Bad Science Book Summary - Bad Science Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Bad Science summary

Ben Goldacre

A behind-the-scenes look at the bogus science used to mislead us every day.

4.3 (43 ratings)
22 mins

What is Bad Science about?

We often swallow scientific-sounding language used in advertisements or on the news without any further thought. But if we analyze it a little, we often find that it’s merely pseudoscience. Bad Science shows us that this bogus science can lead to serious misunderstandings, injustice and even death.

Table of Contents

    Bad Science
    summarized in 9 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 9

    We buy into the junk science myths used to sell health and beauty products.

    Each and every day we are bombarded by advertisements for products that promise to improve our lives in some way. All too often these products are explained in complex and seemingly indisputable scientific language.

    We don’t have to do much digging to find examples of this. Just think of the health and beauty industry with their claims of how their products “purify” us and make us look more attractive.

    For example, there is a detox footbath called Aqua Detox, which purports to cleanse your body of “toxins,” evidenced by the bath water turning brown after the product is used.

    And then there’s an advertisement for a face cream made from “specially treated salmon roe DNA,” which assumes that salmon DNA somehow nourishes and revitalizes your skin.

    Surely the brown water left in the detox bath is the toxins our feet leave behind, right? Wrong. These grand scientific claims are based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever!

    Upon closer inspection, the brown color of the water has nothing to do with your feet, but is merely the rust coming from the iron electrodes when the device is switched on.

    And that salmon skin cream? DNA is simply too large to be absorbed by skin but even if it wasn’t, fish DNA – i.e., alien DNA – isn’t beneficial for your cells, and certainly not beneficial for you. If you really want to reap the benefits of nutrient-rich salmon, you have to actually eat and digest certain parts of it, not rub it on your skin.

    So how do these companies get away with it? In essence, they rely on our misunderstanding of science: we tend to think that it’s just too complicated for us. Better to leave that “science stuff” to the people in lab coats, right?

    We therefore easily accept the scientific “facts” presented to us without questioning them, leaving advertisers an irresistible opportunity to exploit our ignorance and trust in order to sell their wares.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Bad Science?

    Key ideas in Bad Science

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    Best quote from Bad Science

    In general, you dont absorb things through your skin, because its purpose is to be relatively impermeable. When you sit in a bath of baked beans for charity you do not get fat, nor do you start farting.

    —Ben Goldacre
    example alt text

    About the Author

    Ben Goldacre is a doctor, a journalist and the author of two books. His Bad Science column in the Guardian attacked alternative medicine and was the starting point for this book, which was shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction.

    Who should read Bad Science?

    • Anyone worried about science reporting in the media
    • Anyone who thinks understanding science is beyond them
    • Anyone who buys vitamins or homeopathic remedies

    Categories with Bad Science

    Books like Bad Science

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    26 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 5,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial