Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law

David L. Faigman
2 YALE SYMP. L. & TECH. art. no. 3
Whenever I tell people that I am involved in the area of law and science, they become perplexed. They ask, “What does science have to do with law? Where is there any science in the legal field?” I want to emphasize the fact that science is everywhere. There is no aspect of the law today, whether civil or criminal law, where an education in basic scientific methods would not greatly improve the effectiveness of legal advocacy and policymaking.
I have three objectives for my talk today. First, I will outline the various uses of science in the law. Second, I will try to describe some of the fundamental challenges at the intersection of law and science. Specifically, I want to address the question of whether law and science as institutions or disciplines are simply too far apart intellectually to be integrated. Third, I want to present some solutions to give you a sense of why and how the law can integrate science to some extent into its decisionmaking.