Why the Pope Should Officially Embrace Biotechnology

In May 2015, Pope Francis issued an encyclical with the subtitle “On Care for Our Common Home.” The letter addressed various environmental issues, such as pollution and climate change, and it reminded all of us that we are to steward the Earth, not plunder it.

The Pope’s missive demonstrates that he is both theologically sound and scientifically literate, a very rare combination. That is why he should now author an encyclical urging the world to embrace the life-giving promise of biotechnology.

Read the rest at Leaps Magazine.

Washington Measles Outbreak Shows Anti-Vaxxers Are Literally Making Us Sick

The State of Washington has declared an emergency because of a measles outbreak in Clark County, which is across the river from Portland, Oregon. To the surprise of no one, the outbreak has occurred, almost exclusively, among the unvaccinated. The motivation of those who refuse to vaccinate their children—whether it is fear, ideology, or thoughtlessness—is irrelevant. They are putting the safety of thousands of people at risk. Read the rest at Newsweek.

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

Macaque Experiment Shows Vaccine Schedule Not Linked to Autism

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

During the most recent Republican presidential debate, frontrunner Donald Trump once again dragged out the still widespread myth that vaccines cause autism. This dangerous fiction was debunked as early as 2002 by the New England Journal of Medicine and has been consistently contradicted by research ever since. As a result, anti-vaxxers changed strategy: Instead of blaming thimerosal for causing autism, they now focus on the vaccine schedule itself, essentially claiming that too many shots in too short of a timespan overwhelms a child’s immune system. 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

Are Liberals or Conservatives More Anti-Vaccine?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Thanks to my favorite troublemaker, Hank Campbell, the “who is more anti-vaccine” debate has sprung up again. In 2012, we co-authored a book, Science Left Behind, in which we argued that the anti-vaccine movement began with the political Left, but spread to religious conservatives and libertarians. However, because the most visible public spokespeople for the anti-vaccine movement (e.g., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Bill Maher, and Jenny McCarthy) are mostly on the political Left, we continue to believe that the Left should bear most of the blame. However, some writers argue that the anti-vaccine movement is truly a bipartisan phenomenon.

New CDC data helps shed some more light on the issue. The CDC has compiled an updated list which depicts vaccine exemption rates in each U.S. state. (See map.) Continue reading

One Thing Short and Tall Men Have in Common

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

There aren’t very many things that short and tall men have in common. Tall men make more money, have a greater choice in women, and are likelier to be elected president than their vertically challenged brethren. For all the talk of “white privilege,” maybe it is time for our culture to ponder the implications of “tall privilege.” That’s because, as a general rule, short guys have received the short end of the societal stick. (No pun intended.)

But, in at least one biological aspect, short and tall men share something in common: A less than ideal immune response. Continue reading