June 1998

From Epidemiology to Policy (6/30/98) My alma mater, the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, is sponsoring a symposium on July 29, 1998 titled "From Epidemiology to Policy." One of the goals is "to advance the use of epidemiologic evidence in making health policy decisions." I'm somewhat skeptical of the goal since symposium speakers include Lynn Goldman and Genevieve Matanoski. Goldman, a senior EPA political appointee, tried to link headaches and nausea occurring over a July 4th weekend in 1985 to pesticide use. Matanoski has helped make sure that the largest study of radiation workers has never seen the light of day. More epidemiology in health policy? Perhaps. But not if Goldman and Matanoski are involved!

Eat Smart, Write Ignorant? (6/30/98) In her USA Weekend column "Eat Smart" (6/26-28/98), Jean Carper writes that "Pregnant women who eat processed and cured meats (hot dogs, bologna, cold cuts, ham) at least twice daily may double their chances that their offspring will develop brain cancer, according to new research at the University of Southern California." But the study isn't new, it's 2 years old. It hasn't gotten better with age. It was a small case-control study reporting a weak association based on unreliable data. The biological plausibility (i.e., nitrites in cured meats) is suspect. A person eating a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich gets more nitrites from the lettuce and tomato than the bacon. But no one targets veggies as a cause of brain cancer.

As predicted, Gore links Florida fires to global warming (6/30/98) On June 26, 1998, I reported that Gore would go to Florida for a global warming photo-op. He did. Once there, Vice President Pinnochio said "There's only a one in one-thousandth chance that this is normal without the effects of global warming factored in." I wonder how he calculated that?

Rock Dates Thrown Into Doubt, Researcher Under Fire (6/30/98) I love to see the scientific method in action.

Endocrine Disrupter Fever in Japan (6/30/98) "The new Japan Endocrine Disrupters Society wants to provide a forum for interested parties and set the agenda for this emerging research field." A forum? How about a padded room?

Ben & Jerry's Gets Out-lefted (6/30/98) Ben & Jerry's, the ice cream maker that shamelessly exploits fad-ish causes to sell ice cream (e.g., "Peace Pops" and "Rainforest Crunch" ice cream), has been ambushed by true leftists. Food and Water, the extreme "natural" foods advocacy group, placed this advertisment in the July 1998 issue of The Progressive. (Note: The advertisement is a large file that takes a minute to load. But it's well worth the wait!)

Sugar Busters! (6/30/98) Sugar is toxic? The author of the new book Sugar Busters must have forgotten that "It is the dose that makes the poison." How about renaming the book simply Sugar Bust?

Communicating Science and Engineering in a Sound-Bite World (6/30/98) Deborah Blum, professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, makes sense of science journmalism in testimony before the House Science Committee.

Pesticides Are Not the Main Problem (6/30/98) My friend Michael Fumento is correct that pesticides are not the main problem. But I think he goes astray when he implies that obesity is. As discussed elsewhere on this page, obesity is over-emphasized as a health problem.

Another Green Bureaucracy (6/30/98) In the wake of his proposed campaign finance reform and tobacco legislation boners, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) comes up with another "brilliant idea."

Scientist casts doubt on results of clinical studies (6/29/98) Junk science makes AIDS drugs' clinical trials look better than they are.

World population 500 million less with foreign aid (6/29/98) Apparently the answer to third world poverty is no third world.

`Environmental justice' impact threatens Rust Belt (6/29/98) "Could the Environmental Protection Agency's new regulations melding concerns about inner-city pollution with civil rights laws prompt a wave of court-clogging lawsuits or choke off the supply of affordable housing?"

Genetic Pollution? (6/29/98) "Organic food and farming standards do not permit genetic engineering."

Inhaling a Decade of Hot Air Vapors (6/29/98) Patrick Michaels takes NASA scientist James Hansen to task for a decade of bad forecasts and worse excuses. The article was accompanied by a cartoon showing Al Gore in a restaurant, pointing at a steaming bowl in front of a woman customer and shrieking, "More evidence of global warming! We're all gonna die!" The baffled customer says, "All I did was tell the waitress my soup's too hot..."

The Week That Was June 22-28, 1998 (6/29/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Study of UFO-Related Phenomena Urged (6/28/98) I don't care if loons from MIT, Cornell, Princeton and other institutions want to study UFOs on their own dime. But if tax dollars are used, that's when I grab my pitchfork and head for the streets.

Viagra Watch: Countdown to Lawsuit Mania? (6/28/98) The toll is up to 30 deaths and about 100 serious adverse reactions. How long until the FDA panics and forces Pfizer to pull the plug on Viagra? I'm sure the personal injury sharks can hardly wait.

Cigarette firms sue over passive smoking report (6/28/98) "The tobacco companies argue that the [SCOTH] scientific committee, chaired by Professor David Poswillo of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, London, acted as a kangaroo court, relying on evidence from scientists known for their anti-smoking stance while rejecting negative evidence."

The Hippocratic Wars (6/28/98) An excellent article from the New York Times Magazine about how medical journals can be more interested in making news than publishing science.

Another Joby Warrick Hatchet Job (6/28/98) Washington Post hack reporter Joby Warrick takes a swing at the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) treaty being negotiated this week in Montreal. POPs include DDT, PCBs and other chemicals. But all Warrick (and the goofy UN-ers) can say about POPs is that they are "scary." Warrick also writes that POPs are "known endocrine disruptors, which can also cause deformities in sex organs as well as long-term disruption of reproductive systems." Warrick must "know" something that nobody else does!

Scientists drill down into past in Antarctica (6/27/98) The Science and Environmental Policy Project reports this article covers one of the studies that was supposed to provide definitive proof of a looming, global, man-made climate catastrophe. Instead, Reuters gets nothing but mundane science reports. New Zealand geologist Peter Barrett shies away from the topic of global warming, saying (highlighted section) that "no one" thinks the ice sheets are going to melt in the next century and pushing concerns about such an event back "hundreds of years."

Neutron star could kill us all, but perhaps not today (6/27/98) "As if you didn't have enough to worry about already, it turns out that we're 100 million years overdue for mass extinction."

Book captures the nasty world of science (6/27/98) "Scientists locked in their ivory towers toil away selflessly seeking the increase of human knowledge, right? Think again. Over the centuries some of the world's most famous scientists have clashed in bitter battles, accusing one another of iniquities from theft to immorality."

The Importance of Protocol Design and Data Reporting to Research on Endocrine Disruption (6/26/98) John Ashby answers several recent articles in Environmental Health Perspectives expressing doubt regarding the validity of endocrine disruption studies conducted by industry.

Our Contribution to the Public Fear of Cancer (6/26/98) A mea culpa of sorts from Environmental Health Perspectives -- "It now seems that the reports of the environmental effects of living near Love Canal were overdone, just as it also seems likely that while the conductors of electricity with their accompanying magnetic fields may be eyesores, they are not demonstrable health hazards."

Monsanto refuses to pay $1.94 Million to farmers (6/26/98) Sometimes, genetic engineering just doesn't work out.

Middle England takes direct action against genetically engineered crops (6/26/98) "On Saturday, July 4th 1998, five women will launch the first round of 'genetiX snowball', a campaign of mass non-violent 'civil responsibility', when they will openly pull up genetically engineered crops at an undisclosed 'test field site' in the home counties.

Gore to Exploit Florida Fires in Photo-op (6/26/98) He should be careful, though. Wood burns.

Who's the un-Scientific American? (6/26/98) A new game. Thanks to R. Dwayne Lunsford for catching this.

The Wrong Choice for the FDA (6/26/98) "As co-chairman of the Public Health Service Task Force on Breast Implants in 1992, Dr. Henney collaborated prominently in the disastrous government decisions that needlessly left millions of women fearful and confused and that destroyed the silicone-implant industry."

Playing Politics With the Census (6/26/98) "... those following the [census] sampling debate [should] "place more weight on the evidence than on the letterhead that the evidence is on."

Sense and the Census (6/26/98) "A partisan war is under way on Capitol Hill over the 2000 census. Democrats want to use statistical sampling techniques to compensate for undercounting, especially of minorities, that has characterized past censuses. Republicans believe that nothing but a conventional head count will satisfy the constitutional mandate of an `actual enumeration.'"

General Motors tries appeasement on global warming (6/26/98) The Solar Energy Industries Association and GMAC Mortgage, a subsidiary of General Motors, announced a partnership to provide mortgages for homes with solar roofs. President Clinton praised the partnership describing it as a marketplace solution to global warming. [Source: Daily Environment Report (6/26/98)]. The history books say Neville Chamberlain, who's appeasement of the Nazis in 1938 failed miserably, died in 1940. Perhaps. But his spirit lives on at GM.

EPA's Hot Dog Eating Contest (6/26/98) In response to congressional criticism over the EPA's failure to seek reliable data from pesticide manufacturers, EPA deputy administrator Fred Hansen said "We want to deal with actual risk, not phantom risk." [Source: Daily Environment Report (6/26/98)]. Oh yeah? Is that why the EPA proposed to base risk estimates on exposure data at the 99.99 percent level -- data that are essentially statistical outliers? The proposed EPA method is like estimating hot dog consumption based on the results of a hot dog eating contest.

Are antibiotics being overused on farms? (6/25/98) While antibiotic resistance in general may be a problem, how much of it is really due to animal drugs and what is the medical impact?

EMF Easter: NIEHS Resurrects Power Line Scare (6/25/98) I don't want to say `I told you so,' but I did...on June 3, 1998.

Zoologists identify mystery frog-killing fungus (6/25/98) Is it possible that a fungus might also be responsible for the recent reports of deformed amphibians?

Tobacco argument riddled with error (6/25/98) "In the debate preceding the collapse of a major piece of anti-tobacco legislation the other night, Tom Daschle, the Democratic leader of the Senate, became so angry and so confused that he blurted out that smoking kills 1,000 American teen-agers a day. It does no such thing, of course, seeing as how it ordinarily takes a half-century or so for the addiction to lay someone low. But this inadvertent misstatement should come as no surprise. This whole, vast, cumbersome bill was a gross misstatement predicated on a series of lesser but equally erroneous assumptions."

CDC Working on Drinking Water Scare (6/25/98) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working on the first attempt to determine the number of occurrences of waterborne disease in the U.S., according to a report in the Daily Environment Report (6/25/98). The study design involves installing treatment devices under a sink in selected households. Some household members will drink treated water, others will drink regular tap water. Neither group will know what they're drinking. Subjects will be asked to take household water to work. Data will be collected on gastrointestinal illness. No word on whether they'll simply assume that drinking water causes all observed gastrointestinal illness.

Enviro Hypocrisy (6/25/98) A coalition of environmental groups has asked Al Gore to stop a Senate effort to allow PCBs to be imported for dispoal. [Source: Daily Environment report (6/25/98)] I guess they feel that the PCBs would be more securely disposed in, say, Russia?

Scientists At UNC-CH Find Aberdeen Pesticide Exposure, But Few Symptoms (6/24/98) Among residents near this Superfund site, "...we are not seeing major clinical effects from the exposures, based on the health indicators we investigated..."

China And USGS--Working Together On Environmental Issues (6/24/98) The penultimate paragraph belies what this "working together" really means -- scaring Americans about coal use.

MIT Researcher Finds Evidence Of Global Warming On Neptune's Largest Moon (6/24/98) Will Al Gore blame this warming on burning fossil fuels? And if Triton can warm without burning fossil fuels, why not the Earth?

Statisticians Cut The Tennis Commentators Down To Size (6/24/98) "The strawberries are overpriced and the British players are destined always to be gallant losers. But that's where the truth ends as far as Wimbledon clichés are concerned..."

Nicotine addiction may be in the genes? (6/24/98) "Scientists say they have identified a gene that helps protect some people from getting hooked on cigarettes." But the article also says " the past, similar initial findings of addiction genes have not been confirmed by further research." This study is based on a weak statistical association (i.e., 1.6) in a small study of 244 smokers and 184 nonsmokers. Is there a genetic basis for addiction to junk science?

The Week That Was June 15-21, 1998 (6/24/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Endocrine Disruption Causes Hara Kiri? (6/24/98) Nature (6/18/98) reports that the Japanese media are fueling fears of "endocrine disrupters." Media reports describe them as "deadly" and "fatal," despite the lack of scientific evidence. In March, a Teikyo University researcher claimed that only one of 34 sperm samples obtained from healthy university students had a normal sperm count. A subsequent National Institute of Health Report concluded that endocrine disrupters could be extracted from instant noodle containers, triggering media reports that instant food could cause infertility. Perhaps the Japanese media responsible for these wildly exaggerated reports should do the honorable thing?

"Hero of the Hanoi Hilton" to "Hero of Hanoi Jane?" (6/24/98) Sen. John McCain whines in this editorial that the defeat of his tobacco bill was a defeat for conservative ideas. But how can a $516 billion tax hike paid by mid- to lower-income Americans be considered conservative? McCain's claim that higher prices will reduce teen smoking is also flawed. Teens don't smoke because of the price of cigarettes. Teens smoke because of peer pressure, it's "cool," etc. Teens think nothing of spending $100 on a pair of "cool" sneakers. They'll certainly spend $5 on cigarettes. And teen employment is high so money is not a problem. Also, the CDC definition of a teen smoker is someone who has had at least a puff in the last 30 days. A teen doesn't need to buy cigarettes to become a "teen smoker." It appears that the American political system has been even more difficult for McCain to endure than his brutal North Vietnamese captors.

Cool to Opposing Climate Views (6/24/98) "Networks don't mention legions of scientists who question global warming theories."

Winning Documentary Links Chernobyl to Earthquake (6/23/98) But they say "We cannot prove it but it is very likely that there could be a connection." Yeesh!

Can cancer cells be treated like kidney stones? (6/23/98) "The principle behind the phenomenon of an opera singer shattering a glass with a piercing high-pitched note could be the basis for a new cancer treatment being developed by researchers in Israel."

Attack on Endangered Species Act Rejected? (6/23/98) "Attack" is the term used by the Associated Press to describe California officials' effort to have the Supreme Court take up the case of a hospital that cannot be built because of an "endangered" fly.

Common Cold Treatment Bites the Dust? (6/23/98) The Journal of the American Medical Association (6/24/98) reports that zinc gluconate lozenges were not effective in treating the common cold in a clinical trial. Quigley Corp., the manufacturer of Cold-Eeze brand lozenges, says the researchers failed to follow the agreed upon experiemntal protocol. Still, Quigley's stock price took a 15 percent tumble today.

Archer tackles the EPA: U.S. mayors back his call to suspend race-based policy (6/23/98) "Republicans and Democrats in the House this week plan to use the mayors' resolution to update a bill that would cut off tax dollars used to implement the Environmental Protection Agency's policy, congressional staffers said."

No Need to Fear Mutant Peaches (6/23/98) "It is the fear of biotechnology--not the process itself--that threatens to harm us."

Keep Guns out of Lawyers' Hands (6/23/98) "Every product has illegitimate uses. Once legitimate products get assailed because they have a well-know downside, its hard to see where the process will stop."

UN Says Ozone Recovery to Take Until Mid-Century (6/23/98) So says a report by the World Meteorological Society and the United Nations Environment Program. This claim is based on the observation that concentrations of so-called "ozone depleting chemicals" are starting to decline. (No surprise. They've been banned.) [Source: Daily Environment Report (June 23, 1998)]. Of course, no scientific proof yet exists that "ozone depleting chemicals" have measurably impacted the ozone layer. But such details have never mattered at the UN. Click here for the report's executive summary.

Rubber Duckies Safe in the EU Until the Fall (6/23/98) A European Commission official says the lack of scientific evidence that PVC-containing toys are dangerous will delay European Union action until September. [Source: Daily Environment Report (June 23, 1998)]. As previously report on this page, the Greenpeace-initiated scare alleges that chemicals in PVC, called phthalates, can change the sex of children.

Are children uniquely vulnerable to chemical toxicants? (6/22/98) The June 1998 Environmental Health Perspectives (Supplement) focuses on cancer in children. An article by the Children's Environmental Health Network (Phil Landrigan, et al.) says "children appear uniquely vulnerable to chemical toxicants because of disproportionately heavy exposures and their inherent biological susceptibility." Were any data presented to back this up? No. But a subsequent article by the University of Pittsburgh's Seymour Grufferman points out that cancer incidence in adults is over 20 times greater than cancer incidence in children 0 - 14 years of age. Children are more vulnerable? Show me some data!

The Nation tries to smear New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata (6/22/98) I think Gina Kolata is one of the finest science writers. Look for the reference (amid all the factual errors) to the Junk Science Home Page.

Constipation, Laxative Use, and Colon Cancer (6/22/98) This study associates frequent constipation with increased colon cancer. It also takes laxative use of the hook -- important since the FDA had Ex-Lax and other phenopthalein-based laxatives pulled from the shelves last year because of cancer fears. Click here for the accompanying editorial.

Inventing the AIDS Virus Hypothesis: An Illustration of Scientific vs Unscientific Induction (6/22/98) Malcolm MacClure calls Peter Duesberg's book Inventing the AIDS Virus "pseudoscientific." Click here for a supporting editorial.

Does the Study of Environmental Disease Determinants Call for Skepticism or Open-Mindedness? (6/22/98) Pier Alberto Bertazzi hangs his hat on open-mindedness based on this small, unimpressive study of PCBs and cancer.

Mortality of Aerospace Workers Exposed to Trichloroethylene (6/22/98) EPA considers TCE a "probable human carcinogen" -- a classification not supported by this study.

More on Diesel Exhaust and Lung Cancer (6/22/98) A follow-up exchange of letters about this study.

U.S. to Study Brands of Underage Smokers (6/22/98) Since the definition of a teen smoker includes a teen who has had only a puff of a cigarette in the last 30 days, I hope one of the study response options is "Whatever my friend is smoking."

Cancer Hysteric Says Monsanto's Hormonal Milk Poses Serious Risks of Breast Cancer (6/22/98) Samuel Epstein distorts an inconsistent and statistically unstable result from a small study published in the Lancet.

EPA risks arms disposal (6/22/98) An EPA "environmental justice" investigation could slow destruction of chemical weapons.

Runoff from de-icing chemicals at airports can cause pollution (6/22/98) I'm sure the pollution would be worse if airplanes crashed into the surrounding areas.

Bald eagle makes a comeback in Ohio (6/22/98) Another story wrongly proclaiming the DDT ban as responsible for the return of the bald eagle. More likey, it was the hunting ban.

Dr. Spock recommends milk-free, meat-free diet in posthumous edition (6/21/98) Of course Spock lived more than 87 years as a meat-eater. When he did turn vegetarian, he lost 50 pounds. I thought kids needed to gain weight to grow.

Home water filters may leach lead (6/21/98) My family went through a similar scare in 1994 involving well pumps that leached lead. It turned out to be much ado about minuscule amounts of lead -- i.e., nothing.

Risk of breast cancer is also increased among retired US female airline cabin attendants (6/21/98) These guys must have missed this recent New England Journal of Medicine study reported in this New York Times article.

Why all the fuss about genetically modified food? (6/21/98) "After all, we have been modifying crop plants for centuries by plant breeding."

Vitamin C may reduce angina, heart attack risks (6/21/98) A press release notable for the quote "Atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, ... don't necessarily mean a person will suffer a heart attack or stroke. It appears there are also other key factors in the health of blood vessels,..."

Scientists Trace The Origin Of "Idaho Potatoes" (6/21/98) Were those "Idaho Potatoes" really grown in the State of Washington? How about those "Washington Apples"? or "Jersey Tomatoes"?

Does Walter Willett Ever Sleep? (6/19/98) Or does he just attach his name to every piece of junk science he sees? I was looking at the new issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology today when I noticed that Harvard's junk scientist extraordinaire Walter Willet had two studies in this one issue. I've been seeing his name a lot lately so I did some research on his productivity. In 1997, Willett's name was on at least 48 published studies and articles and 3 published letters. That's almost one publication per week. So far in 1998, Willett's name has been on 26 published studies and articles. Walt, baby, it's quality, not quantity. Or do you just rubber stamp your name on other's people's work?

Congressional Committee Asks GAO to Investigate EPA (6/19/98) On June 18, 1998, House Science Committee Chairman James F. Sensenbrenner., Jr. (R-WI) requested a General Accounting Office investigation into allegations made by a number of EPA employees that EPA Administrator Carol Browner and other high level administrators retaliated against agency whistleblowers. Click here for the letter containing the allegations.

One Million School Kids with Guns? (6/19/98) Based on a survey of 154,350 students in grades 6-12, the nonprofit group PRIDE claims that nearly one million kids carried a gun to school during 1997-1998 -- nearly half were armed six or more times! And PRIDE claims this represents a decline of 6 percent! This survey shows only that teens have a great sense of humor. Was this survey taken on April Fool's Day?

Cell Phones and Blood Pressure (6/19/98) A Lancet study involving 10 subjects reports that 35 minutes of exposure to EMF from a mobile telephone increased blood pressure by 5-10 mmHg. My blood pressure went up just reading this nonsense. Can I sue The Lancet?

U.S. Airline Passengers Exposed to Pesticides (6/19/98) So trumpets the lefty rag Mother Jones. But what about the real story of poisoning-in-the-sky? Shouldn't the headline be "U.S. Airline Passengers Exposed to Airline Food?"

EPA Submarines Devra Lee Davis? (6/19/98) Last winter, environmental cancer hysteric Devra Lee Davis of the World Resources Institute claimed that air pollution from unchecked global warming would cause 8 million deaths world wide between the years 2000 to 2020. Now, at the annual meeting of the Air and Waste Management Association, EPA Global Climate Research Program director Joel Scheraga admits "the jury is still out on exactly what impacts greenhouse gas measures will have on air pollution." [Source: Daily Environment Report (6/19/98).]

Big Tobacco's Salad Days Lie Ahead (6/19/98) "Tobacco is part of a well-balanced diet, rich in fiber and antioxidants."

How unhappy is Rep. John D. Dingell over the "global warming" treaty? (6/18/98) Fighting global warming makes for strange bedfellows.

C. Everett Hypocrite (6/18/98) The Los Angeles Times (6/17/98) reports this quote from former surgeon general C. Everett Koop about the death of McCain tobacco bill: "I have spent much of my life working to end the disease and death caused by tobacco. What Sen. Lott and his colleagues have done today is public health malpractice, plain and simple. Ignoring the advice of every public health professional in America, they have chosen to listen only to a handful of television ads and a lot of [political action] committees." If public health is so important to Koop, I wonder what he was thinking when he sold his name to Hillary Clinton's ill-fated plan to reorganize the U.S. health care system for a waiver to be buried at the hallowed Arlington Cemetery?

State aims to boost tobacco-suit odds (6/18/98) Following in the footsteps of the Peoples Republic of Maryland, Union of New York's Socialist Republics moves for legislation that would allow use of statistics, rather than science, to prove its case against the tobacco industry.

Junk science: `Mirror image of real science' gets the blame for costing society in incalculable ways (6/18/98) A piece on junk science in the Deseret News.

Peptic Ulcers: Stress Does Matter, After All (6/17/98) Will stress makes a comeback against Helicobacter pylori in the what-causes-peptic-ulcers wars?

Women Not Neccessarily Better Drivers Than Men (6/17/98) I can't wait to tell my wife!

Golfers Should Resist Quick Return to Greens After Knee Surgery (6/17/98) If this was an actual problem, would you need six video cameras, biomechanical instrumentation, and computer software to identify it? Wouldn't golfers just complain of pain?

Gore Blasts GOP on Environment (6/17/98) Is this a not-so-veiled threat to shut down the government unless the GOP caves on environmental funding, including: 1) A $6.3 billion package of tax credits, subsidies, and research grants for global warming; 2) $600 million for cleanup of Superfund sites; 3) $568 million to implement the Administration's $2.3 billion Clean Water Action Plan; 4) $600 million for new land acquisition; and 5) Increases of nearly $1 billion for construction, maintenance, and repair at national parks and other public lands?

Scientists question U.S. nuclear plant safety (6/17/98) Well, not really "scientists," only the anti-nuclear Union of Concerned Scientists, a group that supposedly is mostly lawyers. They're afraid of global warming, but they don't want nuclear power. I sure hope their "concern" includes providing us with some energy resource other than windmills, Don Quixote.

The Godzilla Effect (6/17/98) The Science and Environmental Policy Project says about this editorial: "The Canadian survey mentioned appears to support two 1997 U.S. surveys. The first, a CNN poll announced just prior to the Kyoto Conference, reported that, in 1989, 35 percent of Americans expressed concern about global warming, but by 1997 that figure had dropped to 24 percent. The second, a November 1997 New York Times poll, reported just one percent of Americans thought environmental issues were the most important problem facing the country. Most said crime. When asked to elaborate on environmental concerns, just seven percent named global warming, while 48 percent said air and water pollution.

FDA sides with olestra maker on nutritional questions (6/17/98) Michael Jacobsen the Food Police lose another one.

Bio-engineering vs. Bio-engineering (6/17/98) Stanford's Henry I. Miller writes "Bill Clinton and Al Gore made high-profile appearances at last week's National Oceans Conference in Monterey, California. Their solutions to environmental challenges consisted, as usual, of hollow rhetoric and more federal spending, while we need more scientific and sensible government policies."

Automotive Inspection Programs Fail to Reduce Air Pollution (6/16/98) According to a report in the Daily Environment Report (6/17/98), automotive inspection and maintenance (I/M) programs have not been shown to reduce air pollution, so says Joel Schwartz, the executive officer on a committee of scientists appointed to assess California's program. These programs require drivers to take periodically their cars for emissions testing at state-approved facilities and pay a fee. Cars that fail the emissions test must be repaired. Schwartz also said "The benefits of I/M programs have been consistently overstated by EPA, as well as by state officials." As I have said on this page before, the I/M programs are nothing more than a state tax that you have to wait in line to pay.

Better Health Data Needed for EPA Rules? (6/16/98) In his Chemical and Engineering News article titled "Better Health Data Needed for EPA Rules" (6/16/98), editor David Hanson writes "Despite the progress in reducing chemical emissions, there are almost no data to show that public health has improved. Without these data, how can EPA justify expensive new programs... on the basis of public health improvement?" Beats me, David. Many have been asking that exact question for a long time.

Hey Gretchen Vogel and Andrew Lawler: Polly Wanna Cracker? (6/16/98) The only defense Vogel and Lawler have for this article is that Al Gore wrote it. Check this sentence out: "Most climate researchers agree with Gore that a gradual warming trend contributed to this year's heat and if 1999 turns out to be cooler, it is only because it lacked an El Nino." I didn't know climate researchers followed what Al Gore believes. Are Vogel and Lawler journalists for Science or parrots for Al Gore?

Safety Baseballs? (6/16/98) A study in the New England Journal of Medicine (June 18, 1998) reports the results of throwing baseballs at pigs as part of the study of sudden death due to low-energy chest-wall impact (called "commotio cordis"). Between 1973 and 1995, CPSC says that 38 deaths occurred from baseball blows to the chest. These researchers say that safety baseballs may reduce the risk of commotio cordis. I was hit in the chest by a baseball when I played in Little League. I was playing third base, but not paying attention, when the pitcher tried to pick-off a runner. I was hit square in the chest with the ball, was knocked down and lost my breath. While I don't know whether a "safety baseball" would have made a difference, I do know what would have -- my paying attention to the game. The incident was my fault. I didn't blame the baseball. The search for absolute safety is quixotic.

AMA condemns Chicago Bulls' victory smoke (6/16/98) Party poopers. Where was the AMA when President Clinton had his victory cigar when the Paula Jones case was dismissed? Where were they when Clinton was on the front page of the Washington Post with a big ol' stogie hanging out of his mouth?

Due process, even for big Tobacco (6/16/98) Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes "... disregarding the law is dangerous. Much more dangerous than smoking."

Government acts over Prince of Wales's food concerns (6/16/98) I can understand taking Prince Charles' advice on polo strategy. But genetically engineered crops? It used to be that the sun never set on the British Empire. I guess Charles and the other techno-paranoids are doing their best to make sure that the sun never rises.

The Week That Was June 8-14, 1998 (6/16/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Genghis Khan's green side (6/16/98) Adolph Hitler was an early anti-tobacco zealot. Now we learn that Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongolian marauder, was a tree hugger. Is there a pattern here? What's next? Will we find out that Joe Stalin was an animal person?

Commission warns against soft bedding under infants (6/16/98) I knew the Consumer Product Safety Commission could say something useful if it wanted.

Will Legal Ethics Go Up in Smoke? (6/16/98) "Last Thursday the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to the antitobacco bill that would have limited fees for plaintiffs lawyers to $1,000 an hour." Given that trial attorneys are among the largest contributors to politicians, is the bill about public health or lawyer profits?

Breast Feeding Not Associated with Breast Cancer, Study Says (6/15/98) Researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 17, 1998) that breast cancer risk is not associated with having been breast fed. Some studies reportedly had shown breast cancer in certain strains of mice can be caused by a tumor virus transmitted by breast milk. As far as research on breast cancer etiology goes, isn't the hypothesis that breast milk causes breast cancer 50 years after-the-fact about as desperate as it gets?

Cigar-Chomping Babes (6/15/98) The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 17, 1998) reports that cigar use among women increased 450 percent from 1990 to 1996. The largest reported increase was 900 percent among women aged 18-24. Most of these women are probably college kids who chomp on the odd cigar while sipping martinis at cigar bars. If I had a daughter that age, I'm sure I'd be more worried about how my daughter was getting home from the bar than whether she had a puff of a cigar.

Immune Attack on Cancer (6/15/98) Science News reports on researchers spurring the immune system to rout malignancies.

Garlic and High Cholesterol (6/15/98) A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 17, 1998) reports that garlic preparations have no effect on cholesterol levels. This is the second study in two weeks to pooh-pooh commercial garlic preparations. You might want to keep this in mind next time you're in the health food store.

Outdoor Smoking Bans: Dangers dissipate in open space (6/15/98) USA Today concludes this editorial with "In the past, Big Tobacco rightly has been attacked for abusing science to serve its corporate interests. With the rash of outdoor smoking bans, government is the party guilty of science abuse."

Bring on Global Warming (6/15/98) In response to the latest economic analysis of the Kyoto Protocol, Investor's Business Daily says "We'd rather bake."

Drycleaning Substance Isn't Likely Carcinogen (6/15/98) "In fact, the U.S. EPA does not designate perchloroethylene as a probable carcinogen. We believe you were misled by an EPA source who had an ax to grind."

Early Human Trials Show Leptin May Be Effective Drug (6/15/98) "Don't cancel your gym membership yet, but a new study from Tufts University suggests that the hormone leptin may help people struggling with serious obesity."

Physicians and Nuclear Weapons (6/14/98) In the wake of nuclear testing by India and Pakistan, this Lancet editorial says that physicians should take advantage of the public's regard for physicians and speak out against nuclear weapons. First, I don't know about you, but I don't go to my physician because he knows anything about intercontinental ballistic missiles. Second, nuclear weapons probably have saved more lives than they have taken. How many American and Japanese deaths were avoided by using atomic weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- bombings that made a bloody campaign on the Japanese mainland unnecessary? Was another bloody world war avoided by the Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction? Ask your doctor that.

Devra Davis: In search of environmentally-caused cancer (6/14/98) Scare-monger Devra Lee Davis knows the environment is causing cancer, she just can't prove it with human data. So she wants to rely on animals. Where's PETA when you really need them?

Can lightning cause a heart attack? (6/14/98) That's what this brief article in The Lancet claims. But I imagine that if lightning could cause a heart attack, someone would have noticed before now? Or is that too cynical?

Taiwan Mega-Complex Threatens Endangered Spoonbills And Efforts To Cut Greenhouse Gases, University of Delaware Prof Says (6/13/98) Will the Taiwanese really not build an oil refinery because (gasp!) it will increase greenhouse gas emissions? I hope Delaware taxpayers didn't fund this silliness.

"Fat from Hell?" (6/13/98) That's how the food police want you to think about olestra. Click here for a press release in response from the American Council on Science and Health's. Click here for a the proceedings from 1996 Harvard School of Public Health workshop.

Environmental, economic, racial issues get tangled up (6/13/98) "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has denied Shintech a permit because the residents of Romeville are black."

Fast Food Can Speed Up Clogging Of The Arteries (6/12/98) How do they know? "The scientists examined two sets of rabbits with similar genetic makeup. One set was fed a higher amount of oxidized cholesterol. In studying the rabbits 12 weeks later, scientists found that small quantities of oxidized cholesterol (25 milligrams per day) increased atherosclerotic lesions by 100 percent in comparison to those rabbits not fed the extra oxidized cholesterol." Rabbits? I though they ate lettuce.

Save Detroit's development and minorities from eco-justice (6/12/98) From the Detroit News: "Business and industry should join the mayor in trying to force dubious `environmental justice' edicts into the dustbin of regulatory history.

Clinton's Climate Plan Under Attack (6/12/98) Maybe the Kyoto Protocol will collapse under the weight of its own stupidity.

ABC and Al Gore: A Global Warming Love Story? (6/12/98) A Pat Michaels editorial about softball questions tossed to Al Gore by Peter Jennings.

Public Health through the EPA Looking Glass (6/12/98) Does EPA protect public health? Here are the thoughts of Cato's Mike Gough.

Blood pressure and mortality in elderly people (6/12/98) High blood pressure isn't always a bad thing.

Water fluoridation is safe and effective (6/12/98) A letter to the editor of the British Medical Journal.

Tobacco industry mounts legal challenge against scientific report (6/12/98) The SCOTH report is at issue.

Peregrine falcons making a steady comeback (6/11/98) Great news. Too bad the article was spoiled by the myth that pesticides were the cause of the falcon's decline.

Gingrich calls for `explosion' of learning (6/11/98) It's too bad he thinks that increased funding for NASA and the NIH is the way to do it. Sounds like he's just asking for an explosion of spending. Gingrich also wants public officials to talk about science. Hey, we already have Al Gore! No thanks, Newt.

House bills would protect soldiers' health (6/11/98) Christopher Shays (R-Conn) introduces a bill to codify the existence of Gulf War syndrome. Scary...

New lower target for blood pressure? (6/11/98) Be careful of living by numbers and what you have to do to achieve them. I'll be interested to see exactly what the actual study results are, if they're ever published.

Researcher Warns of Future Effects of Fat Substitute (6/11/98) Walter Willet, junk scientist extraordinaire for his Nurses Health Study work, joined forces with the Center for Science in the Public Interest to scare consumers away from olestra. Willet acknowledges he has no proof of this claim that olestra will cause more cancer and heart disease.

Many SIDS Cases Linked to Abnormal Rhythm in Newborn Hearts (6/11/98) "Up to one-half of the babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) show an abnormal heart rhythm at birth, according to new research." Could it be that many babies are SIDS time bombs? And that rumored SIDS' causes like coffee, smoking, air quality are really red herrings?

Legislation sought to study breast implants (6/11/98) Despite existing studies that have found no link between silicone breast implants and autoimmune disease, Jenny Jones and other celebrities want taxpayers to fund more research.

Personal Responsibility? (6/11/98) As the Senate apparently moves forward on tobacco legislation, the House voted to rewrite the bankruptcy laws saying that "We are asking that people assume personal responsibility for their finances, to pay their bills when they are due." Shouldn't people also assume personal responsibility for their health, especially when it comes to smoking? I hope the House remembers this concept if it gets the Senate tobacco bill.

Breast-fed babies absorb higher levels of nicotine from smoking mothers (6/10/98) "While we don't know for sure whether the compounds present in breast milk are related to any of the harmful health effects seen in some children of smoking women...[t]his does stress how important it is to help mothers refrain from smoking both during pregnancy and while they are nursing." I agree that pregnant women and nursing mothers shouldn't smoke, but how does this study make that case?

Clinton, Gore to attend U.S. conference on oceans (6/10/98) According to the Planning and Conservation League of Sacramento, California, "The oceans are slowly dying."

Depression and cigarette withdrawal (6/10/98) Psychiatrists want in on the tobacco bonanza.

Is EPA Nosing into Greenhouse Rules? (6/10/98) "In what some observers fear is the beginning of a climate change regulatory initiative, the EPA has published a request for comments on a draft greenhouse gas emissions inventory."

EPA Thinks About Consolidated Air Rules (6/10/98) "A top official of the Environmental Protection Agency predicts the electric power industry will soon see a consolidated approach to controls for air toxics, ozone, particulates and greenhouse gas emissions."

Blowing the whistle on EPA's widespread abuse (6/10/98) Thirteen EPA scientists and staff blow the whistle on EPA in a letter to the Washington Times.

Lord of the fleas (6/10/98) Here's the Washington Times' editorial accompanying the whistleblowers' letter.

Viagra's Lesson: New Drugs, Unknown Risks (6/9/98) Reading the news articles on Viagra is like watching a car crash in slow motion.

European Commission to recommend end to British beef ban (6/9/98) Mad Cow disease hysteria begins to recede?

Environmentalists rap factory farms for manure production (6/9/98) Can cow manure cause miscarriage?

AntiDairy Coalition (6/9/98) A new advocacy group calling itself the AntiDairy Coalition, has been formed to attack the dairy industry and its slogan "Milk does a body good." Their main complaint is that milk contains hormones, viruses, and chemicals. I listened to their kick-off press conference this morning and heard nothing but innuendo and wild, unproven claims about milk. For example, milk is the reason puberty starts around age 13 in American girls, as opposed to around age 17 in Indian and Chinese girls. They also said milk figures into global warming -- all that methane from cows, you know. Click here for the press release.

Al Gore's Next Global Warming Announcement? (6/9/98) In light of "Air Conditioned Crack Houses," below, expect Al Gore to announce that global warming causes deaths from drug overdoses.

Melanoma Madness (6/8/98) Here are two articles from this week's Science News (June 6, 1998) on the scientific flap over sunscreens and skin cancer. Click here for an article on the epidemiology of skin cancer. Click here for an article on the chemistry of skin cancer.

Air Conditioned Crack Houses? (6/8/98) A Journal of the American Medical Association study (June 10, 1998) reports a 33 percent increase in fatal cocaine overdoses on "hot" days. Although the researchers admit that "it is not possible to prove that high ambient temperature results in a direct, increased risk of death from cocaine use," the accompanying editorial was disturbing. It concluded "High priority should now be given to resolving...whether the... increase...represents actual cause and effect....In this way, practitioners will be able to assess whether a new intervention is needed to prevent cocaine deaths in the heat..." We already have publicly supported needle exchange programs. What's next? Air conditioned crack houses?

The Week That Was June 1-7, 1998 (6/8/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

SEPP response to New York Times article (6/8/98) SEPP writes "[William Steven's] intellectual dishonesty on a number of points is rather breathtaking, especially when he reaches back to the depths of the last ice age for a baseline temperature."

Developing Countries Reject Emissions Limits (6/8/98) On June 5, 1998 at a Group of 77 meeting, developing countries rejected consideration of possible greenhouse gas limitations for them. Blaming industrialized nations for global warming, a Chinese delegate said "The position of the G-77 and China is clear -- no new commitments in whatever guise or disguise... [Industrialized nations] have to pay to the Earth the debt they owed since the Industrial Revolution." [Source: Daily Environment Report (June 8, 1998).]

Companies' Use of Trans Fat in Foods Begins to Draw Focus of FDA, Buyers (6/8/98) Harvard's Walter Willet is succeeding in starting a new fat scare. His recent study on trans fat is pushing the FDA toward more food labeling requirements.

El Niño Accelerates Global Warming Trend, New Analysis Shows (6/8/98) The New York Times' William "I-believe-everything-Al-Gore-tells-me" Stevens writes that "global warming appears to be exacerbating the effects of El Niño, which have included droughts in some places and heavy rains in others." And Al Gore said "This is a reminder once again that global warming is real and that unless we act we can expect more extreme weather in the years ahead." But Stevens should be more aloof and ask for the proof before shouting from the roof. [Last line inspired by Jesse Jackson.]

Opiates for the Masses (6/8/98) "As an experiment, thus far [heroin maintenance] is scientifically groundless."

Medical research and the popular media (6/6/98) "There are genuine problems in disseminating scientific findings via popular media. The news media have deadlines that are foreign to researchers."

Global warming and vector-borne disease (6/6/98) In letters to the editor of The Lancet, the CDC's Paul Reiter defends himself against hysteric Paul Epstein.

Depression as a risk factor for heart disease in men (6/6/98) Another previously ignored risk factor for heart disease?

Double standards exist in judging traditional and alternative medicine (6/6/98) "It is thought that more than 60% of orthodox treatments have not been scientifically proved."

Problems with the U.N.'s Global Environmental Facility (6/6/98) "Many of the complaints about the GEF come from those it is designed to help. Developing countries say that it mainly addresses environmental problems of concern to the West while ignoring the most crucial issues affecting the Third World."

Tobacco firms launch legal challenge vs report (6/5/98) "Whatever one's views on smoking, an official scientific committee giving policy advice on tobacco has a duty to consider objectively all the evidence, including representations from tobacco companies."

Too Much Exercise May Put Some Young Women At Risk For Bulimia (6/5/98) Don't look for any data. None exists.

Waste Asphalt Doesn't Pollute Groundwater, UF Researchers Say (6/5/98) Why? Because the state of Florida wants to save money. That's what it takes to get government to embrace good science.

Patients put at risk by medical research fraud (6/5/98) "Unethical medical research and fraudulent research results are going undetected, exposing patients to risk and undermining the credibility of scientific institutions, a group of medical editors said yesterday."

Study Shows Athletes Get No Kick from Nasal Strips (6/5/98) "Athletes who wear a nasal strip thinking it will increase their air intake and improve their performance are fooling themselves, a new study by exercise science researchers at the University at Buffalo shows."

Hormone Replacement Therapy Terror (6/5/98) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) -- use of estrogen and other postmenopausal replacement hormones -- has been successfully used by women for 55 years to ease menopausal symptoms such as "hot flashes." HRT also reduces osteoporosis (bone loss) and mortality by about 20 percent. Controversy exists, though, about HRT and breast cancer. Some studies report a link, others don't. In the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (June 3), Graham Colditz (a member of the Harvard crew that works with the perpetual junk science machine known as the Nurses Health Study) concludes in a review article that HRT increases breast cancer risk by about 35 percent among postmenopausal women using HRT for 5 or more years. But aside from the inconsistent, weak association epidemiology, no clinical trial to date has identified this relationship. But since one clinical trial is forthcoming, why didn't Colditz wait for the results? Is Colditz part of Eli Lilly's program to terrorize women about HRT in favor of its new "anti-estrogen," raloxifene?

EPA aids activist groups: Agency gives $10 million to organizations pushing its environmental justice campaign (6/5/98) Another terrific article in the series on EPA and environmental racism by the Detroit News' Dave Mastio.

Federal Fatheads (6/5/98) Unfortunately, the new federal obesity standards say more about the bloated public health bureaucracy than they do about obesity.

Pesticides linked to kids' brain deficits? (6/5/98) A new study in Environmental Health Perspectives (June 1998) attempts to link pesticide exposure with brain function deficits in children. How do the researchers know it was the pesticides? Here's their answer: "Dysfunction in the...neurological... [system] is implied, as demonstrated in wildlife exposed to pesticides." Implied, Gracie? I think that makes this expressly junk science. Click here for news coverage. Click here for the study abstract.

Son of Unsafe at Any Speed? (6/5/98) Ralph Nader killed the Chevrolet Corvair with his "expose" Unsafe At Any Speed. Nader filmed professional drivers intentionally flipping Corvairs, implying the same could happen to ordinary drivers. A new study in Environmental Health Perspectives (June 1998) claims that trained applicators following recommended procedures for spraying the pesticide chlorpyrifos (Dursban) in test rooms resulted in residues on children's toys and hard surfaces 21-119 times greater than federal standards. But like Nader's charade, the study's dissociation from the real world is hard to swallow. Chlorpyrifos has been used in millions of homes for more than 20 years. Still, no adverse effects have been verified from recommended usage. Click here for the study abstract.

Catalytic Converters for Cows? (6/5/98) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers report in Nature (June 4) that new evidence indicates policies to reduce methane emissions "would nearly ensure a decrease" in atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas. I wonder what their plans are for cows? Domestic livestock is estimated to be responsible for up to 20 percent of atmospheric methane levels and cows are responsible for about 70 percent of this figure.

Most 100-year-olds live with dementia, study finds (6/4/98) I know plenty of baby boomers who aren't playing with a full deck either.

Air-pollution additive contaminating California water (6/4/98) MTBE was added to California gasoline beginning in 1992 to help the state meet federal Clean Air Act standards by reducing emissions of carbon monoxide. Ambient carbon monoxide had been hypothesized, but not proven, to cause heart disease. While I disagree with the unjustified premise for adding MTBE to gasoline, scientific study since 1992 has shown the controversy over MTBE to be more hype than substance.

World Environment Organization? (6/4/98) Coming to a nightmare near you, the U.N.'s environmental arm wants broader powers.

Junkman Apology to National Coffee Association (6/4/98) In a recent comment (5/30/98), I impugned a study reporting coffee may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Among the reasons was the study was paid for by the National Coffee Association. What matters is the substance of the study, not who paid for it. I retract that specific criticism and humbly apologize. So the primary criticism still remains -- i.e., a meta-analysis of case-control studies is not very convincing.

More on the Obesity Problem (6/4/98) New England Journal of Medicine editors Marcia Angell and Jerome Kassirer hang tough about their controversial -- but correct -- position that obesity is overemphasized as a public helath problem.

Feds Lower Optimal Weight Standard (6/3/98) "The rationale behind these definitions is based on... data that shows increases in mortality with a BMI of 25 and above," said Judy Stern, an obesity researcher at the University of California at San Diego, and the only member of an NIH advisory panel to vote against endorsement of the guidelines. "They have misquoted the data . . . if they are going to do it scientifically, they should do it scientifically. I would not change public health policy on that." Click here for the NIH press release.

Anti-Smoking Ads Target Men's Sex Lives: State campaign links tobacco use with impotence (6/3/98) The state of California tries to scare its population based on a study of Vietnam veterans in which smokers self-reported 50 percent more impotence than nonsmokers. One study reporting a weak statistical association based on self-reported data and Vietnam vets?

WHO lowers acceptable dioxin levels by half (6/3/98) Based on so-called "subtle" effects. Doesn't this really mean invisible? So when can we expect the WHO to reduce the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin?

NIEHS to Review EMF (6/3/98) The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is set to start a review of the science of EMF. It must have missed the 1996 report by the National Research Council that could find no evidence of health effects. To paraphrase Gen. Douglas MacArthur: Old EMF-ers never die, and they don't fade away either.

Changing you car's oil can impact the ocean? (6/3/98) So says a new public service announcement narrated by Ted Danson--proving that there is no life after Cheers.

The Tropical Ecology Site (6/3/98) Are the rainforests really the "lungs of the world?" Visit this new site to find out.

Smoking Causes Hearing Loss? (6/2/98) A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 3, 1998) reports that smokers were 70 percent more likely to have a hearing loss as nonsmokers. Now I could go through the study and point to the weak statistical association, the biased data source, the lack of biological plausibility, and other shortcomings. But I don't have to. The same study also reports that secondhand smokers were 94 percent more likely to have a hearing loss than non-secondhand smokers. How can secondhand smokers have a greater risk than smokers? Aren't smokers also exposed to their own secondhand smoke?

Women Smokers In Public Housing Lack Health-Risk Facts (6/2/98) Researchers say poor black women in Chicago public housing aren't motivated to stop smoking. Maybe it's because they have more immediate concerns like trying to earn a living, and avoiding drugs and violence. But since these women live in public housing, here's an idea for our federal meddlers: Paint the walls of public housing with the Surgeon General's warning on smoking. Then the feds will learn that advertising doesn't work.

The Week That Was May 25 - May 31, 1998 (6/2/98) The weekly update from the Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Global warming -- real or perceived -- could strain water resources (6/2/98) Now it doesn't even matter whether global warming is real or not.

Who says biodiversity is on the decline? (6/2/98) A University of Illinois researcher has discovered a new species of fungus, called Phomatospora muskellungensis in northern Wisconsin's Big Muskellunge Lake. If they go to the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., they'll probably find another new species of fungus -- Phoamatthemoutha bureaucratensis.

Anything for a Buck... or $200,000 (6/2/98) The American Council on Science (Except for tobacco issues) and Health has been awarded a $200,000 grant to study the tobacco views of American's opinion leaders. Translation? Money to rat out groups that haven't joined the mindless, anti-tobacco goose-stepping.

Ben Santer: A MacArthur "Genius?" (6/2/98) See what the Science and Environmental Policy Project has to say about this $270,000 award.

Will suing gun manufacturers save lives? (6/2/98) "Enticed by the proposed $516 billion tobacco settlement, some crime-ridden cities are mulling similar class-action lawsuits against gun makers. The cases may look alike, but the legal arguments are much different. And the difference is in the data."

Perpsectives on Guns: How to Stop Mass Public Shootings (6/2/98) Would gun control stop mass shootings?

Global Warming Intensifying El Nino? (6/2/98) It has been suggested that "global warming" (whatever that is) has caused El Nino to become more frequent and more intense. But Richard Grove of the Australian National University points to several El Nino events occurring before 1880 that "had effects at least as intense and wide-ranging as those associated with the current event," including the years 1685-88, 1789-93, and 1877-79. [Source: Nature (May 28, 1998)].

Water pollution suit dismissed: Residents fail to link illness to TCE (6/2/98) A win in the junk science wars.

British nurse loses passive smoking case (6/2/98) Unfortunately, the case sets no precedent as it was not decided on the scientific evidence.

Are sex and death related? (6/2/98) Last year, a study reported that frequency of orgasm in men was associated with reduced mortality. Now come the critics.

Caffeine and Tics in Kids (6/2/98) Researchers report in Pediatrics (June 1998) that caffeine consumption was associated with tics ("intermittent transient suppressibly involuntary movements") in a 13 year-old boy and an 11 year-old boy who are cousins. Although the researchers recommend a large double-blind crossover study to investigate the relationship between caffeine and tics, watch for the tic issue to be used in the upcoming battle over kids and caffeine.

Spinning stats and factoids is all the rage (6/2/98) "Sometimes you have to wonder: Are we living in the midst of an information explosion or a baloney explosion?"

Obesity Joins American Heart Association's List of Major Risk Factors for Heart Attack (6/2/98) Don't look for any science here. The American Heart Association has simply declared obesity to be a major risk factor for heart attack "due to the increased prevalence of the condition in the population." And, in a quote that can only be regarded as precious, the vice-chairman of the Associations's Nutrition Committee said "Today, our understanding of obesity and its impact on coronary heart disease is in it infancy..." So how do we know that being overweight, whatever that means, is by itself a risk factor? I'll bet there's more to having a heart attack than simply having a spare tire.

Extra Gene Extends Flies' Lives (6/2/98) Since there's not much difference between fruit flies and humans, start planning how you'll spend your extended life. Is your IRA large enough? What are the implications for social security?

Mediterranean Diet: Myth or Magic? (6/2/98) I'm leaning toward myth.

Garlic Powder and Serum Cholesterol (6/2/98) Garlic powder tablets (Yuck!) have been rumored to lower serum cholesterol levels. But a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week, parallel treatment study reports that garlic powder was ineffective in lowering cholesterol levels in patients with hypercholesterolemia. [Source: Archives of Internal Medicine (June 8, 1998).] But there was good news. The tablets had a protective effect on vampires.

Phen-Pro vs. Phen-Fen (6/2/98) In a letter to the editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine (June 8, 1998), two Maryland physicians take pains to write that the "Phen-Pro" diet drug combination (phentermine and fluoxetine hydrochloride) doesn't cause valvular heart disease like Phen-Fen, which, they say, caused valve problems in as many as 45 percent of patients. But hold on here. Their figure of 45 percent is from an earlier, nonscientific study report of theirs. It's also 50 percent higher than the FDA said was occurring last year -- a figure, I'm betting, the FDA will eventually and sheepishly walk away from. Is it coincidental that these two physicians have been pushing Phen-Pro to 800 obese patients since 1995? This "letter" was more like an advertisement. The Archives should charge them for it.

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