Proof, Probability and Statistics: The Problem of Delusive Exactness
La Prueba en el proceso: Evidence in the Process (Atelier, Spain: 2018), 497-521.
15 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2018
Date Written: 2018
Haack opens her paper on “future directions” in scientific testimony with a quotation from Aristotle and an observation from a hundred-year old U.S. Supreme Court ruling! Her Reason? Her argument will be that the hankering for exactness where no exactness is possible that Holmes identified as “a source of fallacy throughout the law” still impedes us; and, specifically, that it gets in the way of a clear understanding of the proper role of probabilistic and statistical evidence—such as testimony of random-match DNA probabilities in criminal cases, or epidemiological testimony of increased risk in toxic-tort cases—in legal proof of questions of fact. As a result, the law sometimes asks more of statistics than statistics can give, and sometimes gets less from statistics than statistics could give.
Keywords: proof, evidence law, probability, statistics, DNA evidence, epidemiological evidence
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