science and law

A coffee lawsuit has turned science upside-down by requiring coffee companies to prove that their product isn’t unsafe. That is absurd, not only because it violates 400 years of common sense about coffee, but because it is impossible to prove a negative. Science also cannot prove that ghosts aren’t real. Perhaps all California residences should carry a poltergeist warning, just in case.
The war on science has at least three fronts. First, there is the widely reported political war on science, widely and erroneously believed to be waged exclusively by conservatives, when in reality, progressives are just as eager to throw science under the bus when it suits their agenda. (ACSH President Hank Campbell and I wrote an entire book about this topic, called Science Left Behind.) As a general rule, when science and political activists clash, the activists usually win.
A California judge is going to determine whether or not coffee causes cancer. Think about that. We live in a society where judges and lawyers – not medical doctors or scientists – get to determine the credibility of biomedical research. And guess who paid in the process?
Lawyers are routinely required to solve problems that they themselves created. If something like this were to occur in any other area of life, it would be called racketeering. So beware, science: a lawsuit-happy nation turns its eyes to you.
We have never seen anything like this. Climate scientist Mark Jacobson has sued the National Academy of Sciences for publishing an article that disagrees with him. For his hurt feelings, he wants $10 million.
Hollywood will make no sequel to Erin Brockovich, nor will Pacific Gas & Electric be reimbursed $333 million. However, after nearly 20 years the truth about hexavalent chromium has finally been revealed by California regulators.