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Techniques & Tools Forensics, Mass Spectrometry, Thin Layer Chromatography

Science in the Courts!

The Human Factor

William Thompson, Committee Chair of the OSAC Human Factors Committee, explains why the ‘human element’ is an important factor in forensic science testimony.

I study the underlying psychology or psychological dynamics of human decision making. For a long time, I’ve been interested in how experts – and especially forensic science experts – evaluate evidence and reach conclusions.

The human factor comes into forensics at two levels. In part, it’s the psychology of the expert; how they make decisions (and sometimes make mistakes). The second part is the psychology of communicating scientific findings – particularly, to a jury or to lawyers who may not have any expertise – in a way that allows them to understand and draw appropriate conclusions.

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About the Authors

Harold McNair

Harold McNair has worked with several pioneers throughout his illustrious career – and has the stories to prove it.


Kenyon Evans-Nguyen

Kenyon Evans-Nguyen is Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Tampa, Florida, USA.


William Thompson

Committee Chair of the OSAC Human Factors Committee.

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