The New York Times Should Seriously Consider Not Writing About Science Anymore

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

G.K. Chesterton once quipped, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” He was speaking of the most important things in life, such as faith, volunteering, and parenting. He was not speaking of journalism. That, if done badly, should be ceased. Continue reading

Chris Matthews’ Sick Obsession with Racism

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Those of you unfortunate enough to watch more than 30 seconds of Hardball with Chris Matthews have likely learned that the host, and the American left-wing in general, has a peculiar obsession with racism. It is not an exaggeration to say that “Republican racism” has been a major theme (if not the major theme) of his show for the past seven years. In his latest rant, he concludes that Republican opposition to President Obama, from Day One, is largely explained by racism. In his own toxic words: “The age of Jim Crow managed to find a new habitat in the early 21st Century Republican Party.” Continue reading

Net Neutrality: Obamacare for the Internet?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Fox News is in a tizzy over net neutrality. (This topic has been covered extensively in the technology press; see the archive at RealClearTechnology.) In a nutshell, net neutralityrequires internet service providers (ISPs, such as Comcast, Cox, and Verizon) to treat all data equally. An ISP would not be allowed to commit high-tech acts of extortion by, for instance, threatening websites with slower internet speeds unless they fork over extra cash. Continue reading

The Nastiest Hate Mail We Have Ever Received

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

President Harry Truman is alleged to have said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” Though it is unclear to whom the aphorism should actually be attributed, there is no doubting its veracity. The truth of the statement, however, extends far beyond DC and politics. Just ask a journalist. Continue reading

Phil Plait’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

The Apocalypse is here.

Science writer Phil Plait’s worst nightmare came true. The Republicans won control of the U.S. Senate. What can we expect to happen? In Plait’s words, the Republicans will “put a cohort of science-deniers [sic] into positions of authority,” which “quite literally affects the future of humanity.” Why? Because, now, the United States will no longer be able to address climate change, “the single greatest threat we as a species face today.” Continue reading

How to Make Scientists Publish the Truth

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

John Ioannidis is (in)famous in the scientific community. Using straightforward logic and statistics, he convincingly demonstrated that most published research articles are wrong. This is not because scientists are liars and crooks, but because studies often do not have large enough sample sizes or are testing unlikely hypotheses. Ioannidis’s revelation sent a shock wave through the biomedical community. Partially in response to his findings, biomedical scientists began to embrace reforms in scientific publishing, such as using more open access journals and publishing replications and negative data.

Now, in a new paper in PLoS Medicine, Dr. Ioannidis proposes additional reforms. Continue reading

Changing the World, One Tweet at a Time

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

It is easy for journalists to succumb to the notion that we make very little difference in this world. According to Pew, only 28% of Americans believe journalists contribute “a lot” to society, while 27% believe journalists contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all.” And aGallup poll showed that only about 20% of Americans believe that reporters are honest and ethical. On the bright side, at least we beat out car salesmen (9%), Congressmen (8%), and lobbyists (6%). Huzzah! Continue reading

What RealClearScience Is For and Against

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

One of the hazards of science journalism is the regularity with which we are called names, by both the Left and the Right. “Shills for Monsanto,” “lackeys for the pharmaceutical industry,” “enablers of the global warming hoax,” and (of course) “Nazis” are some of the nicer things that have been said. But just like an auto mechanic who spends his day with oily, greasy hands, we too don’t mind getting a little dirtied up for the sake of science. It’s all in a day’s work. Continue reading

Outbreak of Political Correctness in Science Media

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The American media is widely perceived to lean to the Left. Though most journalists won’t openly admit the fact, it is indisputably true. As reported in the Washington Post, a 2014 study showed that among journalists Democrats outnumber Republicans by four to one. (The exact numbers were: 28.1% Democrat, 7.1% Republican, 50.2% Independent, and 14.6% “other” — whatever that means.) It is impossible to know exactly what to make of the roughly 65% of journalists who refused to put a label on themselves, but it is perhaps safe to assume that Left-leaning independents outnumber Right-leaning independents by the same margin. After all, about 93% of DC-based journalists vote Democrat, and 65% of donations from journalists went to Democrats in 2010. Continue reading

Costco ‘Teaches the Controversy’ over GMOs

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Admittedly, I’m not a big shopper. My wife, however, can spend hours in a single department store at the mall. One of her favorite places is Costco, a store that she might successfully drag me to once every five years. Somehow, she manages to go every week. If any of our neighbors ever runs out of cereal or toilet paper, we’ve definitely got them covered. Continue reading