Laws Block the Study of Gun Violence

Violence happens.  People use guns to kill other people, and if not guns, then some other weapon.  Murders are so common, in fact, that homicides claim roughly 1,000 victims everyday and images of guns and violence fill our TV screens.  Although mass-killings like those in Columbine and Aurora continue to horrify us, they no longer surprise us.  We understand that humans kill others and that violence is just one aspect of human social behavior that we sometimes accept — think war — but often reject — think bullying, fistfights, and Aurora.

But why?  Why do will hurt, hit, and occasionally murder one another?  Social scientists could shed light on the causes of gun violence and means of preventing it.  But, unfortunately, politicians and lobbyist have stymied research into both the social sciences and gun violence.  In a new op-ed for the Washington Post, Jay Dickey and Mark Rosenberg lament the dramatic cost of gun violence — over 30,000 deaths a year, more than those murdered on September 11th and almost as many that die each year from car-crashes — and their own failure to fund research into its causes. Continue reading

Should We Market Prescription Medicine to the Masses?

One thing that always frightens me when I turn on the TV is the sheer volume of commercials for prescription drugs.  The commercials are usually highly-polished, with nice-looking actors and gentle piano music in the background. They’re so common that you can probably think of a few right now: Cymbalta, Advair, Ambien, Latisse.  Although it’s certainly bothersome that drug companies market drugs to people who cannot purchase them directly (without a prescription), the thing that bothers me most is that they used highly polished adds to gloss-over some very serious side effects.  This just seems so dangerous.  Should we allow drug companies to market powerful prescription drugs to the masses? Continue reading