Sins Against Science

How Misinformation Affects Our Lives and Laws

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About the Book

Misinformation has had dramatic and dangerous effects, as evidenced by numerous events of the late 2010s and early 2020s. Reading a steady stream of misinformation leads to distrust, potentially leading to conflict in one’s family and workplace, and even to civil unrest. At the heart of many such matters is scientific illiteracy. Many people enjoy a life of ease and convenience because of science—and since science also crosses courtrooms, classrooms and cultures, it has great potential to debunk misinformation and untangle the confusion on such issues as vaccines, sexual identity, race and evolution, alternative medicine, and human reproduction. This book addresses those issues and the popular stories, conspiracies, and misleading headlines that circulate across media platforms. Bringing accurate knowledge into people’s agendas is challenging, and this book uses science and facts as a basis of every deliberation over laws and policies. The chapters weave together history, politics, human biology, and law, and demonstrate how our lives are dependent on understanding the nature of things. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Judi Nath is an internationally acclaimed textbook author, biology professor, certified health education specialist and past president of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society. Her skill for making complex topics easily understood and relevant has earned her numerous teaching and faculty excellence awards, including Ohio’s Memorable Educator. She lives on the southern shore of Lake Erie.

Bibliographic Details

Judi Nath

Foreword by Jim Obergefell

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8639-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4398-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword by Jim Obergefell 1
Preface 3

Introduction. Approach the Bench: Opening Statements and Newsfeeds 7
U.S. Landmark Case: New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964); (9–0 decision)  7
The Necessity of This Book 7; Legislation 12; Current Events 14; A Popular Press Science Book Is Born 17; Tropism 17; Intellectual Curiosity and Skepticism 18; Science 22
1. Blinded by Science: The Discipline of Facts 25
U.S. Landmark Case: Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 279 (1993); (9–0 decision)  25
Scientific Literacy 25; How Science Works 28; Science, Religion and Life 33
2. Hello Dolly: Genetics 36
U.S. Landmark Case: Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, 569 U.S. 576 (2013); (9–0 decision)  36
Principles of Genetics 36; Genetics as a Science 40; Manipulating Genes in Animals and People 41; Cloning and Twinning 41; Types and Purposes of Cloning 44; Eugenics 46; Modifying Genes and Genetic Screening 47; Genetic Engineering 49
3. Time Travel: Evolution and Race 52
U.S. Landmark Case: Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987); (7–2 decision)  52
Dinner Party Topics 52; Evolution 54; Tracing Our Ancestry 57; Classifying Living Things 58; Homo sapiens 58; Coding for Skin Color 59; Human Zoos 61; The Tuskegee Study 62; Racism in Medicine 64; We’re More Alike Than We Are Different 67; The Founder Effect 68
4. Jungle Love: Sexual Identity 70
U.S. Landmark Case: Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015); (5–4 decision)  70
Being Gay 70; Chromosomes 73; Sexual Behavior 75; Homosexuality 77
5. Birds and Bees: Human Reproduction 83
U.S. Landmark Case: Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), (7–2 decision)  83
Introduction 84; Sex Education 86; Vasectomy, Circumcision and the Hymen 88; Rape 90; Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) 91; Overview of Reproductive Structures 93; Oocytes and Sperm 97; Reproductive Biology 98; Problems with Pregnancy 102; Breastfeeding 104; Separation of Church and State 106; The Tension Between Science and Faith: Choice 107; Planned Parenthood, Obstetrics and Gynecology 113; Legislating Reproductive Health 115
6. Staying Alive: Vaccines and the Immune System 118
U.S. Landmark Case: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, 562 U.S. 223 (2011); (6–2 decision)  118
Preventing Disease 118; Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism 119; Vaccine History 121; Our Immune System 123; Vaccines and Vaccine Development 126; Vaccine Myths 131
7. Snake Oil: Complementary and Alternative Medicine 134
U.S. Landmark Case: Dent v. West Virginia, 129 U.S. 114 (1889); (9–0 decision)  134
Outside Mainstream Medicine 135; The Placebo Response 137; Acupuncture 138; Homeopathy 139; Naturopathy, Supplements and Herbal Remedies 139; Chiropractic 141; Cardiovascular Disease Treatment 142; Osteoarthritis Treatment 143; Back Pain Treatment 143; Depression and Anxiety Treatment 144
8. I Want a New Drug: The Good, the Bad and the Unknown 145
U.S. Landmark Case: Gonzales v. Raich, 545 U.S. 1 (2005); (6–3 decision)  145
A Story About Epinephrine (Adrenaline) 146; Pharmacology 148; Drug Tolerance 153; Drug Cumulative Effect 154; Drug Synergism 154; Drug Development 155; Special Drug Programs 161; Drug Addiction 161; Alcohol 162; Opioids, Marijuana and Tobacco 164; War on Drugs 170; Changing Health Behavior 171
9. The Final Chapter: Death and Dying 173
U.S. Landmark Case: Cruzan v. Missouri Department of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990); (5–4 decision)  173
Defining Death and Characteristics of Death 173; Brain Death and the Harvard Committee 176; Perspectives on Death 177; Postmortem Myths and Facts 179; Hypothermia and the Diving Reflex 181; Cardiovascular Disease 183; Psychology of Death 185; Palliative Care and Hospice 187; Experiencing Challenging Circumstances and Terminal Lucidity 188; Dying of a Broken Heart 189; Death Penalty 190; Choice at the End 195; Anorexia Nervosa and Cachexia 197; Terminally Ill 199; ­­End-of-Life Decision-Making Organizations 200; On a Final Note 200

Bibliography 203
Index 219