I’m objective, thee is biased

“Even Homer nods,” goes the saying, meaning that even the best can go off the rails now and then. So the great cognitive scientist Itiel Dror came up with a hypothetical study to show that forensic pathologists are more likely to find homicide when a black baby is brought to the hospital by mom’s boyfriend than when a white baby is brought in by white grandma. Heavens, how racist!

We leave it to our readers, if any, to find the flaw. Clue: apples and oranges.

Still, Dror & Co. have come up with a useful list of pitfalls, and not just for forensic analysts. Trigger warning: it may drive you to despair.

Target-driven bias: Working backward from a suspect to the crime scene evidence and thus fitting the evidence to the suspect – akin to shooting an arrow and drawing a target around where it hits. A bull’s eye every time!

Confirmation bias: Focusing on the evidence of guilt while ignoring anything contradictory.

Bias cascade: When bias spills from one part of the investigation to another, such as when the same person who collects the evidence from the crime scene does the laboratory work and is influenced by the emotional impact of the crime scene.

Bias snowball: An echo chamber where beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a closed system and insulated from rebuttal.

Bias blind spot: They’re biased. We’re objective.

Expert immunity: The belief that being an expert makes a person objective and unaffected by bias.

Technological protection: The belief that the use of technology, such as computerized fingerprint matching, guards against bias.

Bad apples: The belief that bias is a matter of incompetence or bad character.

Illusion of control: The belief that bias can be overcome by sheer act of will.

Mote and beamism

About Appellate Squawk

A satirical blog for criminal defense lawyers and their friends who won't give up without a squawk.
This entry was posted in Forensic "science", Law & Parody. Bookmark the permalink.

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