05 November 2009

Wiesner's Misfortune

"The story of quantum cryptography dates back to a curious idea developed in the late 1960s by Stephen Wiesner, then a graduate student at Columbia University. Sadly, it was Wiesner's misfortune to invent an idea so ahead of its time that nobody took it seriously.
..., Wiesner submitted a paper to a scientific journal. It was rejected. He submitted it to three other journals, and it was rejected three more times. Wiesner claims that they simply did not understand the physics.
From p 332 of Simon Singh's, "The Code Book".

This sort of thing must be happening time and time again.

Which brings us to the wisdom of Daubert; the judgment that sets out criteria for deciding whether or not scientific expert opinion evidence is scientific or not. When it comes to whether or not the science has been published or not, we have the opinion of Mr Justice Blackmun for the court,

"Another pertinent consideration is whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication. Publication (which is but one element of peer review) is not a sine qua non of admissibility; it does not necessarily correlate with reliability, see S. Jasanoff, The Fifth Branch: Science Advisors as Policymakers 61-76 (1990), and in some instances well grounded but innovative theories will not have been published, see Horrobin, The Philosophical Basis of Peer Review and the Suppression of Innovation, 263 J. Am. Med. Assn. 1438 (1990). Some propositions, moreover, are too particular, too new, or of too limited interest to be published. But submission to the scrutiny of the scientific community is a component of "good science," in part because it increases the likelihood that substantive flaws in methodology will be detected. See J. Ziman, Reliable Knowledge: An Exploration of the Grounds for Belief in Science 130-133 (1978); Relman and Angell, How Good Is Peer Review?, 321 New Eng. J. Med. 827 (1989). The fact of publication (or lack thereof) in a peer reviewed journal thus will be a relevant, though not dispositive, consideration in assessing the scientific validity of a particular technique or methodology on which an opinion is premised."

Blackmun J also goes on to say, "[a]dditionally, in the case of a particular scientific technique, the court ordinarily should consider the known or potential rate of error,"

What it s the known or potential rate of error of finger print analysis?

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