Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017

Science advances knowledge, chiseling at areas of ignorance and reducing uncertainties, which may slow evidence-based decision-making.  With regard to environmental pollution, for example, great progress has been made as research has documented the damage done to human and ecosystem system health by man’s activities, motivating action and guiding interventions.  However, over recent decades, the paradigm of evidence-based decision-making has been increasingly threatened as powerful stakeholders, with seemingly threatened interests, have undermined scientific evidence by creating doubt and even offering personal and collective beliefs as an equivalent basis for decision-making. The strategy of doubt creation can be traced to actions of the tobacco industry initiated as the evidence mounted showing that smoking causes cancer and other diseases; the same tactics have spread, particularly around environmental pollutants.  More challenging is the emergence of outright dismissal of evidence and its replacement by belief, whether consistent with or counter to what is known. 

Jonathan M. Samet, M.D., M.S.

Jonathan Samet

Director, USC Institute for Global Health
Distinguished Professor and Flora L. Thornton Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine
University of Southern California

Referenced readings & documentaries from the talk:

This talk was part of the 2017-2018 USC Global Health Lecture Series and was hosted by the USC Institute for Global Health. A livestream video version of the talk was posted to Facebook. A regular lecture video will soon be embedded here on this page.