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Michael Halpern

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About the author: Michael Halpern is an expert on political interference in science and solutions to reduce suppression, manipulation, and distortion of government science. See Michael's full bio.

Transforming Food Policy Through Science from Coast to Coast

From Let’s Move! to farmers markets, the conversation about how public health science is informing and leading to healthier food policies and food environments is growing. And at every level, good things are happening. Leading up to the May 6 Science and Democracy Forum on “Science, Democracy, and a Healthy Food Policy,” we asked for examples of people using scientific and public health evidence to improve food environments. Here’s a flavor of some of the work highlighted in your responses: Read More

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Virginia Supreme Court Unanimously Supports Academic Freedom at the University of Virginia

The Supreme Court of Virginia today found unanimously in favor of the University of Virginia in its attempt to protect its employees from unwarranted intrusions into their privacy through the commonwealth’s Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA). In doing so, the Court rebuffed efforts by the American Tradition Institute (ATI) to gain access to the private correspondence of UVa researchers. The Court’s decision signals to scientists at public universities that the pursuit of scientific knowledge will be protected in Virginia, no matter how their research results might be received. Read More

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The Long Road to Healthier Living

In February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published data in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that obesity rates for pre-school-aged children are declining. On Monday, a different team of scientists published a study in JAMA Pediatrics which found no such decline, and also that rates of severe childhood obesity are climbing. Both studies agreed that overall child obesity rates have stalled for the last decade. Read More

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Climate Change May Cause Baseball Ticket Prices to Rise

First, Chipotle warned of peak guacamole. Now, Major League Baseball is claiming that it may need to raise ticket prices across the board for the 2015 season because the cost of baseballs is expected to rise due to climate change. The warning came in a quarterly filing submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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A Conspiracy Theory Researcher Falls Victim to Conspiracy Theories: Intimidated Journal to Retract Lewandowsky Paper

A social science journal will soon retract a paper not because the research is flawed but because the journal fears being exposed to legal risks under antiquated (and since corrected) British libel law, according to Desmogblog and the paper’s lead author. Such a retraction would reflect badly on the journal and may set a terrible precedent. Papers should be withdrawn based on significant concerns with the quality of the research, not based on threats.
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An Update on Scientific Integrity in Canada, and How Scientists In Other Countries Can Help

In recent years, many Canadians have become more and more concerned about political interference in the work of Canadian government scientists, and a new report from PIPSC, the employee union that represents many of these scientists, provides little comfort that the situation will improve anytime soon. UCS has developed an open letter that allows non-Canadian scientists to show support for their Canadian government peers. You can read the letter and sign it here. Read More

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Scientific Integrity, Beetles, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Yesterday, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released the partially-redacted results of two investigations into the conduct of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) managers, which found significant violations of scientific integrity. The cases raise questions not only as to how scientific integrity investigations will be carried out and publicly reported by the Department of Interior, but also how the violators and those who report the violations will be treated. Read More

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Who Is that Young Scientist with Michelle Obama at the State of the Union? It’s Joey Hudy

Prediction: this is going to be a pretty neat week for high-school student Joey Hudy. The young inventor will be one of at least six great Americans who will be sitting in the First Lady’s box during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday. Hudy first made headlines two years ago at the White House Science Fair, where the president took personal interest in Hudy’s marshmallow cannon. Read More

Categories: Science and Democracy  

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West Virginia Scientists to EPA, CDC: Allow Your Scientists to Speak

UPDATE: See responses below from CDC and EPA officials.

This morning, two dozen West Virginia scientists wrote to the CDC and EPA to urge the two agencies to give more freedom to their scientists to communicate with the press and public, especially during emergencies like the ongoing water contamination crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of West Virginians. Read More

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Dear Senate: Ease Travel Restrictions on Government Scientists

Most scientists who work for the government love doing so. They develop connections with others who share their dedication to public service, and see the immediate impact of their work reflected in real-world policies that protect public health and safety or the environment. But sometimes, politics gets in the way of their full participation in the scientific enterprise, wasting taxpayer dollars invested in the researchers themselves and jeopardizing the ability of the government to attract top scientific talent. Read More

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