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Monthly Archives: May 2015

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Thanks to Mike Rowe, we know that chicken sexer, horse inseminator, and sewer inspector are among the dirtiest jobs in America. But the dirtiest jobs are not necessarily the most dangerous. For that information, we must consult the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read More »

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

It’s time to end the federal porn subsidy.

You might be asking, What federal porn subsidy? Fair question. Technically, there isn’t a federal porn subsidy. However, if we borrow some of the logic commonly used by politically driven economists, we can redefine the word subsidy to mean whatever we want. Read More »

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. Read More »

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Something has happened at Slate. Until relatively recently, Slate‘s science page produced so much amazingly good content that we were tempted to link to them multiple times per day. In our 2013 list of the Top 10 Science News Sites, we awarded them an honorable mention.

But, that was then. Now, for some reason, Slate‘s science page has partially abandoned its strong tradition of in-depth analysis to promote an angry, opinion-driven reportage that is mostly aimed at insulting Republicans and Christians.

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This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Suicide remains a deeply strange phenomenon. Its disturbing nature is likely bolstered by what we perceive to be a grotesque violation of our basic biological strive for survival. Though biomedical science has exterminated many of the ailments which cut human life short in previous generations, it has yet to conquer the demons that haunt our minds. Suicide is a problem in rich and poor countries alike, and perhaps the most paradoxical study of the subject found that suicide rates tend to be highest in places with the highest levels of happiness. Read More »

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

Shark Tank is one of my favorite television shows. Though its depiction of the angel investor/venture capital world is a bit skewed, it provides an amazing insight into the heart of American capitalism. Indeed, the show easily disproves the myth oft-repeated by certain politicians that “rich people don’t create jobs.” Yes, they do. Start-ups, which directly create jobs, often rely on the beneficence of monumentally rich investors to get their businesses off the ground. Shark Tank, therefore, provides Americans with a basic, 101-level course in entrepreneurialism.

Unfortunately, one of the lessons of entrepreneurialism is that “money matters more than science.” If a buck can be made, few business owners care if their products make a mockery of science. Businesses that peddle unscientific organic food regularly appear on Shark Tank. The owners proudly proclaim that their product has been selling well at Whole Foods — a business that blatantly lies to its customers — after which they often walk away with a sizable investment from the sharks. As a scientist, I am appalled by this. Read More »

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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This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Life is capable of thriving in the most inhospitable places. The photograph above, which I took on my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park, shows Morning Glory Pool, a hot spring that is a short hike from Old Faithful. It’s named after the purplish-blue morning glory flower, but the pool no longer has that color, which was due to a particular type of thermophilic (heat-loving) microbe. That is because ignoramuses threw coins and other debris into the pool, blocking the vents and lowering its temperature, which allowed microbes of other colors to grow.

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GIVE someone who is sick a sugar pill that you have told him is a powerful drug, and it will often make him feel better. Even if you tell him what it really is, he may still feel better. The placebo effect, as this phenomenon is known—from the Latin for “I shall please”—is one of the strangest things in medical science. It is a boon to doctors and a bane of those running clinical trials, who must take account of it in their designs. But how it works is obscure. Read the rest at The Economist.