TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Some Comments on Law & Science

After seeing my posts at Point of Law, I got these comments from my dad, Ves Childs, a retired electrochemist.  I thought they were worth sharing:

After reading Day 2 and reflecting on Day 1 I think it incumbent upon society to redo our entire system of education.

I am not sure how to do it or even if it is possible.  But I think we have to try.  Hedrick Smith’s book Rethinking America would be a place to start.  I would also look at some of Tom Friedman’s ideas about globalization.

We can no longer treat the various disciplines and professions as nonoverlapping magesteria.  We must recognize that life is one big whole and that essentially all of us are stuck on this globe.

On day 2:

Why don’t [judges] have the tools to evaluate scientific evidence?

Or is it that they have the tools and don’t know how to use them?

How is scientific evidence different from other evidence?

I suggest that scientific evidence is no different from other evidence.

I further suggest that the teachers of science (not the scientists) have used that crutch known as the scientific method to deliver an impression of science that is not the true face of science.  These teachers of science know some words of science but they do not know the joy of science.  Absent that joy they don’t realize and cannot teach that all of life is science and that science is nothing more than learning.  And that science is not learning facts.  Science is learning to organize and to challenge in an organized fashion.

Good judges certainly know how to evaluate other testimony in a rational manner.  How do they learn to do that?  The teachers of law show them how.

Those same teachers of law should be able to teach lawyers/judges how to evaluate scientific testimony rationally.  They only need to recognize and teach that testimony is testimony is testimony.

This will likely involve restructuring the way science [and its relationships with the rest of life and learning] is taught and that is a whole different question.  Have you read The Scientist in the Crib?  I remember the first time I saw Ella with her head up looking around and soaking in her world.

(Ella is my daughter and his first grandchild.)

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