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Do You Believe in Magic?
Cover of Do You Believe in Magic?
Do You Believe in Magic?
The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
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In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.
Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.
Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.
An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, "There's no such thing as alternative medicine. There's only medicine that works and medicine that doesn't."

In Do You Believe in Magic?, medical expert Paul A. Offit, M.D., offers a scathing exposé of the alternative medicine industry, revealing how even though some popular therapies are remarkably helpful due to the placebo response, many of them are ineffective, expensive, and even deadly.
Dr. Offit reveals how alternative medicine—an unregulated industry under no legal obligation to prove its claims or admit its risks—can actually be harmful to our health.
Using dramatic real-life stories, Offit separates the sense from the nonsense, showing why any therapy—alternative or traditional—should be scrutinized. He also shows how some nontraditional methods can do a great deal of good, in some cases exceeding therapies offered by conventional practitioners.
An outspoken advocate for science-based health advocacy who is not afraid to take on media celebrities who promote alternative practices, Dr. Offit advises, "There's no such thing as alternative medicine. There's only medicine that works and medicine that doesn't."

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About the Author-
  • Paul A. Offit, MD, is a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as the acclaimed author of Autism's False Prophets, Vaccinated, Pandora's Lab, and Deadly Choices.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 1, 2013
    According to infectious disease specialist Offit (Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure), half of Americans believe in the “magic” of alternative medicine, fueling a $34 billion-a-year business that offers treatments that are at best placebos, and at worst deadly. He blasts untested, unregulated, overhyped remedies—like anti-autism creams and bogus cancer cures using “antineoplastons”—and dares to berate celebs like “America’s Doctor,” Mehmet Oz, who “believes that modern medicine isn’t to be trusted”; alternative treatment superstars Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra, proponents of the natural world and wisdom of the ancients; and former Three’s Company star Suzanne Somers, who crusades for unproven menopause treatments, including her daunting regimen of “bioidentical hormone replacement therapy.” “There’s a name for alternative medicines that work,” one McGill professor notes: “It’s called medicine.” Offit insists that “making decisions about our health is an awesome responsibility. If we’re going to do it, we need to take it seriously.” With a fascinating history of hucksters, and a critical chronology of how supplements escaped regulation, Offit cautions consumers not to “give alternative medicine a free pass because we’re fed up with conventional medicine.” His is a bravely unsentimental and dutifully researched guide for consumers to distinguish between quacks and a cure. Agent: Gail Ross, the Ross Yoon Agency.

  • New Republic

    "Important and timely . . . Offit writes in a lucid and flowing style, and grounds a wealth of information within forceful and vivid narratives. This makes his argument - that we should be guided by science - accessible to a wide audience."

  • Science

    "Lively. . . . Informative and well-written, the book deserves a wide audience among the general public, scientists, and health care professionals."

  • Forbes

    "Convincing."

  • Library Journal (starred review)

    "This excellent, easy-to-read look at the alternative-medicine industry is highly recommended."

  • Boston Globe

    "Do You Believe in Magic? is a briskly written, entertaining, and well-researched examination of those whom Offit considers 'unclothed emperors': purveyors of miracle cancer cures, fountains of youth, and the theory that vaccines cause autism."

  • New York Times

    "Over the last decade [Offit] has become a leading debunker of mass misconceptions surrounding infections and vaccines, and now he is taking on the entire field of alternative medicine, from acupuncture to vitamins."

  • Skeptical Inquirer

    "Offit is a wonderful storyteller who makes his message come alive. Each chapter is a story that grabs the reader's interest and holds it."

  • Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    "A fascinating history of hucksters, and a critical chronology of how supplements escaped regulation. . . . A bravely unsentimental and dutifully researched guide for consumers to distinguish between quacks and a cure."

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    "A rousing good read, strong on human interest and filled with appalling and amazing data."

  • Financial Times, on Deadly Choices

    "Offit is a rare combination of scientist, doctor, communicator and advocate. . . . What is needed is more people like [him] willing to engage the skeptics in a debate that just will not go away."

  • Newsweek, on Autism's False Prophets

    "Few scientists are willing to touch this third rail of science publicity; Offit grabs it with two hands."

  • Wall Street Journal, on Autism's False Prophets

    "An invaluable chronicle that relates some of the many ways in which the vulnerabilities of anxious parents have been exploited."

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    HarperCollins
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Do You Believe in Magic?
Do You Believe in Magic?
The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
Paul A. Offit, M.D.
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