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What do real scientists think about the dangers of common chemicals?

Most people on the rational side of the environmental field clamor for more science and less emotion to be used in setting policy. Who could argue with that?

The problem is that many of the scientists don't actually believe in science—according to the results of a recent survey. A sampling of toxicologists was asked to complete an online questionnaire, and it was clear from the responses that many of them were just as susceptible to media hype as the lay public.

A toxicologist friend of mine, who also participated in the survey, was not surprised. He noted, cynically, that the results reflect the "diversity" of the membership, and was confident that many of the respondents who bought into the popular mythology on chemicals—including the absurd use of the precautionary principle, even if tons of data is available on a chemical—were probably from academia or the EPA.

Even worse are situations whereby certain chemicals are actually being regulated down to levels LOWER than they occur in nature, because that is what the regulators' computer models calculate.

He lamented the fact that in the sister field of pharmacology, science has far more respect. He has no idea why there should be such a difference between these quite similar disciplines.

As I told him, almost no decisions in real life are dictated by reason. Rather, with the exception of some very few people, emotion trumps all. Or, to put it another way, it's always limbic, never cerebral.

Check out my HND piece on this topic.


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