What I'm Reading (Nov. 26)

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Science and democracy, when museums were the source of scientific education, and what's the real deal with Prevagen?

“Nonetheless, for all the dangers this populism poses, it should make us consider why there has been such a loss of trust in science and scientific authority. Populists are not wrong in thinking that too much political decision-making today is dominated by cliques of ruling experts and lifted out of the sphere of public deliberation and concern. Too often law and public policy are treated as the special domain of a small group of managers and wonks, speaking their specialist jargons and invoking their infallible metrics. But public policy is never the exclusive domain of scientific or technocratic knowledge. Maybe even more importantly, policymaking involves telling stories about what is politically and ethically significant. In fashioning the governing narratives of a democracy, the voice of science can be only one of many voices.”

The American Council of Science and Health has worked for decades now in providing the public with reliable information about the sciences that impact their lives directly or through regulation. We, as have other organizations, have been caught in a wave of anti-science movements, including anti-vaxxers and dare I suggest climate change. This essay from the Hedgehog Review, sums up an American problem, Scientific Authority and the Democratic Narrative

“…Peale explained that his goal for the museum was to bring together “a variety of interesting subjects of Nature … collected in one view as would enlighten the minds of my countrymen, and, demonstrate the importance of diffusing a knowledge of the wonderful and various beauties of Nature, more powerful to humanize the mind, promote harmony, and aid virtue than any … yet imagined.”

Museums ignite the imagination and hold much of our collective wisdom. From Nautil.us, When Science Was the Best Show in America

“Beauregard took Prevagen every day for nine months, spending around $500 in all, but said she hadn’t noticed any memory improvement. Quincy Bioscience has been sued multiple times over allegations of false advertising for Prevagen, including by the government. After hearing about the lawsuits, Beauregard says she felt like her worst nightmare—of losing her memories—had been exploited by Quincy. “They almost played on that fear, really, to make money,” she said. “I was taught that there were people out there that protected us from this kind of stuff.”

Those Prevagen ads always have made me wonder. What exactly is the evidence of their efficacy. I will let Wired do the heavy lifting here with a story of just how the FDA regulates (?) the $40 billion+ supplement industry. Americans Took Prevagen for Years—as the FDA Questioned Its Safety