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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...

November 12, 2007: Desperate Smoker, Scary Chemicals, More Fat

-- Quote to Note: "I can say 'don't smoke,' but you know, people said that to me for years. It's more a matter of saying you know, make sure that you have adequate medical care, make sure that you are getting chest X-rays." --Actress Kathryn Joosten, quoted by ABC on having lung cancer and the "reasons" she survived.

-- Since her appearance last week on CNN, ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan found herself being approached by many friends and acquaintances this past weekend. The comments she heard? People told her that they want to believe her assertions that we shouldn't be worrying about "toxic" chemicals in our blood, but they have "gut...

The most frequent complaint about us skeptics is that we're party-poopers. How much more fun the world would be, say the non-skeptics, if only we all believed in unicorns, psychic powers, God, or panhandlers who really just lost their wallets and only need a few cents for bus fare back home.

  • Luckily, the skeptical magicians Penn and Teller, with their highly valuable Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, are doing a great job not only of unmasking various charlatans and gullible spreaders of mumbo-jumbo but of being a lot more fun than their numbskull targets. It doesn't hurt that they've mentioned a couple of American Council on Science and Health head honchos in...
  • The brain hungers to place things in simple categories: good for you, bad for you...safe, risky. But the stomach hungers for French fries, salmon, meat substitutes, and other things that have been hastily labeled "bad" by activists, so the brain has some work to do: putting the activists' warnings (about food and other things) in context, weighing those tiny or imagined risks against other risks from everyday life. Ten lessons for the discriminating risk-assessor:

    1. All regulations are not equal. To people who put politics before science, all regulations are essentially morally equal either you're for all of them, since they ostensibly protect us, or against all of them, since they limit our freedom and cost money. But all regulations are not morally...

    America's pharmaceutical industry is under scrutiny and attack more than ever before. Critics have pejoratively nicknamed the industry "Big Pharma" (to associate it with "Big Tobacco"); they characterize it as uncaring, duplicitous, profit-hungry, and manipulative; they claim that the industry excels in price-gouging while at the same time delivering very few products of any real value. The resentment of the industry is palpable from my own conversations with relatives and friends (particularly elderly or infirm ones) to Congress, where advocates are demanding the legalization of drug importation from Canada and elsewhere in a desperate (and, in the long run, futile) attempt to bring drug prices down.

    Perhaps nowhere does strident criticism of the...

    September 24, 2007: Flu, DDT, and Psychosomatic Allergies

    -- Quote to Note: "Stop pushing DDT? Public health officials need to push harder to save lives now." --Steven Milloy, JunkScience.com

    -- Today, talk at the morning table returned to last week's announcement from the Centers for Disease Control that there will be 132 million doses of the flu shot available. (Flu shot season officially launches the first week in October.) ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, curious about the exact number of discarded and wasted flu shots last year, attempted to contact the CDC last Friday. Sadly, the CDC provided very little help. ACSH staffers note the...

    PRO:

    By Lester Grinspoon, M.D.

    Cannabis was first admitted to Western pharmacopoeias one and a half centuries ago. In 1839, W. B. O'Shaughnessy at the Medical College of Calcutta observed its use in the indigenous treatment of various disorders and found that tincture of hemp was an effective analgesic, anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant.(1) Publication of O'Shaughnessy's paper created a stir within a medical establishment that at that time had access to only a few effective medicines. In the next several decades, many papers on cannabis appeared in the Western medical literature. It was widely used until the first decades of the twentieth century, especially as an analgesic and hypnotic. Symptoms and conditions for which it was found helpful included...

    It's that time of year again, time, not coincidentally, for spring flowers, pagan fertility rituals, Easter egg hunts, resurrections, Arbor Day, and, yes, Earth Day. The environmentalists will no doubt use Earth Day to reflect upon good and bad environmental developments (but especially the bad) from the past year.

    earth But instead, why not join me in looking at a random, impressionistic HealthFactsAndFears.com grab bag of health- and environment-related developments from the past twelve months, ranging from the significant to the silly? It's a bit...

    Yes
    by Laurie Leiber

    For nearly two decades, two U.S. Surgeon Generals C. Everett Koop and Antonia Novello and numerous public health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Parent Teachers Association, the American Medical Association, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have called upon manufacturers of alcoholic beverages to advertise more responsibly. National polls show that Americans increasingly favor either restricting or banning broadcast alcohol advertising.

    But despite this widespread support for advertising reform, the alcohol industry using its considerable political clout and such preemptive PR strategies as public-service campaigns and voluntary advertising codes has averted...

    1. Focus your efforts on things that matter.

    It is important that we distinguish between risks that are real and can be lessened by individuals' actions and those that are theoretical, very small, or beyond our control.

    The American Council on Science and Health is dedicated to helping you set priorities for a healthy and long life. When it comes to achieving long life and good health, we largely determine our own fate. As we get ready to start a new year, we can do ourselves the most good by improving important health-related aspects of our lifestyles -- such as quitting smoking (or, better, not starting in the first place) and engaging in regular exercise -- and by taking advantage of technology that protects us against health and safety hazards, such...