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16 June 2010

This Is Your Brain on iPhone

By passing legislation based on unsubstantiated links between things like brain cancers and cell phones, we risk compromising the plausibility structure of all such connections and the related legislation (not to mention the legislatures themselves). There is no scientifically credible relationship between the two—and for no lack of folks trying to find one! Since the data are likely to keep telling the same story, Jane and Jon Doe’s logic might understandably go something like this:
  1. The government requires me to wear my seatbelt because they save lives.
  2. Similarly, the government banned trans fats in restaurants because they are bad for me.
  3. Likewise, the government restricts cell phone use because they are bad for me.
  4. As it turns out, cell phones do not cause brain cancer.
  5. Perhaps trans fats aren’t a big deal either.
  6. Why should I wear my seatbelt?

Citizens certainly do have a “right to know,” but they also have a right not-to-be-confused. After all, very few of us are physicists, radiologists, oncologists, or, for that matter, all that well-informed at all so we must trust the experts as is required in a complex division of labor.

See my previous post for implications on disease and epidemiology.

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