The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency tasked with promoting the “progress of science.” Science is the apprehension of knowledge-facts and principles-and is cultured in processes.
Science is of peculiar value in jurisprudence but there is no particularly elegant fitment between the two philosophies. Triers of fact are not commonly accomplished scientists, and even those who are may not possess expertise relevant to any given evidence; a biochemist may not be of spectacular value when dealing with evidence of construction defects.
Science is also problematic because of its dispensational nature; it is constantly evolving-being reformed at fundamental levels, a marker of academic adolescence. Only in the last few years has science determined precisely how mammalian eyes evacuate metabolic waste.
Expertise in science is typically focused very tightly; terminal degree research regularly deals with minutiae, an example being a proposed evolutionary roadmap of photoreceptive cells in the compound eyes of specific insect genera in Amazonian rainforests.
Expertise? Without a doubt. A guarantee of sound judgement and the ability to present it effectually…?
Specialization has produced deeply learned practitioners within narrow channels. The nature of evidence is very rarely refined to quantum physics or exotic pathologies; it may require an interdisciplinary oversight that is unavailable in an exemplar research or applied scientist.
The aforementioned National Science Foundation has “long recognized the value of interdisciplinary research in pushing fields forward and accelerating scientific discovery. Important research ideas often transcend the scope of a single discipline or program…(preparing) a workforce that undertakes scientific challenges in innovative ways.”
It is reasonable to substitute “interdisciplinary team of subject matter experts” for “interdisciplinary research” in that quote. Unfortunately, doing so conjures the phantasm of herding cats-all named Sisyphus-with an intractable deadline looming.
A generalist with relevant interdisciplinary expertise may be an opportune alternative because of the relative ease, efficiency, and cost of administering a single expert. A good generalist serves analogously to a reconnaissance pilot over a battlefield.
In multiple cases I have been involved with over the past few years an extensive array of technologies were germane. Relevant bits of solar astronomy, color science, human visual acuity, signal processing, etc. were required to fashion a virtuous case.
A competent imaging generalist may:
- Calculate sun azimuth and elevation, research meteorologic records, and estimate solar irradiance/intensity at a given time and latitude, then apply that data to a driver’s visual experience.
- Explain how human visual acuity-including depth perception-varies wildly between humans, and in the same human dependent upon various pathologies, time of day, pharmaceutical regimens, age, lighting conditions, mental states, etc.
- Explain why an image or video cannot reasonably represent a human visual experience (particularly a night view), and how a projection or exhibition (print or monitor) system should be configured to satisfy numerous standards for defensible display colorimetrics and applied optic principles.
- Have bona fide defensible expertise in software used to produce and present evidence.
A competent imaging generalist will know when and to whom a deeply technical issue should be submitted and will be able to mercifully assist counsel in appropriately managing that asset or network of assets.