Timidity and a Hostility to Competition Have Left Europe a Scientific Wasteland

A recent study published in the Oxford journal Science and Public Policy reveals the harsh reality of the state of science in the European Union: “Europe lags far behind the USA in the production of important, highly cited research.” Read the rest at The Telegraph.

Merkel Can’t Lead Germany, Much Less the Free World

Angela Merkel is likely cruising to an easy re-election as Germany’s chancellor. Because many pundits in America refer to her as the “leader of the free world,” it is tempting to speculate that her electoral success is due to keen wisdom and firm leadership. In reality, quite the opposite is the case. In many ways, Angela Merkel is Germany’s Bill Clinton, minus the philandering. Read the rest at The National Interest.

Drug Supplies: Track Marks

MOST of the world’s supply of cocaine comes from just three South American countries: Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Much of it is headed for the United States and Europe. Law-enforcement officials from America patrol international waters in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific, hoping to seize cocaine shipments before they reach their intended destinations. When they succeed in nabbing any smugglers, contraband samples are sent to chemists to help determine the source. Read the rest at The Economist.

Maths Study Shows Conspiracies ‘Prone to Unravelling’

It’s difficult to keep a conspiracy under wraps, scientists say, because sooner or later, one of the conspirators will blow its cover. A study has examined how long alleged conspiracies could “survive” before being revealed – deliberately or unwittingly – to the public at large. Read the rest at BBC News

Real-Time Reaction Polls Distort TV Debates

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

A few election cycles ago, a new feature was introduced to televised debates: The real-time reaction tracker. A small focus group of two dozen or so individuals use dials to indicate how much they agree or disagree with the statements being made by politicians during the debate. An aggregated average of these responses is then displayed in real-time for the viewing audience to see. Fascinatingly, this instant reaction poll appears to influence the opinions of the millions of people watching the debate at home. Continue reading

Shroud of Turin DNA Comes from All over World

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The Shroud of Turin, the supposed burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, has remained an object of fascination for the Christian faithful and scientists alike. Those who would suggest a supernatural origin nearly 2,000 years ago must contend with radiocarbon evidence, which dates the shroud to approximately the 13th or 14th Centuries. Those who would suggest a medieval European origin must contend with a rather large controversy over the accuracy of the sample used for dating, as well as historical evidence to the contrary. Additionally, despite extensive analysis, nobody knows how the image of a buried man was created on the shroud. In Facebook terms, the shroud’s status remains “complicated.” Continue reading

Britain Is Now a One-Party System, But That Could Change…

Before the British election in May, political analysts were nearly unanimous in their prophesying: The United Kingdom was entering a new era of politics in which it would be joining the rest of the continent in the chaotic world of multiparty coalition governments. The Conservative-Labour duopoly was declared dead. As is so often the case, the prognosticators were only half right. Labour is, indeed, dead. The Conservatives, on the other hand, are alive and kicking and will likely rule Britain for at least the next decade in what will be a de facto one-party system. Read the rest at The National Interest.

Policies to Mitigate Climate Change Could Increase Global Hunger

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

It is generally accepted as gospel truth among climate scientists and science writers that the world must immediately and drastically reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent apocalyptic climate change. Though RCS’s editorial stance toward apocalyptic climate change is one of skepticism — largely because doomsday prophets, be they the scientific or religious type, have always been wrong — we freely admit that a catastrophic outcome is a possibility and radical measures may be necessary. (At this time, however, we believe that the best policy is the gradual lowering of carbon emissions through the implementation of a carbon tax.)

Whatever combination of climate solutions the world decides to implement, a new analysis in Environmental Science & Technology reminds us that all policies bear costs and unintended consequences. In the case of greenhouse gas reductions, the unintended consequence may be an increased risk of global hunger. Continue reading