In DepthScience and the Law

Forensic labs explore blind testing to prevent errors

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Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247, pp. 462-463
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6247.462

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Summary

Last week, at the first International Symposium on Forensic Science Error Management in Arlington, Virginia, nearly 500 forensic scientists, crime lab managers, and other practitioners confronted the factors that have led to unreliable results in the field. A key problem, many said, is that people who evaluate evidence from crime scenes have access to information about a case that could bias their analysis. That subconscious bias could arise from irrelevant contextual information, such as the nature of the crime or police investigators' beliefs about a suspect's guilt, or from the physical evidence itself. As forensics struggles to recover from revelations of serious flaws in its methodology and scientific underpinnings, more labs are considering ways to shield their examiners from potential bias.