Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

“Reasonable degree of professional certainty”

Posted by Ron Coleman on July 21, 2007

Walter Olson, at Point of Law (link added for non-lawyers):young-frank.jpg

Those who follow the Daubert/scientific evidence wars will want to catch the back-and-forth between Beck and Herrmann and Peter Nordberg on the question of whether expert witnesses should be required to testify to a “reasonable degree of professional certainty” as to their conclusions.

See Walter’s post for the links. Now, I haven’t been following it all that closely, except as a lawyer who does trials, but I find this an odd position for conservatives to take. I supposed one’s positions can come ’round and bite you aft when the world is so complex. But since when is “professional certainty” — especially in the era of political correctness in the academy across disciplines — a gold standard? When Al Gore and the New York Times say “there’s a scientific consensus on global warming,” which objectively speaking there largely is, is that not a “reasonable degree of professional certainty” that may still, nonetheless, be scientifically suspect?

Professional “truth” is a negotiable virtue in science as everywhere else. Homosexuality was once a psychiatric disorder; now considering it abnormal is. Did science change, or merely scientists?

“Reasonable degree of scientific certainty”? We all hate litigation abuse, but I’m not ready to throw the adversarial system out with the bath water.


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