science and politics

Anyone who believes that vaccines cause autism shouldn't be in a position of authority. The fundamental problem with someone making such a claim is not that s/he is wrong. Instead, it reveals someone who's conspiratorially minded and lacks critical thinking skills. That's not the sort of person who should be in charge of anything important.
One would think that in a world where facts can be easily verified, it shouldn't become so polarized. But a new paper in the European Journal for Philosophy of Science argues that polarization is the natural outcome when groups of people disagree. In fact, the authors document a major example of polarization within the scientific community itself.
Not only did Americans vote on members of Congress this week, but citizens of several states also voted on various science- and health-related policy issues. How did those turn out? On the upside, an anti-fracking law was defeated. On the downside, workplace vaping was banned and bogus medical marijuana laws passed.
U.S. public health agencies struggle to endorse an obvious solution to a true public health menace. Hopefully, the UK Parliament will provide a much-needed boost to the forces of common sense.
The ingratitude expressed by the National Science Foundation over a huge funding increase for an important project is inexplicable.
In the grand tradition of misidentifying problems and offering proposals that won’t work, the city council of Washington, D.C. wants to force manufacturers of flushable toilet wipes to change the label to “non-flushable.” This is wrong.
A hot rock massage and herbal tea might make you feel nice, but they don't actually cure anything. Pointing that out in China, however, might land a person in jail.
The Occupy movement fizzled out because it stood for nothing. But don't look now: The March for Science is flirting with the same dubious fate.
The stated mission of 314 Action, a group that supports scientists in their bids for U.S. congressional seats, is laudable. Among its objectives is a desire to "elect more leaders ... from STEM backgrounds." However, if you're a Republican don't expect much action at all.
The war on science has at least three fronts. First, there is the widely reported political war on science, widely and erroneously believed to be waged exclusively by conservatives, when in reality, progressives are just as eager to throw science under the bus when it suits their agenda. (ACSH President Hank Campbell and I wrote an entire book about this topic, called Science Left Behind.) As a general rule, when science and political activists clash, the activists usually win.
One of the biggest problems of our hyperpartisan culture is that everything has been turned into a morbid game show. Gone are the days when politicians and the media acted in the best interest of the American people. Instead, we have manufactured controversy and faux outrage over the most mundane of events. Instead of world news, we get 24/7 coverage of the President's Twitter feed. And instead of serious analysis, we get programming that resembles some horrifying merger of Family Feud, Hunger Games, and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Alas, the $37 billion dietary supplements industry likely will remain unregulated for the foreseeable future. And with it, the fight against junk science and bogus health claims must soldier on.