Kaiser, Chronicle of Higher Education and More Outreach Last Week

By Hank Campbell — Apr 29, 2018
We strive to make a difference, and when we do other organizations often take note. Here's a look at some of our recent pick-up. Take a look. 
Well, it isn't. You can wear it to prove that.

1. Governments love to pretend to accept science if it means more revenue for government employees, and nothing has been more prone to confirmation bias than that "sin" taxes are for the public good. Yes, they can correlate higher costs to lower uptake but that is simply government fiat handicapping the free market - there is not much evidence that sin taxes lead to better outcomes

Smoking is down, but it did not go down more because New York City dramatically increased taxes on cigarettes. Instead, in NYC the black market took over, then cops were told to enforce penalties on sales of "loose" cigarettes because revenue from cigarette taxes dropped, and a guy died on the street because he was selling them, to national outrage. Smoking went down because we hammered cigarette makers and the public with information about the harms of smoking, not because of taxes.

Now sugar is the latest target - but only some sugary drinks. Our Chuck Dinerstein, MD, noted the flaws in their data and how these were really regressive taxes on the poor, and that rationalizations by proponents of more government revenue bled from the poor is a good thing, because they will use it to pay for health care for the poor. Kaiser Family Foundation linked to our work exposing that taxes are just taxes - they don't make anyone healthier, and we shouldn't let governments pretend they are being evidence-based in their desire to pay themselves more.

2. When marijuana was still illegal, governments also began calling alternatives by the chemophobic name "synthetic marjuana." It's not marijuana of any kind but people who don't know any science make these kinds of mistakes. Newser linked to our work sounding the alarm on this K2/Spice junk, and that it is not marijuana at all. You are just as likely to be getting rat poison.

3. In a Fatherly article on parenting in California, I noted that play was different now than when I was a kid, but it isn't necessarily worse. I never once played catch with my dad, but I played baseball. My kids have little interest in it even though I have played catch with them plenty of times. They do like making short films, writing scripts, and doing more intellectual things.  So engage with kids but you don't need a how-to manual on what that means. Have them do what you like, do what they like as they grow. It's all good. 

Here is a video my kids made when they were younger. I held the camera.



4. In the Chronice of Higher Education, they discuss a hate-monger who has been allowed tenure at a California university. Which means she can never be fired. They link to our work on the psychology of hate and ask the awkward question that needs to be asked; if a white man said this stuff, would a California school find a way to get rid of him?

5. The Joplin Globe asks about what "treats" are really healthy - that is why we call them treats and tell people to eat snacks in moderation - and links to our work on sensible diets.

While we support the freedom of everyone to binge on pizza daily and blow up to 400 lbs. and die at an early age of heart failure - American science made it possible for even the poorest people to eat enough to get fat, which is an achievement unheard of three generations ago - it is not a good idea. 

6. IFL Science linked to our working warning people that gluten-free may not be gluten-free. So if you are celiac or have a child is celiac, some caution is warranted. If you are instead one of the food fad people who claim you have some special concern toward gluten since you saw it in the New York Times, you'll be fine.

7. Brownfield Ag Daily linked to our work noting the many junk science claims involving cancer and coffee.

The corruption is worse than many realize. Take the example of Berkeley Professor Martyn Smith. He and a trial lawyer firm created an NGO - Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT) - to sue companies over coffee and french fries. It uses the same address as the law office. Smith then got activist friends inside IARC to place him on a working group, which unsurprisingly evaluated acrylamide, the thing he and his friends at the Metzger law group sue over. Who does Metzger now use as an expert witness, because he was on IARC? Martyn Smith. The trial lawyers created an NGO who hired the trial lawyers and then use the guy who created the NGO as their expert witness.

Prop 65 is corrupt and has been for a while - because the people of California made it into law back when IARC was not corrupt. It now needs to go.