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Towards a better communication between theory and imperfect realities of professional practice - On barriers among stakeholders and possible ways out

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

It still seems that the academic ‘logical approach’ does not play much of a role in the communication of the results of forensic science examinations in Germany, save for a small number of suitable cases involving DNA evidence. From a German forensic practitioner’s perspective the presentation will focus on stakeholders, their incentives, and the question, whether influential advocates might also contribute to barriers. In addition, a few proposals aiming at moderate implementation will be introduced. It is thought-provoking that despite a lot of publications and promotion in the forensic science community for almost 20 years Bayes has had minimal impact in the law. This may be the case because, apart from an appealing and coherent theory, many questions around the production and presentation of scientific evidence in the legal systems still persist. Presumably one can expect further studies on efficient communication (with mock jurors) and new high-profile case reviews again. It is also almost foreseeable that various theoretical issues will be addressed and refined to be challenged again in academic publications. Nonetheless, it seems inevitable to go into the depths of the imperfect realities of professional practice where ordinary obstacles and sometimes irrational barriers last. It is from this reality that lessons can be learnt, little steps of pragmatic solutions appear to be concrete and achievable. Those educational experiences might encourage stakeholders in – with regard to Bayes and law – less developed countries to improve communication between forensic experts and judicial personnel. Countries such as the Netherlands and Sweden already stand for advanced developments. It would also be helpful to gain knowledge on its effectiveness and exhaustiveness of implementation.

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

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