Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom


A scathing indictment of the growing role of junk science in our courtrooms. Peter W. Huber shows how time and again lawyers have used?and the courts have accepted?spurious claims by so-called expert witnesses to win astronomical judgments that have bankrupted companies, driven doctors out of practice, and deprived us all of superior technologies and effective, life-saving therapies.

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A scathing indictment of the growing role of junk science in our courtrooms. Peter W. Huber shows how time and again lawyers have used—and the courts have accepted—spurious claims by so-called expert witnesses to win astronomical judgments that have bankrupted companies, driven doctors out of practice, and deprived us all of superior technologies and effective, life-saving therapies.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Forbes magazine columnist Huber uncovers another cost of science illiteracy in the U.S.: the unwarranted authority of ``junk science'' as legal testimony in our litigious society. This anecdotal history of science in the service of liability lawyers--the ``expert witness'' industry--is both a stylish legal brief for sensible reforms and a side tour of the medical follies of the century. Huber condemns the ``verbal dilapidation of science'' by rogue scientists posing as misunderstood Galileos and the ``let-it-all-in'' atmosphere of the courts. Legal scholars and attorneys might well take note of Huber's observations, while all readers can take pleasure in his tempered yet passionate appeal to restore the rule of science fact in our courts. Sept.
Library Journal
Huber, educated as an engineer and considered one of the country's leading experts on liability law, shows how lawyers exploit science illiteracy by using professional ``expert'' witnesses to press unsubstantiated claims. He defines ``junk science'' as the mirror of real science and uses as examples astronomy and astrology, chemistry and alchemy, and pharmacology and homeopathy. It is often difficult to distinguish between junk science and liability science, a speculative theory that expects lawyers, judges, and juries to search for causes that may be explained by established scientific principles. Huber documents this phenomenon by citing several claims and concludes that the best test of certainty is the science of publication, replication, verification, consensus, and peer review. For public and university libraries with collections in popular science. Also appropriate for law libraries.-- Bruce Slutsky, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, N.Y.
A more credible subtitle would be "junk sci in the junkroom." Of course our legal system is based upon charlatans raping lepers; this deserves a book? Huber does follow the junk far enough to report on the appeal courts' reversals of the lower court decisions and awards. Read this if you suffer from low blood pressure. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465026241
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1993
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 540,041
  • Lexile: 1330L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Huber is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, where he specializes in issues related to technology, science, and law. His previous books include Hard Green, Liability, and Galileo's Revenge. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland. Peter W. Huber, an M.I.T.-trained engineer and a Harvard law graduate, has also taught at M.I.T. and formerly clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. A Manhattan Institute Fellow, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I The Lawyer and the Scientist Trade Places
Ch. 1 Liability Science: Better Living Through Litigation 9
Ch. 2 The Science of Things That Aren't So: Junk Science and Its Origins 24
Pt. II Law and Pseudoscience
Ch. 3 The Midas Touch: How Money Causes Disease 39
Ch. 4 Sudden Acceleration: Runaway Panic in the Mass Media 57
Ch. 5 Gadgets and Knives: Cashing In on Magical Cures 75
Ch. 6 No Immunity: Chemicals Cause Everything 92
Ch. 7 Nausea: The Massed Legal Attack 111
Ch. 8 The Paranoia Plebiscite: The Legal Pursuit of Fad Terrors 130
Ch. 9 Harmonious Coupling: Ignoring the Environment 148
Pt. III The Rule of Fact
Ch. 10 The Cargo Cult: Does Liability Science Work? 171
Ch. 11 Stopping Points: Confronting Malpractice on the Witness Stand 192
Ch. 12 Science and Certitude 214
Notes 229
Acknowledgments 261
Index 263
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2004

    Important for our nation

    The author cogently describes the way non-science is palying an important role in our society, especially in increasing medical costs and, indirectly, reducing the quality and availability of medical care.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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