Monday, February 29, 2016
In a court of law, perception can overcome science. What is unsettled in the investigation community becomes a judgement resting on the slimmest pretexts of fact. Consider this case. There is no definitive proof that talc-based baby powders cause cancer, but a jury thought so and awarded $72 million to a family whose mother had died of ovarian cancer. Their attorneys apparently made a convincing case that withstands civil judgement but not the analysis of the scientific community. Was Johnson & Johnson wrongfully punished? Apparently so and now the company will have to appeal. If the case had been pursued solely on the basis of science and not of perception, it might never have come to trial. But, apparently, there was enough circumstantial evidence to proceed. Correlation is not causation but that apparently didn't matter.