Re: GM angst

From: Joseph Sterlynne (
Date: Thu Jul 20 2000 - 07:39:15 MDT

> Greg Burch

> The scientific method presents an interesting corollary to legal due
> process, and in the spate of recent "junk science" decisions in the
> American courts there has been a fruitful cross-fertilization between the
> two systems. Perhaps what we need is a "science court"?

Recall [Engines of Creation], Chapter 13.

>From the text:

    We need better procedures for debating technical facts---procedures
    that are open, credible, and focused on finding the facts we need to
    formulate sound policies. We can begin by copying aspects of other
    due-process procedures; we then can modify and refine them in light of
    experience. Using modern communications and transportation, we can
    develop a focused, streamlined, journal-like process to speed public
    debate on crucial facts; this seems half the job. The other half
    requires distilling the results of the debate into a balanced picture
    of our state of knowledge (and by the same token, of our state of
    ignorance). Here, procedures somewhat like those of courts seem
    useful. {. . .}

    Dr. Arthur Kantrowitz (a member of the National Academy of Sciences who
    is accomplished in fields ranging from medical technology to high-power
    lasers) originated the concept I have just outlined. He at first
    called it a "board of technical inquiry." Journalists promptly dubbed
    it a "science court." I have called it a "fact forum"; I will reserve
    the term "science court" for a fact forum used (or proposed) as a
    government institution. Proposals for due process in technical
    disputes are still in flux; different discussions use different terms.

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