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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Excellent article.

For additional subject matter read Blocking the Courthouse Doors by Stephanie Mencimer

Thank you.

Michael Lewis

tucson, az

Mar 17 2007 - 12:22pm

Web Letter

If Daubert was meant to screen out pseudo-science, that's not what is happening.

Apparently, within the realm of legitimate scientific research, judges are deciding whether a study's methodology is good enough, and how the scientific literature should be interpreted. A judge should not be be expected to make such decisions.

As an epidemiologist, I know that weighing the overall evidence in the scientific literature is not easy, and the results are not generally neat and clear-cut. As for individual studies, every single one has methodologic weaknesses, often unavoidable.

The question is, in what way do these specific weaknesses limit the conclusions that can be drawn from the study? This depends on the context (the study as a whole.)Answering it requires specialized knowledge, and experience in critically evaluating such studies.

Having a judge make these decisions is like having me, without a single course in law under my belt, rule on some specialized and subtle legal matter.

Philip D. Somervell, Ph.D.

Anchorage, Alaska

Mar 10 2007 - 3:11pm