fashioned lying.

Park is well-acquainted with voodoo science in all its forms. Since 1982, he has headed the Washington, D.C., office of the American Physical Society, and he has carried the flag for scientific rationality through cold fusion, homeopathy, "Star Wars," quantum healing, and sundry attempts to repeal the laws of thermodynamics. Park shows why a "disproportionate share of the science seen by the public is flawed" (because shaky science is more likely to skip past peer review and head straight for the media), and he gives a good tour of recent highlights in Voodoo. He has a rare ability to poke holes compassionately, without excoriating those taken in by their fondest wishes. Park is less forgiving of scientists (especially Edward Teller) when he thinks they've fallen down on the job, a job that should include helping the public separate the scientific wheat from the voodoo chaff. –Mary Ellen Curtin –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 

Whatever else you may think about pseudoscience, at least it's entertaining. For much more of this high comedy, see the frequently droll and invariably enlightening pages of Robert Park's Voodoo Science. — The New York Times Book Review, Ed Regis –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.





reckoningwithriskReckoning with Risk: Learning to Live with Uncertainty
by Gerd Gigerenzer (Author)

"This is an important book, full of relevant examples and worrying case histories. By the end of it, the reader has been presented with a powerful set of tools for understanding statistics…anyone who wants to take responsibly for their own medical choices should read it" – New Scientist 

Most adults consider themselves numerate if they can perform the simple functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. An understanding of the way numbers work is increasingly important as our lives become more and more informed by them; many of the everyday decisions we have to make involve the understanding of complex figures, the news we hear is backed up by statistics, we routinely talk of percentages and ratios in the most casual conversations. However, even those who think they're thoroughly au fait with these techniques can easily be fooled by the misleading presentation of figures, whether through deliberate misrepresentation by cynical politicians or advertisers, or insufficient lucidity on the part of news reporters, doctors, lawyers and other influential individuals. In this book, Gerd Gigerenzer attempts to illuminate this widespread misrepresentation and suggests clear paths of thought to be used when faced with 'incontrovertible' facts derived from spurious mathematics. Gigerenzer is not short of examples to illustrate his case. One, derived from the work of mathematician John Allen Paulos, concerns a TV weather forecaster reporting that there was a 50 percent chance of rain on a Saturday and a 50 percent chance of rain on the Sunday, and concluding that this meant that there was a 100 percent chance of rain that weekend. This kind of functional innumeracy is found again and again, from trivial examples such as the above to those involving crucially important situations such as AIDS testing and mammogram results. This is no mere whine about 'falling standards', but instead points up a general lack of perception in a central area of our lives which materially affects the way we make important decisions. And it's a good read as well; the examples given are interesting stories in themselves and Gigerenzer is a lively narrator who moves smoothly from one chapter to another. Add to this a number of beguilingly simple methods towards clearer thinking and some fascinating sidelines on the nature of probability, and I reckon nine out of ten readers will say their cats enjoyed this book. Probably. (Kirkus UK) 

Product Description
At the beginning of the 20th century, the father of modern science fiction, H.G. Wells, predicted that statistical thinking would be as necessary for citizenship in a technological world as the ability to read and write. Yet, a century on, most of us, from television weather forecasters to the American President, seem to have no idea of how to reason about uncertainties. Accordingly, a number of books have marshalled a long roster of cognitive illusions as evidence of humans' fundamental irrationality. Detailing case histories and examples, this text presents readers with tools for understanding statistics. In so doing, it encourages us to overcome our innumeracy and empowers us to take responsibility for our own choices.