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Communicating Scientific Uncertainty: A Lawyer’s Perspective

February 2015

Citation: 45 ELR 10159

Issue: 2

Author: Michael Traynor

Scientific uncertainty is both inevitable and the source of communication challenges: science, law, and journalism each have different views of and uses for uncertainty. When dealing with uncertainty on policy issues such as climate change, these differing perspectives can lead to misunderstanding, controversy, and gridlock. The author offers his reflections on the legal process and legal ethics as applied to issues of scientific uncertainty. He concludes that lawyers can strengthen their ability to serve clients and the public if they enhance their understanding of scientific uncertainty and obstacles to communication and learn ways to communicate more effectively.

Michael Traynor is President Emeritus of the American Law Institute and Senior Counsel at Cobalt LLP.

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