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Pandora’s Lab

Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong
Written by: Paul A. Offit MD
Narrated by: Greg Tremblay
Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What happens when ideas presented as science lead us in the wrong direction? History is filled with brilliant ideas that gave rise to disaster, and this book explores the most fascinating - and significant - missteps.

Pandora's Lab takes us from opium's heyday as the pain reliever of choice to recognition of opioids as a major cause of death in the United States; from the rise of trans fats as the golden ingredient for tastier, cheaper food to the heart disease epidemic that followed; and from the cries to ban DDT for the sake of the environment to an epidemic-level rise in world malaria.

These are today's sins of science - as deplorable as mistaken ideas from the past such as advocating racial purity or using lobotomies as a cure for mental illness. These unwitting errors add up to seven lessons both cautionary and profound, explained by renowned author and speaker Paul A. Offit. Offit uses these lessons to investigate how we can separate good science from bad, using as case studies some of today's most controversial creations: e-cigarettes, GMOs, and drug treatments for ADHD.

For every "Aha!" moment that should have been an "Oh no", this book is an engrossing account of how science has been misused disastrously - and how we can learn to use its power for good.

©2017 Paul A. Offit (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Aceaussie
  • 2018-01-29

Very interesting

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I really enjoyed this book, it was a fascinating insight into how egos and science collide and the price that is paid. Very well narrated also.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan
  • 2017-12-20

Cautionary Tales and How-to-Think Instructions

First-rate production of a message we all need to follow. I.e., require evidence to support what we think we know. Let’s hear it for double-blind, peer-reviewed, reproducible studies!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew Rasmussen
  • 2018-02-08

Some People Have Thin Skin...

Any additional comments?

After reading some comments from listeners I was expecting a massive amount of political jargon that was extremely biased. I was happily mistaken. If there are political messages they are rooted in fact (statements made by Donald Trump). Yes, there may be a couple inferences/assumptions or parallels the author makes, but they seem fair.Also, don't let the other reviews fool you into thinking the author is biased or did not do his home work. This text seems quite accurate from what I know, it is informative, and he pulls no punches on anyone - good scientists or bad.

Give it a listen!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeanine
  • 2018-03-15

Nothing new all low hanging fruit

I was hoping that the book would offer some new insights. But even during the introduction I was able to guess every topic he alluded to.
And some sections were just poorly written. Offit has an ax to grind with supplements, that is good. But he doesn't listen to his own advice. For example, he cites a case where a dozen people were poisoned. As Offit says, "It's all about the data." That case was 20 years ago. It would be more interesting to compare the rates of herbal poisonings each year to other causes of death.
Certain aspects of the book scream for more attention. Why not devote a chapter to IQ testing rather than lobotomies? Or Freudian Psychiatry? The episiotomy and epidural? His targets well known and minimally controversial.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • john smitherman
  • 2017-11-09

Close Facebook and read this book!

We live in a world of sound-bite immersion where personality drives opinion. Movie stars influence our thoughts more than data. News anchors do not deliver the facts as much as they are on-air rock stars in their own right. What they say is taken for gospel regardless of how carefully their stories are underpinned with data.

It is a dangerous world.

You and your family are in danger without careful, critical thinking like that described in this book.

Pandora’s Lab should be essential reading for every thinking adult, especially every medical doctor.

Please read this book!

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Allyssia
  • 2018-05-23

Not completely impartial, but still very good

I learned a lot from this book and it widened my perception of the world; made me think more critically before accepting as true information spreaded even by very renowned sources, since behind all publications there are publishers, people like us who may make mistakes, and more importantly: it showed me how once great scientists and researchers, absorbed on their self perceptions of perfection, tailored from the general praise and respectability a lifelong career can offer put everything to waste by not acknowledging the simplest of the possibilities: "and if I'm wrong?".
If anything, this book only further proves that in order to be great it's necessary to consider everything, even being a fool and for that it's an eye opener.
Apart of helping the reader to build a critic sense of the world in which we live in, it's also filled with very intriguing and interesting cases, the most remarkable one in my opinion being the surgeon who got so confident of his skills that started to performing brain surgeries with ice pickers, finishing his "masterpieces" that would be known as lobotomies in no fewer than 10 minutes. As a result not only he lost all his credibility but also his credentials, not being allowed to perform no more surgeries at all, and possibly being suggested to keep a healthy distance from ice pickers and other sharp objects.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia Ferrer
  • 2017-12-17

avoid common trends and think for yourself book

excellent coverage of the good and bad of various discoveries. also, don't believe people even if they are "experts" if it doesn't make sense. great book for all medical professionals!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Giacomo
  • 2017-11-09

Throughly enjoyable

Enjoyed the style of how each section was presented as a story. Narration by Greg Tremblay adds to the already excellent book. Learnt a few new things compared to the fluff you have to put up with some authors.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles
  • 2017-07-05

excellent source of information

I always love learning especially when it's about science and science history. This book gives an insight on why critical thinking is so important and at how wrong we can be.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Edmund
  • 2018-12-20

Too many familiar stories

I knew most of the stories. The author brought little new insight to these stories. The style is like an educational lecture, rather than telling a captivating story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful