Papers of Interest
One of the goals of the Research Subcommittee is to regularly highlight and share relevant research and papers of interest to FFLM members.
Each month a different paper of interest will be listed below. We are interested in suggestions by members of recent research of note in forensic medicine. If you know of a paper that you would like to see featured, or if you have published a paper that you would like to share, please contact email@example.com (open access papers are preferable, but not required).
Paper Of Interest For August
Last month, we wrote about a study describing the role of cognitive bias in the forensic investigation of suspected child abuse deaths.
For this month (from the same author as last month’s offering – Prof Itiel Dror, University College London) is an interesting discussion of a proposed method to reduce the role of cognitive bias in performing analysis in the forensic medical sciences (Dror and Kukucka, Linear Sequential Unmasking–Expanded (LSU-E): A general approach for improving decision making as well as minimizing noise and bias. For Sci Int 2021;3,100161).
The method, “Linear Sequential Unmasking,” proposes that forensic medical experts should first form an initial impression based “solely on the raw data/evidence, devoid of any reference material or context, even if relevant. Only thereafter can they consider what other information they should receive and in what order based on its objectivity, relevance, and biasing power.” The authors note potential exceptions to the method and reference the well-publicized statement by the medical examiner in the George Floyd murder that he didn’t want to bias his autopsy by watching the video of the lethal assault on Mr Floyd (which is difficult to justify, as the information of the immediate history preceding the death may indicate the need for special procedures in the autopsy, such as a detailed neck organ dissection).
We present this study, the full text of which can be found here, not as an endorsement but rather as a discussion launch point. Is LSU-E a practicable methodology for forensic medicine generally? Could you put it to use in your practice? Does it offer increased reliability of forensic investigations, or only increased bother? Are there other methods for improving the reliability of forensic medical investigations that are preferable?