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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...

ACSH in the Media
• ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan was pleased to see that the news magazine The Week selected her column in the New York Post about The Lancet's retraction of the Wakefield study for their “best columns of the week” section. “Post editorial page editor Mark Cunningham deserves credit for agreeing to publish it, and for his fine editing job,” says Dr. Whelan....

1. Dr. Gary Null, one of the Four Horsemen of the Alternative (along with Oz, Chopra and Weil), is now most famous for hosting a conspiracy theory radio program and producing straight-to-video movies funded by organic food groups.

Environmental Working Group has never produced a science study but they have overturned 500,000 biologists, according to Null, while the US EPA, which just cleared glyphosate of weird claims made by an IARC Working Group that was hijacked by an Environmental Defense Fund consultant, is secretly suppressing damaging data about Monsanto. 

He makes even wackier claims, like that former FDA official and current ACSH friend Dr. Henry I Miller, has "a history of denying smoking’s association to cancer and heart disease" - his source...

1. Conspiracy Fantasy Camp

A rather bizarre article mentioned us in the Duluth News-Tribune - a small-town doctor tells our Dr. Josh Bloom, who testified at the FDA on the opioid crisis and brought fentanyl to national attention, that he didn't know what he was talking about when it comes to opiods, and then goes off into a conspiracy after spending five seconds on Google and finding a wiki entry on the political activism site Sourcewatch which manufactured all kinds of stuff that anti-science people believe about science. He writes (bold mine):

...

When Bruce Ames talks about toxicity, it's time to listen (1). Ames is the inventor of the hugely important Ames test for mutagenicity, which measures the damage done to DNA by a given chemical. The Ames test is an essential hurdle in the world of drug discovery research. While a positive Ames test is not de facto proof that a chemical will be carcinogenic in humans, it's a giant red flag in drug development. Many promising drugs have met their maker simply because of a positive Ames test. 

GOOD LUCK AVOIDING PESTICIDES

Since pesticides and herbicides are routinely in the news, lately because of the "Glyphosate Wars," (2) I thought it might be interesting to examine a...