The end of the linear-no-threshold (LNT) model, after trying to keep it going for almost nine decades

This tongue-in-cheek dry humor [attached article] is designed to underscore the concept that “consensus theories” that have been set up and propagated on false or faked data will eventually become exposed for what they are. The linear dose-response relationship for carcinogen risk assessment –– otherwise known as the linear-no-threshold (LNT) model –– died in Jan 2o17 due to an academic version of multiple-system failure. This involved a poor theoretical basis, an incapacity for validation, and a rejection by hundreds of studies, along with a striking ineptitude for accurate predictions in the low dose zone (reviewed in Calabrese, 2009, 2011a).

Speeding its demise was a recently discovered series of epic scandals involving some of the best and brightest from the worlds of Academia and Government. Its final demise came with two recent publications in Environ Res (Calabrese, 2017a; Calabrese, 2017b) showing that LNT exhibited several serious academic mutations, which ultimately led to self-destruction.

LNT was finally put to rest in a grave outside Washington, DC. The ceremony was surprisingly well attended by numerous inconsolable consultants and governmental regulators –– who made their economic livelihoods, for many decades, based on the tenets and applications of LNT in cancer risk assessment. The service was presided over by a former head of the US EPA, who had a difficult time keeping her composure.

As the once-dominant dose-response model, LNT had many lessons to teach. As was stated three decades ago, “all models are wrong, but some are useful” (George and Draper, 1987). Time has shown that LNT was indeed dreadfully wrong. And not even particularly useful. For example, it significantly increases the cost of environmental clean-ups without protective advantage and has denied people opportunities to receive novel and highly effective, low-dose radiation medical treatments.

LNT is much like Swiss cheese; it has far too many holes to be useful and certainly should not guide policy. Unfortunately, LNT became a dogma, a belief that could not be tested, and had highly prestigious and deceptive proponents to ensure its survival. It was also used to frighten citizens and to intimidate politicians. However, LNT’s nearly century-long life of ups-and-downs could end on a positive note –– if it were to symbolize how science can easily become eroded when an ideologically-driven hypothesis is blindly followed, never proven and incuriously defended as central dogma –– never in doubt, but often wrong.

Skepticism, objectivity and hypothesis-testing are at the heart of science, not the ideological defense of dogma. If LNT’s life and death can teach society this lesson, then its near century-long life may at least partially compensate for the innumerable disservices it has already dealt society. This extremely wasteful amount of time, energy, money and even lives lost –– reminds me of the (predicted) soon-to-arrive death of “anthropogenic global warming” (AGW), which (since the late 1970s) has also thrived on computer-models (every one so far has been wrong), hype, and lack of scientific facts derived from hypothesis-driven experiments.


Environ Res 2017; 155: 276–278


Frankly, this article is horrific – and I’m not sure the author thinks its tongue-in-cheek



I know we’ve had these “discussions about the LNT Model” before. And –– as I recall –– we could think of a single chemical or physical agent (such as g-irradiation) that has unequivocally been shown to be consistent with the LNT model.

Perhaps you can elaborate on why this article is “horrific” and why this is not tongue-in-cheek sarcasm.


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