News and Views

One of the major reasons scientific research is facing a reproducibility problem is because of poor use of statistics. In a bombshell 2005 article that still reverberates in the halls of academia (and industry), John Ioannidis used mathematics to coolly demonstrate why most published research findings are false1

Statistics is difficult, and choosing the proper tools becomes more challenging as experiments become more complex. That's why it's not uncommon for large genetics or epidemiological studies to have a biostatistician as a co-author. Perhaps more...

You may be aware that suicides among working-aged men are on the rise. While people will make cultural or political hay from that - the last administration killed the middle class, men are under assault in society - one thing is clear: It's a mental health issue and early intervention is important.

Meanwhile, policy makers are in a rush to repeal and replace mental health benefits, basically by saying  those are not an ‘essential’ medical benefit. I do not presume to know the mental state of the members of Congress behind this decision, but here is what a cursory look at mental health in the United States shows us.

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It is one thing for a naturopath to push turmeric, the latest fad in fancy snake oils, as a cure all for everything from your bad sex life to diabetes. Because turmeric is metabolized so quickly in the stomach (it is used in food, after all) it is generally not dangerous and amounts to a lot of false hopes and wasted money.

It is another thing entirely for these 'healers' to hook a healthy person up to an IV and pump turmeric into their veins.

Unfortunately, that is what happened to Jade Erick, a 30 year-old woman who is dead because she opted for 'holistic health' to treat her eczema. Our vascular surgeon, Dr. Charles Dinerstein, suggests that, based on the...

Every discussion about postmodernism quickly devolves into accusations that the writer doesn't know what postermodernism is1. Of course, that's true, because nobody knows what postmodernism is. Even the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy agrees2. As the ultimate manifestation of intellectual and cultural relativism, postmodernism means whatever its adherents want it to mean.

Yet, this nebulous concept poses an existential threat to science and technology. How so? Because postmodernism is largely characterized by a rejection of objective truth. This is antithetical to scientific inquiry.

Marcel Kuntz, Director of Research at CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), has made it part of his life's work to...

We get email.

Liar. Jerk. Sock puppet. Propagandist. Criminal. Corporate slut. Satan's minion1. These are just a few of the names Dr. Josh Bloom and I have been called -- and that was just last week.  

What did we do to earn such reprobation? Were we cavorting with Gordon Gekko? Lobotomizing patients with Nurse Ratched? Sacrificing goats? Nope. In an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, we explained why Wi-Fi is safe. And that's when the pitchforks came out.

The smartest reader2 commented:

Microwave ovens use 2.45 GHz to cook food. Most wi-fi also uses 2.45 GHz microwaves. So what is the difference between the...

The war on expertise is not a new phenomenon. Nearly 60 years before Tom Nichols published his bestselling book, The Death of Expertise, author C.S. Lewis wrote about it in an essay titled "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," a follow-up to his internationally renowned book The Screwtape Letters.

In the novel, a senior devil, Screwtape, writes a series of letters to a junior devil, Wormwood, on how to be a good tempter. Thus, every moral pronouncement in the book is precisely the opposite of how humans ought to behave. The Enemy, to whom Screwtape refers constantly, is God. 

In his toast, Screwtape explains to a large gathering of "gentledevils"...

Last October, following the UN General Assembly, we wrote of the urgency needed for the global health crisis occurring in Haiti. At that time, the former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, admitted the role of the UN in starting the cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010 and spoke directly about the need for a new strategy to aid the country. 

He said, "A new strategy is needed to alleviate their distress and improve their living conditions. We are firmly resolved to fulfill this moral responsibility." he said,  "Later, I will give you details on this strategy. Let us work together to meet our obligations to the Haitian people." 

And, like a fool...

Rural America is facing an existential crisis. As cities continue to grow and prosper, small towns are shrinking. That fundamental divide played itself out in the recent presidential election.

Consider this shocking chart produced by the Brookings Institution. It shows that, in 2000, George W. Bush won 2,397 counties (compared to Al Gore's 659), and those counties represented 46% of America's GDP. Fast forward to 2016. Donald Trump won an even larger share: 2,584 counties (compared to Hillary Clinton's 472). Yet, counties that voted for Trump accounted for only 36% of the nation's GDP. Since most Bush counties also voted for...

Undoubtedly, you have heard dozens of pieces of advice, telling you how to lead a healthier and potentially longer life. You know you have - even if you don't follow them: exercise and sleep more, eat less, but add in more fiber and vegetables, etc. The list goes on and on. 

And, perhaps like most things, those same messages have grown tiresome over the years. Because people like Sara Gottfried keep taking the old standards, repackaging and reselling them (in hardcover.) She re-gifts them, so to speak.

And, that would be fine if it were not based on a premise that does not exist - that we know how to turn our genes off or on (or 'reset' them, as she says) through our activities. But, who cares if the scientific community is lagging behind her advice when there are books...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington, DC to film on set at Al Jazeera for a live television program that engaged a global discussion on sickle cell anemia, its perils and the advances in gene therapy that are showing great promise for this genetic disease. 

The host of the program is Femi Oke and the digital co-host is Malika Bilal (pictured with me). Questions were fielded from around the world utilizing various social media platforms as the show was not only streamed live on The Stream and Al Jazeera English television, but is re-aired on Al Jazeera media networks worldwide.

You can check it out above...