Scientific Truth and the Courts

As a nonscientist, I am not qualified to question The New York Times' editorial conclusion that there is no association between spermicides and birth defects (The Scientist, January 26, 1987. P. 13). But I do question its conclusion that "both law and science seek after truth." Until all those involved in the resolution of problems such as in Wells v. Ortho recognize that law does not necessarily seek truth—except in some very long-range, societal sense not relevant to the short-term needs

Milton Wessel
Mar 8, 1987
As a nonscientist, I am not qualified to question The New York Times' editorial conclusion that there is no association between spermicides and birth defects (The Scientist, January 26, 1987. P. 13). But I do question its conclusion that "both law and science seek after truth." Until all those involved in the resolution of problems such as in Wells v. Ortho recognize that law does not necessarily seek truth—except in some very long-range, societal sense not relevant to the short-term needs of these kinds of cases—the socioscientific dispute-resolution process will continue to try to find scientific truth (whatever that may be at the moment) using methods which can be designed to achieve a very different objective. As a result, far too often it will continue to fail.

Our legal process seeks to make it possible for people to live together on this planet in harmony. It does...