The Food and Drug Administration regulates health claims accompanying food, and its regulations are stringent. But these regulations apply only to food manufacturers. Third parties such as activist groups can make health claims without restriction.
Category Archives: Advocacy/interest Groups
Many published reports say that state quarantines are ineffective or otherwise contrary to the best available scientific advice. A look at that scientific advice shows that it is policy-driven, not scientific. Exhibit A: the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine say that quarantines such as those enacted by multiple states and enforced by New Jersey are “not scientifically based.” But their argument is mostly about a disagreement on policy, not a dispute about science.
Reports of Palestinian civilian casualties during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge are known to lack objectivity because they are provided by Palestinian sources, which have incentives to exaggerate total numbers and misclassify combatants as civilians. Reports from the BBC and New York Times utilize simple statistical methods to show that misclassification is almost certain to be endemic, rendering these reports both meaningless and deceptive.
The American College of Emergency Physicians says so, based on a survey of ER doctors. The survey was not properly designed to test that hypothesis.
Federal regulatory policies, whether made by Congress or Executive branch agencies, benefit from the contributions of physical, biological and social scientists. But these contributions are not without controversy because science can inform, but not resolve, policy questions. Policymakers politicize science when they interfere with science, such as by telling scientists what “answers” they are supposed to obtain. Scientists are susceptible to the opposite temptation; they scientize policy when they interfere with policymaking, such as by telling policymakers what policies “science” supports.
In the news this week are examples of two signal efforts to scientize policy.
A trade magazine says Consumer Reports is trying to force the FDA to strictly regulate an impurity in the manufacture of caramel colors that the agency believes isn’t harmful.