How could they not think that? The Fear Industrial Complex told them they were being slowly poisoned. Lawyer John O'Quinn helped spread the fear and reaped the reward. He sued implant makers again and again until they paid his clients over $1 billion. Fortune called O'Quinn and his partner "lawyers from hell." O'Quinn won't say how much money he made off those lawsuits, but he's now rich to have a warehouse that holds 900 valuable cars.
After the suits from O'Quinn and others bankrupted implant maker Dow Corning, and after many women were terrorized -- some so much they cut their own breasts open to get the implants out -- scientists started saying there's no evidence that silicone causes autoimmune disease and cancer. Study after study failed to find a link. Sherine Gabriel, chair of the department of health sciences research at the Mayo Clinic, announced that there was "no significant difference in the occurrence of connective tissue diseases between the women who had the implants and the women who did not."
The FDA has now re-approved silicone implants, and thousands of women are having implants inserted, implants that contain the very same silicone that was used before.
So has O'Quinn apologized for scaring women and bankrupting Dow Corning? No. Did he give the money back? Of course not. The lawyers never do. Instead, O'Quinn impugns the authors of the medical studies. "Who bought and paid for that science?" he said to me, indignantly. He told me he's proud to sue rich businessmen.
Reporters rely on lawyers like O'Quinn, bureaucracies like the FDA, and interest groups like Nader's to give us safety warnings and "dirt" on evil companies. We should be more skeptical. The Fear Industrial Complex has motives of its own.
Next week we'll look at another example of how the media scare us stiff.
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