Policy and Ethics

Over the past few days, a controversy has erupted following reports in the Washington Post that the Trump Administration has banned or otherwise discouraged the use of seven words, such as "fetus" and "transgender," by the CDC and other HHS agencies. For what it's worth, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald has denied these reports.

Lest we forget, the Obama Administration did something similar: In 2009, it began referring to acts of terrorism as "man-caused disasters." Additionally, throughout its eight-year tenure,...

At The Council, one of the most pressing topics that we write about is the quality and integrity of scientific publications.

See, for example, Alex Berezow's The Death Of Science Journalism and PLoS Biology Senior Editor Liza Gross: An Activist With No Biology Education, and Hank Campbell's Retraction Watch Begins For Gary Ruskin Conspiracy Claims In Critical Public Health. There seems to be precious little of quality or integrity these...

Nothing elicits a surge in my skeptic meter like the term world-renowned when used in the medical realm. Especially since it is typically self-described by those selling something, routinely an unnecessary product or procedure.

Those who are authentically world-renowned, who are the real deal, rarely boast about it. Shameless self-promotion is a tough thing for the more earnest medical and science professionals. With the ever-increasing competition today, striking the balance so as to garner enough interest in their work so they can pursue what they so incredibly cherish is often an unnatural road.

Being exactly who you say you are, nothing more and nothing less, reflects the best there is in medicine. This way of navigating the profession prioritizes patient...

Matt Lauer’s ousting at NBC, due to reports of a sexual harassment scandal, is consuming the internet and media outlets. As such, old clips and stories are resurfacing and being conveyed with an ever suspicious lens.

Among them, is a segment from the now-defunct Meredith Vieira Show where she pokes fun at him for her accidental discovery of a bag of sex toys in his closet. He offered his explanation that Meredith Vieira rebuked, laughter ensues. In the Inside Edition revisit of this find, a sex therapist reveals a private discussion with Matt Lauer that took place at the time.

This raised concerns for me about the basic tenets of...

The odd case of a stricken man arriving at a Florida hospital with no identification, no personal accompaniment – but with a prominent tattoo across his chest stating that critical, life-saving intervention be withheld – is serving as a bizarre but essential reminder to the rest of us to raise a difficult, frequently-skirted topic.

A recent letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine recounted the case of an unconscious 70-year man with a high blood-alcohol level who was brought to the emergency department of a Miami hospital. Doctors, faced with no information about the white, bearded male patient – since he had no wallet and did not arrive with a family member or friend – were conflicted about what level of care to provide. Meanwhile, others at Jackson...

My wife and I travel frequently from our home in Seattle to Europe to visit her parents. I've been across the pond 20 times, and I've visited 18 countries there.

Whenever I listen to Americans talk about Europe, I'm struck by how little they actually understand it. To the Left, Europe is a progressive paradise -- scientifically savvy, technologically advanced, and culturally liberal with cradle-to-grave welfare for all. To the Right, Europe is a socialist hellhole -- an economically stagnant, irreligious, morally bankrupt continent of has-beens.

These diametrically opposed caricatures are completely wrong. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Take science policy, for instance. Europe notoriously embraces the "precautionary principle,"...

In a world of fake news, scientists tend to find comfort within the pages of the scientific literature. While peer review is far from perfect and science often wrong, the process finds the truth in the long-run.

The gatekeepers of science -- that is, the people tasked with editing the scientific journals -- have an incredibly important job. They must decide which research deserves to be published and which does not. Other journal editors publish essays and articles for general consumption rather than scientific manuscripts. Regardless of one's exact role, what all editors have in common is the privilege of facilitating dialogue among the scientific community and its stakeholders.

As we have rightly come to expect, with great privilege comes great responsibility. That's...

Nearly 60 years ago, a government regulation designed to assure the public about the safety our food supply did just the opposite; it set off a panic that was completely unwarranted. Thanksgiving was ruined for millions because the government created an invalid distinction between the natural world and the synthetic one.

The regulation was called the Delaney Clause. In simple form, it said that if a synthetic chemical could be shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals, it must be banned.

No one wants carcinogens so what's the problem with that?  There are two. First, politicians in the 1950s had forgotten what peasants in the time of Paracelsus knew: the dose makes the poison, whether it came from nature or not isn't a factor. Second is that rats are not little...

The definition of "endangered" is vague but in no dictionary does it mean an animal that does not even live in a state must be placed there, with private landowners footing the bill for $20 million, in order to keep a creature from declining in population.

Yet that is exactly the bizarre case that the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear in January. Weyerhaeuser Company v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service, et. al. (827 F.3d 452; 848 F.3d 635) is, on the surface, about the 2001 designation (66 Fed. Reg. 62993, Dec. 4, 2001) of the "Dusky Gopher Frog" as an endangered species in Louisiana. It's a little bizarre because the Dusky Gopher Frog is really just the rebranded...

Is the Wild West of stem cell therapies coming to an end? Newly released guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest illegitimate, unproven uses might become a thing of the past.

The latest statement by the FDA announces “a comprehensive policy framework for the development and oversight of regenerative medicine products, including novel cellular therapies.”

Stem cell treatments have held great promise for a few decades now. Though specific therapies in the narrow realm of blood cancers and disorders, for example, demonstrate some realized dreams as a product of bona...