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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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Medicine misuse is a public health issue but there is little consistency in what it means. 

Prior to 2020, everyone wanted to claim Big Pharma and medicine were bad, so whatever they wanted to write about got a broad misuse umbrella; misuse, abuse, medication errors were all called misuse.  All such deceptive framing accomplished was to muddy the waters and create a clear need for classifying and selecting terms and definitions to understand which situations truly involve medicine misuse.

A new systematic review looked at 51 relevant studies from 2008 to 2020 and found there were 74 examples of misuse - with  71 definitions. 
A new paper finds that mass extinction of land-dwelling animals - amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds- occur in a cycle of about 27 million years.

A pattern in nature or just coincidence?

Probably coincidence, since 27 million years give or take is a fantastic range of time but journalists and professional doomsday prophets are making something of it the way they do Mayan calendars and Biblical numerology. When it comes to real concepts of time, 66 million, 26 million, and 27.5 million don't have much in common.

Yet the paper does link them as non-random events, using the bane of informed food and chemical acceptance of science - statistical analyses.
A meta-analysis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the 2019 form of coronavirus that led to the COVID-19 pandemic, found that the chance an infected person showing symptoms was infecting someone else even in their home was only 18%, while it plummeted to 0.7% if they are not symptomatic.

The pool was not small, it was data from over 77,000 participants. That's actually good news, and it may mean a return to normalcy, because if even being trapped in a home with someone has only a minor risk for those not at respiratory distress risk from flu or anything else, casual public contact means nearly none.
Every pharmacy has a section devoted to products that are not scientifically known to do anything at all, they could never pass FDA scrutiny on their claims, but they don't need to and pharmacies are in business to make money. And in places like Washington, DC, California, and New York, the public overwhelmingly believes in supplements as alternatives to medicine, so carrying fish oil, ginkgo, ginseng and other products that claim to be memory boosters and prevent "cognitive decline" is just listening to the market.
Nearly every sort of diet has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list by now, all claiming to have a foundation in science. Yet one key reason some among the public are distrustful of epidemiology statistics on masks and social distancing is that epidemiology is also used to statistically link nearly every food or chemical to harm or longevity.
When your Xbox is a gaming console and a 4K Blu-Ray player, you don't need two devices, and when your phone is a camera and a video recorder, there are two fewer things to buy - and eventually throw away.

As smart devices have become more integrated, and more commodities like a dishwasher than technology events, people own fewer things and keep them longer. That means less electronic waste. Yet the story we get from environmental groups is that e-waste is the fastest growing material pollution and only donations to lawyer-run groups can stop it.