Printer Friendly

You be the judge.

In general, a judge is an independent legal expert. To expect a legal expert to be able to determine the validity of the scientific information is no more reasonable than to expect a scientist to be able to do a good job of making legal judgments ("Benched Science: Increasingly, judges decide what science--if any--a jury hears" SN: 10/8/05, p. 232).


If I remember correctly, expert witnesses in British courts are hired by the judge. Not only would this reduce the likelihood of biased testimony, it could also give judges a window into scientific inquiry. I think most U.S. citizens, not just judges, need to learn about scientific and statistical methods. Most people are easily misled by incomplete and poorly designed experiments and misused statistics. Until the average citizen learns to avoid these things, judges, being only human, can't be expected to.


About 200 years ago, coerced testimony was recognized as useless for arriving at truth in a court of law. The same can be said of paid testimony. No matter whether it's an armed robber receiving 10 years off his sentence for testifying against another suspect or a scientist given cash to testify in a civil suit, paid testimony and justice are incompatible.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Wilson, Peter
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Dec 3, 2005
Previous Article:Eye on energy.
Next Article:Greenland's ice loss doubled in 2005.

Related Articles
Awards: a European showcase.
State courts uphold 'opinion' decisions in post-Milkovich era.
Patriot Act provision ruled unconstitutional.
AU warns Kentucky judge about worship sentences.
President assumes power to sign away laws.
Daily Bible readings.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters