Pathological science may confuse not only the public, but also policy-makers. Donald Kennedy, president emeritus of Stanford University and former FDA commissioner, chides bureaucrats: “Frequently decision makers give up the difficult task of finding out where the weight of scientific opinion lies, and instead attach equal value to each side in an effort to approximate fairness. In this way extraordinary opinions...are promoted to a form of respectability that approaches equal status.”
This kind of undeserved moral equivalence frequently compromises governmental decision making and has given rise to unscientific and inconsistent regulation of many other products and technologies as well, including pesticides and other chemicals, biotechnology applied to agriculture, herbal dietary supplements, and silicone breast implants.
No one should mistake activists’ misdemeanors and mischief for naïve exuberance or excessive zeal in a good cause. In case after case, their motives are self-serving and their tactics callous—an ongoing example of the sentiments expressed by Linus Van Pelt in the Peanuts comic strip, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.”