Science & Society

Scare journalism is big business. Hardly a day goes by without mainstream media promoting "X is harmful to your health" claims based on surveys, epidemiology and suspect methodology.

As a result, people are taught to be afraid of Subway bread, beer, high fructose corn syrup, MSG and even gluten without a reason.

It's not a shock that a certain demographic is going to be be easily driven by fear and misperception. But who? The easy answer has long been Whole Foods shoppers, because they are against vaccines, traditional farming and increasingly seek more laws and regulations to save them from the unknown. States like California, New York and Washington are hotbeds of anti-science beliefs.


Just a few short years ago, sugar growers and packagers had to have felt pretty good. Thanks to a rash of suspect epidemiological claims about high-fructose corn syrup, and then marketing claims and labels touting a lack of HFCS (even pancake syrup, made of corn syrup, got labels saying it was not HFCS), they had to feel good about the future.

No more. The low-fat, low-calorie, gluten-free diet craze has also clearly turned on sugar, if New York Times stories are the barometer for that demographic. And it is.


Policy makers may think more sin taxes will cut consumption - but it doesn't really work that way. Supermarkets recognize there are a lot more poor people than rich people and so they don't mark up the same products accordingly.

A paper written by the University of Sheffield with business experts from the University of East Anglia and Loughborough University discovered retailers appear to respond to increases in alcohol taxes by 'under-shifting' their cheaper products (raising prices below the level implied by the tax increase) and 'over-shifting' their more expensive products (raising prices beyond the level implied by the tax increase).  


If the world will have 9 billion people or more by 2050, we'll probably be okay.

The scare stories of food riots and mass famine once promoted by 1960s Doomsday Prophet Paul Ehrlich are today only promoted by, well, Paul Ehrlich. Even organic farmers say they can feed the world now.

In the last 30 years, America has led the world in science and nowhere has that been more evident than in food. American farmers have successfully dematerialized in a world of materialism - they grow more food on less land using fewer pesticides than ever thought possible. And the future looks even brighter.
There's no politics in ice cream but if there were, you can bet Ben  &  Jerry's would be the official ice cream of Mother Jones and Union of Concerned Scientists and other Democrats everywhere.

It's over-priced, it has all the correct social positions for the coasts, and it engages in the sort of naturalistic fallacies and logical flip-flops that anti-science progressives love.

Like: ice cream is not healthy if it has GMOs.

Well, it's junk food. It's inherently unhealthy yet they have said with a straight face they want their customers to believe they made it healthier by not having syrup made from a corn that had a genetic modification to allow it to be grown with fewer toxic chemicals.
A new survey shows egg carton labels are confusing organic consumers. They don't really know the difference between "pasture-raised" eggs and the “free-range” and “cage-free” kind but a pasture-raised company is banking on the fact that if people do know, they will spend more on their eggs.

Almost anything can be free-range, for example. If a chicken can poke their head through a hole, well, that's free range. And cage free can still be jammed in tighter than a United Airlines cross-country flight, it just can't be in a cage.

Parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis go on to have fewer kids after the first signs of the disorder manifest or a diagnosis is made, according to an article in JAMA.


Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Developoment (OECD) countries that lead in innovation are easy to spot - you look for the ones that have the most scientists in the private sector. 

Countries like the United States, Korea and Japan are responsible for the bulk of the world's technology design and they have over 75% of researchers employed in the private sector. 

In other OECD countries, the numbers are much lower - scientists are instead government employees and the need for innovation is last. This worries Spain, where research and innovation lags. In OECD countries overall, only 45.4% of scientists work in the private sector, the rest are being funded by taxes rather than corporate profits. In Spain, it is half that.


20 year ago, some teens were always trying to get sex - and they talked about it. But their behavior was not stored in an NSA database somewhere.

If it were stored with the IRS, such discussions might be safe because they could be lost with a Nixon-ian phone call or two, but otherwise someone can find out about sexy talk in the modern age - "sexting". A new psychology paper surveyed college students (naturally) and found that more than 50 percent of those surveyed reported that they had exchanged sexually explicit text messages, with or without photographic images, as minors.


Though everyone recognizes there is a problem, during a generation when lots of efforts were made to increase diversity, the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pipeline in academia remains primarily liberal white men.

That's not to say there haven't been efforts. Women and minorities are well-represented, though groups with less advocacy, like handicapped people and political conservatives, are routinely dismissed.