Interests, Bias, and Consensus in Science and Regulation
Dose-Response Volume: 17 issue: 2, Article first published online: June 5, 2019; Issue published: April 1, 2019 doi:10.1177/1559325819853669
Posted: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2019
Scientists are human. As such, they are prone to bias based on political and economic interests. While conflicts of interest are usually associated with private funding, research funded by public sources is also subject to special interests and therefore prone to bias. Such bias may lead to consensus not based on evidence. While appealing to scientific consensus is a legitimate tool in public debate and regulatory decisions, such an appeal is illegitimate in scientific discussion itself. We provide examples of decades-long scientific consensus on erroneous hypotheses. For policy advice purposes, a scientific statement or model should be considered as the subject of proper scientific consensus only if shared by those who would directly benefit from proving it wrong. Otherwise, specialists from adjacent fields of science and technology should be consulted.
Keywords: Regulatory Science, Incentives, Radiation, Secondhand Smoke, LNT
JEL Classification: D72, D73
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation