Better policy through better science: Using metascience to improve dose-response curves in biology and in ICRP ecological risk assessment

Many people argue that uncertain science -- or controversial policies based on science -- can be clarified primarily by greater attention to the social and ethical values influencing the science and the policy and by greater attention to the vested, economic interests involved. This paper argues that while such clarification is necessary, it is neither a sufficient condition, nor even the primary means, by which to achieve better science and better policy. Using a case study involving the current, highly politicized controversy over the shape of dose-response curves for biological effects of ionizing radiation in both the protective action levels (PALS) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) environmental proposals, the paper argues that the conflict could be resolved largely through five specific methodological improvements in the areas of metascience and philosophy of science.
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