Diatoms, Retinal Hemorrhages and Other Forensic Tests: A Logical Assessment Using Probability Theory

The author applies probability theory and logic to forensic testing in the form of a thought experiment (Gedankenexperiment). The approach is largely Bayesian. Topics covered include: certainty and uncertainty, the Inferential Test for Expert Testimony, testing for identity, testing for the determination of “what happened,” inference to a single explanation, experience, bias, manner of death determinations, differential diagnosis, syndromes, the determination of what caused a natural death, the determinations of time of death and injury, the determination of what caused a sudden and unexpected infant death, and the interpretation of forensic toxicology tests. A rule or conclusion is stated following each analysis. This exercise demonstrates that the evaluation of forensic testing in a credible and logical way is feasible and that Bayesian probability can form a foundation for model protocols in the future.

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