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Top Ten in junk science in 2016?


‘Tis the season of Top Tens. From the American Council on Science and Health here’s the first we got:

#8. JAMA goes political. The Journal of the American Medical Association continues gambling with its reputation. This year, it published an article by President Barack Obama, in which he analyzed and applauded the impact of his own healthcare policy. The article was essentially not peer reviewed and met the very definition of a conflict of interest. Current Biology also made an unfortunate foray into politics. The journal published a hysterical article on the scientific consequences of Brexit.

Sure, scientists should contribute to the political process. But scientists who do should spend as much time understanding the issues as they do understanding issues in their own fields.

And, gosh. Why make the peer review problem seem like a bigger disaster than we already know it is, just from within the fields?

And Brexit? It’s amazing the amount of nonsense that has been written on that subject that would easily be cured by listening carefully to a history of the English-speaking peoples.* Would the same scientists have paid so little attention to fundamental analyses in their own fields?*

#7. Several cities pass a soda tax. “Big Soda” has been demonized as the new “Big Tobacco.” While there is no such thing as smoking in moderation, a person certainly can consume soda in moderation. Yet, common sense failed to convince voters in several U.S. cities, which implemented taxes on soda and sugary drinks. Of course, fruity yogurt, mangos, grape juice, and vanilla lattes all have about as much, if not more, sugar as soda, but pesky facts didn’t matter in these politically motivated campaigns. More.

Soda taxes are part of a new wave of legislation based on the idea that humans have evolved so as to need coercion. That is one of the many outcomes of naturalism in public policy. Stock up and save.


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Rant: For the most part, the English-speaking peoples (probably mainly due to the inheritance of English Common Law, not the language after whom we are named) are not usually in need of salvation by overruling authorities.

Study our systems, critique them by all means. But, as I told a middle Eastern commentator recently, please save the hysteria for peoples who are engaged in total war against their next-door neighbours.

There has not been a war fought in North America north of the Rio Grande since 1865. Is that an accident? Or do we maybe know something after all?  Thought: Are we evidence that evolution happens?

See also: Peer review “unscientific”: Tough words from editor of Nature


Evolutionary biologist: Humans evolved to need coercion Evolutionary biologist: Humans evolved to need coercion. (He was writing about taxes on giner ale …)

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Bob O'H A person can be arrested in the States for public intoxication. Would you recommend the same for anyone who is overweight? Silver Asiatic
On #7, it's worth noting that taxes on alcohol is effective in limiting consumption, so why shouldn't it be an effective intervention against obesity? Drinking in moderation is possible, but that still doesn't mean using taxes to reduce consumption won't be a good idea. Yes, some people who drink sodas in moderation may suffer, but is that a greater cost than the effects of obesity (both on individuals and society)? Bob O'H

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