science and politics

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.
Lawyers are routinely required to solve problems that they themselves created. If something like this were to occur in any other area of life, it would be called racketeering. So beware, science: a lawsuit-happy nation turns its eyes to you.
Open displays of bipartisanship are rare these days and, as such, should be applauded. Unfortunately, a recent example of bipartisanship promotes junk science and bogus health claims, using buzz words like "integrative" and "wellness" that are code for "alternative medicine."
These days having a conversation about politics and the state of our nation often devolves into an ideological pitched battle of wills. That's why this year my Christmas wish is for 24-hours of argument-free discourse.