Posted at 12.15.2018
Forensic science is often referred to as "a science about patterns of crime mechanisms, about assortment of information about the crime and its participants, about rules of evidence gathering, researching, evaluating and applying, and eventually about those media and methods based on this knowledge essential for judicial scrutiny conduction and crime prevention" (Raton, 2003). It makes it natural because of this science to make use of not only specific forensic methods, but general scientific method tested by time and various branches of natural and physical knowledge as well.
The term "scientific method" means "a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested" (Flexner & Hauck, 1987). The matter is, many scientists neglect to build a fundamental theory of how scientific method is applied to forensic science, while it is extremely important to differentiate just how it is put on this science and the way it is applied to other sciences, as they differ to a great extent. "Forensic sciences study the past and not the present, " Dr. Thomas Young explains (Young, 2009).
The first stage, observation and description is supposed to determine and completely reflect what happened. The activity of observation requires efficient and intentional direct perception of objects and phenomena by using senses. It includes the study of materials and products, structures and textures. It really is especially significant during inspection, search, and other investigative actions. The purpose of observation depends on the character of the thing or phenomena we examine. Sometimes we reveal one thing; sometimes we look for several characteristics, properties and features this thing possesses. In other cases it can be the behavior of the suspect, accused etc. (Davis, 2005). According to these criteria, some facts revealed during observation and procedurally fixed can have the importance of evidence, while others (like the behavior of an defendant through the interrogation) can be only a kind of material to build versions. In this way the task is to describe a set of defined circumstances, to reconstruct the picture of the crime or a tort, to recreate the intricate variety of past conditions as full as is feasible, paying attention to timing and order of events. The prerogative will be the actions intended to reveal and fix the traces of the crime or tort that change fast and the evidences that can be easily lost or changed deliberately.
When the expert has enough data to see what occurred, he formulates a hypothesis or several of them to explain the observation. This technique can be also called versification - we look for versions. The gnoseological aspect interprets version as a kind of transmission from unawareness to understanding of the investigated event. That's why it is defined as an application and process of reflecting material world phenomena and empowering the objective nature of a studied object by thought itself. The procedure of cognition doesn't put borders between logical, psychological and cognitive aspects as they are all the parts of one procedure for mentality (Shafer, 2008).
To have scientific power, hypotheses should be theoretically substantiated, allow specific order of verification and applicable solutions to check the version. Hypothesis is a driving force of science development; hypothesis is one of the kinds of science. Apart from the general theory of forensic science, the expert should apply his own professional experience. This stage is dependant on application of different logical constructions as a musical instrument. It is closely linked with another action, consisting in accumulating predictions of other phenomena or concluding results.
The media and ways of forming forensic predictions are intended for practical cognition of certain social phenomena which really is a crime and aim at solving the question of guilt or guiltlessness of the topic. Hence they are really to correspond to the strict requirements of reliability, legality, morality and acceptability. Each result, each consequence concluded from the proposed version should be carefully verified. Before version is disproved and rejected, each fact logically coming from it ought to be checked in the light of its correspondence to the reality. Some part examined does not supply the reason to take the version as something objectively true. If the examination provides contradicting data, you must never stop the tests. All the reasons of divergence should be discovered.
Falsification can be an essential constituent of the scientific method. The hypothesis should be ideally either disproved or falsified. When there is a opportunity to disprove the hypothesis, the scientist can discard it and turn to another, more correct hypothesis. Alternatively, if the hypothesis is confirmed by the experimentation and the next observation, it still does not mean this confirmation proves the truth of the hypothesis, Thomas Young claims (Young, 2009). Among the list of other methods, some statistical methods (generating quantitative results) are applied. Though they are not extremely popular and, in line with the results of the survey, only 7% of respondents use them. Quantitative methods don't receive wide practical use because they fail to take to account individual features, and because this systems are not developed that well whatsoever (Shafer, 2008).
The last and the important stage includes the use of such scientific method as experiment. It really is usually based on scientifically conducted test performed to study the verified phenomena and its links with other phenomena. This feature of the experiment is probability and necessity to interfere in the process of testing, studying the phenomena from different sides and in various conditions. Through investigation experiment is applied in various forms. One of the most effective methods affirmed by the idea of forensic science is parallel (simultaneous) testing by several independent experimenters. It means that other investigators are permitted to check and make an effort to falsify the hypothesis proposed by the scientist. This procedure provides the most optimal tempo of investigation and economization of working time of the team. It is also efficient to check on up several versions across. Gradual verification threatens to consider more time and even ruin treasured evidences, miss the procedure deadline of investigation.
Considerable rule of examination consists in the following: test should go on until the version is disproved or until we achieve the situation when we can consider it to be the objective truth. The scientific method turns an assumption on any fact into a reliable little bit of knowledge when we can prove this is actually the only fact to provide such results. The hypothesis also turns into reliable knowledge when it's proved that possible reasons of some fact except one are ruled out.
The forensic version is right under the next circumstances:
If all possible suppositions regarding the circumstances of the crime under detection were taken into account and no new data bring new versions. For instance, if there are three versions of murder (willful homicide, manslaughter, or an accident), disprove of the two versions except the first doesn't prove the willful murder is true. It can turn to be always a mistake and truth nay be in the suicide - version missed by the investigator.
All the versions proposed concerning the situation were verified and most of them except the only one objectively proved were disproved and disposed of.
All the consequences (circumstances) logically concluded from the proved version were thoroughly studied and revealed by confirmation.
The version confirmed is absolutely coordinated with other circumstances of the case.
Only in the case all the conditions listed are found, the version can be admitted as the one corresponding to reality and expressing the target truth (Flexner & Hauck, 1987).
Eventually, when the hypothesis is confirmed repeatedly through times as time passes, this hypothesis has all the probabilities to become theory. When we say a theory, we mean a common principle employed by scientists to explicate phenomena and make predictions of further events.
All in every, we've seen the systematic approach provided by the overall scientific method when put on the forensic science. At the same time it's important to remember that forensic science itself is often thought as the application of science to law. It goes without saying, it isn't ideal whatsoever and has its own disadvantages consisting using limitations, but nonetheless they have demonstrated its sustainability in the sphere of crimes. "The scientific method has proven itself over time to be a reliable way to reach at real, measurable, observable truth, " Dr. Thomas Young proclaims (Young, 2009).