Official Review: Snake Oil is Alive and Well

Please use this sub-forum to discuss any non-fiction books such as autobiographies or political commentary books.
Forum rules
You must limit each topic thread in this section to only one book or only one series. Make the title of the topic the name of the book, and if possible also include the author's name. If you want to allow spoilers, you must include the word spoilers in the title of the topic, otherwise spoilers are prohibited.
User avatar
Renu G
Posts: 624
Joined: 06 Mar 2019, 01:32
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 20
Currently Reading: Journey to a Safe Harbor
Bookshelf Size: 110
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-renu-g.html
Latest Review: the Savage Surrogate by Dorothy May Mercer

Official Review: Snake Oil is Alive and Well

Post by Renu G » 17 Jun 2019, 04:48

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Snake Oil is Alive and Well" by Morton E Tavel.]
Book Cover
2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review


When I saw Snake Oil is Alive and Well, I immediately selected it for reading because I’m aware of the pros and cons, use and abuse of similar natural remedies around the world. In this book, Dr Morton Tavel explains the mindset and problems with the thinking process that allow people to fall prey to misinformation and spurious marketing tactics in the health field. As a retired physician and cardiologist who has guided interns, he desires to conscientize the general public as well as medical personnel about this phenomenon. The author uses the term “Snake Oil” to symbolize all the attractive remedies that the sick fall prey to especially when they are desperate for a cure.

Firstly, Dr Tavel explicates the basic principles of research that include logical reasoning, the significance of numbers, interpretation of results, cause-effect relationships, etc. He then describes various misconceptions in the health field: effects of “placebo,” faith healing, alternative medicine, vitamins, nutrition, weight loss, evidence-based medicine, and more. Finally, he explains the relationship between science and religion.

In my opinion, as a researcher in the field of holistic health with decades of experience, the philosophy of science and research methodology mentioned in the first few chapters need to be updated according to the latest developments in these fields. Nevertheless, I appreciate Dr Tavel’s genuine concern for humanity and magnanimous sharing of his knowledge in the health field. He wants people to avoid spending their hard-earned money unnecessarily. It is true that people can be gullible and need to be discerning in their choice of therapy. I liked the author’s explanation of the effects of “placebo” and its reverse “nocebo.” However, I do not agree with everything that he writes. The physician seems to have worked mainly in the institutional set up in the USA.

I am annoyed with the author’s blanket judgment and unsubstantiated statements against systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Homeopathy. He is himself falling prey to an unhealthy mindset with his biases and condescending tone. There was a time when people thought the earth was the center of the universe. Dr Tavel sees conventional Western and Allopathic system of medicine as the norm for rational treatment, which is an arrogant stance and seems disrespectful of physicians in traditional Eastern systems of medicine that wouldn’t have survived over the millennia if they weren’t effective. The author’s statements about Homeopathy are also unacceptable. It was founded by Dr Hahnemann, who was an allopathic physician and researcher in the 18th century in Germany. Dr Tavel does not respect the fact that there is a lot of ongoing scientific research on these systems of medicine and surgery outside the USA. They have advanced over the years just as Allopathy has evolved from traditional Hippocratic school of medicine with its cruel and absurd practices based on myths and superstitions.

After thoughtful and critical analysis of the contents, I rate Snake Oil is Alive and Well 2 out of 4 stars. It is a disappointment for me compared to its sequel Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks that I happened to read prior to this book and which I much appreciated. Dr Tavel’s arguments don’t appeal to me, and I hope he will substantiate his statements against other systems of medicine in the next edition. I found a few grammatical errors in this 233-page manual, and it will benefit from a round of editing. This book will be understandable to individuals who are educated, especially in the field of health care. I’m not quite sure whether people without a medical background will grasp or interpret the contents correctly.

******
Snake Oil is Alive and Well
View: on Bookshelves

Like Renu G's review? Post a comment saying so!

Nivi Gideon
Posts: 212
Joined: 09 Mar 2019, 07:43
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 26
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-nivi-gideon.html
Latest Review: If you looked at me... by Wanda Remmers

Post by Nivi Gideon » 18 Jun 2019, 03:25

Thank you for the honest review! It gave me a clear idea of what to expect from the book! I often find it difficult to choose these kinds of books cause most of them aren't meant for people unfamiliar with medical terms!

User avatar
Amanda Deck
Posts: 355
Joined: 02 Jun 2018, 21:00
Currently Reading: Control Room
Bookshelf Size: 73
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-amanda-deck.html
Latest Review: Yesterday by Samyann

Post by Amanda Deck » 18 Jun 2019, 09:47

I agree RenuG. Allopathic medicine seems to be reasonable and obvious since it's backed by science - but science reverses its findings quite often as more information becomes available.
Latest Review: Yesterday by Samyann

User avatar
Prisallen
Posts: 1297
Joined: 27 Feb 2019, 18:57
2019 Reading Goal: 104
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 40
Favorite Book: The Unbound Soul
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 47
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-prisallen.html
Latest Review: Eyes of Amber by Anna Stassiy

Post by Prisallen » 18 Jun 2019, 12:33

I agree with you that there is a lot of alternative medicine that is very effective, and I think his assertions that they are all bad would irritate me also. Therefore, I think I will pass on reading this book. Thanks for a wonderful review!

Kyoks
Posts: 132
Joined: 18 Jan 2019, 06:48
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 53
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kyoks.html
Latest Review: The Lost Identity Casualties by Kim Ekemar

Post by Kyoks » 18 Jun 2019, 14:50

I totally agree with Renu G, the book is very informative and tells more about the hidden tricks about medicine use.
I definitely loved reading the book because it is very educative and creates awareness to the people.
Thank you for the incredible and wonderful review.

User avatar
Stephanie Elizabeth
Posts: 770
Joined: 18 Jul 2018, 15:41
2019 Reading Goal: 40
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 67
Currently Reading: Cynthia and Dan
Bookshelf Size: 35
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-stephanie-elizabeth.html
Latest Review: Shortcuts by T.L. Criswell

Post by Stephanie Elizabeth » 18 Jun 2019, 18:46

This book immediately caught my attention because I read one of the author's other books "Health Myths Tips and Tricks" It doesn't look like this one rated as well as the other book. Thanks for the honest review, though.

User avatar
Helene_2008
Posts: 67
Joined: 24 Apr 2019, 19:43
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 8
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-helene-2008.html
Latest Review: Arsenic and Old Men by Glenn Ickler

Post by Helene_2008 » 18 Jun 2019, 20:11

I agree from reading other books of the author that he can be biased and condescending. It's frustrating because I think it turns away readers who might benefit from the message. Thank you for your review.

User avatar
Meg98
Posts: 191
Joined: 31 Mar 2019, 22:10
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 14
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-meg98.html
Latest Review: Burn Zones by Jorge P. Newbery

Post by Meg98 » 18 Jun 2019, 21:29

I have read "Health Tips, Myths, and Tricks," and found it insightful and well-written, but it seems that this book did not deliver. I was planning on reading "Snake Oil," but after your honest review, I am rethinking it. Thank you for this excellent review!
Oh love, never be afraid to fly :wink2:

User avatar
Wriley
Posts: 178
Joined: 06 Jan 2019, 18:09
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 14
Favorite Book: Executive Hoodlum
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 76
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-wriley.html
Latest Review: The Biblical Clock by Daniel Friedmann and Dania Sheldon

Post by Wriley » 18 Jun 2019, 22:14

I completely agree with the review. I'm not in the health care field but I do have a degree in Biology and know from experience that doctors get things wrong. I know orthopedic doctors think chiropractors are quacks but chiropractors do actually help people. I know I've had doctors tell me things that were wrong or disagree with each other. If a holistic treatment has been around and people return then those things then it work for those people. Judgemental never resonates with an audience.
Logic will get you from A to Z
But Imagination will get you
EVERYWHERE

Albert Einstein

User avatar
EvaDar
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1823
Joined: 18 Nov 2017, 11:21
2018 Reading Goal: 50
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 52
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 92
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-evadar.html
Latest Review: Read My Mind by Stephen McLeod

Post by EvaDar » 19 Jun 2019, 01:50

Renu G wrote: ↑
17 Jun 2019, 04:48
There was a time when people thought the earth was the center of the universe. Dr Tavel sees conventional Western and Allopathic system of medicine as the norm for rational treatment, which is an arrogant stance and seems disrespectful of physicians in traditional Eastern systems of medicine that wouldn’t have survived over the millennia if they weren’t effective.
Like you, I find Dr. Tavel to be quite lacking in his education of all things non-allopathic. I was not a fan of his other book either. I found him to be a bit too attached to his agenda. He is curiously narrow-minded about all forms of holistic medicine, considering he has evidently not taken much time to research his subject matter. He is fond of making unfounded claims that no research exists to support holistic medicine. I have a dozen books on my shelves that indicate quite the contrary. Fortunately, more and more funds are being allotted to research on alternative methods. Thanks for the honest review.
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. -Scott Adams

User avatar
Ekta Swarnkar
Posts: 142
Joined: 14 Apr 2019, 12:14
Favorite Book: 30th Century: Escape (General Audience Edition)
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 4
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-ekta-swarnkar.html
Latest Review: Heartaches by H.M. Irwing

Post by Ekta Swarnkar » 19 Jun 2019, 02:41

I think with this book, more people will be aware of the cruel tricks of the medical field. Great and honest review!

User avatar
TuyetMai
Posts: 205
Joined: 07 Sep 2018, 05:45
Currently Reading: Raptor
Bookshelf Size: 71
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-tuyetmai.html
Latest Review: The Chauvinist's Guide to Modern Romance by Morris Rollins

Post by TuyetMai » 19 Jun 2019, 06:47

I'm actually considering Chinese medicine for my higher education, so it's disappointing that the author doesn't regard Eastern medicine highly. I'm still curious about what he has to say because I have never read about the placebo effect in-depth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts of the book.

kdstrack
Posts: 3163
Joined: 10 May 2017, 19:49
2019 Reading Goal: 100
2019 Reading Goal Completion: 65
2018 Reading Goal: 100
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 106
Currently Reading: Timewise
Bookshelf Size: 248
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-kdstrack.html
Latest Review: Make Me Tick by Nick Carr

Post by kdstrack » 19 Jun 2019, 16:18

The author's desire to warn the public about "Snake Oil" is admirable. However, with his blanket statements he turns off many potential readers. I appreciate your insights about this book's contents. Thanks!

User avatar
CyndiA1
Posts: 101
Joined: 02 May 2019, 15:24
Favorite Book: The Altitude Journals
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 201
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cyndia1.html
Latest Review: From Drift to SHIFT by Jody B. Miller
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by CyndiA1 » 26 Jun 2019, 09:45

I'm glad you mentioned the author's other book. I had read that and gave a two out of four stars. I think you are correct about the biases of the author. He is definitely a big pharma guy. I will avoid this book. Thanks.

dorebri2020
Posts: 103
Joined: 09 Jun 2019, 20:14
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 17
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-dorebri2020.html
Latest Review: B-Side by Janis Jones

Post by dorebri2020 » 02 Jul 2019, 14:11

It is very important for an author writing on such a touchy subject to be objective in his reporting, with some room for opinions, but if what you say is true then I believe he may have gone too far. Therefore, I will pass on this book. Thanks for the honest review!
Latest Review: B-Side by Janis Jones

Post Reply

Return to “Non-Fiction Books”