United States

Suicide and homicide rates show strikingly different trends in the United States.

The suicide rate has been increasing. It has been led by a rise in suicides in rural America, which are up 40% in 16 years. The homicide rate, on the other hand, has been decreasing over the same time period, though there has been a slight uptick in recent years.

Racial differences in homicide and suicide rates are particularly eye-catching. Over the past week, the CDC has released data, first on suicides:

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"Attn:" is an activist website that produces extremely popular videos, some of which feature the esteemed scientist (all actors consider themselves scientists) Zooey Deschanel. And like most activist websites, truth comes in a distant second place to eyeballs.

One video making the rounds on Facebook is titled, "Processed Food in America vs. Europe." The video pushes the old trope that Europeans eat food hand-picked from the Garden of the Gods, while Americans eat slop filled with dangerous chemicals. So far, it's received 62 million views.

The lies come early and often. Let's break them down:

"Processed food contains chemicals that are illegal in Europe."...

A new analysis by 24/7 Wall St., reprinted in part by USA Today, lists all 50 U.S. states in order of "excessive alcohol consumption," which is defined as binge drinking ("four or more drinks in a single occasion for women and five or more for men") or heavy drinking ("at least eight drinks per week for women and 15 for men").

The 24/7 Wall St. article indicates that there is a complicated relationship between income and excessive drinking. Richer people tend to drink heavily, while poorer people tend to binge drink. The conventional wisdom,...

It has been a few months since news broke of a suspected "sonic attack" against American diplomats and their staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. Unfortunately, we seem to be nowhere closer to solving the mystery behind what happened.

In USA Today, Dr. Jamie Wells and I speculated that a chemical agent, perhaps some sort of organic solvent, could be responsible for the wide variety of symptoms reported by the victims, from hearing loss to brain damage.

A couple weeks later, an...

My wife and I travel frequently from our home in Seattle to Europe to visit her parents. I've been across the pond 20 times, and I've visited 18 countries there.

Whenever I listen to Americans talk about Europe, I'm struck by how little they actually understand it. To the Left, Europe is a progressive paradise -- scientifically savvy, technologically advanced, and culturally liberal with cradle-to-grave welfare for all. To the Right, Europe is a socialist hellhole -- an economically stagnant, irreligious, morally bankrupt continent of has-beens.

These diametrically opposed caricatures are completely wrong. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Take science policy, for instance. Europe notoriously embraces the "precautionary principle,"...

Once considered the heart and soul of the country, rural America is facing very difficult times. People are moving away, and towns are disappearing.

The lack of economic opportunities exacerbates the health problems that plague rural America. Poverty and despair play a role in drug addiction, which has manifested in recent years as an opioid epidemic. The death rate from overdoses of all drugs is highest in West Virginia: At 41.5 deaths per 100,000 people, the rate is more than 2.5 times the national average. It's probably no coincidence that West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the country.

Likewise, it is probably no coincidence that the...

It doesn't matter how bad or wildly untrue an idea might be; it is a near certainty that one can find an academic somewhere who is willing to embrace it. Alternative medicine, AIDS denialism, Holocaust denialism, communism -- all of these find a welcoming home within the ranks of academia.

The latest bad idea -- admittedly, not nearly as bad as the aforementioned -- comes from Smith College history professor Daniel Gardner, who believes that the U.S. should learn from China about air pollution. In an article for Project Syndicate, he makes the case that a nation with some of the cleanest air in the world can learn from a nation...

When I was in high school, I was part of a community service organization (Key Club) that literally was one of the best in the world. We won international awards, and at the state level, it wasn't uncommon for us to sweep nearly all the awards.

Maybe I was the only one who felt this way, but after a while, it started to get a little uncomfortable. Everybody already knows you're the best, and winning every award year after year feels a little like rubbing it in. Public accolades paradoxically make me feel proud but also a little embarrassed.

It's a good thing that the scientific community in the United States doesn't share my conflicted feelings about the spotlight. Because, once again, Americans have dominated the Nobel Prizes.

On Monday, the...

Murders in America have increased recently. This has been made horrifyingly obvious by the tragic nightly news stories coming from Chicago, a city whose homicide rate has skyrocketed in the last few years. (The homicide rate in Chicago is a legitimate hockey stick graph.)

The homicide rate in Chicago, though extremely alarming, is not the nation's worst for a large city. That dubious distinction goes to St. Louis. Other cities with higher homicide rates than Chicago include Memphis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, and Birmingham. (The Economist has an excellent...

Several years after the ACA ("Obamacare") passed, healthcare costs continue to rise in America. The question of why – and, perhaps more importantly, how much of these costs should be covered by the government – continue to spark intense political debate.

New research funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Joseph Dieleman of the University of Washington may shed some light on this issue. The researchers investigated global patterns of healthcare spending, and their results are published in The Lancet.

For their investigation, the team analyzed healthcare spending (which was adjusted for inflation and purchasing power) in 184 countries from 1995 to 2014. Then, they conducted regression analyses, with the general aim of making two broad determinations: (1) Given...