United States

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...

Americans don't agree on much these days. But one thing upon which we do agree is that something is deeply broken in our society.

Consider the right track/wrong track poll, as aggregated by RealClearPolitics. This is perhaps the simplest gauge of how Americans feel about their country. The numbers aren't just negative; they are overwhelmingly and embarrassingly negative. And it's been that way for years. Americans, internationally renowned for being an optimistic people, have been uncharacteristically pessimistic for quite some time. Why?

It's difficult to escape the conclusion that our culture has changed, both dramatically and for the worse. I believe three factors...