The Atlantic: How Science Beat the Virus — The Atlantic’s Ed Yong reflects on a year spent battling a pandemic, and the lasting impact this battle could have on the scientific community: “The COVID‑19 pivot has revealed the all-too-human frailties of the scientific enterprise. Amid a long winter of sickness, it’s hard not to focus on the political failures that led us to a third surge. But when people look back on this period, decades from now, they will also tell stories, both good and bad, about this extraordinary moment for science. At its best, science is a self-correcting march toward greater knowledge for the betterment of humanity. At its worst, it is a self-interested pursuit of greater prestige at the cost of truth and rigor. The pandemic brought both aspects to the fore. Humanity will benefit from the products of the COVID‑19 pivot. Science itself will too, if it learns from the experience.”
RealClear Science: The Biggest Junk Science of 2020 — Each December, RealClearScience recalls the the most egregious examples of fraud, woo, fake treatments, and all other kinds of BS in the world of science over the preceding year. In 2020, every story with the distinct dishonor of making the list is linked to the coronavirus pandemic. The roundup features perpetrators of misinformation, purveyors of ineffective and even dangerous “treatments”, and crazed conspiracy theorists. By their actions, they worsened the pandemic, contributing to the death, suffering, and hardship it fomented.
AP: Wisconsin releases action plan to reduce PFAS chemical use— Wisconsin must prevent pollution from forever chemicals known as PFAS while developing ways to reduce the chemicals’ use, according to a 25-point action plan released this week by Gov. Tony Evers’ administration after a year of study. The report does not outline the projected cost of implementing the recommendations, which also included input from the public and an advisory group, centered on environmental justice, health equity and pollution prevention.
Legal Newsline: Companies rail against proposed class of 330 million so-far-uninjured Americans — In the case of Every American vs. 11 companies, defendants are hoping to stop class action lawyers from establishing “the most ambitious class imaginable.” DuPont, 3M and others filed their opposition to class certification in an Ohio lawsuit that seeks to create a medical monitoring program and a scientific research project to study the effects of PFAS. The exact health effects of PFAS aren’t known but are debated, nonetheless, in places as high as Congress. The lawsuit doesn’t allege the plaintiff has been made sick by PFAS, but that the companies should still have to pay to track his – and everyone’s – health.
The Scientist: The Top Retractions of 2020 — As 2020 was the year of the pandemic, COVID-19 loomed large in the world of retractions, too. According to The Scientist’s tracker in early December, 39 articles about the novel coronavirus have been retracted from preprint servers or peer-reviewed journals so far—a number that will likely grow. That’s out of a total of more than 1,650 retractions catalogued to date in 2020. This list of the top pandemic retractions includes The Lancet’s infamous hydroxychloroquine story and a theory that the COVID virus came to earth via meteorite.