Policy and Ethics

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...

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....

On Monday, a paper published by the UK medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology made waves claiming that endocrine-disrupting chemicals cost the U.S. $340 billion - over two percent of our GDP. In other words, the U.S. is losing the equivalent of half the federal defense budget in health care costs and lost wages due to low-level exposure to chemicals in everyday items, such as plastics or lined metal food cans.

Researchers theorize that these chemicals can cause health problems by interfering with our endocrine system, which produces hormones in our bodies. But it’s not just manmade chemicals that can interact with the endocrine system—these...

I was blind, but now I see.  

I read an article by an economics student where the author suggests Johnson & Johnson and new contact lens legislation are teaming up to deprive consumers of choice and the ability to get their contact lenses.

Relax, the free market is safe and optometrists are also not in cahoots with ophthalmologists (nor are they the same). 

Let’s break it down, as I underscore the importance of not being so readily convinced by everything you read.  In 2004, The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act passed.  In summary, it insisted prescribers give patients copies of their contact lens prescriptions so they can...

It's long been known in the United States that anti-vaccine sentiment comes down along political lines the same way climate change does. Anti-vaccine sentiment also correlates strongly with anti-agriculture and anti-energy beliefs. But the rationalization among most journalists who didn't want to recognize such uncomfortable truths was that as long as their political elites were not saying it, it didn't count.(1)

Thus, when Mr. Trump made the maddening claim that vaccines cause autism, the issue became suddenly framed as not even bipartisan, but solely a right-wing position. Yes, President Obama had said the...

Tougher vaccine exemption laws are working

The measles outbreak at Disneyland, which came to the public's attention in January 2015, prompted several states to tighten their vaccine exemption laws. California, for instance, went from having one of the weakest laws in the nation to one of the strictest after it eliminated personal and religious objections for the parents of children enrolling in school or day care. 

Even before the Disneyland outbreak, Michigan was in the process of tightening its vaccine exemption laws. According to MLive, a Michigan news site, the state made it very easy for a...

Michael Pollan, food activist and journalist, is the proverbial man trapped in the past in his latest piece for the New York Times, criticizing the Obama administration for not catering to his bizarre beliefs about how food production actually works, and along the way taking the opportunity to smear...me.

And you. And about 300 scientists and doctors who help us at the American Council on Science and Health for no other reason than that they care about educating the public. To accomplish that, they don't cave into the shrill beliefs of people who self-identify with Pollan's Idyllic notions about feeding the world.

Pollan's...

There are few worse ways to awake a person than with a needle stick in the arm to draw blood. If you have ever spent the night in a hospital, chances are the first thing that happened in the morning was a vampiric nurse or lab technician, following doctor’s orders, standing over your bed and greeting you with a needle and a set of vials.

Most of us just grit our teeth, maybe close our eyes, and deal with it. After all, these tests are critical for our health, right?

Actually, as many as half of labs ordered may not be necessary. Cutting back can not only minimize the ouch but can also help lower costs. A group of colleagues and I have looked into this issue, and we found...