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.

Science Issues 2016: Trump vs. Clinton

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The 2016 presidential election has been conspicuously light on substance, particularly on matters of science and policy. In an effort to provide some clarity to voters who place an emphasis on science, we have created a chart that scores the presumptive Republican and Democratic Party candidates on key scientific issues. Please keep in mind three major caveats. Continue reading

Mosquitoes, This Time It Is War

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. Read the rest at USA Today.

‘Pro-Science’ Democrats Reject Biotechnology

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Imagine if Congress voted on whether or not to teach evolution and climate change in school. And imagine that 73% of Republicans voted against it. The backlash would be easy to predict: The national media, and science journalists in particular, would spend a week making somber declarations of impending educational and scientific collapse that would reverberate across the cosmos.

As it so happens, Congress did just vote on something of tremendous scientific importance: Biotechnology. And, as it so happens, 73% of Democrats voted against the bill. Yet, the national media remained deafeningly and hypocritically silent.  Continue reading

Dr. Oz Hires a Clone to Be His ‘Fact-Checker’

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

There was a brief glimmer of hope that Dr. Oz had changed. In response to criticism that received national attention, the dangerous, money-grubbing quack who makes a mockery of medical science and pollutes our national airwaves issued a press release stating that he has hired Dr. Michael Crupain, who will be “responsible for researching and vetting scripts, evaluating expert guests, ordering and editing medical animations and overseeing liaisons with the show’s Medical Advisory Board. He will also lead efforts to enhance the show’s ongoing dialogue with the medical community.”

That job description is essentially for a fact-checker. Finally, facts matter to Dr. Oz. Right? Continue reading

Will Propane-Making Bacteria Revolutionize Energy?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Propane is the fossil fuel of red-blooded Americans. What poolside or tailgating experience would be complete without firing up the gas grill and torching some meat? (I know, I know… there are charcoal devotees out there.) Even metropolitan mass transit systems are getting in on the excitement. Fleets of buses that run on “LPG” (liquefied petroleum gas) are burning a mixture of propane and butane.

Currently, propane is extracted from natural gas or crude oil. But, in the long run, this is neither a sustainable nor an environmentally friendly practice. Burning propane extracted from the earth is also not carbon-neutral, though it is better than combusting oil or coal. Thus, researchers are looking for ways to produce renewable “fossil fuels” through the use of alternative technologies, such as synthetic biology. Last year, for instance, scientists engineered E. coli to churn out a biofuel that resembled gasoline. 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

The Lies that Whole Foods Tells

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The organic food market is estimated at $63 billion globally, with more than half of those sales occuring in the United States. (If “natural products” are included, the organic market is $290 billion in the U.S. alone.) It’s no wonder, then, why Wal-Mart and other mainstream retailers are jumping onto the organic bandwagon. There is an awful lot of money to be made. Continue reading

The Scientifically Unengaged Drive Biotechnology Debates

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

A lot of ink has been spilled over who is responsible for the pervasive anti-scientific and technophobic attitudes held by the public. Conservatives blame liberals, liberals blame conservatives, and atheists blame anybody who believes in God. But a new review by Australian researchers Craig Cormick and Lygia Romanach in Trends in Biotechnology suggests the possibility of a completely different, and even counterintuitive, answer: The scientifically disinterested. Continue reading