JunkScience.com has put together the Top Ten Junk Science Moments for 2006. Here’s a sample.
3. What Hurricane Season? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s prediction for the 2006 hurricane season was about as wrong as wrong can be. NOAA predicted only a 5 percent chance of a below-normal hurricane season – but a below-normal season is precisely what happened. If NOAA’s experts can be so wrong about an imminent hurricane season, why have any confidence in far more complex predictions of climate change 100 years into the future?
4. Day of Reckoning for DDT Foes? It only took 30 years, tens of millions of lives lost, billions sickened and trillions of dollars of economic growth foregone, but the World Health Organization finally ended its ban on use of the insecticide DDT to kill malaria-bearing mosquitoes. It’s great news for developing nations that want to employ the most affordable and effective anti-malarial tool. So what should happen to those environmental activists and government regulators who used junk science to have DDT banned in the first place?
6. Stem cell fraud and futility. Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce legislation lifting the limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cell (ESC) research. But she ought to pay attention to what did, and what did not happen, in ESC research during 2006. What did happen was the indictment of prominent South Korean ESC researcher Hwang Woo-suk for faking his research. What didn’t happen was any meaningful advance in ESC research. One alleged ESC research advance hyped in the journal Nature (harvesting of ESCs without destroying the embryos) had to be corrected to note that none of the embryos in question actually survived the procedure – oops.
9. Food police indict SpongeBob Squarepants. Several anti-fun food activist groups sued Nickelodeon and Kellogg for using cartoon characters to advertise food products to children. “Nickelodeon and Kellogg engage in business practices that literally sicken our children,” the groups claimed. Though the activists attempted to exploit a widely publicized report from the Institute of Medicine concluding that advertising to kids is effective, the IOM report did not examine and, therefore, did not link advertising to kids’ health problems.