Policy & Ethics

Personal injury lawyers are either revered or reviled. Sometime purveyors of junk science, they often prey on a vulnerable and scientifically averse judiciary. But things are a’changin- at least for asbestos. And that signals bad news for the talc plaintiffs.
What do Monkeypox, the Opioid Crisis, New Mexico fires, Kentucky flooding, and COVID-19 have in common? All have been declared public health emergencies. [1] So what exactly does a declaration of a public health emergency mean?
Cato Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Jeffrey Singer (also a member of the ACSH Scientific Advisory Board) has written a powerful piece about the inability of policymakers to realize that their plan to reduce drug overdose deaths is wrong on every level.
A critically important paper in the journal Frontiers in Pain Medicine concludes that while the rationale for reducing opioid prescriptions to minimize overdose deaths was sound between 2006-2010, during the ensuing decade the opposite was true. Reducing opioid prescriptions during this time dramatically increased deaths and hospitalizations. In other words, what worked 15 years ago is an unmitigated disaster at this time.
Reporters, fact-checkers, and academics routinely urge us to avoid "misinformation." The problem is, these trusted sources often spread the very nonsense they warn us about. I make the case over at BigThink.
Regulatory capture refers to a type of “corruption,” in which a member of a regulatory body goes on to join those they once regulated. It's best thought of as having the fox guard the hen house. Last week, the FDA’s “top” tobacco scientist left for ... Philip Morris International (PMI), the makers of, among other brands, Marlboro cigarettes.
PFAS, the “forever chemicals,” provides a perfect example of how faulty risk assessment can lead to real-world consequences that destroy people’s lives. This happens when federal agencies do not consider relative risk in their analyses and are blinded to the real-world implications of their actions.
Anti-vaping activists have put themselves in an awkward position. They want to demonize e-cigarettes because, they allege, nicotine poses a risk to teenagers. But they also want teenagers to use nicotine gums and patches to quit smoking. What sense does that make? None.
Climate change has now largely supplanted COVID as the main source of hand-wringing and angst in the popular press. Carbon is directly involved in climate change through carbon dioxide (CO2) and airborne elemental carbon particles (EC). COVID-19 has an indirect impact as well. Here I add some details to the fray to insert some clarity and reason.
On February 22, 2022, Kensey Dishman died. She was thirteen years old. Doctors believe Kensey, a high-risk patient, died of COVID-19-related causes.  Kensey had asthma, a condition for which vaccination is recommended. Yet, despite her asthma, she wasn’t vaccinated and wasn’t masked. A week before her death, her school district removed mask mandates. Her choice was to refuse vaccination; her divorced parents were conflicted. Her mother and step-dad, vaccinated themselves, urged Kensey to get vaccinated. Her biological father agreed with her choice not to vaccinate. Normally thirteen-year-olds aren’t allowed to make significant health-related decisions for themselves. So, what happened here?
Last week, many in the community of pain patients and their physicians did a victory lap over the decision by the Supreme Court in the case of two pain specialists, Xiulu Ruan, MD, and Shakeel Kahn, MD. Their separate cases were joined, and the opinion of the “Supremes” was misinterpreted in some quarters. They were not found innocent; the Court found that the instructions to the jury were in error and remanded the case back for adjudication. I have been following the case for a long time now, and it continues to gnaw at me in a contrarian way.
Tracking cookies, those bite-size snippets of code that log your internet behavior come in as many forms as recipes for chocolate-chip cookies. Let us make a few quick distinctions. Some “session” cookies are bound to your browser and expire when you close the browser. Other cookies can have “best-by” dates or may last forever, like Twinkies. More importantly to this study, some cookies are issued by the site you are visiting, first-party cookies; others, ghostwritten by obscure code, serve the need of external third parties. Those are the subject of some new research.