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The Courts Science

The Scientific Method Versus Scientific Evidence In the Courtroom 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-three dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A few months back, the National Research Council and the Federal Judicial Center published the Third Edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, the primary guide for federal judges in the United States trying to evaluate scientific evidence. One chapter in particular, 'How Science Works,' written by David Goodstein (Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at CalTech), has raised the issue of how judges should see science in the courtroom: should they look at science to see if it matches our idealized view of the scientific method, or should they consider the realities of science, where people advocate for their own theories far more than they question them?"
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The Scientific Method Versus Scientific Evidence In the Courtroom

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  • I'm Wondering (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:03PM (#39773753) Journal

    I find the statement "... or should they consider the realities of science, where people advocate for their own theories far more than they question them?" kind of leading and biased in its own right. To be sure researchers will advocate their theories, but that does not mean they don't question them. Someone has a chip on their shoulder.

  • Hidden Markov Model (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Monday April 23, 2012 @01:16PM (#39773917)

    Its a Hidden Markov Model problem. There is some underlying theory with a probability of being correct based on research. But the people presenting evidence in court do so through an additional set of weighting factors that govern their testimony based upon the underlying theoretical model. The testimony is what the judge and jury are able to observe. From it, they need to deduce the underlying model and probabilities.

    Good luck expecting 12 people to understand this who have to have football (US) plays explained to them by TV announcers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2012 @03:19PM (#39775341)

    It's the lawyer's jobs to try to find a scientist somewhere who will vouch for their client or could provide evidence for the client.

    I personally believe that it should not be the lawyer's but the court's jobs to find experts to testify in any case, be it civil or criminal. That's how it works over here in germany, and it meshes very well with the loser pays system, since the experts' as well as the lawyers' costs simply depend on the amount of the damages to be decided, or the type of case.

  • by treeves (963993) on Monday April 23, 2012 @04:15PM (#39775987) Homepage Journal

    Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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