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Monthly Archives: December 2013

THE European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy gets a lot of flak. Critics lambast it for illogical subsidies, onerous regulations and vast expense. It might even cause allergies. Read the rest at The Economist.

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

One of the best things about science is that, out of all human endeavors, it is the one most concerned with establishing demonstrable facts. Unlike in say, politics or law, opinion only matters inasmuch as it is supported by data. Science, therefore, is a world where truth trumps ideology.

In a way, that means science writers have the easiest job in journalism. There is no need to report a “balanced” perspective on matters in which there is little divergence in expert opinion. Conflicting viewpoints are noted if and only if sufficient evidence exists to the contrary. Put succinctly, science journalists report the best science available, and unsubstantiated speculations are thrown into the dustbin. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Migraine sufferers will do almost anything to prevent or reduce the pain of migraines. Different techniques seem to work for different people. For me, drinking coffee, laying down in a dark and quiet room or taking a hot shower is often helpful. If those methods don’t work, there are also many effective medications, such as sumatriptan and eletriptan. However, life would be much better if there was a more systematic, evidence-based approach to preventing migraines in the first place. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Bitcoin, the digital currency du jour, is a bit of an economic curiosity. Unlike gold, it has no intrinsic value. Unlike a currency issued by a country, its price is not affected by GDP, inflation, interest rates or any other typical macroeconomic indicator. So what gives Bitcoin value, and what is behind its incredible price volatility? Supply and demand. And since supply is already predetermined by an algorithm, demand is the biggest factor driving both its value and volatility. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

We recently published a list of the 10 Biggest Junk Science Stories of 2013. At #5, was the rejection of water fluoridation by the citizens of Portland.

The left-wing alternative newspaper Willamette Week was particularly unhappy with the placement, calling RealClearScience a “national lab-rat news aggregator.” Our editorial team thinks that was meant to be an insult, but nobody is quite certain. We like lab rats. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

The CDC has released rather sobering data on the large discrepancy between the races (white, black, Hispanic) in regard to teenage pregnancy and abortion rates. The data below is from 2009 and represents teens aged 15-19.

Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Several high-profile suicides among former NFL players have stirred a debate over whether or not repetitive concussions in violent sports such as football can cause cognitive decline later in life. This neurodegenerative condition has been called CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Read More »

WINE, any connoisseur will tell you, is a living thing. And as with other organisms, for it, too, oxygen is a mixed blessing. The element breathes life, but it—or strictly speaking reactive oxygen species (ROS), the byproducts of the process through which cells extract energy from nutrients—can be toxic. Oxygen plays a role in red wines’ normal ageing process. However, through ROS, it can lay waste whites. Read the rest at The Economist.

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

As a species, we have much to be proud of: We have tamed the wild beasts, we have built wonders of the world, and we have landed on the moon. Of course, we believe that we are quite deserving of our privileged position. After all, we won the evolutionary arms race, climbing and clawing and intellectualizing our way to the top of the food chain over the course of millions of years. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Everybody in Seattle knows Jeff Renner. He’s the weather guy on KING5 News, the local NBC affiliate. Each night at around 11:15 p.m., he provides us with little nuggets of knowledge, from the extended forecast to the type of tires we should use when crossing the mountains.

Like all scientists, Mr. Renner has his own special lexicon. Meteorologists are known to use some phrases which may not make an awful lot of sense to the average person. For instance, you might very well hear your weather guy (or gal) say, “The barometic pressure is 30.2 inches and falling.” What on Earth does that mean? Well, it helps to know a little chemistry. Read More »