Comparing Philosophies of Statistical Inference

Authored by: Hal S. Stern

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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Previous chapters in the volume (Banks and Tackett, 2020; Kaye, 2020) describe frequentist inference and Bayesian inference in some detail. There are fundamental differences in the two approaches especially when it comes to their view of and use of probability. Because probability plays a central role in the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence it is important to compare and contrast the two approaches to statistical inference, as well as other statistical perspectives. This chapter does so, focusing on issues most relevant to the analysis and interpretation of forensic evidence. Section 4.1 provides a short review of the different inferential philosophies. Section 4.2 compares the frequentist and Bayesian approaches to inference in general terms. Then Section 4.3 provides an overview of key issues in forensic science and the relevance of inferential philosophies in resolving these issues. The chapter includes a review of the three most common approaches to assessing the probative value of forensic evidence: expert opinion, two-stage procedures, and likelihood ratios and Bayes factors.

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