Born in Rochester, New York, Taubes studied applied physics at Harvard and aerospace engineering at Stanford (MS, 1978). After receiving a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981, Taubes joined Discover magazine as a staff reporter in 1982. Since then he has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.
Taubes' books have all dealt with scientific controversies. Nobel Dreams takes a critical look at the politics and experimental techniques behind the Nobel Prize-winning work of physicist Carlo Rubbia. Bad Science is a chronicle of the short-lived media frenzy surrounding the Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion experiments of 1989.
In 2007, Taubes published his book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease, ISBN 978-1400040780 (published asThe Diet Delusion in the UK, ISBN 978-0091891411). This aims to examine how a hypothesis got to become dogma and claims to show how the scientific method was circumvented so one man’s hypothesis could be claimed as correct. The book uses data and studies compiled from dietary research from as early as the 1800s.
Taubes' hypothesis is that the medical community and the federal government have relied upon misinterpreted scientific data on nutrition to build the prevailing paradigm about what constitutes healthful eating. Taubes makes the case that -- contrary to the conventional wisdom -- it is refined carbohydrates that are responsible for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other maladies of civilization.
Taubes includes information and studies which indicate that physical exercise increases appetite to a degree that makes it an inefficient tool in weight loss. He tracks the origins of commonly accepted dietary advice and aims to show that information that is filtered to the public often contradicts scientific evidence. On October 19, 2007, Taubes appeared on Larry King Live to discuss his book. Although Taubes has no formal training in nutrition or medicine, his book was praised as "raising interesting and valuable points" by Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz who both appeared on the same program.