RealClearScience’s Most Controversial Articles of 2013

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.

This doesn’t make everybody happy. From alternative medicine to creationism, all too many people hold on to ideas that are rejected by science. Pointing this out is something of an occupational hazard for science writers, since overturning the apple cart tends to make some people really, really mad.

So, with that in mind, we present the most controversial articles that RealClearScience writers produced in 2013:

On General Science

Settled Science That Is ‘Controversial’
20 Tips for Analyzing Claims of a Scientific Study

On Science and Politics

A Skeleton in America’s Closet
‘Union of Concerned Scientists’ Are Charlatans
The Scientific Hypocrisy of Paul Krugman
Why Is a Socialist Allowed to Teach Economics?

On Science Policy

Climate Change Isn’t World’s Biggest Problem
The Arrogance of a Well-Fed Society
We Should Approve ‘Three-Parent’ Embryos
A Science-Based Abortion Policy Is Impossible
Creationism in Schools: Wisdom from Star Trek
The Correlation Between Guns and Homicide Rate
Guns Neither Increase nor Decrease Crime Rate
Massive Review Reveals Consensus on GMO Safety

On Pseudoscience

The Biggest Junk Science Stories of 2013
Science Says, ‘Good Riddance, Sen. Tom Harkin’
Bill O’Reilly Embraces Gluten-Free Pseudoscience
Acupuncture: 3,000 Studies & More Research Not Needed
5 Easy Tips for Denying Scientific Consensus

On Common Sense

If Your Theory Requires Wormholes, Try Again
How Can Americans Be Both Obese and Starving?
Same-Sex Attraction Not Contagious Among Adolescents
Why You Should Never Hit Your Dog

On Unconventional Wisdom

Antibiotic Protects Men from Attractive Women
Monsanto: More Saint than Sinner
The Flimsy Evidence for Flossing

On Science and Religion

Jerry Coyne’s Twisted History of Science & Religion
The Very Strange World of PZ Myers
Richard Dawkins Is Wrong About Religion
Belief in Angry God Associated with Poor Mental Health

On Portland

We Made Portland Angry. We Don’t Apologize