Don't Swallow Your Gum by Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman
|Don't Swallow Your Gum by Dr Aaron Carroll and Dr Rachel Vreeman|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very welcome and nicely-balanced look at modern medical myths.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: November 2009|
BANG. That's the sound of copious urban myths being shot down. BANG. That's the sound of the old wives slamming the door, as their tales get revealed as baseless. CLICK. That's the noise lots of ill-informed websites make as they get closed down. All noises come due to this brilliant book.
Here we have two American doctors and science writers, and a host of misconceptions about our human bodies, our health, our diseases and our food. It's amazing to see here what people think about life, and equally remarkable at times just how much evidence is stacked up against the common belief.
Just by flicking through you get a wide range of facts to be rubbished. They spread from our sex life to bringing up the resulting baby, and each is given the careful and attentive demolishing it deserves in a couple of brisk pages. There's the trivial, such as whether men with big hands/feet have big penises, to the well-known (Popeye only really likes spinach due to some scientist with a bad lapse in his proof-reading) to the life-altering facts about such controversies as the MMR jab.
Some of the contents will not affect me - I have no idea what poison ivy looks like so couldn't really have an incorrect opinion about it, but there is enough weight here to change many people's ideas in a big way, especially when it comes to our children. And if it's true that some idiot swallowed his own poo to try and dilute his breathalyser result, the world needs all the medical information it can get.
The best quality this book holds is not its breadth, or easy-to-read science fact - as great as those are - but the sheer compelling weight of the arguments. All come across as evenly balanced, and where something is not proven the authors declare it as such, but at all times come up with justification for their conclusions. They're thoroughly readable, thoroughly convincing, and in the final couple of paragraphs, thoroughly eye-opening.
No specialist knowledge is required for this, a book that will not fail to enlighten, educate and still remain enjoyable.
I must thank the kind Penguin people for my review copy.
File next to Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.
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