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How can Francis Bacon help forensic science? The four idols of human biases

Dror, I; (2009) How can Francis Bacon help forensic science? The four idols of human biases. Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology , 50 (1) 93 - 110. 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.01.001. Green open access

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Abstract

Much debate has focused on whether forensic science is indeed a science. This paper is not aimed at answering, or even trying to contribute to, this question. Rather, in this paper I try to find ways to improve forensic science by identifying potential vulnerabilities. To this end I use Francis Bacon's doctrine of idols which distinguishes between different types of human biases that may prevent scientific and objective inquiry. Bacon’s doctrine contains four sources for such biases: Idols Tribus (of the 'tribe'), Idols Specus (of the 'den'/'cave'), Idols Fori (of the 'market'), and Idols Theatre (of the 'theatre'). While his 400 year old doctrine does not, of course, perfectly match up with our current world view, it still provides a productive framework for examining and cataloguing some of the potential weaknesses and limitations in our current approach to forensic science.

Type: Article
Title: How can Francis Bacon help forensic science? The four idols of human biases
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.01.001
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2013.01.001
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/49753
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