#27. Call Junk Science by Its Rightful Name: Fake News
July 21, 2017
America’s new obsession with detecting and correcting fake news is good for democracy. The future of our republic depends on a properly informed electorate.
Likewise, our health depends on us being properly informed about science. Therefore, we should extend the war on fake news to banish unscientific buzzwords and health fads. Here are 10 from my new book, Little Black Book of Junk Science.
#26. Scott Gottlieb Is Right Choice to Lead FDA
April 4, 2017
Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a medical school professor with bureaucratic know-how and a long, pro-science resume. That makes him an excellent choice to head the Food and Drug Administration.
#25. Cancer Fear-Mongering Has Got to Stop
January 24, 2017
Imagine what a typical American might do for breakfast: Fry a few slices of bacon, slather Nutella on a piece of toast, and pour a hot cup of coffee while checking e-mail on a smartphone. If we are to believe everything we read in the news, then that rather common daily ritual could cause you to die from cancer.
#24. Junk Science Is No Way to Win a Jackpot
November 17, 2016
A jury in St. Louis awarded a woman over $70 million last month because her lawyers convinced a jury that talcum (baby) powder caused her ovarian cancer. This is the third jackpot verdict issued by a jury in that city against Johnson & Johnson. Since sharks are smelling blood in the water, surely more lawsuits will follow.
#23. Can $3 Billion Cure Zuckerberg’s Ego?
September 29, 2016
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, have announced a 10-year, $3-billion initiative to “cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children’s lifetime.” Hopefully, one of the conditions they will try to cure is the couple’s sizable ego.
#22. Let Grad Students Teach Science to Kids
September 7, 2016
It is no secret that the U.S. spends more money per K-12 pupil than most other countries, yet American students consistently rank in the middle of the pack against their peers. In the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, measured against their counterparts in 34 developed nations, U.S. students ranked 27th in mathematics and 20th in science.
#21. Hot Water Causes Cancer? Don’t Believe It
August 10, 2016
If nanny state critics want a fine example of regulation gone wild, they should look to the World Health Organization. The group’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has given us a reason to fire up our espresso machines by declaring that coffee does not cause cancer. But don’t celebrate too hard. The IARC also says that any very hot drink probably causes cancer, including hot water.
#20. Would President Trump Be a Science Guy?
May 23, 2016
Science is one of America’s most important strategic resources. With just 5% of earth’s population, we produce over 30% of the world’s science and lead the world in Nobel prizes. Now that Donald Trump has a realistic chance of becoming the 45th president of the United States, it’s time to ask: What would that mean for American research?
#19. Mosquitoes, This Time It Is War
February 4, 2016
The Zika virus, which is spreading like wildfire throughout the Americas and is linked to a head-shrinking birth defect called microcephaly, is just the latest in a long list of mosquito-transmitted diseases that make the insects the world’s deadliest animal. It is time to launch a global initiative to eradicate them.
#18. Dolezal’s Delusion
June 29, 2015
Contrary to much of the racial identity debate, race is far from a social construct.
#17. Jail ‘Anti-Vax’ Parents
January 27, 2015
The entirely preventable California measles outbreak has now sickened more than 70 people. With perhaps hundreds more exposed, the outbreak will likely continue.
#16. CDC Lost Its Ebola Gamble
October 24, 2014
The Ebola situation is testing the world’s best infectious disease team, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at its ability to perform crisis management. While the immediate threat in the United States appears to be receding, it is far from clear that we’re up to facing a stronger test.
#15. Minimum Wage Law Broken in Two Ways
May 29, 2014
President Obama is urging the nation to adopt a $10.10 minimum wage. Most Americans agree that it is time for a pay increase. Before we rush into this, however, we ought to consider overhauling the entire minimum-wage law because it is fundamentally broken in two major ways.
#14. Obama Must Take Hit for Pot Talk
February 4, 2014
The apparent heroin overdose death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who first used drugs decades ago, is a reminder of just how difficult it is to get a handle on drug abuse and the youth culture that enables it. One reason for the surge in heroin use over the past five years is a crackdown on the abuse of prescription opiate painkillers. Addicts might simply be substituting one drug for a related one.
#13. Politicians Throw Science Under the Bus
January 2, 2014
The latest international exams — which show that students from the U.S. rank 21st and 26th in science and math, respectively — once again confirm a pattern that emerged in 1964 with the First International Mathematics Study: Compared with their counterparts abroad, American kids are decidedly mediocre.
#12. ‘Dr. No’ a Good Steward of Our Money
August 12, 2013
Late last month, the National Science Foundation decided to stop funding new political science grants through the end of 2013. Predictably, political scientists are outraged. But so are hard science researchers.
#11. Beware of Stem Cell Therapy Claims
May 16, 2013
Angelina Jolie courageously announced Tuesday that she underwent a preventative double mastectomy after genetic testing showed she had a high probability of developing breast and ovarian cancer, which she followed up with reconstructive surgery of her breasts. Not only does this highlight the promise of medical research and biotechnology, undoubtedly, Jolie’s willingness to publicize her decision will encourage other women who find themselves in similar circumstances.
#10. Humanity is Not a Plague on Earth
March 5, 2013
In January, David Attenborough, an internationally renowned host of nature documentaries, revealed how disconnected he is from nature. Mankind, he recently warned, is a “plague on the earth.” He said, “Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us.” Nobody told him that world population growth is already slowing in nearly every part of the world. In many countries, demographers worry more about a shrinking population than an exploding one.
#9. Does Science Have an Honesty Problem?
November 29, 2012
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences got mainstream news media attention because it revealed that of the 2,047 scientific papers that had been retracted over the past seven decades, 67% were because of misconduct, such as inventing results or plagiarism. Admittedly, that sounds terrible. Does science have an honesty problem? Not really.
#8. Stealth War to Redefine Science
September 28, 2012
In our state of political gridlock, the scientific community fears the impact of the looming federal budget cuts known as “sequestration.” But there is something else they should be fearful of: the redefining of science itself.
#7. Congress Isn’t Qualified to Investigate the CDC
July 2, 2012
A recent air leak from a laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is a very serious security breach that has the potential to harm both employees and the public. These labs study dangerous pathogens, such as influenza, tuberculosis and rabies.
But fear not, Americans: Congress has assembled a team mostly of lawyers to solve this leak problem…
#6. Quit Fretting. U.S. Is Fine in Science Education
June 3, 2012
Pop quiz. What year was this written? “Our once unchallenged pre-eminence in commerce, industry, science and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. … The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity.”
2012? 2004? 2000? Try 1983.
#5. What Science, Libertarianism Have in Common
March 18, 2012
What is it about Ron Paul that so many people find intellectually appealing? Perhaps it is his frankness and candor, a rare trait in politicians. But I think it goes far beyond that. Paul — and libertarian philosophy in general — tackles government policy the same way a researcher tackles an experiment.
#4. Four Ways to Fix Our Broken Election System
November 7, 2011
One thing upon which most Republicans, Democrats and independents seem to agree is that America’s political system is dysfunctional. This became crystal clear recently when the world watched, aghast, as the U.S. bickered over how to pay its bills. Such immaturity from our leaders in Washington is at least partially responsible for the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of our credit rating.
With millions of Americans heading to the polls today, and the presidential election just a year away, it is time to consider reforms that could help change two destructive features of American politics: partisan gridlock and the never-ending election cycle, both of which feed upon the other.
#3. GOP Might Be Anti-Science, But So Are Democrats
September 20, 2011
The notion that Republicans are uniquely anti-science is an oft-repeated theme in American political discourse. Every election cycle, Democrats salivate over opportunities to indicate how scientifically illiterate they believe Republicans to be. And all too often, the news media happily play along without pausing to analyze whether it is actually true.
#2. When ‘Science’ Looks for Sexism, It Finds It
July 26, 2011
When is a science paper not really a science paper? It’s when the scientific method has been hijacked to promote a clearly stated ideological agenda.
#1. Order in the Court: Science Does Matter
March 8, 2011
When I received my jury summons in the mail, I had the same reaction most Americans must: “No! Why me, and why now?” I resolved to do whatever it took to get out of this legally mandated fiasco as soon as possible.
Sour disposition in tow, I reported for duty at the courthouse weeks later. It was immediately obvious I had entered a foreign country; an actual scientist in a jury box was about as welcome as a Yankees fan at Fenway Park.