While there's no formula to determine the "correct answer" for public health policy, there are guidelines that can at least point policymakers in the right direction. Ultimately, what separates good public health policy from bad public health policy is a satisfactory response to three essential questions.
Chickenpox is wrongly thought of as a harmless disease. Prior to widespread vaccination, chickenpox hospitalized 13,000 Americans and killed 150 every year. But even if it was a harmless infection, wouldn't we want to vaccinate our children to spare them the pain of shingles in their later years?
Better safe than sorry. That's a great lesson for a child when a parent explains why she should wear a helmet when riding her bicycle. But that refrain makes for terrible public health policy.
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who fancies herself a visionary, challenged her critics to come up with an alternative to the Green New Deal. It wasn't very hard to do. Not only that, when the Fox Business Channel read Dr. Alex Berezow's plan, they invited him to discuss it on television last night. So he did. And here's his proposal.
Like Pig-Pen from Peanuts, a cloud of filth follows Andrew Wakefield wherever he goes. Vaccine exemptions have soared 1900% in Texas since he moved there. Now, he's trying to get anti-vaccine politicians elected.
Imagine if Dr. Oz -- who peddles all sorts of pseudoscientific, nonsensical miracle cures on his daytime TV show -- proposed an environmental policy. That's the Green New Deal.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is one of the foremost pro-science organizations in the world. Not only does it advocate for good science and science policy, it publishes Science, the prestigious journal read globally by millions. Unfortunately, AAAS has gotten a bit weird in recent months.
When pharmaceutical companies jack up prices, it irritates everybody. And when people are irritated, politicians take the opportunity to do some grandstanding to win votes. Just a few days into its term, the House Oversight Committee in the new Congress has already launched an investigation into drug pricing. Is that justified? Not really.
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.
Food labels serve one purpose, and one purpose only: To provide nutritional information to consumers. The process by which a food is produced is not relevant to its nutritional content or safety profile. Therefore, products made using animal cell culture techniques absolutely should not require special labeling.
Scientific journals discriminate against industry scientists, unless, that is, they happen to work for the environmental or organic industries. Those scientists don't have to follow the same rules governing the disclosure of conflicts of interest that everybody else does.
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.