Submitted by felix_using_reddit t3_123ekej in books

This is related to factual, scientific books discussing topics such as nutrition, fitness, psychology etc. regarding many of these topics there are a million books with a 100 thousand opinions. What would you suggest is the most efficient way to finding the most credible sources on these subjects? I suppose books that are super popular and have received very positive critical receptions would be suited best, if they have reached a large audience they have also reached many other experts on said topic and if the book has then received positive reviews that means a large amount of these experts seem to agree with the theses of the book. So my question rephrase/simplified would maybe be, how do I find these books? How do I find (for example) the top 3 nutrition related-books that have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and sort of reached high popularity. Is there some kind of "easy" way of getting there? Like some sort of ranking for books of certain topics?



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nkerr52 t1_jdue9f3 wrote

One method is to look for authors of scholarly articles whose work is frequently cited by other experts in the same field. Authors whose results are used by other experts in their own research are more likely to be considered reliable.


videovillain t1_jdv3v1u wrote

This is the best answer IMO.

  1. Find a book/author you are interested in checking
  2. Search for other peer reviewed publications by the author
  3. Search peer reviewed databases for citations of that book

The more peer reviewed publications from that author, usually the better. It means they are masters in their field and aren’t afraid to have their peers check their work. It also gives you more references to pull from in your own research.

The more times the book is cited, usually the better. However, check the citations to see if they are using them as reference and verification or refuting something from it.

To be honest, it sounds like what you really need to be doing is searching specific topics on peer reviewed databases and just digging in!

Some spots to check:

  • JSTOR - “Journal Storage” provides access to journal articles, books, images, and primary sources
  • APA - American Psychological Association has essential psychological content to support research, education, practice, and general wellbeing
  • PubMed - National Library of Medicine comprises biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books
  • Cambrige - Cambridge Core is the home of academic content from Cambridge University Press with research and academic information from journal articles and books
  • Cochrane - gathers and summarizes the best evidence from research to help you make informed choices through systematic reviews and meta-analysis of existing research
  • ERIC - Education Resources Information Center provides access to bibliographic records of journal and non-journal literature from 1966 to the present
  • Scopus - combines a comprehensive, expertly curated abstract and citation database with enriched data and linked scholarly literature

SilverChances t1_jdueyp3 wrote

Rankings and ratings are a less reliable metric because unfortunately they can be manipulated and there is often strong commercial incentive to do so.

The easiest way is to find someone who is a trusted authority in the subject area and get them to give you a bibliography that is suited to your level of knowledge. (You don't necessarily need personal access; they may have a blog or have posted online course syllabi, etc.) To identify an expert, look for traditional credentials, like publications in peer-reviewed journals and tenured positions at respected universities. This sort of structure is a lot more reliable than star ratings on online platforms.

A librarian at a good library can also be a really a good resource. If there are any universities in your area you can inquire whether you are allowed to use their library.


camplate t1_jdvgg72 wrote

Years ago while walking through the stacks at Uni I stumbled upon a large book that listed references to genetic research, evolution, and any questions that tried to rebuff settled science. Sad that such a book even needed created.


GumGuts t1_jduhono wrote

You have to be the gate-keeper here. I think the resolute and ultimate fact you're looking for in these subjects just doesn't exist. Weigh what you learn against your conscience and experiences.

For example, my favorite nutrition advice ever is from Micheal Pollan's "In Defense of Food," that ends with the simple thesis, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

There are thick volumes of antivaxx books chalked full of citations. I steer clear of them, because the medical community has come to the resounding consensus that vaccines are safe. If that doesn't tell you the state of medical science, I don't know what does.

In terms of psychology, there is rarely an idea or a law that can be pointed to as being absolute. Most of it is just what works, and that's very often different for different people. But I do know the protocol for someone experiencing an onset of schizophrenia is to try mood stabilizers first, and if that doesn't work, switch to antipsychotics.

I recently read "Just like someone without mental illness only more so" by Mark Vonnegut. In it, he asks rhetorically, "Whats the difference between someone who recovers [from schizophrenia] and someone who doesn't? The answer is not much."

Think of this all as exploring, not fact-checking. Often I'll meet someone who read a shady health blog that presented an alluring possibility, and the person goes head over heels and declares they've found the holy grail. It just doesn't work like that.

It brings to mind Atomic Habits by James Clear. He presents a simple formula for fostering new habits. I've heard it worked for many people. Is it scientifically backed? Not necessarily, but you can try it out and see for yourself. If it works, it appears Clear knew what he was talking about.

If all of this is too exhausting, read some poetry or philosophy. The human heart craves truth just as much as the brain, but only our heart sings it.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jduj58b wrote

> because the medical community has come to the resounding consensus that vaccines are safe. If that doesn't tell you the state of medical science, I don't know what does.

That’s exactly the kind of knowledge that I‘m looking for. Things that are agreed upon by a majority of experts in the field. I think for most topics the majority of experts have already come to agree on lots of viable knowledge. So I just have to find someone reliable who tells me what those things are that are widely agreed upon. But I reckon there’s no easy way to find a book that credibly does so I‘ll have to use my critical thinking skills.


GumGuts t1_jdujwia wrote

It's a hornets nest in there. Vaccines specifically, you could get trapped in an endless web of definitive sounding self-proclaimed gurus, all privy to some deep, dark secret that no one else knows about. Some of them even have "MD" attached to their name, making it all the more confusing.

I came to the conclusion that vaccines are safe, not by a book or article, but by witnessing the silence of the medical community. If adverse reactions were happening at the rate antivaxxers were saying, the entire medical establishment would be clamoring about it from the roof tops. Instead, nothing, and that nothing speakers louder than any reactionary website or YouTube video or book.

Moreover, I know the medical community is very aware of and responsive to any anomalies in vaccine programs. That none of those alarms sounded was very telling.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jdukbbd wrote

Yeah being dumb sadly is nothing that a PhD makes disappear there are some really delusional people in academia as well I remember a story about a guy (PhD in biology) that claimed viruses don’t exist. Basically he said that he‘ll give anyone that can prove the existence of viruses to him $1,000 someone then linked him 6 peer-reviewed articles that do just that and after he (suprise!!) refused to give out the money the other guy took it to court and the dr. was forced to give out the reward. Lol Anyway such stories are funny but I don’t think I‘m at serious risk of falling prey to some strange people suggesting delusional conspiracies antivaxx or whatever else.. I trust myself to be able to see through that


GumGuts t1_jdukru3 wrote

Hah, yeah, I think I've heard of him. One of those Terrain Model folk. It's a mad, mad world.

I don't mean to dissuade you from thinking there isn't a consensus on many things. Like the mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, there are things that are prevalent in many disciplines.

The books these are in may not be as glamorous as the shiny, edgy books with bold claims. One way is to find out what they're talking about: how does a psychotherapist help a patient? What's the day in the life of a nutritionist? When doctors do talk about vaccines, what do they say? How do Olympic athletes train?

Getting a sense of something may be just as, if not more, important than factual knowledge.

Like I said, think of it as exploring, not fact-checking.


videovillain t1_jdxrc2i wrote

You do that, not someone else. You literally can count the amount of times a publication was cited and then check for what type of citation. You can literally count the amount of articles published by an author and the citations of each work, etc. there is no way to just “find the one person who already knows all this”

Sure there are plenty of people who have done it, but you can’t “vet” them unless they are also making peer reviewed publications, so you’ve gotta do it yourself anyway as if they are publishing, you’ll get to there content by doing the above anyway.


dennirawr t1_jdueqyx wrote

When it comes to finding good evidence-based information, books are best seen as starting points to provide you with a broad overview of a topic, so that you can then dive into academic journal articles about those elements of a topic that are most relevant for you or you are most interested in.

Generally, books by somebody who knows what they are talking about will be factual, and free from opinion, and statements will be supported in some way with scientific evidence / references. They will also be free from personal anecdotes and 'anecdotal evidence' (ie "after he used this miracle food, the diversity of her gut microbiota seems to have increased exponentially, so this food is fantastic" is not good data). Much like good journalism, you want a book that presents you with data in a structured and easy to understand way, but you don't want to waste your time reading about some person's 'opinion'. You can get an idea of what I mean by reading a couple of articles from your local newspaper, compared to a better news source like, say, The Guardian, where facts tend to be presented without the author's subjective view or interpretation.

My approach would be to find out which universities are well known for exceptional research or training in the field you'd like to learn about, then find the reading lists for relevant subjects at that university. Or you might write to a lecturer or two and ask for their recommendations. That should give you a starting point.

You can also search for books written by professors associated with a well-respected uni, and decide which of those you feel are most authoritative to write about a given topic.

Keep in mind though that all books, by their nature, will contain 'old' information. It takes time for a book to be written, edited and published. By the time it is available, there is a very good chance that some information it contains will be outdated - maybe improved upon, no longer 'best practice', proven to be false, etc. So, books are great resources, but limited in their usefulness depending on what level of knowledge you're looking to gain.

Academic journals can be more accurate and contain much more recent information than books. Google Scholar is a fantastic resource for finding journal articles. You'll still need to work out which articles are great and which are rubbish, but you won't need to deal with as much pop pseudo-science and quackery as you'll find at your local bookstore. And, you'll find more recent information with greater specificity. If an article is not available for free, email the author and ask if they would email it to you - most will be happy to.

Happy learning!


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jduig2q wrote

Thank you, helpful response! Tbh journal articles sort of scare me they’re just very difficult to understand and I mean since most commonly they contain some sort of study that was conducted it’s like a very very specific niche thing you get out of it + looking at a single study may be too one-sided even if it’s a peer-reviewed and methodically properly conducted one.. you’d probably rather look at meta-analyses of studies but that’s all a bit too high-level anyway I don’t think the time you have to extend to extract knowledge this way is really worth it even if after this process you might certainly have the most up to date, scientifically accurate knowledge on one certain thing. That’s only really viable if you either have infinite free time or are a scientist in said field and it is your job to possess this "super knowledge"). That’s why I’d prefer really good books because that’s ideally supposed to be sort of the condensed knowledge of someone who has done all that extremely hard work and can now present you with their findings in an easier to understand manner. And the outdated issue may apply to some books but generally I don’t think science moves that fast that if you get a more general overview over things written in idk 2017 that significant parts of that knowledge have been nullified through new findings since.. but of course you have to be careful if you read things about economics written in a time prior to wide-spread internet for example.. anyway where I think you’re correct is that it’s probably a good idea to look out for prescribed readings of reputable universities for certain classes they have or identifying authoritative figures in certain subjects and try to get booklist from them or read a book they‘ve published! Still alot of work but hoping for an easy way to this was maybe rather naive haha


videovillain t1_jdxqqk7 wrote

Actually, many journals are publications by experts in their field on specific topics and not always a report on “findings” but a “state of the ‘topic/theme/industry’ as they see it with supporting sources.” While other journals are filled with reviews of such material.

Basically, you just gotta start digging in to specific topics on the peer reviewed databases and you’ll soon see they are easier to read than you’d expect, and come with the bonus of citations to supportive works you can then go dig into. Making it actually even easier to research a topic once you get started!


Mysterious_Rub6224 t1_jduf5hu wrote

You don't, just look for their peer reviewed articles both new and old and put the references under intense scrutiny.


shillyshally t1_jduharu wrote

Kind of bottom level but the Fakespot browser extension analyses Amazon reviews. Just because a book has lots if positive reviews does not in any way add to the veracity. As a matter of fact, if I see a non-fiction book with thousands of reviews and five stars I immediately think it is probably bs along the lines of Dr. Oz or Oprah.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jduhkxe wrote

Maybe that’s sort of a misunderstanding with reception I didn’t really mean Amazon reviews. I‘m talking about books that were so popular that when you google them you get a wiki article about the book with a section labelled reception and that states how tbe book‘s been received by the public / journalists / the scientific bubble that book was related to. And then ideally I‘d want books where that Wiki section is mostly people saying positive things instead of things you commonly see such as book failed to adress x, y or disregarded/neglected z ..


shillyshally t1_jduizd9 wrote

I would want to know the author's educational background, what other books they had written, what awards they garnered. I'd Google them, read the wiki, see if their works had been covered in important book review publications. I would do that to at least sort of determine their legitimacy and if they looked ok and the topic interested me I would then buy the book.

I do not discount Amazon reviews in making that assessment as they can often be quite informative, especially regarding non-fiction.

The thing is, so much of what I learned in college and grad school fifty years ago has now been deemed bullshit. Plate tectonics was heresy. Genes never changed. Animals were Pavlovian mechanisms. And so on and on and on. You can only do the best with info available at the time and know that nothing is written in stone. Education never stops.


Nephht t1_jdul5a6 wrote

Unfortunately I don’t think popularity is a very good metric in this case, there are a lot of wildly popular books that are full of bullshit. Because there is just so much research out there in the world, you can find studies that support pretty much anything you want to promote. That doesn’t mean they’re good studies: A book can just say ‘Studies have found that X is good for you’, and it’s only when you actually look into the studies they cite do you see that it’s just one study with a tiny sample size or no control group etc.

For diet, good studies are generally long term cohort studies - that means they’re tracking the eating habits and health of a very large group of people over a very long period of time, because only then can you really say anything meaningful about long term health effects. Examples are the EPIC Oxford study, Nurse’s health study, and Adventist health study. You can look those up and see what some of their main findings are.

In terms of diet and nutrition, most countries also have a national dietetic association - an association of professionals in the field - and also a government agency that provides nutrition guidelines. While in some countries certain industries have a little too much influence, the guidelines produced by these national associations and government agencies are still mostly pretty good and based on the scientific consensus.

There are several annual rankings of diets by health and sustainability (as in, it’s not hard to keep up long term), and the Mediterranean diet consistently comes out on top.

I don’t know much about where to look for good advice on fitness and psychology I’m afraid.


burnyleprechauniq84 t1_jdw8ivh wrote

Quite a good hack is to look at the first year reading lists on uni courses. Generally, these are online on the course descriptions and are at the level it sounds like you're looking for with the added bonus of being vetted by the respective uni. Some of it might be textbooks but most also have shorter summaries or other types of materials. One of my courses had a small detective novel.

Also, don't get too intimidated by journals; they're just structured in a specific way and with academic language but at the core, there's a question, a bit of research and data, then a summary. Read the intro and the summary and you'll get all the info you need.

I'd also suggest you look into some basic stats to help understand what the results of a study actually mean. Probably a YT video on it somewhere, but it'll help in comparing research and in understanding how certain (significant, in stats terminology) a result is.


Silent-Revolution105 t1_jdx6wpa wrote

Your library online will have a "Popular Science" section. If you look up author's names in Wikipedia you should get an idea of their reputation. If you read somebody, double-check some of their sources, too.

Read very viewpoint, and avoid anything that tries to manipulate you with emotional buzzwords

It ain't easy.


StrawberryFields_ t1_jduiz4g wrote

I understand the first principles of these fields. I then make sure I can follow the logic about what's being said from these first principles. Also, by reading different sources, one begins to abstract and see different themes and patterns.


KoeiNL t1_jduqoc5 wrote

For authors just look if they have published peer-reviewed papers and how often they are cited, or what their experience is (for example a journalist that was based in a foreign country for 2 decades could write just as well about an event as a historian might, but from a different point of view).

And for books I'd look at Wikipedia. For most popular books there is usually a Wikipedia page with a section that aggregates the book's reception by scholars with sources. For example:


hananobira t1_jdv55ap wrote

I’d stick to the websites of reputable institutions. For example, if you want diet advice, try the American Heart Association’s website. That will summarize the current state of the research in a format accessible to the general population.

Anyone writing books is making a living by selling something.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jdxlw87 wrote

I‘m sure that‘s great advice if I want to know whether eating 5 hamburgers a day is recommended or not, but if I‘m trying to find out whether Vitamin K improves absorption of carbs, I don’t think browsing such websites will do.


Autarch_Kade t1_jdvt49k wrote

Self-help books are usually out there to make money, rather than to inform. Textbooks or published research would have more up-to-date and accepted knowledge.

I'd caution trying to get super knowledgeable about something you don't need to as well. Some things, like eating healthy, are actually quite simple and would take a few sentences to explain about counting calories, and hitting macros. What use would more information be after that? You follow the basics, you're healthy. Unless you're trying to apply this in a professional setting where it's part of your job to stay up to date on the most recent research, you might be using these books as a way to feel like you're making progress on a goal.

Similar for fitness, there's really some basic advice you can get from a place like the CDC or WHO on exercise.

Psychology really can be a minefield - you aren't out there getting your doctorate, you aren't going to be practicing, so what are you trying to learn? How to make friends?

So yeah, while research and textbooks will provide up to date, or comprehensive knowledge, be aware you might not even need that much. And if you do need that much, well, you should already have those resources available from your university or employer. Other than that, self-help is helping their self to your money with repackaged basic info you can find online.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jdxm6as wrote

I am trying to learn. That is essentially my biggest aspiration in life. About anything and everything lol. These 3 things were just fields that I could think of off the top of my head.


StellaAI t1_jdw8upp wrote

Addendum to other's posts: Published work that entertains people is not the most informative, correct, or even truthful. You see this phenomenon on YouTube with finance "influencers". They'll peddle all these wild investments, crypto scams, and personal seminars to make money. Don't confuse popular entertainment with information.

The sad reality is that a Get Rich title with the words "Make more, spend less, invest the difference" would be one boring, mostly empty page. A Gain Weight book would have no market and a "Lose Weight" book would be "Calories in, calories out, take care of eating disorders."


un_vanished_voice t1_jdwqo8x wrote

Open Textbooks

Free courses from Stanford, Yale, or Harvard


Averageplayerzac t1_jdxpk3x wrote

I’d be fairly cautious about using popular reception as a metric in this case, books which appear to be a breezy, comprehensive take on a given subject(“Guns, Germs and Steel”,”Sapiens”,”Zealot” and the like) tend to be very well received popularly but largely derided by subject matter experts. I would generally recommend either an academic in the field you’re interested in who also writes popular texts(a Bart Ehrman or Irving Finkle for example) or else just find an online community of scholars in the field you’re interested in and ask what their recommendations for a layperson delving into the field is.

Sorry I don’t have any more specific recs for you, nutritional science isn’t really one of my areas of interest.


Gawdam_lush t1_jdyeogm wrote

Find out if their research is peer reviewed


Immediate-Worth9994 t1_je12fql wrote

For general introduction to any subject, I use 2 resources. Wikipedia and Dummies. Both are relatively well sourced and checked, and good general overviews on a subject.

Reading either gives you an overview on how the subject operates, and what it's specialities are.

Neither are perfect.

Once you have done reading them, looked at the sources, understood how they fit in with other subjects you may know and the timelines of knowledge, then its time to deep dive or move on.


However, at least by now you have an understanding, not only of the questions to ask, but also the terminology specific to the subject. Those questions, and that terminology can lead you to other sources, that either Wiki or Dummies both can lead you to.

You comment wanting to know if K12 can increase the uptake of carbs.

By this point you are so deep into a subject that the only source, is either specialists you can contact, or Google Scholar articles.


I was in debate with someone recently who I disagreed with. The linked me to an NIH published scientific article that proved their point. I had no choice but to accept that the conclusions of the article where based upon the methodology of the research.
However, I pointed out several fundamental flaws with the research and methodology and so I could not accept that paper as the be all and end all, and that is where your bias experience comes in.


Vaccines are 'settled' science, in we understand the aim of what they do, what we see on how the human body interacts with them, and the resulting benefits, but there is no guarantee that the use of them will be exactly the same in 10 or 100 years. Our ability to peer into biology improves everyday and there may come a time when we understand that the conceptual idea we hold today, does not ring true in the future.

Climate change is a political term for what is considered Anthropogenic climate modification. It's 'settled' science, we have measured co2 and other gas emissions in the past, seen how the climate reacted then, and make predictions based on our current emissions and see if those predictions match current conditions.

Is this settled status going to change, absolutely, it has between COP 1 and the latest (primarily due to political pressure). Is it going away, no, is it going to modify in the future, yes.

All you can do, unless you are looking to be a specialist, is understand how we come to the conclusions that make 'settled' science settled.


As a bit of a geek, I love popsci books, but reading the one star reviews on good reads and Amazon can be very enlightening, that most publications miss or get wrong what some people consider fundamental problems in what is supposed to be covered.

Searching the references indicated in these negative reviews can also help you understand if the person leaving the bad review knows what they are talking about, or unfortunately has some political reason for doing so.


I recently purchased the 'New York Public Library - Science Desk Reference' (978-0028604039) as a broad overview of scientific theory and facts and the interrelated nature of information. I would consider this to be a well researched and upstanding publication, printed in 1995.

But the science has moved on, and even to an untrained eye there are fundamental glaring issues not with the copy, but based upon our 30 year updated understanding of our reality, and this was at the time probably close to the best of the best book.


No book can ever be perfect, no one can know all. Science changes, knowledge changes, philologia is all there can be.


bgb372 t1_jduu9in wrote

I assume from the subject matter your interested in that you are trying to lose weight. Well your in luck. The diet industry is a multi billion dollar industry, everyone has a book out to take your money. I have the answer for you for free. Ready? Eat less, exercise more. That’s it. How am I an expert?? I have lost 30 lbs and well on my way to losing 30 more. I have read all (well most of) the books written by drs and nutritionist. And it all comes down to eat less exercise more. If you want specifics DM me.


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jduvag8 wrote

Unfortunately your assumption was incorrect. I am 6‘0 and 122 lbs. the last thing I need to do is to lose weight lol. I want to gain weight & just generally to feel less dreaded and out of energy. Also I simply enjoy learning about virtually anything, I just named 3 topics that came into my head first


twenty-six-sixty-six t1_jdvjwht wrote

they're all bullshit, don't read books like that


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jdxly7w wrote

Worst advice here yet


twenty-six-sixty-six t1_jdxmd6h wrote

if you need to read a book to know what to eat you're way behind where you should be developmentally


felix_using_reddit OP t1_jdxmq8x wrote

I thought it couldn’t get worse than the first thing you said but here we are. If you haven’t noticed we‘re on r/books if I‘d looked for responses like yours I‘d have posted on r/conservative


twenty-six-sixty-six t1_jdxoiti wrote

what popular science book did you get your definition of "conservative" from? i'll be extra sure not to read that one