University Professors as Expert Witnesses
University Professors are generally put in an unusual position that involves both privilege and responsibility. After having received a PhD, they then must succeed during a trial period of several years at a University. Then, they are then examined (“vetted”) and, if found meritorious in terms of scholarship, they are given tenure. If not found meritorious, they generally must leave the
Once given tenure, it is virtually impossible for them to be fired for speaking their professional opinions—although breaking laws would leave them as vulnerable as anyone else. The purpose of tenure is to ensure professors remain as “honest experts” and are not threatened into saying (or not saying) things that are true in their expert opinion but may be unpopular.
Consequently, academicians are looked on as the impartial experts in judicial and legislative matters. As such, they enjoy a certain status—and responsibility.
Expert witnesses may make statements counter to newspaper reporting, because newspapers commonly report exciting anecdotes: “News is about things that happen”…(wars and epidemics)… ”not about things that don’t happen” (peace and health).
“To get an accurate picture of the world, you have to count.” (i.e., use data)
Steven Pinker, 2018. (December) “Follow the trendlines” IN The World in 2019. The Economist. Pg. 77.