Toward a More Objective Understanding of the Evidence of Carcinogenic Risk


Authors
Deborah Mayo
Virginia Tech
Abstract
I argue that although the judgments required to reach statistical risk assessments may reflect policy values, it does not follow that the task of evaluating whether a given risk assessment is warranted by the evidence need also be imbued with policy values. What has led many to conclude otherwise, I claim, stems from misuses of the statistical testing methods involved. I set out rules for interpreting what specific test results do and do not say about the extent of a given risk. By providing a more objective understanding of the evidence, such rules help in adjudicating conflicting risk assessments. To illustrate, I consider the risk assessment conflict at the EPA concerning the carcinogenicity of formaldehyde.
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