Cover image for Bad medicine : misconceptions and misuses revealed, from distance healing to vitamin O
Bad medicine : misconceptions and misuses revealed, from distance healing to vitamin O
Wanjek, Christopher, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : J. Wiley, [2002]

Physical Description:
280 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
R729.9 .W36 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"Christopher Wanjek uses a take-no-prisoners approach in debunkingthe outrageous nonsense being heaped on a gullible public in thename of science and medicine. Wanjek writes with clarity, humor,and humanity, and simultaneously informs and entertains."
-Dr. Michael Shermer, Publisher, Skeptic magazine; monthlycolumnist,
Scientific American; author of Why People Believe WeirdThings

Prehistoric humans believed cedar ashes and incantations could curea head injury. Ancient Egyptians believed the heart was the centerof thought, the liver produced blood, and the brain cooled thebody. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was a big fan ofbloodletting. Today, we are still plagued by countless medicalmyths and misconceptions. Bad Medicine sets the record straight bydebunking widely held yet incorrect notions of how the body works,from cold cures to vaccination fears.

Clear, accessible, and highly entertaining, Bad Medicine dispelssuch medical convictions as:
* You only use 10% of your brain: CAT, PET, and MRI scans all provethat there are no inactive regions of the brain . . . not evenduring sleep.
* Sitting too close to the TV causes nearsightedness: Your motherwas wrong. Most likely, an already nearsighted child sits close tosee better.
* Eating junk food will make your face break out: Acne is caused bydead skin cells, hormones, and bacteria, not from a pizza witheverything on it.
* If you don't dress warmly, you'll catch a cold: Cold viruses arethe true and only cause of colds.

Protect yourself and the ones you love from bad medicine-the brainyou save may be your own.

Author Notes

Christopher Wanjek is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post; he has also written for Smithsonian and Forbes, among other publications. He writes jokes for The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. Wanjek is also a senior writer for NASA. He has previously worked as an in-house science writer at MIT and the NIH.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Readers might pay attention to a quote Wanjek incorporates in his book: "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint"--Mark Twain. This work reads much like a novel, an opinion piece, or jokes about issues that need attention. Although the author's bibliography consists of approximately 14 pages, there are few direct quotes from the bibliography. Many statements that require proof are lacking in direct quotes or specific reference sources: e.g., "Scientists need to know, first, that vitamin E pills aren't dissolved and rendered worthless during digestion," and "Milk thistle's active ingredient, silymarin, is nearly 100 percent effective in treating people who eat this common poisonous mushroom." Readers must find, through trial and error, the source for these statements from the many references within the major topic, not from specific chapters. There are 41 short chapters in seven major parts: "I Sing the Body Eclectic," "Growing Old," "Enough to Make You Sick," "Eating It Up," "The Return of the Witch Doctor," "Risking It All," and "Just Like in the Movies." Chapters are short--four pages maximum. Jokes, an insincere approach to "bad medicine," and an unfriendly bibliography contribute to this flawed work. ^BSumming Up: Not recommended. O. C. Riley Houston Baptist University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introduction: The Roots of Bad Medicinep. 1
Part I I Sing the Body Eclecticp. 15
1 10 Percent Misconception, 90 Percent Misdirection: The Brain at Workp. 17
2 Big Brain, Little Smarts: Brain Size and Intelligencep. 23
3 Blinded by Lies: The Eyes Have Itp. 29
4 All in Good Taste: How the Tongue Worksp. 35
5 Scrubbing Your Liver: The Demystification of Detoxificationp. 39
6 Refer to the Appendix: Useless Organ or Helpful Player?p. 42
7 Going Gray? Not Today: White Hair and Its Causesp. 45
8 Samson's Delight: Baldness Curesp. 48
9 The Race Is Off: Race Definedp. 53
Part II Growing Oldp. 57
10 Losing One's Mind: Memory Loss and Agingp. 59
11 Getting Stiffed: Vitality and Agingp. 63
12 Illness Gets Old: Aging and Diseasep. 67
13 See You in 2150: The Long and Short of Life Spanp. 70
14 On and On: Longevity and Geneticsp. 76
Part III Enough to Make You Sickp. 79
15 The Plague Lives! The Black Plague in the Modern Agep. 81
16 Cold Comfort: How to Catch a Coldp. 86
17 The Ill-Advised War on Bacteria: Are All Bacteria Bad?p. 90
18 Radiating Misperception: Radiation, Pro and Conp. 96
19 Swimming with Sharks: Sharks and Cancerp. 103
20 Mutating Misconceptions: What Your Genes Say about Your Future Healthp. 108
Part IV Eating It Upp. 113
21 Learning Your Alpha-Beta-Carotenes: Antioxidants, Pro and Conp. 115
22 The Unbearable Heaviness of Being: Fat People and Foodp. 124
23 Not Milk? Milk and Your Healthp. 137
24 Organic Reasoning: The Benefits of Organic Foodp. 143
25 Water, Water Everywhere: Bottled Water vs. Tap Waterp. 150
Part V The Return of the Witch Doctorp. 157
26 The Delusion of Dilution: Homeopathy x 50p. 159
27 Magnetic Charm: Magnets and Your Healthp. 164
28 Reversal of Fortune: The Viability of Ayurvedap. 168
29 Something Smells Funny: Aromatherapy as a Curep. 174
30 Suffocating Trends: Oxygen--How Much Is Too Much?p. 178
31 The Ultimate Hands-Off Approach: Touch Therapy, Qigong, and Falun Gongp. 182
32 Getting to the Root of the Problem: Herbs As Alternative Medicinep. 188
33 A Short in the Arm: The True Dangers of Vaccinesp. 193
Part VI Risking It Allp. 199
34 Toxic Avenger: The Science of Toxicityp. 201
35 Peer-Reviewed for Your Pleasure: How Health Studies Workp. 207
36 Candy Adds Years to Your Life: And Other Important Health Study Findingsp. 213
37 We're #1: Rating America's Healthp. 217
Part VII Just Like in the Moviesp. 221
38 I'm Not a Reporter, but I Play One on TV: The Accuracy of Television Medical Newsp. 223
39 Rambo VI: The Quest for Hearing: Guns and Their Aftereffectsp. 231
40 Knocked Out, Loaded: Imagined Violence and Real Problemsp. 237
41 Heartbreaker: Hollywood Stylep. 241
Epilogue: Tomorrow's Promise: Bad Medicine on the Horizonp. 243
Appendix More Bad Medicinep. 251
Recommended Readingp. 255
Bibliographyp. 257
Indexp. 271