This year's meeting of the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive in London was a nexus of scientific, engineering and medical expertise. There was a gathering consensus that the evidence associating "fume events" in aircraft cabins with long-term damage to cognitive capacity and general health is reaching critical mass.
Maybe, but it is unwise to underestimate the spoiling power of those who wish to obscure the correlation of cause and effect by sneeringly accusing the GCAQE and its experts of using a cum hoc ergo propter hoc (with it, therefore because of it) logic.
Among the speakers at the GCAQE meeting was Prof Jeremy Ramsden, who recently lost his job at the UK's Cranfield University after challenging the scientific integrity of Cranfield's report on cabin-fume events. His presentation was on the philosophy of association and causation in science and statistics. It examined the tactics of those in the industry who would prevent this investigation's progress.
Association - the apparent correlation of two events - can, said Ramsden, be the driver for attempts to determine causation; and even if it is not proof they are cause and effect, at least it is a hint that they might be. Meanwhile, the authorities have accepted short-term causation, and soon the bio-markers will be established to yield findings for the long term, so industry had better be ready with its solutions.
(This first appeared as the second leading article in Flight International 1 May)