In a recent article published by Bloomberg View, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein discusses “an important but widely overlooked speech” made by Elizabeth Warren (D), in which the Massachusetts senator bemoans the influence of powerful industry groups on the regulatory process. To Warren, the problem is not overzealous administrative bodies, eager to impose unwanted, unnecessary new rules, but regulatory capture—the notion regulation is, in the words of economists Michael E. Levine and Jennifer L. Forrence, “simply an arena in which special interests contend for the right to use government power for narrow advantage.”
By now, virtually everyone has heard that “97% of scientists agree: Climate change is real, manmade and dangerous.” Even if you weren’t one of his 31 million followers who received this tweet from President Obama, you most assuredly have seen it repeated everywhere as scientific fact.
The New York Times has added more fuel to the anti-tobacco-harm-reduction fire with a December 4 editorial (here) rehashing the somewhat slanted reporting that appeared in the paper’s news pages on November 30. In two stories that day, the Times explored issues surrounding Swedish Match’s FDA application to change the warnings on its snus products. As I noted (here), “The Times and their quoted experts did a major disservice to their audience; they failed to report the simple truth, that mouth cancer risk for Swedish snus is next to nil.”
Halloween is upon us, and once again opponents of frac sand mining are trying to scare people in Wisconsin and other parts of the Upper Midwest by producing one-sided studies based on unscientific, anecdotal evidence (which is subject to cherry-picking and other biases) to back their claims. Fortunately, the scariest claims these organizations have made about the potential public health impacts of frac sand mining are not supported by the scientific data, and in many cases the data suggest just the opposite.