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Criminal Investigative Failures

What causes an investigative failure or intelligence fiasco? Based on previous research in the areas of cognitive psychology, forensic statistics, intelligence analysis, and philosophy of science, it appears the causes of these problems can be grouped into three components: (1) cognitive biases (often resulting from psychological heuristics); (2) errors in understanding probabilities (particularly their combination); and (3) organizational issues (inertia, momentum, group think). An examination of past failures helps identify specific problems and psychological/organizational traps, resulting in methods and training to help avoid future pitfalls.


The presentation covers the following topics:

  • mind sets
  • memory limitations
  • evaluation of evidence
  • the prosecutor and defense attorney's fallacies
  • groupthink
  • case examples
  • suggested remedies