I attended the 21st International Symposium on the Forensic Sciences in Hobart, Australia where I gave the Fingerprint Discipline Keynote, “Evidence for Expertise and Accuracy in Fingerprint Identification.” I took out the Best Oral Award and was given a few goodies at the conference dinner. My colleagues, Gary Edmond, Kristy Martire, and Glenn Porter, also won awards. On the social side, we were treated to a reception with the Governor of Tasmania, Peter Underwood AC, and an awesome masquerade ball at the Museum of Old and New Art. Click for more.
I attended at the the 6th European Academy of Forensic Science Conference in The Hague, the International City of Peace and Justice, The Netherlands. I presented, “Evidence for Expertise in the Matching Performance of Human Fingerprint Examiners.” In addition to the scientific program, we enjoyed some time at the beach, dinner in a beautiful church, and a visit from Queen Beatrix. Click for more.
I spoke to a packed room at the 97th Annual Conference of the International Association for Identification in Phoenix, Arizona. I presented the results of an experiment showing that qualified, court-practicing fingerprint experts are exceedingly accurate compared with novices, but are not infallible. And considered the ramifications for the future study of forensic expertise, and the implications for expert testimony and public policy. (I also managed to sneak in a chopper flight over the Grand Canyon!) Click for more.
I met with Senator Jay Rockefeller’s staff on Capitol Hill while on a trip to Washington, D.C. Rockefeller is introducing a bill—the Forensic Science and Standards Act of 2012—to promote research and reform in the forensic sciences. The staff asked for copies of my research and asked me to formally comment on the legislation in preparation for Senate Committee markup. I was honoured to make a contribution and hope my suggestions make it into the next round! Click for more.
I had the pleasure of attending a two-day workshop on Law, Science & Evidence hosted by Jennifer Mnookin and Jerry Kang of PULSE: Program on Understanding Law, Science and Evidence. I had thoughtful exchanges with Michael Risinger, Deborah Tuerkheimer, Bill Thompson, Gary Edmond, Rachel Godsil, Michael Pardo, Wendy Wagner, Song Richardson, Amanda Pustilnik, Jason Tangen, Christopher Kelty, Phillip Goff, and Simon Cole. Many thanks to the wonderful hosts! Click for more.
Beth Loftus researches the malleability of human memory and is one of the 100 most influential psychological researchers of the 20th century. I was lucky enough to have a drink and dinner with her, along with Jason Tangen, Eryn Newman, and Jess. Click for more.
We’ve taken out second place in the Best Illusion of the Year Contest, 2012! Like many interesting scientific discoveries, this one was an accident. Sean Murphy, an undergraduate student, was working alone in the lab on a set of faces for one of his experiments. He aligned a set of faces at the eyes and started to skim through them. After a few seconds, he noticed that some of the faces began to appear highly deformed and grotesque. He looked at the especially ugly faces individually, but each of them appeared normal or even attractive. We called it the “Flashed Face Distortion Effect” and wanted to share it with the world, so we put it on YouTube. Click for more.
The effect seems to depend on processing each face in light of the others. By aligning the faces at the eyes and presenting them quickly, it becomes much easier to compare them, so the differences between the faces are more extreme. If someone has a large jaw, it looks almost ogre-like. If they have an especially large forehead, then it looks particularly bulbous. We’re conducting several experiments right now to figure out exactly what’s causing this effect, so watch this space!