British academy

CONFERENCE

Enquiry, Evidence and Facts:
An Interdisciplinary Conference

Thursday 13 and Friday 14 December 2007, 9.15am–5.30pm
The British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Convenors: Professor William Twining FBA, UCL; Professor Mary Morgan FBA FKNAW, London School of Economics; Professor Philip Dawid, UCL; and Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, UCL

In association with The Leverhulme Trust/ESRC funded research programmes on 'The Nature of Evidence' at UCL and LSE

This conference was organised jointly with The Leverhulme Trust/ESRC funded research programmes on 'The Nature of Evidence', 'Evidence, Inference and Enquiry: Towards an Integrated Science of Evidence' at UCL and 'How well do "facts" travel?' at LSE.

Evidence has a high profile in the public eye because of the convergence of a number of recent developments, such as reliance on new kinds of evidence that are hard to understand or convey yet are critical in individual decisions (e.g. statistical assessment of DNA analysis in courts); the importance of disputed evidence in key policy decisions (e.g. post 9/11 intelligence in the UK, climate change facts in the USA); the use of both social science and natural science evidence together (e.g. decisions about value for money for medical treatments or the way to deal with foot and mouth disease). There is a lack of agreement on the extent to which one can generalise about facts, evidence and inferential reasoning across disciplines, contexts and types of enquiry because of some fundamental questions about the nature of evidence.

The aims of the conference:

  • to debate the different theoretical, methodological and practical approaches to the study of evidence and the way that facts are acquired and used across different fields
  • to explore the ways in which facts travel within and between fields, a process essential to generate common multi- or interdisciplinary understandings of how evidence is constituted and used in making judgements
  • to provide a forum for the presentation of completed and ongoing research on these topics from a broad range of academic and practice-based researchers using a wide range of disciplinary bases in the social sciences and humanities and in related natural science fields
  • to promote networking and cross-fertilization of ideas amongst researchers and practitioners in the expanding interdisciplinary concern with the nature of facts and evidence and to explore the commonalities of concepts

There were poster displays featuring the work of the 'Evidence' research programmes.

Organised in association with

evidence logo           facts logo


PROGRAMME

(The conference was preceded on Wednesday 12 December 2007 by UCL Evidence research satellite meeting, Evidence, Inference & Enquiry: Towards an integrated science of evidence, at UCL Old Refectory)

DAY 1 (13 December)

8.30

Registration and tea/coffee

9.15

Opening Session
Chair: Baroness Professor Onora O’Neill

 

Welcome and orientation

Opening lectures
The Leverhulme/ESRC Evidence Projects, UCL/LSE

Evidence, Inference and Enquiry: Towards an Integrated Science of Evidence
Professor Phil Dawid, University College London

How Well Do 'Facts' Travel?
Professor Mary Morgan, London School of Economics and Political Science

10.30

Tea/coffee

11.00

Plenary Session 1: Facts, Evidence and Belief
Chair: Professor Mary Morgan

 

Lectures:

You Can Argue with the Facts: A Political History of Climate Change
Professor Naomi Oreskes

How the alternative therapy industry promotes the public misunderstanding of evidence
Dr Ben Goldacre

Formal Modes of Argument
Professor John Fox

12.45

Lunch

1.45

Parallel sessions

 

1. Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Chair: Dr Hasok Chang

2. Evidence and Medicine
Chair: Professor Jim Smith

3. Tacit Knowledge and Common Sense
Chair: Professor James Tomlinson

3.15

Tea/coffee

3.45

Plenary Session 2: Evidence, Action and Policy
Chair: Professor Trisha Greenhalgh

 

Lectures:

Evidence-based Policy: So, What’s Evidence?
Professor Nancy Cartwright


Bones of Contention: Interpreting Facts from Physical Anthropology
Professor Rick Steckel

5.00

Posters

5.30

Drinks reception

DAY 2 (14 December)

8.30

Registration and tea/coffee

9.15

Plenary Session 3: Case-based Reasoning
Chair: Professor William Twining

 

Lectures:

The Role of the Case in the EBM Era: Evidence, Warrant, and Practice in Contemporary Medicine
Professor Rachel Ankeny

On Narrative Coherence
Professor Sir Neil MacCormick

10.30

Tea/coffee

11.00

Plenary session 4: Reasoning and Inference
Chair: Professor Nigel Harvey

 

Lectures:

Motivated Causal Reasoning: Choice as Evidence
Professor Steven Sloman

Some Evidence issues in Intelligence Analysis
Professor David Schum

Critical Distance: Stabilizing Evidential Claims in Archaeology
Professor Alison Wylie

12.45

Lunch

1.45

Parallel sessions

 

4. Facts Travelling Across Disciplines
Chair: Professor Stephen Rowland

5. History and Philosophy of Science & Technology
Chair: Professor Mark Geller

6. Evidential Reasoning
Chair: Professor Andrew Chesher

3.15

Tea/coffee

3.45

Plenary session 5: Unity and Diversity
Chair: Professor Philip Dawid

 

Lectures

Are There Universal Principles or Forms of Evidential Inference?
Professor Peter Tillers

Diversity in Fact Production: Confronting Natural and Social Sciences
Professor Martina Merz


Parallel sessions

DAY 1

Session1: Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Chair: Dr Hasok Chang

Session 2: Evidence and Medicine
Chair: Professor Jim Smith

Session 3: Tacit Knowledge and Common Sense
Chair: Professor James Tomlinson

Are Expert Opinions Telling Us Both Sides of the Story?
Gianluca Baio (& Amanda Hepler & Grant Fisher)

Rhetoric and Argumentation: Evidence-based Policy making
Jill Russell (& Trisha Greenhalgh & Emma Byrne & Janet McDonnell)

Artisans and Experts: Evidence and Authority in Early Modern England
Patrick Wallis

The Subtleties of Alibi Evidence
Amanda Hepler (& David Lagnado & Gianluca Baio)

'False Facts' and the Facts of Life (and Death)
David Haycock

Common Sense Generalizations
William Twining

Foucault’s Tourist
Jason Davies

Life of a 'Fact' in Infectious Disease Transmission
Erika Mattila

Building on the Page - Building on the Site: Christopher Wren's Italian sources
Simona Valeriani


DAY 2

Session 4: Facts Travelling Across Disciplines
Chair: Professor Stephen Rowland

Session 5: History & Philosophy of Science & Technology
Chair: Professor Mark Geller

Session 6: Evidential Reasoning
Chair: Professor Andrew Chesher

Travelling in the Social Science Community: Assessing the Impact of the Indian Green Revolution Across Time and Disciplines
Peter Howlett

Evidence, Inference and Action: Towards a New Philosophy of Evidence
Grant Fisher

Causal Models in Evidential Reasoning
David Lagnado

From Rodent Utopia to Urban Hell: Experiments in Crowding Pathology
Edmund Ramsden

Circulating Facts About Organisms: Biological Databases
Sabina Leonelli

Evidential Reasoning in Economics: Advances in Identification Analysis
Andrew Chesher

Science Facts vs. Folks Facts
Jon Adams

Design Standards and Travelling Facts: Lessons from the Standardization of British Wire Sizes (c1880)
Aashish Velkar

Generalizations and Evidential Reasoning
Terence Anderson


Making Abstractions Facts
Professor Donald MacKenzie

Professor Peter Lipton had agreed to make a presentation entitled: Alien Abduction: Inference to the Best Explanation and the Evaluation of Testimony. It was with deep regret that the conference convenors learned he had died just before the conference.