I’ve just finished reading ‘Informed is Best: How to spot fake news about your pregnancy, birth and baby‘, by Amy Brown, Professor in a Department of Public Health. And I loved it so much that I began writing this review of it within minutes of reaching the end. Important fact before we go further: I received a review copy from the publisher. Important additional fact: I only actually review about one in ten of the books that publishers send me. That’s because I tell publishers that, while they are welcome to send me books, I’ll only actually highlight and write about those that I truly love.
And I loved ‘Informed is Best‘ within the first few pages. So much so that I messaged the author when I was in the middle of chapter three, saying, “I bloody love your book.” I did go on to promise that I would write a proper review and not just post that, although it turns out that she quite liked that summary, so I have left it in.
One of the reasons that I love this book is that I have always meant to write something like it. So I can’t tell you – or Professor Brown – how grateful I am to be able to cross this off my to do list and recommend this one instead. Now, it’s possible that my love of this book is all about confirmation bias (which you’ll read about in chapter 1 of Informed is Best) as she and I clearly believe many of the same things. For example, that RCTs aren’t the be all and end all; that it’s very helpful to think about the source of the knowledge you’re reading; that expert knowledge is still valuable, despite our modern cultural obsession with googling. Having seen how much thought has gone into this, I was also delighted that my website made the cut of those that are recommended as sources of further information. But I don’t think you have to agree with either myself or the author to benefit from a book which unpacks the way in which information is presented and discusses research design, funding, promotion and the cultural and wider context in which all of this sits. Even better, it’s presented in a very readable way and the text contains many real-life examples to which I think any reader will relate.
Professor Brown has gone a step further than this, though. This isn’t just a book about how to understand information which comes from research. It also shares lots of really useful discussion on how different people approach information, whether or not we trust information and – my personal favourite bit of new learning – why some people behave like sea lions on social media. This is a book that I have already recommended to students and others and it is, in my view, a vital addition to the library of anyone who works with pregnancy and birth knowledge or with people who seek or use this.
If you like to keep up to date with birth-related information: