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Lecture 33 – Statistics in Forensic Science

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Western University
Anthropology 2235A/B
Eldon Molto

Lecture 33 – Statistics in Forensic Science  Foundation for objectivity  Only use statistics when there is an inclusion o 1.Concept of population and sample o 2.Qualitative versus Quantitative approaches o 3.Probabilistic model in anthropology o 4.Random Match Probability (frequentist model) in nuclear DNA and mtDNA  Concept of Sample and Population o Any positive identification requires a set of traits that are unique to the individual o Must compare to all humanity but this is impossible so population at large must be redefined to include a reasonable subset of well documented individuals  Subsets can be sex, race etc.  A small subset is then used to estimate the population the sample came from o Databases have been generated for fingerprints, DNA and anthropology o Samples vary  Could be a reference sample of cadavers or the use of the FAB  In DNA a database from samples collected in labs broken down by race  Since with STRs sex differences are statistically the same between males and females  Qualitative vs. Quantitative Approach o Qualitative – evaluate matches without probabilistic statements o Not all areas of forensic science use statistics for matches in individuation, for example  1. Fingerprints  2. Dental (antemortem x-rays an bite mark casts) o More of these matches have been called into question many errors are being made o “Innocence Project” has exposed its weaknesses o In terms of physical evidence and expert witness testimony are based on the assumption of discernible uniqueness  Quantitative Approaches o Techniques that use measurements o Statistical analysis of methods and standard deviations o All methods have error components even DNA although DNA has much higher proficiency scores
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