Placebo controls are a gold standard against which new treatments are often measured. If a new treatment consistently proves to be better than a placebo and safe, it can be marketed, sold and prescribed. Otherwise, it can’t – or at least shouldn’t. The problem is that, as our latest study reveals, researchers don’t report what placebos contain. Different placebos have different effects, and the choice of what’s in a placebo can lead to mistaken inferences about a new treatment’s benefits or harms.

A few years ago, France's International Agency for Research on Cancer, a United Nations body with a checkered scientific and ethical history, used statistics to suggest that red meat was bad for health.

It was easy. All they had to do was gather together studies that used rows of foods to meet columns of diseases and create a statistical link. Since they didn't have to do any actual science, they were able to declare that bacon was just as dangerous as plutonium or World War I mustard gas.

To IARC, it's safer to drink glyphosate than to eat a hot dog

In 2006, a tiny brown pebble, equivalent to a raisin, sold at auction for $25,000. This inconsequential artifact was, in fact, William Shatner’s kidney stone. The US actor had persuaded doctors to return the grisly relic to him following surgery, so he could auction it for charity. It was bought by an online casino that added it to its collection of oddities, which include a grilled cheese sandwich graced with an image of the Virgin Mary. Stranger still, this extraordinary interest in curiosa is not an uncommon occurrence, neither today nor throughout history.

Union of Concerned Scientists is only really in top form when a Republican is in the White House because when the GOP is in control, they can be angry outsiders, but when a Democrat is in control, a bunch of their employees leave and join the administration. After the Obama election, they even lost their President to Department of Energy - ironic, because they hate energy, but preventing nuclear and natural gas was a cornerstone of their work so it made sense to officially engage in that effort.

This is another scary headline that doesn’t mean what it seems to mean from the titles. We do not risk a world without the conker tree and there is no way it can go extinct. After all it is easy to cultivate. Here is an example story to debunk:

'Alarming' extinction threat to Europe's trees (BBC)

They say

Ravaged by moths and disease, the horse chestnut is now classified as vulnerable to extinction.

The tree is among more than 400 native European tree species assessed for their risk of extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

About half face disappearing from the natural landscape.

Award winning wines tend to have high ethanol and sugar levels. according to a recent paper in the Journal of Wine Research that sought to know what characteristics were prevalent in the wines that won the top awards at an international wine competition.

They crunched several years of data from the Mundus Vini Challenge, which is held twice a year in Germany, and found that large wine challenges tend to favor wines with high alcohol and sugar levels. Flavors often associated with sweetness, including exotic fruits in white wines and dried fruit and spiciness in reds, also increase the chances of winning top prizes.

Older people often talk about how they knew they had gone too far with their mothers. While a father might yell more a mother's tone would change into "that voice" and they knew they had gone over an invisible line.

Two invasive species of mosquitoes that can carry Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other dangerous viruses are spreading in California — and have been found as far north as Sacramento and Placer counties.

There are now 16 counties where Aedes aegypti, commonly known as the yellow fever mosquito, has been detected, according to the state Department of Public Health. Five of those counties have also detected Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito.

This week's Plot relates to the search of rare decays of the Higgs boson, through the analysis of the large amounts of proton-proton collision data produced by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN's marvelous 27km particle accelerator. The ATLAS collaboration, which is one of the four main scientific equipes looking at LHC collisions, produced an improved bound on the rate at which Higgs bosons may decay to electron-positron pairs (which they are expected to do, although very rarely, in the Standard Model, SM) and to electron-muon pairs (which are forbidden in the SM).

HILLSBORO, Ore. — On Kimberly Repp’s office wall is a sign in Latin: Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae. This is a place where the dead delight in helping the living.

For medical examiners, it’s a mission. Their job is to investigate deaths and learn from them, for the benefit of us all. Repp, however, isn’t a medical examiner; she’s a Ph.D. microbiologist. And as the Washington County epidemiologist, she was most accustomed to studying infectious diseases like flu or norovirus outbreaks among the living.