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ANT205 - Sept 19 (Critical Thinking in Forensic Anthropology).docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Carolan Wood

Critical Thinking in Forensic Anthropology - Critical thinking and problem solving o Any discipline o Evaluate  Methods, theories, published articles, etc;  Also evidence  Just because it’s in peer reviewed journals, does not mean it’s factual science o Particularly forensic sciences  Serious consequences  Show line of thinking to produce a chain of evidence strong enough to provide solution - Uses o Evaluating quality, reliability, value of info; to detect flaws o Evaluating articles, documents, witnesses, websites o Distinguish good sources from bad o Determine good argument from poor; to help construct your own argument o Form logical basis for decisions - Forensic anthropologist and critical thinking o Design search strategies; each situation is unique  Example: point of interest at the end bottom of a steep hole = start from bottom o Determine best way to recover remains  Without damaging or losing evidence  Recovering all evidence even in time sensitive situations o Forensic significance o Evaluate methods of determining sex, age, ancestry, stature; have to justify what method you use in court o Confirm or refute identification o Interpret evidence at a scene o Death incident o Burial/deposition incident; how much work did the perpetrator do to conceal the body o Subsequent events, e.g. Scavenging o Evaluate damage done to bone; perimortem, or post mortem o Establish manner/mode of death - Today – evaluating journal articles o Consider when writing your paper o Lab/tutorial – how to get a good grade on your assignment - 6 steps of a critical analysis o Overview – type of statement, purpose; how they lay out their argument o Clarify meaning – define terms o Examine methodology – biases addressed? o Consider results – statistics o Examine conclusions – does data support conclusions? o Is argument consistent, reliable, and probable? - Step 1 – overview of article o Read abstract or intro and conclusion  What is the author is trying to do? How? Did they succeed? o Are conclusions linked back to goals, significance, hypotheses? - Type of statement o Argument  Statement based on observable evidence o Unsupported assertion  Bare statement with no supporting evidence o Reputable source will cite evidence o Appeal to authority  Evidence to support claim is someone other than author  Offers no observable evidence o Literature review  Summarized state of knowledge  Focus on primary sources  Reader can refer to original article to evaluate - Author’s purpose o Stated at beginning and repeated in conclusions  THE PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER IS TO... (the first thing the Prof wants to see in our critical assignment paper) o Scientific papers – test hypothesis  Hypothesis = statement that attempts to describe and explain a group of observations - Hypothesis o Causal – e.g. Temperature increases = rate of decomposition increases o Non-causal – e.g. pelvis is better indicator of sex than skull  Prediction – experiment tests - Step 2 – clarify terms o Ideas/abstractions must be made concrete o Define all terms o Operational definitions  Criteria used  Can be repeated by others (if it can’t be repeated, what you’re doing is useless)  Reliability - Are definitions valid? o Skeletal feature associated with age  How is trait recognized  How is age defined  Skeletal or known age  What age categories are used?  How were they determined? o Beware of arbitrary definitions - Step 3: examine methods o Appropriate for type of info required? o Can it be repeated? With same population, different population? o Bias addressed and overcome? (there is bias in every single paper that does experimental study) o Bias = systematic error introduced into analysis  Many types of bias  Each method of d
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