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Only One ChanceHow Environmental Pollution Impairs Brain Development -- and How to Protect the Brains of the Next Generation$
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Philippe Grandjean

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199985388.001.0001

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Inconvenient Truths

Inconvenient Truths

(p.119) Chapter 9 Inconvenient Truths
Only One Chance

Philippe Grandjean

Oxford University Press

Inertia in science is a major hurdle, as the documentation of neurotoxicity builds only gradually. Scientific tradition demands verification and replication before reaching firm conclusions. Worse, vested interest have explored this inertia by demanding proof and by raising doubt about scientific documentation. Meanwhile, more than a generation of children have suffered chemical brain drain, while the evidence was debated and no decision reached. These adverse effects could have been prevented. However, in a contentious environment, where conflicting interests abound, scientists tend to hedge their conclusions in soft language in an attempt to justify a balanced position. Often, existing uncertainties are interpreted as a demand for more research, from which the researchers themselves may benefit, and preventive action is then postponed. The picture is muddled by unrecognized or unreported biases and by the influence of vested interests that have manipulated or manufactured doubt and uncertainty.

Keywords:   Bias, Conflict of interest, Hedging, Manufactured doubt, Scientific controversy, Uncertainty, Verification

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