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Understanding Science and Scientific Methods: An Overview for Lawyers
Fall Semester AY 2005-06
Mondays, 10:00 - 11:50AM
Keith T. Poole
Professor of Political Science
University of California, San Diego
WebSite: Voteview Home Page
Through an examination of scientific findings in recent cases involving product
liability, such as breast implants and asbestos, and regulatory affairs, we will
examine the uses and misuses of science and statistics in legal decision making
and in law making. The student will learn the differences between legal and
scientific reasoning and how to understand scientific findings and relate them
to the practice of law.
The following texts will be used in this course:
Kenneth R. Foster and Peter W. Huber. 1999. Judging Science: Scientific Knowledge and the
Federal Courts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Stephen H. Gehlbach. 2002. Interpreting the Medical Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill.
One paper is required. The length should be no more than 20 double-spaced pages. The topic must be
related to the issues raised by the course readings, discussion, and lectures. The paper must be
properly footnoted and references provided. The paper is due by the end of the semester,
16 December 2005.
- Overview -- The Collision of Science and the Law
Agent Orange and Dioxin
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 1.
- Gehlbach, Interpreting the Medical Literature, Chapters 1 and 2.
- The Science of Dioxin
Summary of 29 August 2005 Class
Summary of 29 August 2005 Class (PDF)
The Use of Agent Orange in Vietnam
The Health Politics of Agent Orange and Dioxin
- The Sample Population: Are Vietnam Veterans Really that Different From Everyone
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 3.
- Gehlbach, Interpreting the Medical Literature, Chapter 3.
- Cohany, Sharon R. 1990. "Employment
and Unemployment Among Vietnam-era Veterans." Monthly Labor Review, (April 1990):22-29.
- Barnett, Arnold, Timothy Stanley, and Michael Shore. 1992.
"America's Vietnam Casualties: Victims of a Class War?" Operations Research,
Summary of 12 September 2005 Class (PDF)
- Scott, Wilbur J. 1990. "PTSD in DSM-III: A Case in the Politics
of Diagnosis and Disease." Social Problems,
37 (August 1990):294-310.
Cohort Studies of Dioxin
- Burkett, B. G., and Glenna Whitley. 1998. Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation was
Robbed of its Heroes and its History. Dallas, TX: Verity Press, Inc. Chapters 3, 7, 10,
The "Ranch Hand" Cohort Study
- Gehlbach, Interpreting the Medical Literature, Chapter 4.
- Steenland, Kyle, Laurie Piacitelli,
James Deddens, Marilyn Fingerhut, and Lih Ing Chang. 1999. "Cancer, Heart Disease, and
Diabetes in Workers Exposed to 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin." Journal of the
National Cancer Institute, 91 (5 May 1999):779-786.
Summary of 19 September 2005 Class (PDF)
- Bodner, K. M., J. J. Collins, L. J. Bloemen, and
M. L. Carson. 2003. "Cancer Risk for Chemical Workers Exposed to
2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin." Occupational and Environmental Medicine,
Agent Orange in the Courtroom: U. S. Veterans vs. Dow Chemical, 1984 "Settlement"?
Summary of the Known Health Effects of Dioxin on Vietnam Veterans
Bendectin and Morning Sickness: Can Any Product be Absolutely Safe?
- The Science of Bendectin: How Certain Can Epidemological Studies Be?
- What is Scientific Knowledge?
Definitions of Science and the Scientific Method (PDF)
Summary of 10 October 2005 Class (PDF)
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 4.
Examples of Axiomatic Systems (PDF)
Does Scientific Knowledge have a Special Status?
Summary of 17 October 2005 Class (PDF)
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 5.
Can there be Certainty in Science?
What is Scientific Consensus and who is Qualified to State What it is?
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 6.
Summary of 24 October 2005 Class (PDF)
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapter 7.
The Placebo Effect
Summary of 31 October 2005 Class (PDF)
The Health Politics of Bendectin
Summary of 7 November 2005 Class (PDF)
Bendectin in the Courtroom: William Daubert et al. v. Merrell
Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Frye, Rule 702, and Rehnquist (PDF)
- Foster and Huber, Judging Science, Chapters 8, 9, and Appendices A, B, and C.
Daubert and Science Questions (PDF)
Summary of 14 November 2005 Class (PDF)
Breast Implants: What Happens if there is no Scientific
Evidence Regarding the Safety of a Device or Product?
Summary of 21 November 2005 Class (PDF)
- Angell, Marcia. 1997. Science on Trial: The Clash of Medical Evidence and the
Law in the Breast Implant Case. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.
Asbestos: How Dangerous is Dangerous?
- Mossman, B. T., J. Bignon, M. Corn, A. Seaton, and
J. B. L. Gee. 1990. "Asbestos: Scientific Developments and Implications for
Public Policy." Science,
247 (19 January 1990):294-301.
- Hammond, E. C., Irving J. Selikoff, and Herbert Seidman. 1979. "Asbestos
Exposure, CIgarette Smoking and Death Rates." Annals of the New York Academy of
- Enterline, Philip E. 1976. "Pitfalls in Epidemiological Research: An
Examination of the Asbestos Literature." Journal of Occupational Medicine,
18 (March 1976):150-156.