Policy and Ethics

Opioid advocate Red Lawhern, Ph.D believes that CDC Guidelines for prescription of opioid medications to adult non-cancer chronic pain patients were decided in advance and preordained. If so, this would then add malfeasance to the stupidity that they have already displayed. I asked him to explain.

In recent months, a rising chorus of complaints has sounded on the March 2016 CDC Guidelines for prescription of opioid medications to adult non-cancer chronic pain patients.  As one group of medical professional critics phrased the issues, the Guidelines are Neat, Plausible, and Generally Wrong”. [Ref 1] Their piece and many others have enumerated a profound lack of balance, science and medical evidence behind the guidelines.  

As a...

The position of Science Czar is just one of thousands that President-Elect Trump must consider in the coming weeks. The incumbent, John Holdren, was a flawed choice. His fringe views on demographics and environmental policy, expressed in a book he co-authored with Paul Ehrlich (who notoriously wrote the now discredited The Population Bomb), should have disqualified him from the post. 

President Trump can do much better. The optimal candidate is a polymath, somebody who can quickly explain to the President anything from biotechnology to space policy. Additionally, he or she must be good at communicating; neither Mr. Trump nor his advisors are trained in...

Florida is in the middle of a major 'not in my backyard' brouhaha at the moment and biotechnology is at the center of the debate.

During the election earlier this month, Monroe County, Florida voters cast their ballots to allow the first release in the United States of genetically modified mosquitoes made by Oxitec. These mosquitoes contain a "death gene" (a more complete description of how they work can be found here.) The male mosquitoes, when released, mate with female mosquitoes to create offspring that do not survive into adulthood. The release of these mosquitoes reduces the overall population to such an extent that the spread of viruses such as Zika is...

On one thing at least, almost all Americans agree: This election cycle has been too long and depressing. When Sheryl Crow is taking time out of her busy schedule to campaign for electoral reform, it's obvious that we've hit Peak 2016.

Despite all the negativity and Apocalypse predicting, neither the world nor the United States will end if your favorite candidate loses. The 24/7 media circus wants you to believe that, however, because it helps keep them in business. Indeed, as that mildly disappointing James Bond villain* said, "There's no news like bad news."

In order to refresh our minds with some cleansing ...

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was founded with a noble goal - to put an end to environmental claims based on weak observational anecdotes, like Rachel Carson claiming that she knew people who sprayed DDT in their basement and died (1) or that cranberries were going to poison everyone.

Yet in recent years they have become complicit in just that. Their mission is to identify the causes of cancer, known as hazard identification, and not make suggestions about the degree to which each carcinogen presents a risk to public health, yet they have begun to do that all of the time. When they bizarrely claimed that...

Mafia boss

Unbeknownst to David Seidemann, a geology professor at Brooklyn College and scientific advisor to ACSH, he was placed on a hit list by the academic PC mafia. In an article for Minding the Campus, Prof. Seidemann recalls a chilling tale in which he was investigated by the administration for alleged misconduct. And as if taken directly from the pages of a dystopian screenplay, the nature of his misconduct and the identity of his accusers -- even the existence of the investigation itself -- were withheld from him.

The drama took yet another Kafkaesque turn. When Prof Seidemann was finally notified that he had been the subject of an...

French philosopher Joseph de Maistre is credited with saying, "Every country has the government it deserves." That may serve as a stinging rebuke to those of us who dwell in 21st Century America, where partisan gridlock, mutual distrust, and general nastiness have culminated in an election that has made history for all the wrong reasons. 

To ensure that we are governed by worthy individuals, we ought to seriously reconsider our tribalistic tendency to vote reflexively for one party or the other. Instead of casting a vote primarily based upon whether a candidate's name is followed by a D or an R, we should first determine if the candidate is (1) decent, (2) sane, and (3) (because we are...

How should scientists respond to the rising tide of anti-scientific sentiment in the world? The backlash against modern technology is widespread: Protests against genetic engineering, vaccines, "chemicals," modern agriculture, neuroscience, nuclear power (and almost any other form of power), animal research, and embryonic stem cell research threaten to hold back, if not reverse, decades of progress. What can scientists do to address this problem?

The typical response, as elaborated in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, is "public engagement," which can range from education to the alignment of values between scientists and the public....

On Monday, a paper published by the UK medical journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology made waves claiming that endocrine-disrupting chemicals cost the U.S. $340 billion - over two percent of our GDP. In other words, the U.S. is losing the equivalent of half the federal defense budget in health care costs and lost wages due to low-level exposure to chemicals in everyday items, such as plastics or lined metal food cans.

Researchers theorize that these chemicals can cause health problems by interfering with our endocrine system, which produces hormones in our bodies. But it’s not just manmade chemicals that can interact with the endocrine system—these...

I was blind, but now I see.  

I read an article by an economics student where the author suggests Johnson & Johnson and new contact lens legislation are teaming up to deprive consumers of choice and the ability to get their contact lenses.

Relax, the free market is safe and optometrists are also not in cahoots with ophthalmologists (nor are they the same). 

Let’s break it down, as I underscore the importance of not being so readily convinced by everything you read.  In 2004, The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act passed.  In summary, it insisted prescribers give patients copies of their contact lens prescriptions so they can...