Understanding Climate Risk

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Archive for October 5th, 2011

Manual on Scientific Evidence

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My email had a notice for the US National Academies Press and an interesting link in the just-published section. Their blurb:

The Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, Third Edition, assists judges in managing cases involving complex scientific and technical evidence by describing the basic tenets of key scientific fields from which legal evidence is typically derived and by providing examples of cases in which that evidence has been used.

The chapter on How Science Works is really useful. It’s by David Goodstein, a physicist, and gives a quick tour through the development of the scientific method. It is an entertaining read, perhaps surprising for a manual. It starts with Francis Bacon who said the scientist should be an impartial observer of nature. Goodstein quickly skewers this – no serious thinker accepts that observation is done without prejudice – she must have assumptions about how the world works. Yet look around today, and you’ll find the Baconian ideal still alive and kicking (Plimer has it, for example. Ok, go ahead and laugh).

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Written by Roger Jones

October 5, 2011 at 9:12 am