When Science is Debated in the Courtroom

When Rachel Carson made us aware of the dangers arising from the mass application of toxic chemicals, she presented her arguments in the manner of an advocate, not a scientist. In other words, she selected the evidence to prove her case. The chemical industry, seeing its livelihood threatened by her action, responded with an equally selective set of arguments, chosen in defense. This may have been a fine way of achieving justice, and perhaps in this instance it was scientifically excusable; but it seems to have established a pattern. Since then a great deal of scientific argument and evidence concerning the environment is presented as if in a courtroom or at a public enquiry. I cannot say too often that, although this may be good for the democratic process, it is bad for science. Truth is said to be the first casualty of war. Being used selectively in evidence to prove a case in law also weakens it.


Rachel Carson and the Chemical Industry presented their selective version of the facts in the debate over the environment, which is not a scientific process and hurts the ultimate understanding of the truth when one side wins.

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 Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Lovelock, James (2000-11-23), Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press, USA, Retrieved on 2011-04-11
Folksonomies: evolution gaia environmentalism earth ecology