Distinguishing between forensic science and forensic pseudoscience: Testing of validity and reliability, and approaches to forensic voice comparison

Geoffrey Stewart Morrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

In this paper it is argued that one should not attempt to directly assess whether a forensic analysis technique is scientifically acceptable. Rather one should first specify what one considers to be appropriate principles governing acceptable practice, then consider any particular approach in light of those principles. This paper focuses on one principle: the validity and reliability of an approach should be empirically tested under conditions reflecting those of the case under investigation using test data drawn from the relevant population. Versions of this principle have been key elements in several reports on forensic science, including forensic voice comparison, published over the last four-and-a-half decades. The aural-spectrographic approach to forensic voice comparison (also known as "voiceprint" or "voicegram" examination) and the currently widely practiced auditory-acoustic-phonetic approach are considered in light of this principle (these two approaches do not appear to be mutually exclusive). Approaches based on data, quantitative measurements, and statistical models are also considered in light of this principle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalScience and Justice
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • Acoustic-phonetic
  • Aural
  • Forensic voice comparison
  • Reliability
  • Spectrographic
  • Validity

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