anti-science

California has given up all pretense of being a state governed by reason or common sense: Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled that coffee must carry a cancer warning label. The judge’s ruling is scientifically illiterate.

Coffee has been consumed widely since about the 1600’s without any apparent ill effects. Therefore, the scientific burden of proof is on those who say that coffee is dangerous.

Instead, the lawsuit has turned science upside-down by requiring coffee companies to prove that their product isn’t unsafe. That is absurd, not only because it violates 400 years of common sense about coffee, but because it is impossible to prove a negative. Science also cannot prove that ghosts aren’t real. Perhaps all California residences should carry a...

"Attn:" is an activist website that produces extremely popular videos, some of which feature the esteemed scientist (all actors consider themselves scientists) Zooey Deschanel. And like most activist websites, truth comes in a distant second place to eyeballs.

One video making the rounds on Facebook is titled, "Processed Food in America vs. Europe." The video pushes the old trope that Europeans eat food hand-picked from the Garden of the Gods, while Americans eat slop filled with dangerous chemicals. So far, it's received 62 million views.

The lies come early and often. Let's break them down:

"Processed food contains chemicals that are illegal in Europe."...

Stephan Neidenbach is a middle school technology teacher. To counter the barrage of misinformation about biotechnology on the internet, he began a Facebook page called We Love GMOs and Vaccines. He quickly gained prominence among science communicators.

Anti-biotechnology activists – especially those who are on an ideological bender against genetically engineered crops – are trying to destroy the careers of scientists who work on or publicly advocate for GMOs. Their favored tactic is to target academic scientists with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, then fishing through e-mails for any evidence that the scientists are “corporate shills.” Finding none, activists pull quotes out of context, fabricate conspiracies, and cyberbully scientists online. University of Florida...

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...

I am a prophet.

Last year, I wrote an article titled, "Panera Bread Takes A Page From 'Food Babe's' Playbook." The Food Babe is the unscientific guru who says that we shouldn't eat food that contains ingredients that we can't pronounce.

The bogus "clean food" movement has seized upon that idea, and soon after joining the bandwagon, Panera Bread launched an advertising campaign mocking chemistry.

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A judge in California is going to determine whether or not coffee causes cancer.

Think about that. We live in a society where judges and lawyers -- not medical doctors, scientists, or even a group of really clever AP biology high school students -- get to determine the credibility of biomedical research. The stakes are high: If coffee is deemed carcinogenic, then the State of California will be required to give up all pretense at common sense and sanity.

To give just a small flavor of the level of insanity California has reached, attorney Raphael Metzger and his group's trial lawyer NGO Council for Education and Research on Toxics (CERT - founded by U.C. Berkeley Professor Martyn...

It's that time of year again.

The Holiday Season has ended, and society collectively begins its slog through a new year. What better time, then, to scare the living daylights out of everybody?

In what has become an eagerly anticipated tradition, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warns us that our families and children are all moments away from annihilation. The international media uncritically and gleefully reports this nonsense, despite the fact that the Doomsday Clock has been around since 1947. Yet, we're all still here. There must be something wrong with the clock.

This year, we are merely...

Much buzz has surrounded President Trump's "Fake News Awards." Given that part of our mission is debunking pseudoscience and bogus health claims, we felt obliged to offer our own Fake News Award ... for junk science.

Websites like Food Babe, Mercola, InfoWars, and Natural News are perennial contenders. But giving them the award is too easy and predictable. Anyone with a halfway decent frontal lobe knows that these websites are pure garbage.

So, the Fake News Award for Science should go to a media outlet that has credibility (in some people's eyes, anyway), yet consistently gets the science wrong, likely for ideological reasons. With those criteria in...

Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, has announced his retirement. When he leaves, the Senate will lose its most ardent supporter of alternative medicine.

Previously, that title was held indisputably by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa. He is largely to blame for the abomination known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an organization so worthless that it had to change its name so biomedical scientists would stop mocking it.

If Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, Sen. Harkin was the Snake Oil Salesman of the Senate. Given that his pet project wasted billions investigating pure...

Scientists and lawyers do not get along. There's a reason for that. Simply put, scientists and lawyers do not think alike.

I was smacked in the face by this reality when I was called into jury duty in 2011. The case involved a car accident, and the standard in Washington State for the jury to decide in favor of the plaintiff is a "preponderance of evidence," which is a fancy way of saying, "51 percent." Essentially, a coin toss decides if the plaintiff wins a bunch of money.

The judge asked if any of the potential jurors objected to that. I did. "I'm a scientist," I explained, "and I need more evidence than that." So, I was shown the door.*

That experience...