March 14, 2012 Articles

ERAs and NRDAs: When Policy Masquerades as Science

Scientists and lawyers do not always see eye to eye about what constitutes good science.

By Daniel W. Smith, Ph.D., and Steven M. Jones, Ph.D. – March 14, 2012

Scientists and lawyers do not always see eye to eye about what constitutes good science. However, with the landmark Daubert decision, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated a standard under which attorneys, experts, and judges must together address this difficult question. As scientists writing for a publication addressed principally to trial counsel, we well recognize the limits of our understanding of the law and proceed with due caution. We write for this audience, however, to encourage our readers to exercise similar caution when venturing into the murky scientific realm of ecological risks assessments (ERAs) and injury assessments for natural resource damages assessments (NRDAs). Much of what might seem like, or pretend to be, science within this context is by its nature—and even by its intent—not science at all.


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