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This article appeared in the Washington Legal Foundation's March 10, 2006 Legal Opinion Letter (Vol. 16, No. 7).

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun expressed overtly what some have been contemplating in smaller policy and academic circles: the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not devoting enough attention to our spiritual needs, concentrating as it does on purely scientific issues of drug safety and efficacy (Jonathan D. Rockoff, Critics weigh in on FDA decisions, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 9, 2006, at 1A). The article refers to unnamed critics who believe that the FDA should be taking non-science-based factors into its approval equation when deciding the worth...

This article appeared on Spiked-Online.com.

The largest study yet of workers who participated in the rescue efforts and clean-up at the site of the World Trade Center attack has been reported as evidence that a spectrum of mysterious health problems were caused by the fumes from the disaster. In a sense that's true, in that we don t know the precise nature and cause of all the respiratory ailments reported five years later by participants in the study. But that is partly a function of the study s strangeness rather than the fumes' strangeness.

Just as the media and politicians should take care not to heighten terrorism s impact by exaggerating the risk it poses to the...

Once again, we’re told, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of Americans. This time the deceit is ghost writing, the practice by which someone other than the named author writes a clinical trial or scientific review article. The purported scandal is that ghost writing activities are supported financially by industry. As an April 15 Washington Post headline proclaimed, "Key Vioxx Research Was Written by Merck, Documents Allege."

This "manipulation of the literature," one of the critical studies argued, undermines the quality of the peer-reviewed literature, creates financial conflicts of interest, and replaces scientific objectivity with the "relentless promotion of commercial interests." Sounds ominous. But the truth is far more...

This piece appeared on NationalPost.com.

The recent proposed Canadian restrictions on products such as baby bottles containing the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) is but the latest unscientific legislation made possible in part by a dangerous prevailing assumption: namely, that anti-corporate claims are by definition "good science" while claims made in defense of industry or new technology -- by anyone with the slightest ties to industry -- are by definition "suspect science." Ironically, consumers end up paying higher prices as a result of such ostensibly consumer-protecting measures (as products need to be replaced or reformulated) or even end up using less...

The blog of the Washington Post on January 5, 2009, posted an item by Jennifer Huget noting ACSH's picks for the previous year's biggest health scares:

That story's just one of 10 health stories from 2008 identified as "hoaxes" by the American Council on Science and Health, a nonprofit group of scientists and physicians that advocates a common-sense approach to maintaining good health.

ACSH insists that claims about the health impact of products, chemicals and other substances and practices be supported by sound science, preferably published in peer-reviewed journals. If the science seems shaky -- by dint of ineffective study design or data...

“If it smells bad, it’s bad; if it smells good, it’s bad,” says Aileen Gagney, asthma and environmental health manager with the American Lung Association in Seattle. (1) Obviously then, the key to a healthy life is to have no smells around you. How unfortunate, since we are excellent smellers!

The tongue can detect sweetness at a dilution of one part in 200, saltiness at one in 400, sourness at one in 130,000, and bitterness at one in 2 million. (2) All of this pales when compared with our ability to detect extremely low levels of smells (i.e., in the range of 50 parts per trillion to 800 parts per billion. (3)

If you are inclined to agree with Ms. Gagney, perhaps you have nosophobia, the irrational fear of contracting a disease -- or perhaps I should say nose-ophobia,...

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 3.40.10 PMU.S. Marshals, acting on a request from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seized yet another ridiculous "dietary supplement," and this one's a doozy. About 90,000 bottles of a bunch of garbage with the brand name RelaKzpro, which is sold by Dordoniz Natural Products of South Beloit, Illinois,...

The development of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapies is arguably the greatest achievement of modern medicine. However, overuse and misuse of antimicrobial therapy predictably leads to resistance in microorganisms. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species (VRE) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have emerged. Certain CRE species are resistant to multiple antibiotics, and have been deemed superbugs in the news.

Alternative therapies have been used to treat infections since antiquity, but none are as reliably safe and effective as modern...

satanI've been writing about viruses quite a bit lately (for obvious reasons), so it is only fitting that this week, people in my office all of a sudden started coming down with one. And a nasty one at that. What was it? Let's just let the incomparable Walt "Clyde" Frazier (1) answer:

lyde

He and I are talking about norovirus Satan's personal favorite biohazard.

First of all, you can take most of the medical advice about ways to avoid catching...

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.46.28 PMIf you want to read about sleaze, corruption, opportunists, and useful fools, Tom Wolfe's cynical 1987 masterpiece, "Bonfire of the Vanities" has it all.

Or you can follow the story of how flibanserin, aka "Female Viagra" made it from the scrapheap of a legitimate drug company to a very different kind of company, and ultimately to the drug store, where it never belonged in the first place. Better still, no one is buying it—something I could have told you (and did) over a year ago. How this all played out is somewhere between ironic and hilarious.

The fact...