1. Nutella scare redux. After we criticized the EU food safety in USA Today for its badly-reasoned claim that nutella was going to give people cancer, they have promised to reexamine palm oil health risks. That's a win for science, health and evidence-based thinking a sign that governments are being forced to steer away from epidemiological associations - and find evidence for a biological mechanism. That last part is what environmental activists fear.
2. Why is "free market" in quotes, in a Forbes blog of all places? A blogger at the Forbes open blogging site is against e-cigarettes, they blow up on everyone, etc. and uses that as a justification for more government. In opposition, we get called a "free market" supporter of being anti-smoking.
Well, yeah. What is more free market than science? Yes, 40 percent of basic research is government-controlled, but 60 percent is not, and applied science is 100 percent. Science requires freedom. Scientists know this even if bloggers don't. And what is more free market than giving people an alternative to addictive cigarettes rather than banning them.
It's true, as the popularity of vaping devices has boomed, some are dangerous. It's no secret that pressure on a battery can lead to terrible consequences, as we have seen with the Galaxy Note and those electric skateboard things.
It's true we did advocate for a later 'grandfather' date for vaping devices than what the FDA eventually chose, and we lost that fight, as did millions of users who will now be "casual criminals", but the FDA was also shown to be colluding with journalists to get support for a decision it had already been made, for reasons that had nothing to do with public health.
You'd think, given that reality, everyone would be asking for more "free market" thinking.
3. Stink bug stress. At Newser, Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, links to our article discussing how bugs release an odor when under stress—being smushed by a wine press is likely stressful—and the result can be stink-bug-flavored win. You may like cilantro, or coriander, or whatever we are supposed to call it now, but you probably don't want it in your wine.
4. On Science 2.0, they note that marijauna has gotten not only a free pass, but kind of a health halo, and none of it makes sense. This stuff is linked to solving a dozen different problems, which no compound can do. It's more like acupuncture or homeopathy than science. But smoking advocates have a retort for that too; it hasn't been studied enough to condemn it.
The article shows that students who try marijuana younger do more poorly on cognitive tests. In meaner moments, I have also said that smoking is a bit of an IQ test by now, and that is a confounder in this study. People who smoke are prone to all kinds of risky and even destructive behavior. So marijuana may not have caused the cognitive detriment, it may be that only people with a cognitive detriment smoke. Which is a much easier problem to solve.
5. The Science March may not be science at all. Last week, Alex Berezow pleaded with the folks behind the "Science March" - a protest of Trump administration personnel and policy decisions his first week - to not be hijacked by politics.
There were worrisome signs it was a partisan and not a science effort even then. None of the mission statement included contentious science issues like support of evidence-based medicine, agricultural science or energy science.
And they had already posted literal signs that were designed to engage in wedge politics.
It's no secret that more right-wing people than left deny things like global warming and evolution. It is also no secret that more left-wing people than right deny GMOs, vaccines and any energy science that isn't solar.
To those people, science is not a liberal conspiracy, it is a corporate one. Yet the organizers don't mention any of that. Instead, they make special note that science means whatever they want it to mean.
But don't say anything critical. Science has plenty of its own militants and if you ask any awkward questions like what the real goal is, they will turn on you.