L’industrie de l’incertitude scientifique

Pendant des décennies, l’industrie du tabac a produit bien plus que des cigarettes. Tout en vendant des produits tabagiques de façon agressive, elle a aussi mené avec succès une campagne de relations publiques visant à provoquer l’incertitude quant aux caractéristiques destructrices et mortelles de ses produits. La découverte de ces efforts est advenue trop tardivement pour de nombreux fumeurs, mais des documents exhumés à l’occasion de procès ont révélé des efforts concertés, attaquant la science et les scientifiques de la santé publique, et visant à éviter l’imposition de réglementation gouvernementale.

Peu de défis scientifiques sont aussi complexes que ceux qui tentent de comprendre les causes des maladies humaines. Les scientifiques ne peuvent pas, par exemple, administrer des produits chimiques toxiques à des humains pour savoir quelle dose leur donnera le cancer. Ils doivent à la place exploiter les “expériences naturelles” dans lesquelles les expositions ont déjà eu lieu.

Certes, dans les laboratoires, les scientifiques utilisent des animaux dans des conditions expérimentales contrôlées afin de mener des recherches sur le fonctionnement des agents toxiques. Mais à l’instar des preuves épidémiologiques, les études en laboratoire sont porteuses de nombreuses incertitudes, et les scientifiques doivent extrapoler à partir de preuves issues d’études particulières, pour émettre des jugements sur les causalités et recommander des mesures protectrices. La certitude absolue est rarement une option.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/Bgg8wR0/fr;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now