ANT 205 Lecture 2 17Sept2012
Critical Thinking in Forensic Anthropology
-evaluate: methods, theories, published articles, etc. also evidence
In forensics: serious consequences
Produce chain of evidence strong enough to provide a solution
-evaluate: quality, reliability and value of info; articles, documents, witnesses, websites
ie. Logical basis for decisions, problem solving
Q: How forensic anthro use critical thinking? Give examples and cases.
1. design search strategies. Eg. Slope
2. determine best way to recover remains
-without damaging and losing evidence
-recovering all evidence, even in time sensitive situations
3. forensic significance
4. evaluate methods of sex, age, ancestry, stature
5. confirm and refute identification
6. interpret evidence at scene
7. death incident : primary (killed) vs. secondary scene (body dumped)
8. burial/ deposition incident
Well concealed – planned
9. subsequent events eg. Scavenging
10. evaluate damage done to bone
11. to establish manner/ mode of death
6 steps of critical analysis
2. clarify meaning
3. examine methodology
4. consider the results, stats
5. examine conclusions
6. argument consistent and reliable?
- Read abstract, into and conclusion ie. What author is trying to do? How? They succeed? - Conclusion linked back to purpose, significance, goals and hypothesis?
Do not record all details
Do use different sources – go for big pictures, provide evidence
Type of statement:
- based on observable evidence
2. unsupported assertion
- bare statement with no support evidence, needs a lot of examples
- reputable source will cite evidence
3. appeal to authority
- evidence to support claim is someone other than author
- offers no observable evidence
4 literature review
- Summarized state of knowledge
- Focus on primary sources
- Reader can refer to original article to evaluate
*Purpose must be stated at the beginning and repeated in conclusions
* Scientific papers- test hypothesis
Hypothesis = statement attempts to describe and explain a group of observations
Causal hy – eg. Temp. increases = increase rate of decomposition
Non- causal hy – eg. Pelvis is a better indicator of sex than skull
Predictions, then tests
- Ideas, abstractions must be made concrete
- Define all terms, even concepts
- Operational definitions
- Criteria used
- can be repeated by others ie. Reliability
Q: Are the definitions valid?
Eg, skeletal features associated with age?
- how trait is recognized
- how age is defined ie . skeletal or known age?
- what age categories are used?
- how were they determined? - beware of arbitrary definitions. Eg. How old is old?
- appropriate for type of info required?
- can it be repeated?
- biases ( addressed and overcome?)
- bias = systemic error introduced into analysis
- many types
- each method of data collection subject to specific bias
1. naturalistic observation
- eg. Looking at animals in their own habitats
- events as they occur
- observer may or may not participate