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Social Science Popular Culture

Relax, Dammit!

A User's Guide to the Age of Anxiety

by (author) Timothy Caulfield

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Dec 2020
Popular Culture, Health Care Issues, Healthy Living
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2020
    List Price

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WINNER of the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award

WINNER of the 2021 Alberta Literary Awards' Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction

"Will vaccinate you against misinformation!"--Dr. Jen Gunter, renowned gynecologist and author of The Vagina Bible
An entertaining and practical guide to getting through the day with less stress and better health, from the host of the hit TV series A User's Guide to Cheating Death.

We make a ridiculous number of decisions every day--possibly even thousands. We make decisions about when to wake up, how to brush our teeth, what to have for breakfast, how to get our kids to school, the amount of coffee to drink, and on and on.

Making so many decisions is tough. It can cause stock analysts to perform progressively worse over the course of a day. It can lead us to make poor decisions about the food we eat--the more brain fatigue we experience, the more junk food we consume. And the more deliberate the decision--that is, the more we need to think about it--the more fatiguing the process. There are many social forces at work that make how and what we choose an unnecessarily anxious process. But it doesn't have to be.

In Relax, Dammit!, health policy expert Timothy Caulfield takes us through a regular day--from the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep--and shows the underlying science behind our actions and habits. What he reveals is that we make decisions that are based, to a lesser or greater extent, on misinformation. Whether he's studying cell phone use, bike commuting, or raw-milk cheese consumption, Caulfield shows that many of the things we believe to be healthier, safer, or just better, simply aren't. With solid grounding in current and reliable scientific findings, the author points to a less stressful way forward--which means we can all afford to relax a lot more.

Insightful, sometimes controversial, and always entertaining, Relax, Dammit! is a surprising and liberating guide to modern life.

About the author


TIMOTHY CAULFIELD is a professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health as well as research director of the Health Law and Science Policy Group at the University of Alberta. In recent years he has led and collaborated on a number of research projects having to do with the social challenges associated with genomic technologies, stem cell research, and the application of ethics in health sciences. He is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He has also been involved with a number of national and international policy and research ethics committees, including Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee, Genome Canada’s Science Advisory Committee, and the Federal Panel on Research Ethics.Caulfield is a frequent speaker at academic and public gatherings. He contributes often to popular media. He lives and works out vigorously and often in Edmonton.  

Timothy Caulfield's profile page


  • Winner, Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award - General Audience
  • Short-listed, Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction

Editorial Reviews

WINNER of the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award
WINNER of the 2021 Alberta Literary Awards' Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
“Perhaps you, like me, find yourself bewildered by conflicting claims about everything from the food you should eat, to the 'five second rule' if that food falls on the floor, to whether public toilet seats pass along terrifying diseases. Tim Caulfield masterfully, and humorously, walks you through all of the things you’re likely to encounter in a typical day and provides much needed sanity in a world of claims run amok. It also serves as an introduction to critical thinking for those who don’t know how to approach such questions, enabling all of us to make better sense of any new nonsense that comes forward. I devoured it (and it didn’t even fall on the floor).”
—Daniel Levitin, author of Successful Aging and The Organized Mind

“Tim Caulfield gives us an entertaining guide to some of the most entrenched as well as the more recent wellness fads. No one understands the impact of pop culture on health communication better than Caulfield, who is an expert in the marketing of health misinformation and disinformation. He is an entertaining science communicator who understands that fear is a big driver of our headline-driven 24/7 news cycle. Every day we are met with headlines—which often contradict the ones from the previous week—as to how we should be living our lives. Caulfield tackles this confusing clickbait by walking the reader through an imaginary day. His style of communication is effective and easy to understand. And I learned a lot! Read this book—it will vaccinate you against misinformation!”
—Dr. Jen Gunter, renowned gynecologist and author of The Vagina Bible

“This is Tim Caulfield at his best! He takes us on a witty romp through a day’s activities, casting a critical eye on the numerous decisions we routinely make. Should we worry about fluoride in our water, gluten in our food, shaking hands with strangers? Are dietary supplements all they claim to be? How often should we wash our hair, hug our friends or check e-mails? There is always a risk-benefit ratio to consider and Tim is marvelous at digging up the science that tells us when to worry and when to, dammit, relax!”
—Joe Schwarcz, PhD, Director, McGill Office for Science and Society, and author of A Grain of Salt and A Feast of Science

“Goop debunker Timothy Caulfield returns with a science-informed daily guide to living with less stress and better health.”
Quill & Quire
“In the very clever format of walking us hour by hour through a typical day’s choices—to step on that scale; to try for a better parking spot; to have that fifth coffee, and with raw milk or no—Caulfield considers each choice in the context of the most-thorough science available.”
Edmonton Journal

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