Response to: Use of prior odds for missing persons identifications - author's reply Page: 2
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Budowle et al. Investigative Genetics 2012, 3:3
for more justification and guidance and that scientists
not usurp the responsibility of the jury. Courts typically
do not prescribe science to scientists; they demand that
the scientists support their conclusions with data. Perso-
nal beliefs alone are not a sufficient basis for entering
scientific evidence into legal proceedings. However, in
contrast to the misunderstandings of Biedermann et al.,
the Courts in Collins and Spann have prescribed what is
not scientifically acceptable.
Contrary to the position promoted by Biedermann et
al. , we advocate that conclusions by scientists be
supported with data. For too long the human identity
community has avoided addressing the issue of generat-
ing prior probabilities in missing persons identification
cases. Indeed, in a number of cases, inflated values have
been proffered. We reiterate that none of us should
abide overstated evidence being presented in legal pro-
ceedings or being placed in reports. Our position
remains that guidelines are needed so that the triers of
fact can use better informed judgment. At the least the
legal community can be better educated on the pitfalls
wherein scientists may become trapped to ensure the
presumption of innocence is protected and justice is
It is worth noting that Jackson et al. , of which one
of the authors is prominently cited by Biedermann et al.
 to support their opinion in their letter, opined that
'This information and knowledge may provide a valid,
robust assessment of the priors but there is a risk of the
scientist being swayed by unreliable or limited prior
information, from witnesses for example, towards an
erroneous high prior for one hypothesis' and 'We
believe that any expression of posterior probabilities,
without making clear the priors, and the information on
which the priors were based, runs a serious risk of pro-
viding misleading opinion'. Perhaps Biedermann et al.
missed these concerns when reviewing the literature.
1. Biedermann A, Taroni F, Margot P: Reply to Budowle, Ge, Chakraborty and
Gill-King: Use of prior odds for missing persons identifcations. Investig
2. National Research Council Report: Strengthening Forensic Science in the
United States: A Path Forward. Washington, DC: National Academies Press;
3. Budowle B, Bottrell MC, Bunch SG, Fram R, Harrison D, Meagher S, Oien CT,
Peterson PE, Seiger DP, Smith MB, Smrz MA, Solti GL, Stacey RB: A
perspective on errors, bias, and interpretation in the forensic sciences
and direction for continuing advancement. J Forens Sci 2009, 54:798-809.
4. Budowle B, Ge J, Chakraborty R, Gill King H: Use of prior odds for missing
persons identifications. Investig Genet 2011, 2:1-6.
5. People v Collins 1968, 68 Cal. 2d 319, 438 P.2d 33, 66 Cal. Rptr. 497. http://
6. State of New Jersey v Spann 1993, 617 A.2d 247.
7. Jackson G, Jones S, Booth G, Champod C, Evett IW: The nature of forensic
science opinion-a possible framework to guide thinking and practice in
investigations and in court proceedings. Sci Justice 2006, 46(1):33-44.
Cite this article as: Budowle et al.: Response to: Use of prior odds for
missing persons identifications - authors' reply. Investigative Genetics
We would like thank Mr Rockne Harmon for his input.
Institute of Applied Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science
Center, Fort Worth, TX, USA. Department of Forensic and Investigative
Genetics, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX,
USA. 3Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton,
BB was responsible for drafting the response. JG, RC, and HG-K contributed
to the response and provided edits. All authors read and approved the final
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Received: 9 January 2012 Accepted: 1 February 2012
Published: 1 February 2012
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Budowle, Bruce; Ge, Jianye; Chakraborty, Ranajit & Gill-King, Harrell. Response to: Use of prior odds for missing persons identifications - author's reply, article, February 1, 2012; [London, United Kingdom]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc122169/m1/2/: accessed February 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Arts and Sciences.