Category: Book & movie reviews

Unsinkable rubber duck

Quackery: The 20 Million Dollar Duck

The publisher recently sent me a review copy of Quackery: The 20 Million Dollar Duck, by Tony Robertson. My first thought was “Do we really need another book on this subject? Don’t I know all this stuff already?” I was very pleasantly surprised. Robertson has ferreted out an impressive array of facts and details that I wasn’t aware of; and yes, we...

/ August 16, 2016
Statistics done wrong Alex Reinhart

Statistics Done Wrong, And How To Do Better

Statistics is hard, often counterintuitive, and burdened with esoteric mathematical equations. Statistics classes can be boring and demanding; students might be tempted to call it “Sadistics.” Good statistics are essential to good research; unfortunately many scientists and even some statisticians are doing statistics wrong. Statistician Alex Reinhart has written a helpful book, Statistics Done Wrong: The Woefully Complete Guide, that every researcher...

/ August 2, 2016
DNA_Overview_landscape_orientation

The Gene: An Intimate History

Six years ago I reviewed Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. It was hands-down one of the best books I have ever read on a medical topic. Now he’s done it again. His new book is titled The Gene: An Intimate History. Mukherjee is a superb writer. Much of what I said about his first book...

/ July 19, 2016
VAXXED

Reviewing Andrew Wakefield’s VAXXED: Antivaccine propaganda at its most pernicious

Antivaccine "hero" Andrew Wakefield has recruited Del Bigtree to help him make a movie about the "CDC whistleblower" manufactroversy and anti vaccine conspiracy theories in general. The results are so ham-fisted that they would make Leni Riefenstahl shout, "Zu viel!" ("Too much!")

/ July 11, 2016
If vegans really followed these guidelines, they could get adequate nutrition; but all too often they don’t.

Vegan Betrayal: The Myths vs. the Realities of a Plants-Only Diet

NOTE: The original version of this book review was criticized for not making it clear when I was simply reporting the book’s content and when I was expressing support for one of its arguments. I have revised it to make it more clear. The additions are marked by brackets. Vegetarians come in several flavors. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but...

/ July 5, 2016

Book Review Lagniappe

Lagniappe, a word often heard in New Orleans, refers to a bonus or extra gift, like the thirteenth donut in a baker’s dozen. You may have noticed that I write a lot of book reviews. I read far more books than I review, and I have always loved to read about the experiences of doctors and the interesting patients and intriguing illnesses...

/ June 26, 2016

Uncertainty in Medicine

Medicine is an uncertain business. It is an applied science, applying the results of basic science knowledge and clinical studies to patients who are individuals with differing heredity, environment, and history. It is commonly assumed that modern science-based doctors know what they are doing, but quite often they don’t know for certain. Different doctors interpret the same evidence differently; there is uncertainty...

/ May 24, 2016
Tribeca Film Festival

VAXXED and the Tribeca Film Festival: How Robert De Niro learned the hard way about Andrew Wakefield and the antivaccine movement

Disgraced antivaccine doctor, Andrew Wakefield, managed to pull another fast one. His antivaccine propaganda film, VAXXED, was mysteriously accepted for a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival. It turns out that TFF co-founder Robert De Niro had pulled some strings. The well-deserved backlash provides yet another example of how Andrew Wakefield discredits everything he touches.

/ March 28, 2016

The Essential Role of Regulation In Human Health and In Ecology: The Serengeti Rules

The doubling time for E.coli bacteria is 20 minutes. With uncontrolled growth, it would take a mere two days for the weight of bacteria to equal the weight of the Earth. What rules determine the actual numbers of bacteria? Why is the world green; why don’t insects eat all the leaves? How does the body maintain homeostasis? What determines the uncontrolled growth...

/ March 1, 2016
Galileo's middle finger large

Persecution of Scientists Whose Findings Are Perceived As Politically Incorrect

Alice Dreger has written a delightful, breezy, and slightly terrifying book on activism gone bad, and how it impacted scientists just trying to uncover facts and truth. Highly recommended!

/ February 16, 2016