Plaintiffs in DC cell phone litigation avoid knockout punch, for now

"Can cell phones cause brain cancer?"  With that question, which he did not answer, Judge Weisberg of the Superior Court for the District of Columbia began a 76-page discourse on the admissibility of the testimony of eight plaintiffs' experts in the DC cell phone litigation.  The Court excluded the testimony of some of the Plaintiffs' experts and did not exclude the testimony of others.  The Court, based on the extensive record before him, clearly found the scientific evidence too inconclusive for any scientist to say to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty whether cell phones can cause brain cancer. 

The Court's opinion included this sobering plea to other branches of government to do the research necessary to figure this out:

Even though the financial and social cost of restricting such devices would be significant, those costs pale in comparison to the cost in human lives from doing nothing, only to discover thirty or forty years from now that the early signs were pointing in the right direction.  As the inconclusive results of the IARC Monograph make clear, more research is necessary to answer definitively the fundamental question of carcinogenicity.  If the probability of carcinogenicity is low, but the magnitude of the potential harm is high, good public policy dictates that the risk should not be ignored.  See Richard Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response (2004).  The court recognizes, however, that policy debates of this kind do not belong in the judicial branch.


Clearinghouse for Recalls

I turned on CSPAN tonight, and saw Hal Stratton, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, giving a press conference on a new government website that is meant to be a central place where all recall information can be found:

I hope that they will fit the site with an excellent search engine on the home page that searches all recalls and nothing but recalls.

(Hal Stratton is no relation to me, at least, not within the last 150 years.)

Later: The Aussies beat us to the punch on this one.