Policy and Ethics

Literacy is typically defined as the ability to read and write and do basic math. However, in the 21st Century, that is simply insufficient. To be a truly literate member of society -- and to have a government capable of enacting competent policies -- one must have a fundamental grasp of science, technology, and economics.

By that expanded definition, America (along with the rest of the world) has an enormous illiteracy problem.

How else can we explain that 1 in 6 Americans either think vaccines are unsafe or don't know? How can we explain that...

If I were working at the Cleveland Clinic, you could probably find me hiding under the bed right now. Out of shame.

For reasons only they know, the clinic employs a crackpot named Daniel Neides. Worse still, he is a physician. Even worse is that he is given a forum to share his supernaturally inaccurate thoughts with the public. He did just this in a new opinion piece called "Make 2017 the year to avoid toxins (good luck) and master your domain: Words on Wellness."

It is so full of inaccuracies and garbage science that if I'm in the process of choosing hospitals in the area, I go elsewhere.This guy belongs on Joe Mercola's site, not in a supposedly first-rate medical facility. Below are some of Neides' statements, followed by my comments.

Neides- With...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been grooming selected journalists to give favorable treatment to government findings, and even FDA ad campaigns, by inviting them to elite briefings that other journalists could not attend – or did not know even existed – as long as these special friends in journalism played by a strict set of FDA-friendly rules, as detailed in an exposé by Charles Seife in Scientific American, which confirmed what outsiders had long suspected.

One of those obey-to-play rules was that journalists were not allowed to seek comments from outside experts, unless they were specifically approved by the FDA. In other words, journalists were...

It's approaching 2017, which means Californians have a raft of new laws to worry about. Some are outside the scope of the American Council on Science and Health, they are just pure social engineering. But some matter because other states sympathetic to California's aggressive stance on controlling science and health choices will lobby to do the same, in order that the Golden State won't be alone in showing "leadership." (a) (b)

Here are the big changes, in no particular order.

1. Felons can vote, and more people have to be let out of jail if they have a drug conviction, except for people possessing these drugs.

The police have been unhappy that Californians had gone soft on crime by downgrading drug possession from...

Opioid advocate Red Lawhern, Ph.D believes that CDC Guidelines for prescription of opioid medications to adult non-cancer chronic pain patients were decided in advance and preordained. If so, this would then add malfeasance to the stupidity that they have already displayed. I asked him to explain.

In recent months, a rising chorus of complaints has sounded on the March 2016 CDC Guidelines for prescription of opioid medications to adult non-cancer chronic pain patients.  As one group of medical professional critics phrased the issues, the Guidelines are Neat, Plausible, and Generally Wrong”. [Ref 1] Their piece and many others have enumerated a profound lack of balance, science and medical evidence behind the guidelines.  

As a...

The position of Science Czar is just one of thousands that President-Elect Trump must consider in the coming weeks. The incumbent, John Holdren, was a flawed choice. His fringe views on demographics and environmental policy, expressed in a book he co-authored with Paul Ehrlich (who notoriously wrote the now discredited The Population Bomb), should have disqualified him from the post. 

President Trump can do much better. The optimal candidate is a polymath, somebody who can quickly explain to the President anything from biotechnology to space policy. Additionally, he or she must be good at communicating; neither Mr. Trump nor his advisors are trained in...

Florida is in the middle of a major 'not in my backyard' brouhaha at the moment and biotechnology is at the center of the debate.

During the election earlier this month, Monroe County, Florida voters cast their ballots to allow the first release in the United States of genetically modified mosquitoes made by Oxitec. These mosquitoes contain a "death gene" (a more complete description of how they work can be found here.) The male mosquitoes, when released, mate with female mosquitoes to create offspring that do not survive into adulthood. The release of these mosquitoes reduces the overall population to such an extent that the spread of viruses such as Zika is...

On one thing at least, almost all Americans agree: This election cycle has been too long and depressing. When Sheryl Crow is taking time out of her busy schedule to campaign for electoral reform, it's obvious that we've hit Peak 2016.

Despite all the negativity and Apocalypse predicting, neither the world nor the United States will end if your favorite candidate loses. The 24/7 media circus wants you to believe that, however, because it helps keep them in business. Indeed, as that mildly disappointing James Bond villain* said, "There's no news like bad news."

In order to refresh our minds with some cleansing ...

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was founded with a noble goal - to put an end to environmental claims based on weak observational anecdotes, like Rachel Carson claiming that she knew people who sprayed DDT in their basement and died (1) or that cranberries were going to poison everyone.

Yet in recent years they have become complicit in just that. Their mission is to identify the causes of cancer, known as hazard identification, and not make suggestions about the degree to which each carcinogen presents a risk to public health, yet they have begun to do that all of the time. When they bizarrely claimed that...

Mafia boss

Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a geology professor at Brooklyn College and scientific advisor to ACSH, he was placed on a hit list by the academic PC mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct. And as if taken directly from the pages of a dystopian screenplay, the nature of his misconduct and the identity of his accusers -- even the existence of the investigation itself -- were withheld from him.

The drama took yet another Kafkaesque turn. When Prof Seidemann was finally notified that he had been the subject of an...