Robert C. Bird

Volume 72, Issue 3, 719-772

Science skepticism is on the rise worldwide, and it has a pernicious influence on science and science-based public policy. This Article explores two of the most controversial science-based public policy issues: whether genetically modified foods are inherently unsafe and whether vaccines cause autism spectrum disorder. After evaluating the scientific credibility and discursive power of these claims, this Article analyzes how changes in public opinion can shift public policy away from anti-scientific practices. Legal scholarship can play a substantial role because, if accessibly written, it has the potential to be timely, persuasive, and comprehensible by a broad audience. Other stakeholders also play a meaningful role. Finally, this Article explores the possibility of what could happen if these movements are left unchecked. This Article concludes that a coordinated effort by a variety of stakeholders, and especially relevant experts in the legal field, can roll back the tide of anti-science in the court of public opinion.