Behavioral Science Evidence in the Age of Daubert: Reflections of a Skeptic


The piece briefly traces the history of the use of social science in the courtroom, and proceeds to critically measure this form of proof (particularly “syndrome” evidence) against both the reliability standards imposed by Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the traditional requirements for admission of expert testimony. Drawing upon empirical research concerning juries and decision-making as well as transcripts of the use of behavioral evidence at trial, I conclude that much of this testimony should be rejected. Rather than providing meaningful assistance to the jury, social science experts can distort the accuracy of the fact-finding process and imperil the fairness of the proceeding.



Date of this Version

September 2004