Monday, October 19, 2009

Trafigura's defence case has no scientific status until evidence is published.

Trafigura have put up their position on the Minton Report on the toxicity of the Abidjan pollution.
Their position is that " Trafigura’s long-maintained position that the Probo Koala’s slops simply could not have caused deaths, miscarriages, stillbirths, birth defects or other serious or long-term injuries. This followed thorough analysis by 20 independent experts in what has been by far the most detailed consideration of these matters anywhere in the world, since the Probo Koala incident in August 2006."

"Mr Justice MacDuff confirmed that: "I know from my own reading of the [court] papers that the experts were quite clear that the slops could not give rise to the sort of symptoms and illness which were being claimed in some of the press. I hope that the media will take account of the Joint Statement and will put it right, and put things in perspective. I need say no more except to underline that from where I sit and from what I have seen of the [court] papers, the Joint Statement is 100% truthful.”

However, the evidence seen by the court has no status in science, because it is not in the public domain, which is one of the criteria for science. Karl Popper, the doyenne of scientific philosophy, established that the key to science is falsifiability.

To establish a causal link between an environmental toxin and associated illnesses is a time-consuming process. The Bradford Hill criteria are used, but even these cannot provide conclusive "proof", they can only permit a reasonable induction of causality.

Martyn Day, the solicitor who acted for those affected by Trafigura's dump of toxins around an African town, has confirmed to me in a personal message that Trafigura will not release the evidence from their 20 scientific experts. The scientific community is unable to review and therefore criticise the falsifiability of the evidence. Therefore they are not scientific in any real sense of the word.

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