DNA Frequencies and Probabilities

Authored by: Bruce S. Weir

Handbook of Forensic Statistics

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138295407
eBook ISBN: 9780367527709
Adobe ISBN:


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In many ways, DNA profiling has served as the poster child for attaching statistical calculations to forensic evidence. This may reflect the early involvement of statistical geneticists who were experienced in performing calculations for genetic data, and it may reflect the absence of a culture in which a forensic analyst would examine DNA evidence, declare it to have the same type as that for a person of interest (POI), and then claim the POI was the source of the evidence. There was widespread acceptance of Mendel’s Laws, by which a parent is equally likely to pass on the maternal or paternal copy of a genetic element to a child, with these transmissions being independent for different genetic elements. Early statistical treatments, however, did not pay attention to the field of evidence interpretation, and apparently simple concepts such as “random match probability” or “random man not excluded” may have led to unsatisfactory analyses in the early days of forensic DNA profiling.

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