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

Rare Weather Patterns Can Trigger Tsunamis

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The deadliest tsunami in world history struck southeast Asia on Boxing Day 2004 following a behemoth 9.1-magnitude earthquake. Several years later, in March 2011, another tsunami hit Japan, again following a 9.0-magnitude quake. It is not a surprise, then, that geophysicist Gerard Fryer considers earthquakes to be the most common cause of tsunamis. But, they are not the only cause. Landslides are the second most common cause, such as the ones that generated tsunamis in Lake Geneva and Doggerland, a now submerged region of land in the North Sea that once connected Britain to mainland Europe. Continue reading

In Germany, Anti-Americanism Goes on Display

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

I will never forget my first trip to Germany.

My father-in-law was at the wheel as we drove across the Polish border into the German state of Brandenburg. The countryside highway was immaculate: Free of potholes and lined with trees for as far as the eye could see. It was crystal clear from the scenery alone that we had entered a very different land. Continue reading

Unlike U.S. Politicians, British Pols Have Class

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

Concession speeches by politicians in America generally go something like this:

I called my opponent to offer my congratulations. [Crowd boos.] Though we didn’t win this fight, I know our values are America’s values. [Yay!] I will continue to fight hard for you. [Yay!] God bless America! [Yay!]

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Paleoconservatives Are Wrong About Putin

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

The American Conservative prides itself on paleoconservatism, an ideology which quite rightly rejects the neoconservative worldview of Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and the military adventurism of the George W. Bush administration. Unfortunately, the publication gets a lot of other things wrong. Continue reading

Anti-Vax Parents Face Jail in Europe, Africa

This article was originally posted at RealClearScience.

In late January, I wrote a controversial op-ed for USA Today on how jail should be an option for parents who endanger their children and society at large by refusing vaccines. I received plenty of hate mail for that — mostly in the form of four-letter words, Nazi comparisons, and vague death threats. However, before you turn your keyboard into an instrument of revenge, I would like to further elaborate on what I feel is a very, very important issue — perhaps the most important issue we have ever discussed at RealClearScience. Continue reading

Now Is a Great Time to Go to Europe

This article was originally posted on RealClearWorld.

My wife and I travel to Europe about every eight months. (Photographs? I thought you’d never ask!) In order to minimize costs, we closely monitor exchange rates, preferring to book trips when the rate is favorable.

Currently, 1 U.S. dollar purchases 0.89 euros. The exchange rate hasn’t been this good for American travelers since September 2003. (See chart.)

It’s raining euros, hallelujah! (Credit: European Central Bank)

The good news (for Americans travelers and European exporters, but not necessarily anybody else) is that the euro is expected to keep falling. In fact, The Economist predicts that the U.S. dollar may reach parity with the euro sometime this year. That hasn’t happened since November 2002.

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