Not So “Blind” Justice: The Cognitive Biases Endemic in Forensic Science and Their Possible Solutions
CME/CLE credit will also be provided
Dr. Itiel Dror is a cognitive neuroscientist. He is a Principal Consultant and Researcher at Cognitive Consultants International, Ltd. Interested in how the brain and cognitive system perceives and interprets information, he was awarded a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1994. Dr. Dror's work focuses on the cognitive architecture that underpins expertise. He researches expert performance in the real world, examining medical surgeons, military fighter pilots, frontline police, and forensic analysts. Dr. Dror's research provides insights into the inherent trade-offs of being an expert. In the forensic domain he has demonstrated how contextual information can influence the judgments and decision making of experts; he has shown that even fingerprint and DNA experts can reach different conclusions when the same evidence is presented within different extraneous contexts. He has published over 100 research articles, and has been extensively cited in the Scottish Fingerprint Public Inquiry Report and in the American National Academy of Science Report on Forensic Science. He currently is working on a number of major research projects aimed at providing a better understanding of forensic experts and finding ways to make their judgments more reliable. Dr. Dror has been working with police forces and agencies in a variety of countries (e.g., The Netherlands, Finland, United Kingdom, the US, and Australia) in providing training and implementing cognitive best practices in evaluating forensic evidence. More information is available at www.cci-hq.com.
Experts are highly valued by the courts as they are regarded to provide impartial and objective evidence. However, understanding the way experts think and how the brain processes information, offers insights to circumstances in which evidence may be far from objective or being impartial. Cognitive research has well established this problem, demonstrating many different types of psychological contaminations that affect experts in the criminal justice system. Cognitive science can help identify such weaknesses and provide practical ways to mitigate them.
References (can be downloaded from www.cci-hq.com):
• Dror, I. E. & Cole, S. (2010). The vision in 'blind' justice: Expert perception, judgment and visual cognition in forensic pattern recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17(2), 161-167.
• Dror, I.E. and Rosenthal, R. (2008). Meta-analytically quantifying the reliability and biasability of forensic experts. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(4), 900-903.
• Dror, I. E. (2011). The paradox of human expertise: Why experts get it wrong. In N. Kapur (Ed.) The Paradoxical Brain (pp. 177-188). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press