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Paperback | $32.00 Text | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780262561204 | 352 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 1999

Judging Science

Scientific Knowledge and the Federal Courts


What is "scientific knowledge" and when is it reliable? These deceptively simple questions have been the source of endless controversy. In 1993 the Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling on the use of scientific evidence in federal courts. Federal judges may admit expert scientific evidence only if it merits the label "scientific knowledge." The testimony must be scientifically "reliable" and "valid."

This book is organized around the criteria set out in the 1993 ruling. Following a general overview, the authors look at issues of fit—whether a plausible theory relates specific facts to the larger factual issues in contention; philosophical concepts such as the falsifiability of scientific claims; scientific error; reliability in science, particularly in fields such as epidemiology and toxicology; the meaning of "scientific validity"; peer review and the problem of boundary setting; and the risks of confusion and prejudice when presenting science to a jury.

The book's conclusion attempts to reconcile the law's need for workable rules of evidence with the views of scientific validity and reliability that emerge from science and other disciplines.


About the Authors

Kenneth R. Foster is Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania.

Peter W. Huber is a Senior Fellow of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and serves as Counsel to the law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt.


"Anyone, scientist, jurist, or layman, will better judge the reliability ofscientific results from reading the mosaic of quotations from experts, withannotations and expansions by the authors, that make up the core of thisimportant book. Robert K. Adair, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Physics,Yale University

"Foster and Huber brilliantly illuminate the landscape of courtroom debatesabout the consequences and uncertainties of using science and technology insociety. This *tour de force* is both a practical guide for citizens andjournalists as well as a path-breaking clarification for judges and policyanalysts." Rodney W. Nichols, President and Chief Executive Officer,New York Academy of Sciences