science policy

Researchers at Harvard's Belfer Center scoured the globe for whatever was publicly available on North Korea's biological weapons program. Referencing news articles, journal papers, expert interviews and government reports, the team assembled a comprehensive study of the knowns and unknowns. Here are the main findings.
Air pollution in China has a substantially negative impact on public health. But with the exception of central and southern California and the upper Midwest, the United States has extremely clean air. And in fact, most regions in this country would not benefit from tighter air pollution standards.
What does Germany's election mean for science? Absolutely nothing, except that the preexisting anti-nuclear, anti-GMO, and anti-technology policies that were already prevalent under Mrs. Merkel will be reinforced. And the world won't notice.
Mergers may be a great business decision, but they may not be great for society. If the European Union is not distracted by politics and anti-GMO activists – and if it's able to focus solely on the economic pros and cons of a merger – it is engaging in appropriate regulatory oversight. (But that's a big "if.")
Recently, in a room full of microbiologists, this question was posed: "How many of you believe climate change is the world's #1 threat?" Silence. Not a single person's hand was raised. Were they all rejecting science? No, not at all. They just didn't see it as threatening as antibiotic resistance, pandemic disease or geopolitical instability.
The Trump Administration has convened a panel to address America's opioid epidemic. Its first mission should be to find convincing data to identify the actual cause(s) of the problem. That will be much harder than it sounds, since ideologues are always in plentiful supply.
Scientists are humans, too. And just like other humans you know, some of them aren't very good at their jobs. There are three main ways in which scientists can mess up. Here's how.
Some might argue that democracy not only leads people to believe that all humans are of equal value (which is true), but all humans are equal in their abilities, thoughts, and behaviors (which is completely false). Yet, many people in a democracy believe the latter. And it leads to a very bad outcome.
Soda taxes aren't racist, yet precisely that case was made by a reporter for the newspaper. His position: Blacks and Hispanics consume more sugary beverages than whites and Asians, while whites and Asians drink more diet beverages than blacks and Hispanics. Because the tax does not apply to diet beverages, it is racist. Let's break this down.
A co-founder of the "March for Science" says that it's "time for everyone to get on board." Okay, sure. We'll get on board – pending satisfactory answers to serious science policy questions.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan recently announced their intention to "cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children's lifetime." But if that's their goal, then perhaps their initial funding ought to be aimed at fighting the underlying cause of so much of the world's suffering – poverty.
The position of Science Czar is just one of thousands that President-Elect Trump must consider in the coming weeks. The incumbent, John Holdren, was a flawed choice. His fringe views on demographics and environmental policy, expressed in a book he co-authored with Paul Ehrlich (who notoriously wrote the now discredited The Population Bomb), should have disqualified him from the post.