Experts and Their Biases
Full course description
Some have argued that the story behind miscarriages of justice is, in fact, the story of expert errors and misjudgements. Experts do, indeed, play an important role in judicial decision making; the law expects them to reach their decisions on the basis of scientifically grounded principles. Consider the handwriting expert who has to decide whether a ransom note was written by the defendant. Or the child psychologist who has to decide whether a child should stay with an emotionally labile mother. Should we trust the expertise of these professionals? How can their decisions be optimised? Psychometrics and decision making and other issues typically thought to be the province of expert witnesses are discussed at length during this course. In doing so, the course focuses on biases that may plague experts.
- at the end of this course students are familiar with different decisions making styles;
- they are aware of biases, debiasing, and signal detection theory, Receiver Operating Characteristics, expectancy effects, likelihood ratios, and heuristics applied to the legal field, and also of the relations between psychopharmacology, drugs and crimes;
- students are able to apply this theory and statistics to the assessment of risk in judicial decision making.