Cool Links

The government set out to fix health care a few years ago - and what everyone feared about government making things worse has come to pass. They made it impossible for anyone except the government and entrenched businesses to exist.

That means some of the brightest minds in the world won't bother to try and help.

At his yearly CEO summit, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla spoke with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and touched on what Google might do in health care, since that is a hot topic.
How important is journalistic balance in 2014? The days when people believed journalism is impartial are long gone.

But some issues are rather settled and BBC journalists are being sent on courses to train them to stop inviting so many cranks onto to air ‘marginal views’ as balance. The BBC Trust was criticized in 2012 for giving too much air-time to critics who oppose non-contentious issues in science, and this was due to an ‘over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality’ which sought to give the ‘other side’ of the argument, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.
Viruses, pesticides, beekeeping practices, pollination service and varroa mites all contribute to managed commercial honeybee colony health. 
Gilles-Eric Séralini, famous anti-science zealot, managed to pay a billion-dollar corporation to publish his previously retracted paper showing bloated rats with giant tumors supposedly caused by GMOs or Roundup or whatever anti-science hippies are demonizing this week (answer - neonics, supposedly killing bees, and everything else, which supposedly causes autism).
Numerous times in the last few years, scientists have concluded that the Keystone XL project was not creating environment harm, despite the claims of environmentalists.  In the affected area, there are already 20,000 miles of pipeline so adding a few hundred more is not putting the ecology in peril.

Yet the president has consistently blocked approval, choosing environmentalists over union members. Why, since both vote Democrat? The president has long been convinced that if he can penalize existing companies, and subsidize the kind he prefers, the new ones will win. Blocking Keystone XL and demanding new regulations from the EPA has been part of that effort.
Gilles-Eric Séralini, who had already been known as an anti-GMO/anti-pesticide zealot (GMOs Are A Pesticide Sponge And Other Weird Tales Of Gilles-Eric Seralini), shot to worldwide fame among the anti-science crowd when he published a paper showing bloated rats with giant tumors

All due to GMOs, he said.
When someone has a religious belief that want taught that is in defiance of science, they often say they do not want to replace science with their religion, they want to 'teach the controversy' about what science does not know and how belief can fill the gaps.

I am talking about food worship, of course, and the naturalistic fallacy that insists food was superior 20 years ago, or 40 years ago. Basically, whatever age someone is in order to be sentimental about what they ate. 

One of those people must have taken over the reins at Costco, because an article issues forth with:
For decades, farmers have tinkered with plant biology in a quest for better crops. At first, they bred plants together to enhance some traits...
Can people be addicted to the sun? Perhaps, at least they may get an opiate effect from it. 

A study found that UV exposure leads to elevated blood levels of β-endorphin in mice and causes systemic analgesia - mice who had a lot of UV exposure were less sensitive to touch and temperature and walked with erect tails. Signs that the endorphins were producing opioidlike effects.

The researchers then injected the mice with a drug that blocks opioid receptors and found that after a dose of the drug, sensitivity and tails immediately went back to normal. They even underwent withdrawal symptoms.

Four former EPA administrators testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety that more climate change action needs to be taken now.

Obviously, substantial action has been taken, it just hasn't been by the government. CO2 emissions from energy are back at early 1990s levels, which means so is overall CO2. Coal, the biggest polluter that America was forced to rely on when the Clinton administration banned nuclear energy in 1994, now has early 1980s levels of emissions.
"One approach to this hallucination problem is to consider the possibility of a demonic world", writes an article in Springer-published
I have no idea what is happening here but I am linking to it because...I don't know why.

Weird Al Yankovic as Isaac Newton takes on someone dressed as Bill Nye in an epic rap battle about science.

An easy win, right? Bill Nye couldn't even figure out how to take down Ken Ham, after all. Well, in true WWE wrestling style, Neil Tyson comes in at the end and tags up for Nye. Then it's on, baby.

Who wins? You decide.
It's ironic that a subset of people inclined to believe that ordinary farmers and the companies that supply them are built on an elaborate corporate conspiracy willingly suspend all logic and sense when it comes to organic food.

But there you have it. However, not only is Whole Foods competing using aggressive marketing, a new article shows that they are outright lying to people; about pesticides, about nutrition, about taste. When they aren't lying, they are being deceptive. Their whole premise, it is argued, is scaring people into buying their 'alternative', overpriced food.
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is a group that is basically right on a big issue - the freedom of family farms and consumers - and then takes that libertarian philosophy and does something really wrong with it: they think there is some natural right to foist off raw milk on a public which, let's face it, is not agrarian any more. Raw milk will make a lot of people sick, especially if it is embraced by the anti-science/nutritionist/fad diet segment.

But they have a funny graphic which is correct, namely that relying on mainstream journalism, with its swinging pendulum of Miracle Vegetables And Cancer Causing Products, is a big mistake.

To wit, TIME magazine:
In an Internet world where everyone is told they have to shamelessly promote and Buzzfeed and Upworthy "What I Saw Next Made Me Cry" titles are the norm, it is weird to see something like this, the self-chosen bio for the man who basically invented the World Wide Web. And that makes it even more awesome:

Yes, indeed. That is being humble
You may not know this, but there are Democrats who don't accept climate change. Quite a lot of them. Even elites in Congress.

You wouldn't know it from reading most science blogs, of course. They are firmly trapped in 2004 - and missed the 1990s, when Democrats were the anti-science party, killing the SSC and America's green energy program - and think that global warming and evolution are the only two science denial things happening in the country. Since it is election season, the first wave of 'Republicans are anti-science' articles has already hit and there will be a lull now that primary season is over, but efforts to insist that vaccine denial is not primarily Democrats are out in force.
Almost everyone agrees that the administration is engaged in a level of domestic surveillance and punitive harassment that hasn't been seen since the Nixon administration - but no one is quitting their job s over it.

And so it's easy for some of the 3,000 attendees at the Joint Mathematics Meeting — a big event for their community - to engage in some moral posturing and state that mathematicians should refuse to work for the NSA. The NSA just happens to be the biggest employer of mathematicians in the country. 
Writing in Pacific Standard, Science 2.0 fave Dr. Michael White notes something that isn't obvious to the public - if you ask most biologists to identify race, they can't do it.

If you ask anthropologists, sure. Race is an entirely social construct. There have been numerous efforts to make race scientific, based on differences in appearance and such. Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid, etc. were actually not flawed science rationale hundreds of years ago but this concept of race is still perpetuated.

As he notes, biology can tell us all kinds of things about people; genes can match people to within 30 miles of their native village. But objectively, which is to biologically, races don't exist. Unless a redhead is a different race than a blonde.
American adults lead the world in science literacy, America leads the world in science output, America leads the world in Nobel prizes.

Yet once a year a survey comes out about evolution and people who hate Religion and/or Republicans use the results as a club in their culture war.

Ask the average atheist who 'accepts' evolution about adaptive radiation and most will sputter something meaningless. They know very little science, they simply have faith in what someone else wrote. How is that superior to religion. On the other side, a lot of quite scientifically literate people go to church.
Undercover journalist James O’Keefe has released a new video, this one a sting operation to expose Hollywood environmentalists.

The front for this one is an undercover journalist from Project Veritas posing as "Muhammad,” a member of a Middle Eastern oil family, who is willing to pay $9 million to American filmmakers to fund an anti-fracking movie.

O’Keefe entraps actor Ed Begley Jr., actress Mariel Hemingway, and director Josh Tickell (Sundance Film Festival Winner and director of environmental message movies Fuel, The Big Fix, and PUMP), who agree to the film while promising to hide the source of the funds.
John R. Block, U.S. secretary of agriculture from 1981 to 1986, knows a thing or two about food. And he doesn't like the "black marketing" being done by the organic industry to imply nonexistent benefits and also traditional food harm. Proponents are basically selling food homeopathy.

But it's a $35 billion a year business so their marketing machine is clearly doing something right.