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Science Tips For Managing Stress At Thanksgiving

Sometimes people ask me if there is an evidence-based way to manage the stress of dealing with...

In A Pandemic World, Be Thankful For Pesticides

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Recent survey results of 118 eight-to-twelve year-old children examined total hours of media...

The Supply Chain Impact On Thanksgiving

In 1958, shortly after passage of a misguided law related to chemicals and food - a problem that...

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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 »

Nearly 70 years ago, results of a Swedish experiment, now called the Vipeholm studies, correlated frequent candy consumption and tooth decay. With the benefit of scientific hindsight, this is no surprise. What is a surprise is how different cultures reacted. 

For example, instead of public awareness campaigns highlighting the effects of carbohydrates on oral health, as Americans might expect, Sweden asked people to cut back on candy drastically, to eating candy one day per week. Thus was born lördagsgodis - “Saturday sweets.” Parents only let their kids eat candy on Saturday.
"Shark Week" is a Discovery Channel event each summer, unsurprisingly about sharks. It came into existence because "Jaws" the book and then the film were huge hits and they never left the public consciousness after that.

Now Shark Week is much the same, a part of the cultural lexicon. They used to market it, one year they even killed me off in a shark attack as part of their promotional stunt, but now I bet they don't have to do much at all. Yet when you grow to be important, you are going to those who want to bring you down a little. Big tree fall hard, as the saying goes.
A short while ago a prominent physicist made the offhand claim that bees were dying because of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids - seed treatments that protect plants from pests at their most vulnerable stage and result in far less chemical use than mass spraying. It's not true, and bees are not dying off anywhere, but that claim was still made by environmental fundraising brochures and lawyers hoping to sue so it's no surprise Mother Jones readers believe it.

But a scientist?  That should be odd. Yet it isn't.
Americans are inherently skeptical, and American adults lead the world in science literacy, so those two things combine to show up in debates about climate change and other sciences.  

When you are literate and skeptical it is easy to know just enough to be wrong, when it comes to climate or nuclear energy, vaccines, and agriculture. The difference between the first one and the latter three is the political demographic that is skeptical about them. Politics infects everything.

That is why the each side paints issues they embrace in black and white; you can't be skeptical, you either accept what they accept or you are a denier.
A study by the Silent Spring Institute(1), with funding from the politically sympathetic National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences during the days of organic industry keynote speaker and Ramazzini Institute member Linda Birnbaum, claims that hundreds of chemicals are endocrine disruptors.
San Francisco is worried that highway 37 may be in danger of flooding. They invoke environmental justice, of course, but it's really about rich people going to their second homes in Napa's wine country on weekends. Rich people need peasants toiling to feel elite and without roads they can't get there.

Yet if San Francisco journalists and editors are concerned about rising water, why are they continuing to support dumping the water that poor people need into the Bay? It clearly does not need more water. Poor people who can't afford to live in Napa do.