The Frye test, named after a defendant in a 1923 murder case, is the oldest and most popular test used to determine when scientific evidence can be used in court. Using the test, courts admit scientific evidence based on a novel scientific technique only when the technique has gained general acceptance in the relevant scientific field. For example, testimony based on a certain scientific principle is not admissible simply because one expert vouches for the principle. It is not even enough that the expert has conducted an experiment with a large, representative data base and attained an impressive validity rate. Rather, the testimony is automatically inadmissible unless the expert can testify that a majority of specialists within his or her field accept the same principle.

The essential fallacy of the Frye test--also known as the general acceptance test--is that it forces the courts to decide the admissibility of scientific testimony...

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