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Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Becoming Ben

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 01 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a1856
  1. Richard Smith, director, Ovations Chronic Disease Initiative
  1. richardswsmith{at}

    Ben Goldacre’s book assembles an impressive array of villains who deal in bad science, finds Richard Smith

    We’re lucky to have Ben Goldacre, and maybe as a result of his book we’ll have more people like him. He is fighting what sometimes seems like a one man battle against a tide of pseudoscience and an army of quacks. His main weapons are his weekly column in the Guardian newspaper, an impressive website (, and now this book, which aims “to teach good science by examining the bad.”

    Luckily Goldacre, a practising doctor, has all that’s needed for the battle: a solid understanding of epidemiology, statistics, and public health; a fluid, engaging way of writing, although with a weakness for bad jokes; a gift for using the web effectively; a taste for glory; a thick skin; good lawyers; and seemingly boundless energy (he tells us in passing about his childhood hyperactivity).

    The good lawyers are necessary because Goldacre is regularly threatened with libel actions and even violence. He and the Guardian have just had a major triumph in beating off the legal threats of Matthias Rath, a doctor who has …

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