Beyond CSI: Calibrating public beliefs about the reliability of forensic science through openness and transparency
Carlos Miguel Ibaviosa & Jason M Chin “Beyond CSI: Calibrating public beliefs about the reliability of forensic science through openness and transparency” (accepted 2022) Science & Justice.
55 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2022
Date Written: February 17, 2022
What drives public beliefs about the credibility of a scientific field? This question is increasingly important, with recent discussion of a “reproducibility crisis” affecting many fields. Such discussions are vital in forensic science, a discipline that has experienced severe scrutiny from both the media and large oversight bodies. In this paper, we make three contributions to this discussion. First, we bring together and compare several studies in which laypeople were asked about the reliability of forensic science practices. This review suggests that forensic practices do not enjoy uniformly high reliability ratings from the public and these ratings are not calibrated with the scientific consensus. We then review three empirically-tested ways that other fields are dealing with their own crises, all centred around transparency and openness. Finally, we make recommendations for how forensic science can leverage transparency and openness to improve and maintain its long-term credibility. As part of these recommendations, we find that empirical research supports the Houston Forensic Science Center’s recent claims that it has improved its credibility through openness and transparency.
Keywords: forensic science, credibility, public trust, trust in science, open science, metaresearch, the CSI Effect, transparency, Houston Forensic Science Center
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation