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It is always difficult to function at the intersection of two disciplines, in this case, science and law. Science reaches tentative conclusions ever subject to change in the advent of the discovery of new data. The law would like definite conclusions in order to make definitive decisions, sometimes with literally life and death implications, necessitating opinions having “reasonable scientific certainty.” However, there can be pressure to express unwarranted certainty not necessarily justified by the scientific evidence. In gray cases it may be tempting to give an opinion for the side doing the hiring or there can be subtle or not so subtle pressure to do so, especially if it involves pleasing an employer or could result in substantial sums of money for the “right” opinion.
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Stock #: JFS14286J