Media-driven Health Scares and Scams can harm the health of you and your loved ones, cost you dearly, and rob you of your peace of mind.
What can you do about it? How can you prevent yourself from becoming a victim?
Junk Science Judo
Self-Defense against Health Scares & Scams
Steven J. Milloy
ORDERING DETAILS: UK (Europe) USA (world-wide delivery)
SynopsisCell phones and diet soda cause brain cancer. Whole-grain cereals prevent cancer. Anti-bacterial products are creating supergerms. Alcohol reduces the risk of heart disease. These are just a few of the many bogus health scares and scams that bombard us every day.
Health scares and scams can harm the health of you and your loved ones, cost you dearly, and rob you of your peace of mind. But what can you do about it? If you're not a scientist, how can you prevent yourself from becoming a victim?
Junk Science Judo has the answers.
In 12 easy-to-understand lessons, author Steven J. Milloy walks you through the modern phenomenon of "junk science," the source of many health scares and scams.
Junk science is the manipulation of statistics to promote special policy agendas that have nothing to do with public health and safety. It can be disseminated by special interest groups, social and political activists, businesses seeking to hurt rival companies, and politicians. Unfortunately, many gullible journalists pass on the bad information, alarming the public and causing much harm.
Milloy teaches you how to debunk junk sciencefueled health scares by using basic scientific principles that don't require any specialized training or education. Junk Science Judo will teach you how to tell the difference between health scams and genuine risks. After reading this book, you'll never look at the nightly news the same way again.
Junk Science Judo is filled with examples of questionable conclusions drawn from data from a wide variety of sources. Milloy relates how zealous lawyers can draw false or misleading inferences from scientific data in order to extract large rewards from lawsuits against defendants with deep pockets, often with collaboration from those in the "scientific" community who stand to profit from their "research" (what better way to justify large government grants to continue research into some promising area?).
ReviewsSelf-defense for Consumers
Hardly a day can pass without hearing about some new threat to our health from something in our food or in the air that we breathe. In his lively style, Steven J. Milloy has written a "self-defense guide" to help the average consumer know when to be alarmed or when to proceed with life as usual." William L. Brown, Mason, MI, USA.
Junk Science Judo is filled with examples of questionable conclusions drawn from data from a wide variety of sources. Milloy relates how zealous lawyers can draw false or misleading inferences from scientific data in order to extract large rewards from lawsuits against defendants with deep pockets, often with collaboration from those in the "scientific" community who stand to profit from their "research" (what better way to justify large government grants to continue research into some promising area?). Most telling are the cases of the lawsuits involving breast implants and Agent Orange, where a total absence of evidence was ignored by courts and juries eager to punish unpopular defendants and to reward those who were definitely disadvantaged (but probably not as a result of either the implants or Agent Orange).
Despite a generally good job of writing a primer on how not to be taken in by faulty conclusions or misleading inferences of cause and effect, Chapter 11 of this book contains one significantly dubious conclusion of the author himself. In a discussion of the statistical technique of meta-analysis (a technique where the results of numerous small studies are combined to simulate one large study), Milloy repeatedly takes stabs at this respected technique. His criticisms appear to be based mainly on questions raised in an editorial in a medical journal where the editor cited poor data quality and publication bias (i.e., only research studies showing significant results tend to get published) as reasons for questioning conclusions from meta-analysis. Although the editor is correct, it does not follow that all meta-analysis is therefore useless. Given enough well-executed studies without bias in the findings, meta-analysis can be a very useful and enlightening tool.
I highly recommend that all consumers of information either purchase this book or at least borrow it from someone, and read it thoroughly. I suspect that you will never again be able to read uncritically any account of some purported new crisis brought on by zealous lawyers, journalists or politicians. When some "scientific" conclusion appears to be counterintuitive, it is most likely incorrect. Subsequent research may, in fact, show that the conclusions were incorrect, but (since this is not exciting) the correction is likely not to be brought to the public's attention. Since it is impossible to prove a negative, the burden of proof should be on the scientific community to exercise caution in releasing insignificant findings to the press. Junk science may sell newspapers or gain an audience for the evening news, but it is devastating when it causes major disruptions in the lives of people who either aren't given the whole picture or who can't interpret the information when it is presented.
The best defense against junk science is an informed public. Read this book and you will definitely become better informed!
"I wish Junk Science Judo had been available when I was doing daily consumer reports. It hits the nail on the head about the media's role in health scares and scams. I wish all consumers and reporters would read it." John Stossel, ABC News
"This valuable book deals in a thorough manner with one of the serious scientific problems of our times, the intentional distortion of the methods of science in attempts to reach conclusions that are not justified by qualified scientific research. The situation is made particularly serious by the fact that many prominent newscasters and others use such material for its sensational content in order to draw attention to their programs. As a result, much dubious or false scientific 'wisdom' becomes embedded in the scientific mind." Frederick Seitz, former President, National Academy of Sciences
"'But the Emperor has no clothes!'-Like the little girl in Hans Christian Andersen's classic, Milloy exposes junk science, environmental fear-mongering, and science-by-press-conference with factual persuasion and scientific power. Milloy tackles all of the issues that dominate the news media: dioxin, pesticides, endocrine disrupters, Love Canal, Agent Orange, and much more. When the facts are in, the myths are gone. A masterful exposé and a must-read for a chemophobic public!" Dr. Gordon W. Gribble, Department of Chemistry, Dartmouth College
"Many people are concerned about cancer and other diseases caused by exposure to unknown substances. Their fears of chemicals are fostered by organizations and individuals who benefit by peddling exaggerations and untruths. Too often journalists and editors serve as their willing allies. In contrast, Milloy is one of a small group that devotes time, energy, and intelligence to the defense of truth and science. His new book deserves widespread reading, quotation, and responsive action." Dr. Philip Abelson, Science Advisor, American Association for the Advancement of Science
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