2 out of 4 stars
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I enjoyed the wide range of health tips and warnings provided by Morton E. Tavel MD in Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks: A Physician's Advice: Health information to liberate us from "Snake Oil," but I disliked most that the author appeared to dump his extra research in book format with a strong mainstream medical community bias. While I may follow up on some of the observations/suggestions in the book, I'd tend to be just as cautious about taking advice from a physician philosophizing outside his areas of expertise (in many cases) as I would be about the "charlatans" called on the carpet for profiting off gullible people looking to live healthier or for cures for various ailments.
Tavel's book is, indeed, chock full of information. There are sixty-two chapters listed for this relatively short text, and all those chapter titles are printed in all capital letters at the beginning of the book. Some of the chapters are only a few sentences long which suggests that little pieces of research not used in previous books by the author were repurposed for this volume. This leads to a range of "expert" advice ranging from the benefits of green tea to closing the toilet before flushing and the health safety of flying. An example of the sweeping nature of expertise flouted in the book may be noted in the following sentence which includes commentary not only about the medical field but also the forestry industry:
"From a personal standpoint, I would recommend paper towels everywhere. This method might even provide an economic boost to our lumber industry."
The huge collection of chapter tips are loosely grouped into three broad sections with overlap as noted by Tavel. The three main sections are tips, myths, and tricks. Almost any medical information or opinion could be sorted into one of the categories with the second and third sections clearly designed to debunk what others believe or purport to be true about health. Specific health areas targeted by Tavel include chiropractic, yoga, homeopathy, hypnosis, and nutritional-based therapies. He also is clearly not a fan of Dr. Oz (television health guru), although I'm not either.
Certainly I would concede that there are a lot of medical scams and that consumers should conduct careful research before making any lifestyle choices or using any medical devices or ingesting supplements. I'm not sold on the research used to make the huge range of points in this book, however, because the author appears to base some of his recommendations or complaints on single, small research studies. He calls everyone else out on research, but he covers so much territory in this book that his own backup data is often rather skimpy.
The writing also suggests a disregard for true excellence. There are numerous typos in the book, discrepancies in formatting, and there are a ton of exclamation points especially after attempts at humor.
Many of the same people who dabble with alternative medicine will likely find this book helpful and interesting. Those who take health more seriously and like really strong supporting data may well be disappointed. I fall into the latter category, so I feel that two out of four stars is a fair assessment.
Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks
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