Psychological Science's Replicability Crisis and What It Means for Science in the Courtroom

(2014) 20:3 Journal of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 225

48 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2014 Last revised: 12 Jan 2017

Jason Michael Chin

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law; The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law

Date Written: March 22, 2014

Abstract

In response to what has been termed the “replicability crisis,” great changes are currently under way in how science is conducted and disseminated. Indeed, major journals are changing the way in which they evaluate science. Therefore, a question arises over how such change impacts law’s treatment of scientific evidence. The present standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence in federal courts asks judges to play the role of gatekeeper, determining if the proffered evidence conforms with several indicia of scientific validity. The alternative legal framework, and one still used by several state courts, requires judges to simply evaluate whether a scientific finding or practice is generally accepted within science.

This Essay suggests that as much as the replicability crisis has highlighted serious issues in the scientific process, it has should have similar implications and actionable consequences for legal practitioners and academics. In particular, generally accepted scientific practices have frequently lagged behind prescriptions for best practices, which in turn affected the way science has been reported and performed. The consequence of this phenomenon is that judicial analysis of scientific evidence will still be impacted by deficient generally accepted practices. The Essay ends with some suggestions to help ensure that legal decisions are influenced by science’s best practices.

Keywords: Evidence, Daubert, Scientific Evidence, Research Methods, Replicability, Admissibility

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K19

Suggested Citation

Chin, Jason Michael, Psychological Science's Replicability Crisis and What It Means for Science in the Courtroom (March 22, 2014). (2014) 20:3 Journal of Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 225. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2412985

Jason Michael Chin (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

The University of Queensland - T.C. Beirne School of Law ( email )

The University of Queensland
St Lucia
4072 Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

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