Every year most of us make New Year’s resolutions. Eat healthier. Exercise regularly. Invest more in valued relationships. Learn a language. And so on. Often they are the same resolutions as last year.

Why do our resolutions often so swiftly wither away?

A prime culprit in this annual roller coaster of optimism and disappointment is overconfidence in the power of our intentions.

The excitement of a new year (and perhaps the fruit of celebrating a little too hard) cloud remembering a hard fact of life: good intentions readily evaporate without a trace in the face of everyday experiences such as exhaustion, temptation and long-standing habits.

The year 2018 began much like every year does, full of promise and hope. And it ended like almost every year does, jaded and weakened by compromise. 

Though a budget shutdown is in the news, hyperbolic claims about science being left behind are just political spin by mainstream science media; the real science and health crimes were committed by many of those same journalists.

Since you clearly prefer science to hype, here are three manufactured health scares you can leave in 2018.



1. Cleaning your kitchen will make your kid fat.
[Update: I found the time to add a few links to the post below, which I had previously omitted for lack of time (hey I'm on vacation!), and I also updated it to add some commentary of Sabine Hossenfelder's latest post on "the end of particle physics".]

In this age of short-term reward strategies (in politics, in society, and in individual behaviour) planning huge endeavours 20 years ahead is harder than it used to be. In the late eighties, when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was conceived and argued to be doable by a few visionaries, it immediately looked like a great idea to all. 
European scientific decision-making is often overtly political and that can lead to decisions which defy common sense.

Case in point; disposing of food waste.

In some countries they want food waste separated into its own garbage can but people can't use plastic bags, even if modern science has created a plastic that is just as compostable as the food.

In some countries they can.

There is no way for science to Brexit so companies, researchers and even pro-science politicians remain stymied in parliament-style governments, which must cater to numerous constituencies, often in conflict with each other. 
Supersymmetry (SUSY) is a possible extension of the Standard Model (SM), the currently accepted theory of subnuclear physics. SUSY has the potential to "explain away" some of the  problematic features of the SM, by introducing a new symmetry between fermions (the stuff that matter is made of) and bosons (the vectors of the forces that hold matter together). Introduced in the seventies, SUSY was tested with increasingly stringent tests in higher- and higher-energy collisions at particle accelerators, but all searches for its particles have returned empty-handed. In particular, many physicists thought that the turn-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) eight years ago would result in heaps of new discoveries of SUSY particles, which unfortunately weren't. 

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rightly cracking down on sales of vaping devices to minors and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams making a recent statement of concern, media are again repeating claims of an epidemic of vaping among children.

Our job at The Conversation is to work with scholars to publish analysis that helps readers make sense of the world. And if we demolish a few popularly held – but erroneous or misplaced – ideas and assumptions in the process, that makes me especially happy.

Hence my list, here, of stories from 2018 that use facts to interrogate popular wisdom – and the ideas they proved wrong:

Few Christmas carols evoke the season of peace and goodwill as readily as Silent Night. Two popular stories contribute to its appeal: one concerning the circumstances of its composition in Oberndorf, near Salzburg in Austria, and the other its role in the Christmas Truce of 1914 when the opposing forces walked out of their trenches to greet their enemies and share food and drink.

But its lyrical and musical content are also important factors in understanding its enduring popularity, and Christmas Eve 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of its performance.

As the West becomes more and more secular, and the discoveries of evolutionary biology and cosmology shrink the boundaries of faith, the claims that science and religion are compatible grow louder. If you’re a believer who doesn’t want to seem anti-science, what can you do? You must argue that your faith – or any faith – is perfectly compatible with science.

Let’s be honest – environment news isn’t always the jolliest, and 2018 was no exception. From climate change, to recycling, to energy policy, at times it has felt like we’ve been lurching from one crisis to the next.

So here are ten upbeat environmental stories from this year that prove it’s not all doom and gloom.