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DISPATCH: Environmentalists, Budget-Planners, and Candidates

Quote of the day:

Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, said, "But I later learned that the environmental movement is not always guided by science. As we celebrate Earth Day, this is a good lesson to keep in mind." --the _Wall Street Journal_, April 22, 2008.

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! There are many stories in the news about the environment and what impact we have on it and vice versa.

An opinion piece( http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120882720657033391.html?mod=opinion_main... ) in today's WSJ by Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, tells why he left the organization after...

Let's take a poll: Are pesticides used in organic farming?

I mean, how could they possibly be? Isn't that the point of paying a whole lot of money for organic produce so Whole Foods dilettantes can safely enjoy their kale without all those yucky chemicals on it? (1)

This question provides a splendid opportunity to start the week with some...

Monday Myths! (2)

Where to start? There are SO many out there. Here are three...

  1. Gwyneth Paltrow was spotted at the Harvard Club
  2. The Knicks will make the playoffs in our lifetime...

A few times per year we have a meeting of the Trustees of the American Council on Science and Health, to discuss issues like finances (1), to discuss nominees for our Board of Scientific Advisors, and our general direction.

Among our Trustees is Fred Smith, the founder of Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), which promotes the benefits of free markets. I certainly agree with them on that (2). At our November meeting Fred asked for a spot on the agenda to talk about how we can better talk about science policy without getting into politics.

That is obviously tricky. Science is both corporate and political, when it comes to basic research the private sector and government fund about half each, so if you defend science you are implicitly defending corporations and engaging...

Junk science is everywhere. Just today, it was reported that President-Elect Donald Trump had a meeting with the anti-vaccine fraud Andrew Wakefield, who claimed that Mr Trump is "open-minded" about the issue. 

This is why our mission is so important. People in power often have a poor grasp of science. If journalists and advocates don't speak up for good science, cranks and quacks will take over. 

As part of our ongoing effort to eradicate pseudoscience, here is a list of the top 16 junk science stories we debunked in 2016.

#16. Olympic athletes should not be cupping. Remember seeing those...

Michael Pollan, food activist and journalist, is the proverbial man trapped in the past in his latest piece for the New York Times, criticizing the Obama administration for not catering to his bizarre beliefs about how food production actually works, and along the way taking the opportunity to smear...me.

And you. And about 300 scientists and doctors who help us at the American Council on Science and Health for no other reason than that they care about educating the public. To accomplish that, they don't cave into the shrill beliefs of people who self-identify with Pollan's Idyllic notions about feeding the world.

Pollan's...

DISPATCH 6/20/08: Natural, Biotech, Asthmatic, Clustered, Immune

Debating the definition of natural
A New Jersey judge recently rejected the claim it was deceptive to use an "all natural" label on products containing high fructose corn syrup. "What does 'natural' mean?" asks ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. "It's a fascinating topic." A consumer filed the lawsuit against Snapple for labeling its iced tea and juice drinks as "natural" when they were made with high fructose corn syrup, which the plaintiffs called a "highly processed sugar substitute" created through "enzymatically catalyzed chemical reactions in factories...

1. Chemicals in mosquito spray

1431624_77269957Despite an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, many people are terrified of Anvil an effective killer of adult mosquitos, but completely harmless to humans.

People are are also very worried about the effect of the spray on the environment. Taken together, there is often substantial protest when any kind of spraying is proposed.

Origin of the scare:

Nowhere was this more apparent than in Ocean Beach, one of 17 summer communities located on Fire Island, a barrier beach off the coast of Long Island, N.Y.

As an...

October 22, 2009

ACS, NY Post, ACIP, Dioxin
By Curtis Porter

Brawley and JAMA Against The World

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS), is catching some heat after his recent statement in an interview with the New York Times conceding that breast and prostate cancer screenings have historically been oversold by physicians and misunderstood by patients and the media.

"The strident response underscores the fact that it was brave of Dr. Brawley of ACS to come forward and admit this even though it wasn't politically correct and caused a backlash among people in his own organization," says ACSH's Jeff Stier.

"One well-known expert on breast cancer was quoted as saying, in effect, that the more screening you have...

February 13, 2009

Victories for Vaccines, Soda, Smokers, Cold Sufferers, Eggs, and Vacationers

Elizabeth Wade

Court rules in favor of vaccine safety

ACSH staffers are pleased that a special federal vaccine court followed the science and ruled against parents claiming that vaccines caused their children's autism. "The studies have been quite definitive on the fact that childhood vaccines have nothing to do with autism, and the three-judge panel commonly referred to as the 'vaccine court' seemed to exercise a very thorough analysis of the topic and came to the right conclusion," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.

ACSH's Jeff Stier notes, "We shouldn't rely on the courts to be the arbiter of science, but this decision is certainly good news. People who are...

The line between deliberately manipulating a story or poorly reporting the facts is perilously thin, and often based on the subjectivity of the reader.

During Sunday’s Academy Awards presentation, the United States’ ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, launched an advertising blitz positioning itself as the highbrow ethical responder to the spate of so-called ‘fake news.’ “The truth is hard…to find…to know,” the add proclaimed, somberly.

It’s a powerful message, one that the public and the media should reflect upon—including the leadership at the Times itself. That a journalist...