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39 Wake Forest L. Rev. 291 (2004)
The Need for Critical Appraisal of Expert Witnesses in Epidemiology and Statistics

handle is hein.journals/wflr39 and id is 301 raw text is: WAKE FOREST

VOLUME 39          2004         NUMBER 2

Sander Greenland*
Many    environmental,   occupational   and   pharmaceutical
lawsuits   pivot  on   determinations   of   causation   from
observational data. In these cases, expert witnesses often end
up presenting misleading causation testimony because they
believe, incorrectly, that causal inference is a settled topic in
science. In reality, there is no universally accepted method for
inferring presence or absence of causation from       human
observational data, nor is there any universally accepted
method for inferring probabilities of causation (as courts often
desire); there is not even a universally accepted definition of
cause or effect. Worse, some methods promulgated before courts
have well-documented logical flaws. These methods include the
use of statistical significance as a causal criterion, and the
equating of causation probabilities with attributable fractions.
Worse still, many experts fail to scientifically hedge or qualify
inferences presented to the court. I present two case studies
illustrating some of these problems, and discuss some proposed
ameliorations for these problems.    These proposals include
requesting experts to review methodologic guidelines developed
for court reference; publishing expert testimony with critical
* Dr. Greenland is Professor of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public
Health and Professor of Statistics, UCLA College of Letters and Science.

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