Dalhousie Law Journal


Jurimetrics, critique, scientific method, Laplacian demon


In my days as an undergraduate studying history at Mount Allison, a professor from one of the large American universities visited the campus and told us of "Operation Ben Franklin". A group of eminent historians were engaged in a project whose aim was to electronically re-create the great statesman using the scientific method. Using primary sources such as diaries, letters and documents, and secondary sources such as printed books and journals, in short all available data, the group with the aid of computers was collecting and dissecting Franklin's writings. The goal was to produce each step his mind took in his many experimentations and piece together every fact connected with his diplomatic career. Not content with this, the historians were bent on producing a record of what he did during each and every day of his life. Moreover, they analyzed and recorded the contents of each book in the man's extensive Library along with the minutiae of the current events of Franklin's era, all in an effort to recreate his mind. Rigorous control methods were used to ensure the most accurate probabilities. The project, employing dozens of people and costing millions of dollars, was to last well into the next century and unless common sense has prevailed, it no doubt continues.