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Bad Science

Page history last edited by Martin Poulter 13 years, 7 months ago

Notes on Ben Goldacre (2008) Bad Science HarperCollins ISBN 9780007240197 (Google Books info)


Up: Recommended Books


Written by a medical doctor, Bad Science shows how we can use scientific thinking to protect ourselves from useless or dangerous health fads and scams. It's a very entertaining read as well as an excellent introduction to scientific thinking.


Chapter 12 of the book, "Why Clever People Believe Stupid Things" (pp. 225-238), is a quick round-up of cognitive bias research. It addresses the question of why people should rely on science for decisions about medicine, rather than just their personal judgement.



  • Misperception of randomness
  • Regression to the mean
  • Biased search for evidence
  • Biased interpretation of evidence (confirmation bias/ halo effect)
  • Availability heuristic
  • Conformity (Asch experiment)
  • Self-regarding biases (e.g. Illusory Superiority/ attributional biases)

The discussion of bias is mainly based on Sutherland's Irrationality: the Enemy Within and Gilovich's How We Know What Isn't So, which treat these topics at much greater length.

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