Category: Book & movie reviews

The Last Word on Homeopathy

No one will ever need to write about homeopathy again. Edzard Ernst has said it all in his new book Homeopathy: The Undiluted Facts. Far too many trees have died in the service of praising or debunking homeopathy in the two centuries since Hahnemann invented it. The forests can celebrate, because this is the definitive book about homeopathy. It is neither “for”...

/ November 22, 2016

Dr. Richard Rawlins Reveals the Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine

Dr. Richard Rawlins, an orthopedic surgeon in the UK who is also a magician and member of the Magic Circle, has written an exhaustive review of alternative medicine, Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine: An Exposé. “A conversation with Mrs. Smith” A conversation with Mrs. Smith bookends the text. She comes to Dr. Rawlins for hip replacement surgery and asks if there is...

/ October 18, 2016

Parkinson’s Disease: A Detective Story

I didn’t intend to review Jon Palfreman’s book Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease, but after reading it I decided it was too good not to share. Palfreman is an award-winning science journalist who has Parkinson’s himself. He has done a bang-up job of describing Parkinson’s disease, its impact on patients, and how science is working to...

/ September 20, 2016

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, 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

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

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

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