I pitched a column to the journal Science titled, "How I Became a Junk Science Debunker." It was initially accepted and went through two months (and nine rounds) of editing. At the last moment, however, the column was spiked by senior editor Tim Appenzeller (pictured). Why? Because I'm a corporate shill, of course.
A new study reveals that nearly 40% of Europeans want to "live in a world where chemical substances don't exist." Another 82% didn't know that table salt is table salt, whether it is extracted from the ocean or made synthetically.
"Follow the money!" activists shout. The money trail, according to this logic, always leads to lies and deception. This puerile fallacy, argumentum ad aurum, is just a thinly disguised ad hominem attack commonly used against scientists. Instead of criticizing the quality or conclusions of the research, activists instead assault the integrity of the scientist.
During a recent monologue Bill Maher instructed America on the importance of knowledge. He's right, of course, but the talkshow host is a rather imperfect messenger: Listening to him is like receiving a lecture from Bill Clinton or Donald Trump on the importance of marital fidelity. Maher's political viewpoint was illuminating, but probably not in the way he had hoped.