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Fallacies in Toxicology: cancer equivocation

A not-unusual tactic in the junk science area is to get a for-hire expert to take legitimate data on one kind of cancer (say, lung cancer), and claim that it is evidence that a substance caused a different kind of cancer (say, colon cancer). Because both have the name "cancer", judges mistakenly let what is actually a non sequitur slide. In Cliff Hutchison's new "Science Evidence" blog, he points out the fallacy of cancer as a single monolithic disease, noting a recent NIH report that states "Cancer is a term that encompasses at least 200 different diseases characterized by genetic changes that alter the normal, controlled growth and division of cells."

See also Jerry M. Rice & Charles H. Frith, The Nature of Organ Specificity in Chemical Carcinogenesis, in Organ and Species Specificity in Chemical Carcinogenesis 1 (Robert Langenbach, et al. eds. 1983).

The blog is highly recommended; it's a sort of Blog702 from the defense perspective. A n interesting November 2 post looks at the Delaware case of Quinn v. Woerner, which excluded the testimony of an expert who used purely speculative post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. The blog's proprietor wrote an excellent piece of work on mold litigation for the Chamber of Commerce in 2003.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.