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Notes From Dr. Miller

ACSH Trustee and Hoover Institution Fellow Dr. Henry Miller wrote an excellent letter in today’s Wall Street Journal in response to an article about the degradation of the peer-review process. Dr. Miller points out several highly flawed articles on biotech agriculture that appeared in “respectable” journals and writes, “These kinds of failures of peer review and editorial judgment corrupt the traditional process by which new scientific knowledge is obtained and reported, and they inflict irreparable harm on the reporting and archiving of scientific developments for policy makers, the media, the public,...

PFAs

We have often taken note of the Times columnist Nicholas Kristof s rants expressing his concerns about various chemicals and substances he fears in his (and our) everyday environment. Here are some of the issues with which he and we have disagreed over the past 2-3 years:

HBO s Toxic Hot Seat is toxic all right: it seems to have addled Kristof s brain

Nutty Nick Kristof flunks chemistry again, and again ¦...

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 1.23.36 PMThe issue of hormone replacement therapy for women is not new, and has rarely lacked controversy.

HRT has been heralded as the fountain of youth for women, and also demonized for causing cancer and heart disease. "Facts" have changed overnight, though initially most came from the Women's Health Initiative in 2004, which indicated that HRT posed a significant risk to women who were being...

It is oft-repeated that correlation does not imply causation. But it does. That's precisely why epidemiologists and economists are so fascinated by correlations. Thus, it is far more accurate to say that correlation does not prove causation.

There are two major reasons for this. The first is because of confounders, hidden factors that are the true causes of the observed effect. For instance, one might be tempted to conclude that moving to Florida makes people develop Alzheimer's. But this correlation has been confounded by age; in reality, old people both retire to Florida and develop Alzheimer's. The Sunshine State is blameless....

It's often helpful for journalists who do not have specialized knowledge of complex scientific topics to write about them anyway, because if they can understand them and figure out how to communicate them, they can perform a tremendous public service. However, if journalists don't take the time to understand complex topics and get the very basics wrong, they do the public a massive disservice and end up looking like buffoons.

Which brings us to veteran New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who studied law and fancies himself an expert in chemistry and toxicology. Chemists and toxicologists disagree.

His latest diatribe -- which was easily and thoroughly debunked by my...

America's technological prowess and enviable high standard of living are now under unprecedented assault by an array of self-appointed "consumer advocates" who claim our food, water, air, and consumer products are making us sick.

Health scares are nothing new in our society; recall the great cranberry scare of 1959, panic over the artificial sweetener cyclamates in 1969, or Alar in 1989, just to mention a few. But the onslaught of health scares has worsened in the past two years. Why? Because the scaremongers realize that even with a Republican in the White House they face no effective opposition.

I am not referring here to the unending but usually transient Internet rumors (linking aspartame with multiple sclerosis, antiperspirants with breast cancer risk, etc)....

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 1.43.46 PMSo-called "dietary supplements" get a bad rap for (among other things) not working. If you'd like to get an expert opinion on supplements that don't work, we recommend (if you have a strong stomach) regular viewing of the Dr.OZ show.

To be fair, sometimes supplements actually do work. With a minor caveat: real drugs legal or otherwise are added to whatever stupid weed is in the bottle, and the next thing you know... Voila! You are losing weight, sometimes at...

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 2.54.55 PMThis one had all the suspense of a Harlem Globetrotters - Washington Generals game. (1)

In what can be seen, at the very least, as an appalling lack of creativity, our old friends the EWG Environmental Washington Generals (oops, I meant Environmental Working Group) decided that since they had finally hit dry...

A new paper grabs media attention by suggesting household chemicals cause obesity in babies - and it does so by changing the gut microbiota, whatever that is.

Oh no. What household chemicals are we talking about? Let's get rid of those. Well, we don't know. Nor do the authors of the paper. As if 'changes in gut microbiome', the 2000s version of endocrine disruption hysteria, was not suspect enough, they used Body Mass Index (BMI) of infants and toddlers, which makes BMI even less valid than it otherwise is. The only correlation they could find, in their look at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter, was that families who...

Preemptive Drugs, Part 1
On Monday the FDA approved AstraZeneca’s Crestor for men over 50 and women over 60 who have “high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) ≥ 2 mg/L, and the presence of at least one additional [cardiovascular disease] risk factor, such as hypertension, low HDL-[Cholesterol], smoking, or a family history of premature coronary heart disease.”

According...