Forgive me if you perceive me as arrogant. I am open to arguments that are
counter to my opinion, but I am not yielding until I am convinced.
I also am perfectly willing to get along happily with folks who think my
opinions are incorrect. I must admit that I found your tone a trifle
As an attorney have learned to subject any expert's opinion to the harsh
light of empirical scrutiny. It is from cross-examining expert witnesses
that I find the most support for my feeling that their opinions are far from
inerrant. How else can the plaintiff and defendant have two distinguished
scientists on two sides of the same question? As one old lawyer said to me,
"Why do you think they call it an 'opinion'?"
It is also from my cases involving professional malpractice that I base my
somewhat cautious view of "expert" opinion. For instance, I try to read the
PDR about any prescribed drugs I get, having seen the ravages of experts who
ignore the warnings.
I have found the concept that "you are not intelligent enough to understand
this specific mechanism because you have not been trained in the field in
which it is based" to be the height of arrogance. True experienced expert
witnesses learn that your average jury can understand very complex things in
microcosm once they are broken down logically and systematically, as my best
professors always did. They also recognize that a juror may crucify you if
you patronize him or treat him like he is intellectually inferior.
Throughout history, successive scholarly analysis has repeatedly lead to the
abandonment of what was once perceived as fact. This is the essence of
innovation. Some things come full circle.
I use experts and oppose experts. I defer to their opinions when they make
sense. If they cannot explain it so I understand and believe it, I do not
buy it, literally or figuratively.
I have four years of pre-med as a major in Zoology and developmental
vertebrate anatomy was one of my favorite courses. I read with great
interest various articles on the fossil record.
There are significant scholars that believe as I do. They are not
overwhelmed by consensus. Truth is not a matter of consensus. Most
innovation comes from people bucking consensus
All humans are sensitive to peer pressure. Scientists and lawyers are no
When the scholars abandon the effort to fit their empirical evidence into
the canon of scripture, they abandon the greatest historical documentation
Another old cracker lawyer told me that when you have the facts argue the
facts; when you have the law, argue the law; but when you have neither the
facts nor the law, attack the opposition.
On a related subject, does anyone read "Biblical Archaeology Review"?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Shuan Rose" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Jay Willingham" <email@example.com>; "ASA" <>
Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 5:11 PM
Subject: RE: Anthropological items
I think as an attorney, you should understand about the need to accept
expert opinion on these matters. An attorney in a medical malpractice trial
is guided by the insights of the doctor who is his expert witness. He also
does not and indeed is not allowed to testify as an expert, unless he has a
There is an overwhelming scholarly consensus against your opinion on the
hominid question which as a presumed nonexpert, you should accede to. In
absence of unknown evidence or some special qualification, your opinion on
this question is of little consequence. I, like you, love scientific inquiry
but I assume that scientists know what they are doing and are not more
swayed by the media or possibilities for professional advancement than say,
attorneys. Unlike you, I am rather humble about venturing opinions about
scientific matters for which I lack the technical qualifications. As one
attorney to another, I would urge you to adopt a similar attitude.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On
Behalf Of Jay Willingham
Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 3:03 PM
Subject: Re: Anthropological items
I find it difficult to accept taxonomical classification of true hominid
remains as anything other than variations within homo sapiens.
It appears to me that most if not all hominid fossils are within or close to
the arguable range of physiological variation seen in historical homo
Assumptions about braincase and other skeletal characteristics of the
pre-historic hominids are fascinatingly speculative at best.
I love scientific inquiry but believe too many scientists tend to make the
hypothesis to theory leap prematurely.
This condition is endemic to patron, tenure and grant systems requiring
publication or seeking a certain result.
Abuses also are engendered by a media thirsty for news.
James Estes Willingham, Jr.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
2411 Mohawk Trail,
Maitland, Florida 32751-4032,
phone: 407-645-5454, fax: 407-628-1170,
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