Groups Who Hate Us

I've been a science writer and editor for nearly eight years. During this time, I've learned a few things.

Perhaps the most important is that science is never enough. It doesn't matter if you have facts, data, and logic on your side, a substantial proportion of people will reject what you say and call you bad names. The reason, usually, is because they have an ideological conflict of interest -- by far, the worst kind of conflict of interest. That is, they are so dedicated to a particular viewpoint, that literally nothing will change their minds. That is anathema to science.

Editors must be aware of that fact. Otherwise, they are likely to be...

“Their eyes tell their sad stories as ghostly white irises give way to vacant stares. We can look at them but they can’t look back at us. They’ve gone blind because of malnutrition.,” V. Ravichandran, a farmer in Tamil Nadu, India, describing children suffering from vitamin A deficiency.

This is a dual tragedy — first, because more than two-thirds of the children referred to in Ravichandran’s commentary will be dead within a year — blindness from vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is an early sign of life-threatening debilitation — and second, because VAD could be prevented with an accessible, modern agricultural technology.

The most elegant and practical approach...

"Follow the money!" activists shout. The money trail, according to this logic, always leads to lies and deception.

This puerile fallacy, argumentum ad aurum, is just a thinly disguised ad hominem attack commonly used against scientists. Instead of criticizing the quality or conclusions of the research, activists instead assault the integrity of the scientist.

For certain, money can be a corrupting influence. That's why journals require scientists to disclose financial ties to industry. But money isn't the only source of corruption. Indeed, anything that causes a person to reject evidence-based science should be considered a...

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) uses an authoritative sounding name to peddle scientific half-truths and outright fabrications. Along with Greenpeace and PETA, it is beloved by activists but detested by scientists.

Several years ago, George Mason University surveyed 937 members of the Society of Toxicology, an association of professional toxicologists. Nearly 4 out of 5 (79%) of those responding said that EWG -- as well as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) -- overstate the health risks of chemicals.

Despite this vote of no confidence in EWG by the scientific...

Vitamin-A deficiency around the world leads to between 250,000 and 500,000 children going blind – every single year. Half of them die within a year of losing their sight. And several other health problems stem from this urgent issue.

Yet, a solution to this global health threat is available today, and it could quickly help 250 million preschool children around the world who are vitamin-A deficient, as estimated by the World Health Organization

That said, exactly how many countries today are growing "Golden Rice" – a genetically-modified seed with three genes that produce beta-carotene, a vitamin-A precursor – to assist their underfed and vulnerable populations?

Zero.

Yes, it's difficult to fathom,...

Science writers have long suspected that the anti-GMO movement is linked to the anti-vaccine movement. Indeed, both are predicated upon one of the biggest myths in modern society: "Natural is better."1

In an interview with Science, Seth Mnookin recalled how a public health official warned him that anti-vaxxers were particularly prominent in locations that had a Whole Foods. Mr. Mnookin concluded, "It's those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people."

So, that's why it wasn't surprising when March Against Monsanto, a group that opposes GMOs, became a...

RT is the Kremlin's propaganda outlet in the United States and around the world. As such, it broadcasts "news" (mostly, the fake variety) that advances the agenda of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

One such agenda is undermining American dominance in science and technology, and RT has played its part by serving as a constant source of misinformation. The report released by the Director of National Intelligence on Russia's interference in the U.S. election concluded that RT is spouting anti-fracking propaganda as a way to undermine the natural gas industry in the United States. Why? Because fracking lowers the prices of fossil fuels, which severely harms Russia's economy....

Today, it seems that honest disagreement just isn't possible. Social media, which has become a sewage pipe of political hyper-partisanship and unscientific propaganda, magnifies this disturbing trend. If two otherwise intelligent people disagree on something, accusations of being a liar, fraud, or paid shill are quick to follow.

Compounding this problem is the fact that half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory. Instead of ushering in a Second Enlightenment, it appears the Information Age has turned us into paranoid cynics who perceive dark forces controlling world events. Such is the state of our...

When you write about science and health, it means you spend a lot of time defending safe food, harmless chemicals, good drugs, etc. And that means there are going to be people out there, like supplement peddlers, journalists who are in bed with sleazy environmental groups, and just plain loonies, who insist that someone must have paid you off because you have the unmitigated gall to say that something is safe when it is, and they say it's not. People and companies make a lot money when you're scared, and don't like anyone defending something you're supposed to be afraid of. Then, they start the name calling. It's almost always the same—corporate shill.

Well, am I? I didn't used to think so until recently, but then I had to stop and wonder. I recently wrote about two issues that...

'Twas 9 days 'til Christmas and all through this joint
The accountant was asking again, "What's the point?
Anti-science hippies are running amok
Real science takes too much money, we're fresh out of luck

"The cash is in doomsday, gloom and despair
Yes, we're pro-science, yes, it's not fair
But the public has spoken, their interest is small
That's how the free market works, after all

"Maybe shade tree, holistic or BPA-free
That might get presents under our tree
Endorse more organic, enjoy a juice cleanse
Say vaccines are bad, it could make us new friends"

I felt so dejected, my heart had no glee
I was so mopey I could work at EWG
Or Greenpeace or Fenton or for that Null guy
Maybe I could even...