• Examining Text Strategies for Refuting Myths and Fake News

    The spread of false information is increasingly hindering the clarification of socially relevant, scientifically proven facts. Two new studies examine the impact of texts aimed at refuting myths and fake news concerning Covid-19 vaccines and genetically modified foods.

  • The ‘Truther Playbook’: Tactics That Explain Vaccine Conspiracy Theorist RFK Jr’s Presidential Momentum

    Polls show that Robert Kennedy’s Jr., promoting anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, has been drawing surprising early support in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy is using the “truther playbook” - – promising identity and belonging, revealing “true” knowledge, providing meaning and purpose, and promising leadership and guidance – which prove to be appealing in our current post-truth era, in which opinions often triumph over facts, and in which charlatans can achieve authority by framing their opponents as corrupt and evil and claiming to expose this corruption. These rhetorical techniques can be used to promote populist politics just as much as anti-vaccine content.

  • What If China Really Did Develop COVID as a Bioweapon? Here Are the Issues Involved

    A recent report by the Sunday Times claims the newspaper has seen evidence that China was developing dangerous coronaviruses in collaboration with the Chinese military for the alleged purposes of biowarfare. This research program was the likely source of the pandemic, the report asserts.So, what could the rest of the world do about these new allegations – if anything? There is no easy answer, because, given the nature of biological research, we may never be able to reach a conclusive answer about the bioweapon question.

  • Gap in ‘Excess Deaths’ Has Widened Between U.S. and Europe, but Only Partly Due to COVID-19

    Among all but oldest age groups, U.S. has higher death rates than five high-income European nations. The new study also found that the gap between the U.S. and the five other nations — England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — widened during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the study reveals, only a portion of that phenomenon was directly attributable to COVID-19.

  • One Way to Prevent Pandemics: Don’t Harm or Disturb Bats and Their Habitats

    As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly subsides, focused on how such surges in deaths, illness, and suffering – as well as their economic costs – can be prevented in the future. One basic solution, the authors argue, may lie in a global taboo against harming or disturbing bats and their habitats.

  • Technological Obsolescence

    In addition to killing over a million Americans, Covid-19 revealed embarrassing failures of local, state, and national public health systems to accurately and effectively collect, transmit, and process information. But the important issue is not that many national health systems continued to use fax machines: the better question is “what factors made fax machines more attractive than more capable technologies?” The answer to this question provides a better window into the complex, evolving world of technological obsolescence.

  • Training for Nuclear Incidents and Preparing WMD Responses

    “Radiological material can end up in almost any location or any place and take on almost any shape and form,” an expert told participants a few weeks ago at the first Sandia Lab’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Counterterrorism and Incident Response Showcase. Preparing for nuclear incidents is not dealing with hypotheticals. “It is not practice. It is not an exercise. It is real life stuff,” he said.

  • Making Hospitals Cybersecure

    As medical centers increasingly come under attack from hackers, Europe is bolstering protection. The answer lies not only in better software. Cybersecurity is more often than not about people and changing their behavior.

  • Construction of New Level-4 Biolab in Manhattan, Kansas Completed

    The new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas replaces the old Plum Island, New York biolab. The NBAF is the first U.S. laboratory with biosafety level-4 containment, capable of housing large livestock animals; and one of only a few facilities in the world with these capabilities.

  • Bacteria-Killing Viruses as Alternative to Antibiotics

    The public is in favor of the development of bacteria-killing viruses as an alternative to antibiotics – and more efforts to educate will make them significantly more likely to use the treatment, a new study shows.

  • Pfizer COVID Vaccine Tracking Confirms Safety in Kids, with Myocarditis, Pericarditis Rare

    Monitoring of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine safety among more than 3 million US children aged 5 to 17 years flagged just 2 of 20 health outcomes among 12- to 17-year-olds—myocarditis and pericarditis, which were rare.

  • Birth Year Predicts Exposure to Gun Violence

    In long-term study, risk of getting shot or witnessing a shooting varied by respondents’ race, sex, and when they came of age. The study found that more than half of Black and Hispanic respondents witnessed a shooting by age 14 on average.

  • Students’ Troubling Reaction to School Violence Compounds the Problem

    Among U.S. high school students, the decision to carry a weapon to school is tied to experiencing violence at school, reports a new study. But weapons increase the potential for injury and death when there is interpersonal conflict, so understanding the relationship between exposure to violence and weapon carrying is essential for developing effective public health interventions.

  • Why Scientists Have a Hard Time Getting Money to Study the Root Causes of Outbreaks

    Government and nonprofit groups that award grants to scientists favor research that’s high tech and treatment oriented rather than studies that seek to understand why contagions leap from animals to people in the first place.

  • Possible Future Health Impacts Related to Climate Mitigation

    Reduce fossil fuel use and air quality will improve, right? It might not be as straightforward as it appears, according to researchers. Some climate change mitigation measures may cause worsening of air quality.