In today’s choose-your-own-facts society, nothing is more crucial for our future than the truth. It is particularly imperative for issues at the nexus of science, justice, and the economy. Which is why, early last year, I ended my short-lived experiment with retirement for the opportunity to spearhead the formation of a new organization seeking to find that truth.
Having spent the bulk of my career representing property and casualty insurers, I am very familiar with how fragments of scientific information or “agenda-driven” research are used to craft compelling and emotional narratives that peddle fears, not facts. These campaigns of misinformation often result in unnecessary regulations and multi-billion-dollar legal settlements—the costs of which are ultimately paid for by consumers in the form of higher prices and curtailed innovation.
So, I came aboard with big goals and strategic plans. Shortly after, the world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A pessimist would look at such a development as a bad omen. Thank goodness I and the others associated with the Center are optimists, and that optimism paid off as the pandemic raised historic levels of public awareness surrounding the importance of scientific research and fact-based scientific evidence. The term “follow the science” became part of our daily vernacular and cemented the need for the Center’s mission.
We assembled a high caliber Board of Directors, connected with an amazing cadre of partners and allies, built a brand, developed a strategic plan, identified our initial set of core issues, conducted a nationwide poll to assess the public’s views on our issues, produced blog posts and op-eds to raise our profile, and launched four scientific research grant opportunities currently seeking proposals.
And this is just the beginning. I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
About the Intersection
The Center fills a necessary role at the “Intersection,” a unique—and previously unoccupied—space where the integrity of three pillars of society intersect and sometimes collide: science, justice, and the economy.
In some cases, of course, the law properly assigns a judgment that a product is unsafe. However, when liability and damage awards are made based on poor science—and often in spite of decades of research concluding a product is safe—it leaves consumers unable to discern between fact and fiction. It calls into question the integrity of our judicial system.
These decisions and settlement awards have far-reaching economic consequences, including the removal of a lifesaving drug or necessary product from the market, and the shuttering of factories and loss of jobs impacting local economies. In some cases, they intimidate industries that wish to avoid similar judgments to fold or settle before science even has a chance. For these reasons, it is vitally important a balanced and objective presentation of the science is provided for judges and juries, particularly as they often have little or no expertise on these matters.
In 2021, the Center will begin in-depth studies of other emerging issues and necessary topics including causation, risk analysis, and the science surrounding potential side-effects of alcohol consumption.