Philip J. Landrigan, MD, was the first to testify in the Rhode Island (RI) Lead Paint II. Did the state lead with its weakest witness? It finished up with very solid testimony from Dr. Michael Shannon.
What made Dr. Landrigan's medical testimony on lead poisoning unenlightening was that it was totally generic. Nothing in it was focused specifically on RI and he didn't scientifically discuss other possible causes of elevated levels of lead in the blood of RI children.
Also, and as a presentation coach this really shook my trust in what he had to say: he had that awful deer-in-headlight look all during cross.
But, Dr. Landrigan graduated from Harvard and held a prestigious academic appointment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. He also had published books on toxicology. The trial took place in working-class Providence so, yeah, Dr. Landrigan's testimony was taken seriously.
Well, Dr. Landrigan is back with us. This time he isn't show-casing his expertise in lead poisoning. It's way bigger than that. It's a paper published on November 8th in the medical journal LANCET. As many of us know, LANCET is being attacked by global scientists and medical doctors for its credibility. Think back, for example, to its article on Iraq body count. 3 weeks ago I helped a medical doctor with an opinion-editorial attacking both the flawed methodology of the study in LANCET and how it distracted attention from the real issues concerning health care in that beleaguered nation.
In his article, co-authored with Philippe Grandjean, MD, of Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Landigran asserts that 201 chemicals could well be the causes of a "silent pandemic" of neurological disorders ranging from autism to plain-vanilla learning disabilities. The title of the article is "Developmental neurotoxicity of Industrial Chemicals."
No coincidence that 1 of the 1st to flag us on the toxicity of Dr. Landigran's assertions is an attorney. Walter Olson, a legal expert with the Manhattan Institute, has a post today on his blog Pointoflaw.com on this kind of scientific muckraking by a member of the medical establishment. Olson doesn't leave out that the paper was published in LANCET which has about zero credibility these days. And LANCET isn't alone. Most science and medical journals are taking it on the chin for everything from questionable methodologies to authors with conflicts of interest. But, in terms of law, you bet, this particular article can stir up the tort waters. The class-actions suits by the parents of autistic children will soon follow.
Olson has a link to a critique of Dr. Landigran's study by Cliff Hutchison of Science Evidence. In a November 16th posting on Science Evidence titled "'Pandemics' and Scaremongering in THE LANCET," Hutchison notes "the scientists in this study did a high level review, not an epidemiological study or even a meta-analysis." On the basis of this, they "identified 201 chemicals as potentially neurotoxic."
A good presenter, Hutchinson also provides opinions of a number of experts. For instance, he quotes Professor Nigel Brown of London's St. George's University as saying "...there is currently not a shred of evidence of a pandemic." Professor Brown observes that the tone of the study is that of "a campaigning article" and that it "should be treated as such." He also notes "there is nothing new here; no original insights or concepts." Interesting the professor assigns the word "superficial" to the analysis. That's exactly how I assessed Dr. Landrigan's testimony at RI Lead Paint II.
1 more thing. When Motley Rice attorney Jack McConnell was introducing Dr. Landrigan to the jury in RI Lead Paint II, he noted that the medical expert was a "humble man." On my blog posting at the time I questioned what "humble" had to do with anything. Now I question McConnell's depiction of Dr. Landrigan. To me he seems like just another 1 of those arrogant medical authorities whose ambition might drive them to produce work which could hobble their professional reputation. If I were Dr. Landrigan, I would not have published this paper at all and I would not have published it in the damaged LANCET.
The Pointoflaw.com post advises: Question authority.