The Genetics Panel of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation (BEAR) recommended the adoption of the linear dose-response model in 1956, abandoning the threshold dose-response for genetic risk assessments. This recommendation was quickly generalized to include somatic cells for cancer risk assessment and later was instrumental in the adoption of linearity for carcinogen risk assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Genetics Panel failed to provide any scientific assessment to support this recommendation and refused to do so when later challenged by other leading scientists. Thus, the linearity model used in cancer risk assessment was based on ideology rather than science and originated with the recommendation of the NAS BEAR Committee Genetics Panel. Historical documentation in support of these conclusions is provided in the transcripts of the Panel meetings and in previously unexamined correspondence among Panel members.