science and politics

One of my extended family members is a former smoker. Nagging him to stop did little good. Warning him against its health dangers produced similarly poor results. He was addicted, and he appeared to like smoking, anyway. 

Then e-cigarettes came along. After giving them a try, he quit cigarettes for good. No nagging was necessary. He received the same kick from vaping minus all the nasty smoke that makes cigarettes so dangerous. His blunted sense of smell and taste returned to normal and breathing became easier. 

His story is not unique. Many former smokers credit e-cigarettes with changing their lives for the better. A study in the journal Tobacco Control concluded that...

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...

Nate Silver, statistician and election forecaster, said on ABC News that election forecasts that give Hillary Clinton a 99% of chance of winning don't "pass a common sense test." That is certainly true. What he leaves unsaid, possibly because it wouldn't be good for his career, is that all election forecasts that provide a "chance of winning" don't pass the science test.

Earlier, we published an article explaining why there is no such thing as a scientific poll. In a nutshell, because...

Recently, Bill Maher instructed America on the importance of knowledge. He's right, of course, but he's a rather imperfect messenger: Listening to him is like receiving a lecture from Bill Clinton or Donald Trump on the importance of marital fidelity.

Mr Maher's monologue provided some insight into his political viewpoint. It was illuminating for two reasons, but probably not in the way Mr. Maher would hope for.

First, he accused people who disagree with his political views of being lazy and engaging in "false equivalence," an entirely fictitious logical fallacy that is an...

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...

Ideology is a double-edged sword. Dedication to a set of beliefs can be admirable, but when it leads to inflexibility and obstinance in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it is a dangerous thing. Such ideological rigidity -- often found among the adherents of various philosophical, religious, and political doctrines -- can lead to the rejection of evidence-based inquiry, which serves as the bedrock of modern science.

Recently, we published an article on how postmodernism, a philosophical movement that embraces relativism and views reason with suspicion, is completely at odds with a scientific worldview. Now, in an excellent...

French philosopher Joseph de Maistre is credited with saying, "Every country has the government it deserves." That may serve as a stinging rebuke to those of us who dwell in 21st Century America, where partisan gridlock, mutual distrust, and general nastiness have culminated in an election that has made history for all the wrong reasons. 

To ensure that we are governed by worthy individuals, we ought to seriously reconsider our tribalistic tendency to vote reflexively for one party or the other. Instead of casting a vote primarily based upon whether a candidate's name is followed by a D or an R, we should first determine if the candidate is (1) decent, (2) sane, and (3) (because we are...

How should scientists respond to the rising tide of anti-scientific sentiment in the world? The backlash against modern technology is widespread: Protests against genetic engineering, vaccines, "chemicals," modern agriculture, neuroscience, nuclear power (and almost any other form of power), animal research, and embryonic stem cell research threaten to hold back, if not reverse, decades of progress. What can scientists do to address this problem?

The typical response, as elaborated in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, is "public engagement," which can range from education to the alignment of values between scientists and the public....

John Podesta, campaign manager and a close advisor to Hillary Clinton, believes the government has not divulged everything it knows about UFOs and Area 51. Given his predilection for conspiratorial beliefs, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that he has a fear of biotechnology.

WikiLeaks has made public thousands of Mrs. Clinton's emails. Normally, a politician's campaign machinations would not be of interest to ACSH. However, Stephan Neidenbach, purveyor of the website We Love GMOs and Vaccines, combed through the emails and discovered that certain influential members of the Clinton campaign hold pseudoscientific beliefs about GMOs. The campaign also...