Policy and Ethics

At the end of my senior year in high school, our class opened a time capsule that we made in 2nd grade. Each of us had filled out a piece of paper asking us questions like, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I wrote "Scientist."

Of course, in 2nd grade, I didn't have a lot of insight into what scientists actually did. (In fact, I didn't truly appreciate it until graduate school.) I thought science was cool. I owned a chemistry set. Whatever science was, I wanted more of it. 

Oddly, the website for the "March for Science," which was organized by scientists, reads a lot like what I wrote in 2nd grade. After weeks of planning, the site's page on Principles and Goals continues to be...

One of the things I miss most about graduate school is access to the library and journals. Researching a topic meant reading primary documents and following the links and references to better understand a discussion or its historical, philosophic or scientific underpinnings. My first response in reading a science article is often to return to primary sources. Primary sources are unfiltered.

But now, with graduate school in the rear view mirror,  when searching for an article I find this.

This presents the difficult decision of whether reading the original is worth the price....

The word "trafficking" does not conjure up pleasant imagery. Human trafficking, drug trafficking, gun trafficking. These are immoral and destructive behaviors. But what about organ trafficking?

According to Catholic News Agency, at the end of a Vatican conference precisely on this topic, participants declared organ trafficking a "crime against humanity." They make a powerful and emotionally persuasive case:

In general, migrants, refugees and the poor are among the most vulnerable populations for organ trafficking, because they may be forced to sell organs if they do not have the cash to pay when soliciting help for...

Some policy issues are so complicated, there appears to be no good or easy solution. Take foreign policy, for example. With nearly 200 countries in the world, each with its own strategic goals and interests, it is nearly impossible either to ensure that everybody gets along or to craft policies that advance American interests while treating everyone else fairly. Deception and communication barriers, such as language and culture, exacerbate the problem. Indeed, statecraft is a job full of contradiction and frustration. 

Not so for energy policy. This is one area in which, if so desired, America could go it alone. Better yet, the solution to America's energy problem would simultaneously solve climate change. That's a win-win. Here's how to do it: 

1. Build...

Obamacare was always about health coverage, not health care. Whatever destiny awaits its future iteration —albeit repeal, replace, repair, what have you, Trumpcoverage would be a better suited name than Trumpcare

If the highest quality of medical care persists in being of unequal consideration to access where continuity of care is permitted to fragment further and individual choice of physician be ever limited, then we all lose no matter the new enactments.   

Whatever your political affiliation, all we hear about from both sides of the aisle are the two aspects of Obamacare that we all desire to keep: not penalizing those with pre-existing conditions and covering young adults under their parents plans until age 26. Bravo to those who...

After a successful Women's March to protest statements made by President Donald Trump about women in 2005, and other issues, a group of science advocates got the idea for a similar "Science March" to protest the President's restriction on use of social media by the Environmental Protection Agency. And ostensibly to support science.

More on supporting science in a moment, but first the EPA. It is a special animal. While we have often applauded the work of career scientists there, it has become increasingly known in the last two decades that there are "two EPAs." One has been doing solid, methodical work behind the scenes while another has been used to create laws circumventing Congress - by implementing regulations that act as laws - and in violation of President Clinton's ...

Literacy is typically defined as the ability to read and write and do basic math. However, in the 21st Century, that is simply insufficient. To be a truly literate member of society -- and to have a government capable of enacting competent policies -- one must have a fundamental grasp of science, technology, and economics.

By that expanded definition, America (along with the rest of the world) has an enormous illiteracy problem.

How else can we explain that 1 in 6 Americans either think vaccines are unsafe or don't know? How can we explain that...

If I were working at the Cleveland Clinic, you could probably find me hiding under the bed right now. Out of shame.

For reasons only they know, the clinic employs a crackpot named Daniel Neides. Worse still, he is a physician. Even worse is that he is given a forum to share his supernaturally inaccurate thoughts with the public. He did just this in a new opinion piece called "Make 2017 the year to avoid toxins (good luck) and master your domain: Words on Wellness."

It is so full of inaccuracies and garbage science that if I'm in the process of choosing hospitals in the area, I go elsewhere.This guy belongs on Joe Mercola's site, not in a supposedly first-rate medical facility. Below are some of Neides' statements, followed by my comments.

Neides- With...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been grooming selected journalists to give favorable treatment to government findings, and even FDA ad campaigns, by inviting them to elite briefings that other journalists could not attend – or did not know even existed – as long as these special friends in journalism played by a strict set of FDA-friendly rules, as detailed in an exposé by Charles Seife in Scientific American, which confirmed what outsiders had long suspected.

One of those obey-to-play rules was that journalists were not allowed to seek comments from outside experts, unless they were specifically approved by the FDA. In other words, journalists were...

It's approaching 2017, which means Californians have a raft of new laws to worry about. Some are outside the scope of the American Council on Science and Health, they are just pure social engineering. But some matter because other states sympathetic to California's aggressive stance on controlling science and health choices will lobby to do the same, in order that the Golden State won't be alone in showing "leadership." (a) (b)

Here are the big changes, in no particular order.

1. Felons can vote, and more people have to be let out of jail if they have a drug conviction, except for people possessing these drugs.

The police have been unhappy that Californians had gone soft on crime by downgrading drug possession from...