Disappointed? Am Academy of Forensic Sciences blurb on PCAST and forensic validation

[Comments] and bold emphasis are mine. In summary, I call it misleading in certain important aspects. As Max Houck says in this re Tweet, 

Crime lab debate misses the point and culprits. Lab is political football AND under-resourced. [from this “Our View” article]

Full AAFS “Policy Report about PCAST. 

The American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a multi-disciplinary professional organization with a major objective of improving practice within the field of forensic science.

[This group also accepts the bitemark group as a ‘certified’ forensic discipline]

The organization recognizes the need for improvement, where needed, and view the findings in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report as notice of needed validation and improvement.

[“where needed” implies some of this group do not recognize how wrongful convictions, the Innocent Projects, and the National registry of Exonerations have produced significant data on where the “need” is located.]

While the Academy does not endorse every statement within the PCAST report,

[more confabulation revealing  nothing specific on the validation issues in forensics covered in the 175 pg PCAST report.  The AAFS in 2009 adopted a multi-dimensional agreement list specifically supporting MANY of the forensic findings of the National Academy of Sciences. ]

we appreciate the efforts of PCAST to clarify the scientific meaning of validity with respect to feature comparison analysis. Several Academy members were invited to present information to PCAST and other members supplied comments concerning research and current practices.

PCAST was given an enormous task with time restrictions to review very broad subjects and may not have had the opportunity to evaluate additional information for inclusion in the report.

[This comes straight from the police oriented crime lab people who are the ones doing all the physical evidence “comparing” in the US criminal justice system. This response mirrors similar rhetoric used by other disclaimers of the PCAST report.]  

The PCAST report is an important start to the discussion of scientific validity

[this is a total misrepresentation of the timeline of these issues involving forensic accuracy, forensic experts and validity] 

You can do the rest of this while recovering from last night’s election “debate.” 

and we look forward to continuing that discussion with the larger community of forensic science practitioners.As PCAST has conducted its work on assessments of scientific validity, the Academy, the National Commission on Forensic Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Institute of Justice, and others within the forensic science community have been working to improve standards, training, quality control, oversight, and other necessary components of forensic science services. We look forward to integrating the work of PCAST into the overall efforts to strengthen forensic science.We particularly welcome PCAST joining our call for increased funding for empirical research supporting all of the forensic sciences. The commitment of major research funds is essential to achieve further evaluation of method validity. The entire membership of our organization has a vested interest in strengthening forensic science and promoting its more rigorous use in the justice system. For our 7000 members, forensic science is not just a major or a career; it is commitment to a way of building knowledge and determining the truth to support the pursuit of justice for all. We recognize that science only advances with transparency, openness, and a commitment to the scientific method. This is our cause and we welcome all who join us to increase the scientific knowledge that supports our contributions to the justice system.

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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