March 25, 2010

Adults should be allowed to take risks

The title of this post comes from a Nature editorial from 2007. A Nature editorial this week ends with this words:
'Let the buyer beware' may be a commercial maxim, but science can certainly reduce the risks.
However, the editorial is more about politics than science. Nature asks for government regulation of dietary supplements.
In the absence of adequate regulation, false claims by supplement makers abound. At best, these claims can cheat consumers of their money. At worst, as in the case of ephedra, widely touted for weight-loss, they could cost users their lives.
I would let the buyer beware and the seller build his reputation and pay for his mistakes. Both should be allowed to take risks.

And speaking of false claims - at best, false claims by governments cheat consumers and tax-payers of their money; at worst, as in countless cases, they cost lives. A difference between politicians (including voters) and sellers is that politicians usually pay much smaller prices for their mistakes than sellers do.

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