"A persuasive, well-written evaluation of the logic and evidence that influence medical decision-making"– Kirkus Reviews
In this manual, a physician delivers facts and research to puncture scams, myths, and trends that have more to do with consumerism than wellness.
Tavel (Hell in the Heavens, 2013) embarks on a journey through some of the most common and widely discussed “cures,” tips, and tricks in the world of health care, weight loss, fitness, and nutrition to help readers distinguish between fact and fiction. Organized by subject matter, the book’s chapters make it easy for audiences to refer to the work as a resource for a variety of topics without having to sit down and read it straight through. Tavel presents three lucid sections: Tips, Myths, and Tricks. The Tips part examines such issues as the benefits of eating breakfast every morning. The Myths portion discusses health regimens that may have little effect on a person’s wellness, including a gluten-free diet. The Tricks section deals with such trends as using professional actors and athletes to endorse controversial drugs like Cymbalta and Crestor and various health products and “systems” (for example, alkaline ionizers for water). One of the most compelling chapters discusses detoxifiers—the common practice of using juice systems, liquid diets, and special products that promise to flush the body of “poisons.” Tavel explains the body’s natural processes of toxin flushing, encouraging readers not to embrace plans endorsed by “experts” and doctors that are little more than crash diets. Overall, the book is extremely successful in busting myths that heavily drain readers’ wallets and spark false hopes concerning weight loss and disease prevention. The volume directly takes issue with alternative medicines and chiropractic remedies that pit patients against physicians. Tavel emphasizes that many consumers fall victim to alternative medicines, shunning traditional science, because of the placebo effect and false correlations between these treatments and the natural subsiding of ailments. The author makes a strong case for mainstream medicine in a conversational and methodical way.
A persuasive, informative, and well-structured guide to deciphering health care advice.
A physician takes an evidence-based approach to evaluating alternative medical treatments.
Tavel (Hell in the Heavens, 2013) brings a scientist’s skepticism to this personal health book. After guiding readers through an explanation of logical fallacies, from post hoc, ergo propter hoc to confirmation bias, Tavel sets out to demonstrate how such errors in logic have led people to embrace treatments that have not been proven in scientific studies. The book draws heavily on published studies, with frequent citations guiding readers to further information on everything from the effectiveness of yoga to the results of chiropractic treatment. While most of the treatments Tavel critiques from an evidence-based perspective are alternative and traditional therapies, he also has harsh words for major drug manufacturers who take advantage of the same logical flaws to promote their products. He looks back at the history of medicine, providing engaging, detailed narratives of both hoaxes and genuinely effective treatments. One of the book’s most effective sections addresses the complexities of the placebo effect, which shapes the perceptions of both medical treatments and the treatments’ actual effectiveness. The book is less successful in its efforts to guide readers’ behavior, as Tavel seems to expect scientific data to be sufficient to drive readers’ decision-making (of course, that’s not always the case). He recommends that readers avoid organic foods because they are more expensive and studies have not found higher nutrient content—a recommendation that doesn’t address the many other social or environmental factors that drive decisions to eat organic food. Although the book’s approach will not win over all readers, those who prefer regimented, peer-reviewed studies as a basis for making health decisions will find the book a useful tool for evaluating both mainstream and alternative treatments.
A persuasive, well-written evaluation of the logic and evidence that influence medical decision-making.