AALL Spectrum Blog


The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
1/4/2013 8:26:17 AM

Book Review: The Law-Science Chasm: Bridging Law's Disaffection with Science as Evidence

The Law-Science Chasm:  Bridging Law’s Disaffection with Science as Evidence, by Cedric Charles Gilson.  New Orleans:  Quid Pro Books, 2012.  238pp.  $29.99, ISBN 9781610271448 (Softcover); $9.99, ISBN 9781610271455 (eBook); $9.99, ASIN B009G9ZKQU (Kindle). 

This treatise is being released as part of Quid Pro Books’ Dissertation Series of titles, and appears to be a reprint of the author’s Ph.D. dissertation delivered at the University of Westminster (UK).  This should immediately give you an idea of who the work was written for, and why the appeal will be somewhat limited.  That said, for an academic law library, there is, potentially, a segment of your userbase that will be very interested indeed in the ideas Gilson sets out—namely, your jurisprudential scholars, or anyone doing work in legal philosophy.  Buy this for them.  On the other hand, despite the concern with scientific evidence, practitioners will find the focus too theoretical and conceptual.  This is, first and foremost, an academic text.

The stated purpose of this work is to explore possible frameworks for reconciling the disjunction between law and science, particularly in the context of scientific expert evidence offered in legal proceedings. By virtue of the fact that both law and science are autopoietic systems, with their own languages, goals, and normative standards, they tend to, in the author's words, "talk past each other," resulting in a heterogeneous body of law which engenders distrust in its conclusions. After exploring, and then rejecting, possible solutions in the fields of epistemology and systems theory, Gilson eventually settles on a potential framework based on an application of Juergen Habermas' language-based theories--specifically, that surrounding validity claims (i.e., claims that one's expert opinion is valid), which are based on truth, rightness, and truthfulness (more like what we refer to as "honesty")--with the goal being consensus between the claimant and his questioner.  Because all three realms of knowledge—art, science, and law—use the same framework for validity claims, this provides a possible avenue for communication between science and law.  Real-world models are proposed in the form of the non-adversarial proceedings of the FDA and the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, as the adversarial process, though no doubt useful in certain contexts, has a tendency to shape the witness' testimony at the expense of truthfulness.

One thing the reader will notice fairly quickly is the steep learning curve.  Fully half of the dissertation requires a preexisting familiarity with advanced philosophical concepts typical of, say, a dissertation review committee, and not so typical of, say, the practitioner or even sitting judge. The terminology used in the dissertation is clearly for the upper-tier academic, particularly the discussions in Chapters II and III (dealing with epistemology and autopoietic systems theory, respectively). Thankfully, the style settles down somewhat in Chapter IV, where the author discusses the issues surrounding "trans-science", bringing in examples from medical malpractice, drug applications, and toxic torts to illustrate the nature of the law-science interaction, and to pose the FDA's drug application procedure--where a committee including lay participants meets and formulates questions to the applicant relative to the merits of its application--as the ideal example of cooperation between the two spheres.

Underlying all this theory is a real-world concern, leading to a documented "credibility gap" in extreme cases.  He cites the public's reaction to rumors of autism connected with the MMR vaccine around 2000 as an example:  even after the scientific community weighed in, debunking the connection, many parents continued to refuse to permit their children to be vaccinated, citing distrust of the government.  Further, it would be ideal if we as a society could be guaranteed of a certain uniformity in legal decisions involving scientific evidence. Clearly, the author intends this dissertation to be a springboard into further studies, as the goal of the dissertation (which it meets) is merely to find the most promising avenue to pursue.  The problems the work has for the general reader are largely a byproduct of its intensely academic style, which will limit the work’s utility to faculty interested in jurisprudence or legal philosophy, and maybe doctoral-level students.  Still, this community, small though it may be, will find a lot to think about here. 

David E. Matchen, Jr., is the Circulation/Reference Librarian at the University of Baltimore Law Library, and a long-suffering Bears fan.

Posted By David Matchen at 1/4/2013 8:26:17 AM  0 Comments
12/12/2012 9:38:17 AM

Book Review: face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections

Face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections, by David Lee King.  CyberAge Books/Information Today, Inc.; 2012, 194pages inclusive of index.  Paperback, $24.95, ISBN 9780910965996.

Are you interested in learning how to make and keep business connections using social media? If yes, then face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections is the book for you.

The author, David Lee King, a librarian at a county public library, takes traditional notions of business and customer service and breaks them down into ways to create, develop, and maintain these same relationships on the web.  It is clear from the beginning of the book that he is experienced with the web and social media tools that he is explaining. 

King begins the book by discussing how an organization can create an online presence with a human component – “being human on the web.”  He advocates using a “conversational tone” in blogs to help the customer or patron relate.  In fact, he demonstrates the efficacy of this approach throughout the book by keeping it “conversational.”

King discusses communicating through blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook, video (YouTube), and photos (Flickr).  His description of each service is in depth enough for a beginner, but does not add anything for a seasoned social media communicator.  King gives many examples of ways in which he has interacted with companies to express dissatisfaction (and the company’s response) or satisfaction (and the company’s response).  It is clear that the quick-response allowed by social media can be a benefit to an organization. 

Toward the end of the book, King details how a social media newcomer can get started using the tools discussed in the book.  The key components to getting started are asking customers or patrons what they would like to see in terms of online communication, setting goals of what you want to achieve with your new communication tools, and creating a strategy for getting to the end result. 

The book ends with a chapter on measuring success using Facebook analytics, Facebook “likes,” location-based service (i.e., Foursquare) check-ins, and page hits.

Face2face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections is a valuable book for the social media newcomer and should be included in any library’s collection.

Rebecca Mattson is the Collection Development/Acquisitions Librarian at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library.

Posted By Rebecca Mattson at 12/12/2012 9:38:17 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews
11/28/2012 3:32:40 PM

The December Issue of Spectrum is Now Available on AALLNET

We hope you enjoy the articles and encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback using the "comments" link below!

Public Relations: A Day in the Life 2013
AALL seeks your photos for its annual contest
By Shawn Friend

The Dual Degree
A requirement in search of a justification
By Stephen Young

Hey! Employers! What is it That You Want?
The baffling job search of a recent graduate
By Patrick S. Daly

Librarians: Go and Be Disorganized!
A blog post got me thinking about our future
By Megan Wiseman

Why Does a Wiki Succeed or Fail? 
Using one wiki's failure to understand why some wikis succees
By Sally Wambold

Law Libraries Linking Data to Mobile Devices
Save patrons' time and stay hip
By Anna Russell and Carli Spina

Rules of Dating
How to court your faculty or a managing partner
By Elizabeth Johnson

Attitude, Creativity, Collaboration, and Tech
The new success formula for law librarians
By Monice M. Kaczorowski and Jaye A. H. Lapachet

Online only!
Isn't it Time to Establish Library-Related Social Media Best Practices Guidelines?
By Bobby Studwell

Online only!
Sweet e-Freedom
By Bret N. Christensen

From the Editor
Reassessing our services and processes ensures that they are efficient, elegant, and effective instead of merely "good enough"
By Mark E. Estes

Washington Brief
Lessons learned from the 2011-2012 legislative session
By Emily Feltren

The Reference Desk
Is it acceptable to use mobile devices during meetings? 
By Susan Catterall

Member to Member
What was your favorite class in library school or law school?

Views from You
A double rainbow over downtown Seattle as seen from a window at Lane Powell PC

Members' Briefing
AALL's Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
By Marci Hoffman

Posted By Ashley St. John at 11/28/2012 3:32:40 PM  2 Comments
TOPICS: spectrum