Forensic Parallels – Lecture Series 1

When I first saw this lecture on the timetable I thought  read it wrong. Forensic Science ? How on earth does that relate to Graphic Design. It made me excited and puzzled to think what could happen. I wondered, could it all be a huge metaphor for the long process of designing? However I never guessed we were literally going to see a Forensic’s work.

The lecture was hosted by Sarah Griffith a forensic scientist who gained experience analysing powders, liquids and illicit drugs before specialising in fires. She explained that she began to notice a pattern between graphic design and  forensics, that is why she began explaining the correlation to students. The pattern is within the research process, she noticed that graphic designers investigates subjects the same way  scientists explore facts.

A Forensic Process:

  • Initial Information Gathering – lab cases, scene visit officer
  • Define the Problem – examine appliances, requested, scene visit
  • Identify and Gathering Data – holistic overview, refined, documents
  • Evaluation – analysis, assessment
  • Produce Working Hypothesis – fact, imagination and opinion
  • Test Working Hypothesis – test against the known facts
  • Additional Data – interactive process
  • Draw Final Conclusion – combine everything you have found
  • Formal/Informal Briefing
  • Present Final Conclusion/Findings – written statement, taken to court, give opinion

I learnt that the data is never 100% it is only a professional opinion and can never be classed as a solid fact. It is probable not absolute and can be wrong even when the evidence suggests it is correct. Problems – subjective, experience, scepticism.

Example of how the reasoning can be wrong:

This boiling water feels hot. All the boiling water I have ever touched feels hot. Therefore all boiling water is hot.

The swan is white. All swans I have seen are white. Therefore all swans must be white.

You can reach a valid conclusion with the wrong outcome.

This lecture was very interesting, not only did I gain some knowledge about a good research method but I also was introduced in to a very intriguing subject. We also viewed some of her life cases seeing how the methods worked when applied. This was the most unusual section where we viewed burnt houses, arson attempts and even the deceased bodies. She then told us the witness stories then what (in theory) happened. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it a lot.

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