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Lay Understanding (and Misunderstanding) of Quantitative Statements about the Weight of Forensic Evidence

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FOSW01 - The nature of questions arising in court that can be addressed via probability and statistical methods

Co-author: Rebecca Grady (University of California, Irvine)

The explanations that forensic scientists offer for their findings in reports and testimony should meet two important requirements: first, they should be scientifically correct—warranted by the underlying findings; second, they should be understandable to the lay audiences, such as lawyers and jurors, who will rely upon the reports and testimony. This presentation will describe a series of studies exploring lay reactions to quantitative statements about the weight of forensic evidence. Key issues examined include the way in which various formats for describing the weight of forensic evidence affect: (1) people’s sensitivity to important variations in the weight of the forensic evidence; (2) people’s susceptibility to fallacious misinterpretation of forensic evidence; and (3) the logical coherence of judgments made on the basis of forensic evidence. Implications of this research for forensic practice and legal policy will be discussed. 

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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