News and Views

Back when I was editor of RealClearScience, Slate's science page was a daily must-read. Now, I never read it because the quality of its reportage has fallen dramatically and because I grew tired of Phil Plait deceiving readers about science policy and posting selfies with his goat.

There are plenty of other reasons to avoid Slate. Perhaps the best is that the site is enamored with publishing contrarian news articles. Their formula is time-tested: (1) Take a statement that is obviously stupid; (2) Write a headline vigorously...

2016 was a year to forget. A rough-and-tumble election, partisan rhetoric and "fake news," and the loss of many beloved and talented people -- from Prince to Carrie Fisher -- made this calendar cycle a bit more difficult than most. Surely, 2017 must have something better in store.

To ensure that it does, we all must resolve to make it so. And as a science journalist, I can do my part by adopting these four resolutions. I hope other journalists join me.

(1) We resolve to be as objective as humanly possible. Total objectivity is impossible. Even if we do not have strong political leanings, all humans differ in their priorities and values. That alone prevents 100% objectivity. (For instance, I believe biomedical science is far more important than climate...

In Britain, Careline is a service much like LifeCall – you know, help me I can’t get up. It is offered, is far as I can tell by the local government of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk. For a sum of a little over $26/month you get a pendant, answered within 16 seconds, to assist you. As with the US equivalents, medical help is dispatched to your aid. But what I found fascinating was that one of the towns that provide this service had added a new surcharge – dubbed by critics as a ‘falling fee.’

 

“At the moment, Careline users who fall at home have to wait for a...

In the last week, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posted a final regulation [1] initiating a demonstration project involving the bundling of care for two new diagnostic categories. First, acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) – heart attacks including their medical and minimally invasive treatment (coronary artery angioplasty and stents) and second, coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) – surgery to improve/restore circulation to the heart arteries.

And I should care why?  For two reasons. First Congressman Tom Price the presumptive new Health and Human Services Secretary feels the...

Representing a cross between brilliant engineering and maximum product efficiency, in which the smallest particles of a valuable substance are put to extraordinary use, a team of scientists has created electrical wiring from the absolute smallest pieces of diamonds.

How small, you ask? 

The researchers used material called "diamondoids" – microscopic dust if you will, called "cages," that contain hydrogen and just 10 carbon atoms.

The scientific team is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Accelerator Laboratory, working at Stanford University in California. And we're not talking about wires that connect the cable box to your television; these are futuristic superconductors that could potentially transmit electricity with 100 percent efficiency –...

On the First Day of Christmas, ACSH gave to me... The End of the NRDC

On the Second Day of Christmas, ACSH gave to me... Two Killer Coffees

On the Third Day of Christmas, ACSH gave to me... Three French Fries

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, ACSH gave to me... Four Science Quacks

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, ACSH gave to me......

If you watched the 2016 summer Olympics swimmers — especially super-star Michael Phelps — you could hardly avoid noticing what looked like great big hickeys on various spots on their bodies — like these:

But no, these aren't hickeys, they're the results of an ancient Chinese/Egyptian technique called cupping. A therapist puts special cups, which might be made of glass, bamboo, silicone or earthenware, on your skin to create a vacuum. The cups contain a flammable substance (e.g. alcohol, herbs or paper) which are set on fire: when the fire goes out, the cups are placed on the skin. As the air inside the cups cools, it contracts, setting up a vacuum which exerts a...

2016 may go down as "The Year of the Stoner," as marijuana's surge toward legality really got moving. Despite being classified by the DEA as a Schedule I drug (no approved medical use, high addiction potential—the same as heroin) (1) 26 states  and Washington D.C. have already legalized the drug for either medical, recreational purposes, with other states ready to move forward. But, because of crazy, conflicting laws, you can't ship the stuff across state lines because that violates federal law—even if it is legal in both states (2). Duh? 

 

The...

Dipping a toe into the waters of dental issues associated with scuba diving, a DDS-to-be wants to alert divers to the fact that taking the plunge can exacerbate problems with unhealthy teeth and loose fillings.

The researcher, a student in the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, began a small survey of divers on a personal instinct that underwater conditions worsen existing dental problems.

The curiosity of the student, Vinisha Ranna, Bachelor of Dental Surgery, deepened after her own underwater excursion three years ago, when she experienced a "squeezing sensation in her teeth, a condition known as barodontalgia." And when Ms. Ranna subsequently found that there wasn't much clinical research previously done, she decided to dive into the topic herself.

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Standing on the doorstep of 2017, we can only wonder which anti-science voices will be the loudest next year, as we consider how best to debunk their anti-science messages... 

We were skeptical of the appointment of Mark Bittman to the faculty of Columbia's School of Public Health last month. This esteemed position will, undoubtedly resurrect his message from its death last year when he left The New York Times. Since leaving his position, we have had a brief respite from hearing the importance of eating vegan and labeling of GMOs. Mr. Bittman (not Dr. Mark Bittman, nor Mark Bittman, Ph.D.) is not only unqualified for such an esteemed appointment (one that academics spend their entire career working toward) but, his prescriptive views on food are simply not obtainable...