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Phantom Risk: Scientific Inference and the Law

Phantom Risk: Scientific Inference and the Law

Paperback

Edited by Kenneth R. Foster, Edited by Etc., Edited by David E. Bernstein, Edited by Peter W. Huber

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  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Format: Paperback | 472 pages
  • Dimensions: 153mm x 228mm x 27mm | 796g
  • Publication date: 26 February 1999
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0262561190
  • ISBN 13: 9780262561198
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 12
  • Sales rank: 1,519,285

Product description

Phantom risks are risks whose very existence is unproven and perhaps unprovable, yet they raise real problems at the interface of science and the law. Phantom Risk surveys a dozen scientific issues that have led to public controversy and litigation - among them, miscarriage from the use of video display terminals, birth defects in children whose mothers used the drug Bendectin, and cancer from low-intensity magnetic fields, and from airborne asbestos. It presents the scientific evidence behind these and other issues and summarizes the resulting litigation.Focusing on the great disparity between the scientific evidence that is sufficient to arouse public fears and that needed to establish a hazard or its absence, these original contributions probe the problem of scientific ambiguity in risk assessment, and the mayhem this creates in the courtroom.Although the authors are clearly optimistic about the use of science to detect and evaluate risks, they recognize the difficulty of inferring cause-and-effect relationships from epidemiological (observational) evidence and of inferring risks to humans from high-dose animal experiments, the two major sources of evidence. The final chapter reviews the exceptionally difficult problem of how the legal impact of disputes about phantom risks can be reduced.Kenneth R. Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. David E. Bernstein is an attorney at the law firm of Crowell & Moring. Peter W. Huber is a Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and serves as Counsel to the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt.

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Author information

Kenneth R. Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. David E. Bernstein is an attorney at the law firm of Crowell & Moring. Peter W. Huber is a Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and serves as Counsel to the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt.

Review quote

" Phantom Risk is a much needed antidote for the hysteria overlow-level insult that pervades and debilitates our society." Alvin M. Weinberg , Distinguished Fellow, Oak RidgeAssociated Universities

Table of contents

A scientific perspective; a legal perspective. Part 1 Phantom (or not so phantom) risks: weak magnetic fields - a cancer connection?, Kenneth R. Foster; spermicides and birth defects, James L. Mills; Benedictin and the language of causation, Louis Lasagna and Sheila R. Shulman; miscarriage and video display terminals - an update, Kenneth R. Foster; the legal context. Part 2 Just a little bit of poison: environmental pollution and cancer - some misconceptions, Bruce N. Ames and Lois Swirsky Gold; asbestos - the hazard, the risk and public policy, Ralph D'Agostino, Jr. and Richard Wilson; the human health effects of polychlorinated biphenyls, Renate D. Kimbrough; trichloroethylene - toxicology and epidemiology - a critical review of the literature, Rudolph J. Jaeger and Arlene L. Weiss; dioxin -perceptions, estimates and measures, Michael Gough; the Three Mile Island nuclear accident and public health consequences, George K. Tokuhata; the fallout controversy, Ralph E. Lapp; the saga of Fernald, Bernard L. Cohen; the legal context. Part 3 Medical controversy: trauma and cancer, Marvin M. Romsdahl; chemical pollutants and "multiple chemical sensitivities", Michael I. Luster et al; immunologic laboratory tests - a critique of the Alcolac decision, Richard S. Cornfeld and Stuart F. Schlossman; the legal context. Part 4 Conclusion - phantom risk - a problem at the interface of science and the law.