Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?

The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Average Rating:
Rate this:
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.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: New York, N.Y. :, Harper,, c2013.
ISBN: 9780062222961
Branch Call Number: 615.5 OF2
Characteristics: x, 322 pages ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
goomee May 02, 2014

I wish I could get some of my friends and family to read this book. Dr. Offit presents research which debunks numerous claims for dubious treatments and supplements. He also injects common sense which go out the window when people go for the "woo" of a treatment rather than being skeptical.
Highly recommended.

JCLKimG Dec 24, 2013

If you've ever wondered whether echinacea can really ward off infections, or whether shark cartilage truly prevents cancer, this is the book for you. Physician Paul A. Offit brings a scientist's precision to his exploration of the vast number of alternative medicines that don't work, and several that do. He also explains how alternative medicine became a $34 billion-a-year business, and why the companies that sell "alternative" products still face almost no government oversight. Along the way, Offit tells some great stories, including a full chapter about Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner responsible for the nation's misguided love affair with vitamin C. - NPR's Jon Hamilton

DanniOcean Nov 04, 2013

Reviewed in the Stratford Gazette, Nov 2013 (see Summaries)

bnotash70 Sep 08, 2013

This is written by a doctor who did research on many different alternative and over the counter medications and supplements, and understands the dangers of them and of not using standard medical treatments. Well researched and well written, Clear explanations, I liked it.

Jul 15, 2013

To quote from the Booklist review,'...Don't give alternative medicine a free pass. Concentrate on the evidence. Any treatment conventional or alternative should be subjected to high standards of proof. The influence of money, celebrities, and politics props up alternative medicine.' Paul Offit casts a skeptical eye on alternative medicine. He asks, 'Where is the proof that it works?' And he explores in great detail the evidence showing that the alternative medicine industry (and he demonstrates that it is an industry and its practioners are well compensated) offers nothing for the seriously ill. I especially liked Part III, Fifty-One Thousand Supplements, wherein the author points out the numerous credible studies on many alternative medicines showing that they were no more effective than placebos. A good read for those wanting a scientific look at alternative medicine.


Add a Summary
DanniOcean Nov 04, 2013

Dr. Paul Offit’s bias is clear from the first page of his newest book, Do You Believe in Magic – he is not a fan of alternative medicines. As the director of the Vaccine Education Centre and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dr. Offit is not a media darling and realizes how unpopular this book may be, but as he puts it quite succinctly, “there’s no such thing as conventional or alternative or complimentary or integrative or holistic medicine. There’s only medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t.” He outlines the factors that have created the storm of alternative therapies, such as distrust of modern medicine, desperation of the terminally ill or their relatives, the belief that “natural” or “organic” products are safer than other chemical substances, charismatic people who tout “healing powers” and of course the power of celebrity endorsement. He takes direct aim at some of the most popular celebrities who promote alternative therapies, such as Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, and Jenny McCarthy, a move sure to make him popularly unpopular. Dr. Offit also recognizes the fault of medical practitioners who create environments that alienate, dehumanize and create distance with their patients; though of the many case studies he relates the significant majority deal with alternative therapies gone awry. However it is the many, many (sometimes truly frightening) case studies – examinations of things like shark cartilage remedies for arthritis, ginko biloba for mental acuity and the role big pharma plays in the alternative medicine business - that make this book less a medical manifesto and more a readable and not unreasonable guide through today’s health maze. His real message can be found on the last page of the book – individuals are responsible for making decisions about our health, but to do so without demanding adequate research into therapies and medicines actually violates the basic principle of medicine: “First, do no harm.”


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MCPL

To Top