Thanksgiving Science 2015

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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0® in 2006 and, since July of 2015, the President of the American Council on Science and Health.

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At the Biotech Literacy Project Boot Camp, held a week ago at the U.C. Davis World Food Center, I was on a journalism roundtable with Brooke Borel, Keith Kloor and Razib Khan, moderated by Professor Kevin Folta, and I was asked about the most important thing for scientists to keep in mind regarding increasing science acceptance.

It's always difficult to pick just one but given the nature of the assault on food science, 'don't engage in deficit thinking' was my response. Basically, don't assume the other person simply lacks the proper facts or that if things are framed properly it would change their minds. It probably will not, at least for the most vocal critics.
In America, the social sciences, like psychology and anthropology, are regarded as female occupations - because they are.

But does that mean women are self-selecting women and there is bias against males in those fields? It depends on who you ask.

People rarely admit to bias and in 2015 people are rarely overtly biased, so instead it may be that when you walk into a classroom and no one looks 'like' you, you may be uncomfortable or, worse, you may feel like you are representing your whole gender/ethnicity and under-perform because you worry about how it makes your group look if you fail. 

In 2006 there was a serious decline in the number of honey bee colonies in parts of Europe and the United States and it brought renewed concern about another Colony Collapse Disorder, which had last occurred in the mid-1990s.

The Red Lady burial site in El Mirón cave, outside Ramales de la Victoria in Cantabria, Spain, dates back to the Upper Palaeolithic 16,000 years ago. The archaeological site was discovered in 1903 but it wasn't until 2010 that bones were discovered at the back of the cave, in a small space between the wall and a fallen block. Both the bones and the sediment under them were reddish.

The remains turned out to be of a woman, between 35 and 40 years of age, and because of the color the Red Lady mystery was born. The reddish color means the use of ochre and ochre has been linked to religious symbolism in various cultures.
Abbott Laboratories, the $40 billion conglomerate involved in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and supplements such as Similac and Ensure, has stated they will create a GMO-free version of Similac for parents who worry about GMOs inside their kids.

They cited a survey showing 20 percent of respondents wanted that option. The survey also noted that wealthier people in places like California and the Northeast were willing to pay more. Almost all baby formula uses corn and soy derivatives and more than 90 percent of those crops are GMOs, so  this will be for niche consumers who don't regard cost as an object.
Have you been avoiding Taco Bell because of the Yellow No. 6 dye in its nacho cheese? 

Of course not. And if removing that or carmine from its red tortilla chips means you will suddenly think their food is healthy, you are being educated by advertising.

Which is just what they are hoping.

There is nothing healthy about Taco Bell or Pizza Hut or Chipotle yet they have all delivered similar intellectual placebos to the public in order to boost sales. And it's working, or at least they think it is working, since more and more junk food chains attach this health halo to their products because supposedly consumers are demanding it. Whether that turns out to be virtual money or real money is the question.