Evolving legal standards for the admissibility of scientific evidence

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Science  25 Mar 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4847, pp. 1508-1512
DOI: 10.1126/science.3281252


Ensuring the scientific validity of scientific evidence has always posed problems for judges and lawyers largely untrained in science. As recent cases involving the health effects of chemicals and drugs make clear, however, irrational and inconsistent decisions result when courts do not hold expert witnesses to the standards and criteria of their own disciplines. A trend toward more thorough judicial review of scientific claims has developed, and it should be encouraged.