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Are Lawyers Peer Reviewing Science Now?


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#1 Michaelangelica

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 05:30 AM

Surely this is a hoax?????
"ScienceInsider got hold of a threatening letter that lawyers for the mining industry sent to various scientific journals (PDF) concerning data from the U.S. 'Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study.' Many occupationalhealth researchers believe the study will show a link between diesel exhaust and cancer. A handful of scientists have commented on the letter and its implications."http://science.slash...ntific-journals

#2 CraigD

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:25 PM

The letter isn’t a hoax.

On 19 August 2011, the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ordered that a mining industry group and a US Congressional committee be allowed 90 days to review research related to a major study of the effects of diesel exhaust on miners before it was published, then found that the study’s authors hadn’t complied with the order, so were in contempt of the court’s previous order.

This finding was appealed, and on 29 Feb 2012, the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the District court’s contempt finding, effectively finding that the original “don’t publish for 90 days” order had been followed. Since more than 90 days had passed, the authors were free to publish, and did.

The diesel exhaust study, which found that heavy exposure to diesel exhaust increases risk of death by cancer, is an important one, and will likely change how diesel engines are used not only in mining but in many other settings, including mass transit.

Here is the NIH-NCI press release on the studies. Here is a pretty good summary of their history, from Nature News blogger Jeff Tollefson.

Though I can understand, and share, the disgusted reaction of folk to the mining industry opposing and questioning the legitimacy of a study that is likely to cost them money to improve the health of their workers, the legal proceedings seem to me to be legitimate, and, ultimately, working. The courts gave the mine industry a fair chance to prove their allegations the studies were bogus. They failed to do so, and the studies were published. One could argue that the legal process took longer than it should, but the obligation of courts is first to be fair, and only after that, speedy.

#3 Michaelangelica

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 03:01 AM

Thanks muchly :)

I think it sets a poor precedent.
science should not be settled in an adversarial court room by lawyers and judges but in adversarial (?) peer review.


Then there were the 'monkey trials'; not that those changed the minds of those of the literal fundamentalist persuasion.