Science Education & Policy

A Cochrane Library review suggests that smoking bans may reduce harms of passive smoking, unclear as they are, since there has never been evidence that second-hand smoke has harmed anyone. Yet epidemiologists have linked it to risks of heart disease and some have even claimed third-hand smoke - particulate matter residues on clothing or in a room - can cause cancer. 

But the review does correlate lower rates of cardiovascular disease with bans. 


With the attacks in Paris and in California recently, all linked to Muslim terrorists, where is the line between being factual about who is committing terrorist acts and fueling anti-Muslim sentiment?

Craig Anderson, Distinguished Professor of psychology at Iowa State University, and colleagues think they can find out, by surveying college students.

According to their results, published in the journal Communication Research, there is a link between negative media stories of Muslims and support for military action and restrictions against Muslims. And since conservatives in America are mostly likely to be strong on topics like crime and military defense, they say it was entirely predictable that GOP candidates would take strong stands against terrorism. 


Vice President Joe Biden's 'moonshot' initiative to defeat cancer - an outline which will be written by political staffers and delivered a month before the Obama administration leaves office - received support from 50 percent of Americans, according to a survey funded by Research!America.

Not really a surprise, nearly half of Americans support more taxes on lots of things and may not realize we first began the War on Cancer during the Nixon administration over 40 years ago.

In the survey, support for more taxes to go toward government work on cancer was predictably along political lines, with Democrats 67% for it while Republicans (38%) and Independents (39%) are not.  


The Director of the Centers for Disease Control recently highlighted a campaign to convince up to 86 million Americans that they have pre-diabetes, a condition that doesn't even exist. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is concerned that health care costs under the Affordable Care Act have skyrocketed and millennials are opting to pay the penalty rather than get the health care, which could be twice as expensive. 


When you don't have much money, you have to prioritize, and that is a key issue that the wealthy elites who set off on insurance reform forgot to factor in. Massachusetts, which the Federal government claimed was a model for its Affordable Care Act, now has to spend 40 percent of its budget so that 25 percent of people can have even basic health care. That is not sustainable.


One progressive effort to wipe out racism today is to insist it's still omnipresent now but eliminate it from the past. So authors like Mark Twain, or even Ian Fleming, are shoved to the side if they examined the culture of their day uncritically. In the case of Mark Twain, even a black character who is clearly a hero has to be censored. 

So it goes in film media as well. There is a Disney film you can't buy in the United States, but you can buy in England, because it is racist in the United States. Yet the English brought slaves to America, Thomas Jefferson instead made importation of slaves illegal in 1808. And they don't think it is racist.


Children who participate in collaborative group work to learn about significant social issues become better decision-makers than their peers who learn the same curriculum through teacher-led discussions, a new study finds.

More than 760 fifth-grade students were involved in the study, which compared the efficacy of collaborative group work with conventional direct instruction at promoting students' ability to make reasoned decisions and apply those skills in a novel task.


In the 1990s, the Clinton administration sharply reduced the number of foreign work visas - the reason was protectionism, the belief that foreign workers were taking American jobs.

Things didn't work out as planned. Jobs instead went overseas and since we did not reduce student visas, Asian students learned at the best schools in the world and were forced to return home to compete with Americans, rather than becoming Americans.


The reason to force young people to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was because they are an easy profit center. They won't use much in the early years but they will when they are old, when a new generation of young people will be forced to pay.

It hasn't really worked out that way. While emergency room visits did go down slightly, visits were instead done more in an office for the difference, the cost of mental illness ER visits in this age group increased "significantly," as did diseases of the circulatory system, according to a paper in Annals of Emergency Medicine.


In the early days of food labeling and regulations, it was just about mandating honesty. If you go to buy mayonnaise, you shouldn’t have to wonder if it is mayonnaise, the government reasoned, so they passed a law in 1938 requiring honesty about ingredients. The charlatans went out of the business and the free market that remained embraced “better” ingredients as a marketing distinction. It worked well.