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Laws of Men and Laws of Nature

Laws of Men and Laws of Nature

The History of Scientific Expert Testimony in England and America

Tal Golan

ISBN 9780674025806

Publication date: 09/30/2007

Are scientific expert witnesses partisans, or spokesmen for objective science? This ambiguity has troubled the relations between scientists and the legal system for more than 200 years. Modern expert testimony first appeared in the late eighteenth century, and while its use steadily increased throughout the nineteenth century, in cases involving everything from patents to X-rays, the respect paid to it steadily declined, inside and outside of the courtroom. With deep learning and wry humor, Tal Golan tells stories of courtroom drama and confusion and media jeering on both sides of the Atlantic, until the start of the twenty-first century, as the courts still search for ways that will allow them to distinguish between good and bad science.


  • In this witty book, Tal Golan shows how the Anglo-American legal system accommodated itself partially and reluctantly to the laws of science and the agitation of scientists. In style and substance, Laws of Men and Laws of Nature shines as a work in the history of science and eclipses most contemporary science studies.

    —J. L. Heilbron, author of The Sun in the Church: Cathedrals as Solar Observatories


  • Tal Golan is Associate Professor of the History of Science at the University of California, San Diego.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press