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Proving the UnprovableThe Role of Law, Science, and Speculation in Adjudicating Culpability and Dangerousness$
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Christopher Slobogin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189957

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189957.001.0001

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The Current State of the Science and the Law

The Current State of the Science and the Law

(p.99) 6 The Current State of the Science and the Law
Proving the Unprovable

Christopher Slobogin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by describing the current state of prediction science, which is improving but is still almost as likely to produce inaccurate judgments as accurate ones. It also makes the crucial distinction between clinical prediction testimony and prediction testimony based on empirically derived probability estimates (which includes not only actuarial prediction testimony but might also encompass testimony based on what has come to be called “structured professional judgment”). The chapter then canvasses judicial decisions concerning the admissibility of prediction testimony, decisions that, despite the high error rates associated with predictions, are even more welcoming than the decisions dealing with expert opinions about culpability. Finally, it presents an evidentiary analysis of prediction testimony with an assessment of its materiality, a concept that raises particularly interesting issues in connection with prediction testimony based on group data and demographic information.

Keywords:   predictions of dangerousness, AUC values, false positives, actuarial prediction, structured clinical judgment, nomothetic prediction

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