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COVID-19 Has Brought 'Thirdhand' Smoke Epidemiology Back From Its Science Grave

With COVID-19 and worries about the SARS-CoV-2 virus keeping millions of people at home, activists...

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A new estimate says that of 378 metropolitan areas, many could actually exist on locally grown...

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Are you excited about dozens of COVID-19 vaccine candidates? Do you get confused about whether...

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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I founded Science 2.0® in 2006 and since then it has become the world's largest independent science communications site, with over 300,000,000 direct readers and reach approaching one billion. Read More »

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Are Proud Boys and Antifa fighting each other 'to oppose fascism' a product of the COVID-19 pandemic? No, militant groups have always attracted people with pathologies who just need a reason to be violent, but pandemics do cause social unrest, at least historically.

There is a lot more isolation than in past pandemics but also a lot more community around SARS-CoV-2, the 2019 form of the coronavirus that has locked up most developed countries. Unlike the past, where nature was just trying to kill us, and the randomness of it all caused panic, people know where it originated and how. We know how to mitigate it. We are equipped to try and help those with co-morbidities. A lot of people have died, no one downplays that, but a lot fewer than in any pandemic ever.
Did you read a paper saying we can prevent ocean damage under climate change scenarios by dumping iron into water to spur phytoplankton growth? Germans did, and were so convinced they began doing illegal live experiments

The model used a best-case scenario, which any entry-level chess player knows is a bad idea - they forgot to falsify their own hypothesis in their zeal to do something. A new paper notes that many ambitious climate action plans rely on climate engineering technologies where the risks are unknown. They are more like TED talks than real plans.
In late March of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19. The drug is already used off-label for diseases like arthritis and given how it behaves with human biology, it is plausible it might work on some with COVID-19. A peer-reviewed study found just that - but it was only epidemiology, and that is not how drug approval ever happens, any more than epidemiology alone should be how regulations happen at EPA or any policy-making group. 
People often adopt vegetarian or even vegan diets because they are told it will make them healthier, but the same epidemiological correlation that tried to link butter with heart disease claimed trans fats would prevent it, and now statistical links claim just the opposite. 
Researchers are on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine to eliminate the need for mask wearing and current limits on interpersonal gatherings (except protests), but a new model says it still may not help the world exit a lingering economic depression.
What do anti-vaccine believers have in common? A similar distrust in other settled science like GMOs and nuclear power, for one. And they all are more likely to share similar voting patterns, which means that even though only 20 percent of Americans hold negative views of vaccines, they have an outsized impact on policy. Because most of them are on the same political side.