science policy

If somebody invented a device that could save the lives of millions of smokers, should society encourage its use? Yes, absolutely, the Parliament of the United Kingdom just concluded in a new report on e-cigarettes.

Published by the Science and Technology Committee, the report does not mince its words. It claims that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is "missing [an] opportunity" to save lives by overlooking the benefits of e-cigarettes.

The report summary begins...

Do you use plastic bags? Do you drink from plastic straws? You're a contemptible person who should be fined and imprisoned because you're polluting the ocean and destroying the planet.

The inconvenient fact, of course, is that none of it's true. Plastic bag and straw bans -- examples of what Todd Myers calls "eco-fads" (things that make us feel good but do nothing beneficial) -- will do nothing to curb plastic pollution in the ocean. Actual data explain why.

#1. Plastic doesn't magically appear in the ocean. It has to...

European Court of Justice

Europeans are a scientific mess in 2018.

The home of the Enlightenment and Humanism is desperately trying to claim rationality about food, energy, and medicine while embracing nature-based mysticism and using wedge politics to get their way. They think America is too religious but have their own new theism; a "Frankenfood" Devil and the Resurrection of the anti-vaccination movement. They claim concern about energy emissions but buy energy from fossil fuel plants in the former USSR. They pretend to buy organic food because Russia claims it is and don't do the inconvenient math to know that's impossible.

And that maddening hypocrisy is being reflected in their courts.1

Europeans, who overwhelmingly claim to accept the science consensus on climate change,...

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.

Dr. Tan Qindong was just released after spending three months in a Chinese jail, and is now possibly awaiting trial, for the crime of criticizing Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), according to Nature News. He learned the hard way that speaking the truth about biomedical science is a very bad career move in that country.

In a blog post, Dr. Tan, who is an anesthesiologist and entrepreneur, said that a popular TCM drug called "Hongmao Medicinal Liquor" was poison. Very little information is available about this particular...

It's repeated so often, that it's become conventional wisdom. To sustainably meet our energy needs, the world requires a balanced "energy mix" or an "all-of-the-above" strategy: a little solar power here, a little wind power there, and toss in some hydrothermal, geothermal, and natural gas for good measure.

That's nonsense, argues a new paper in the journal Sustainability. Instead of treating our energy policy like salad toppings at a buffet, let's just go full steam ahead on the one thing that could meet all of the world's energy needs right now: Nuclear power. The lead author, Barry Brook, is a nuclear power advocate and makes a compelling case centered around three major arguments.

The Laws of Physics

First, though many countries pay...

Remember the Occupy movement? It began in 2011 and fizzled out a few years later. Why?

Because it stood for nothing. Anything that protesters disliked was a target to be "occupied," so activists used the movement to vent their anger over the status quo. But what exactly made them angry and how they proposed to fix it were never elaborated. Instead, we got endless video footage of protesters camping near city streets, blocking traffic, and pooping on the sidewalk.

Simply put, it is not sufficient for a political movement to express dissatisfaction. If it wants to have a lasting impact, it must have an achievable goal in mind. Without a unifying rallying cry, a political movement risks fading into...

What's the biggest, deadliest threat the world faces today? How a person answers that question reveals a lot about them.

Epidemiologists and microbiologists fear pandemics, economists fret over depressions, and foreign policy analysts fear war. Political partisans will often say something flip -- like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton -- but the upside is that you no longer have to take that individual seriously.

Those who fancy themselves enlightened are likely to answer climate change, but like Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, this is simply the apocalypse du jour. Climate change is a slow-moving threat whose consequences are in the...

The U.S. Congress is made up mostly of professional politicians and lawyers. This comes as a surprise to precisely no one, but the sheer numbers are rather striking.

According to the Congressional Research Service (PDF, Table 2), the 115th Congress consists of 168 Representatives (out of 435) who are lawyers, and the Senate has 50 lawyers (out of 100). Combined, lawyers make up nearly 41% of Congress.

How many lawyers are in the U.S.? One law firm (with a nifty interactive map!) estimates roughly 1.3 million. Given that the U.S. population is about 323 million, the number of lawyers...

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...

I voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of Washington. My general belief is that adults should be allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as they aren't harming anybody else.

So, this article is not about whether adults should have the right to smoke pot. Instead, this article is about basic responsibility, something that a lot of potheads apparently don't have.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that a 9-year-old 5th grader took what she believed to be a box of gummy candy to school and shared them with friends. The problem is that it wasn't just any gummy candy; instead, the candy contained THC, the active...