Shockingly High (68%) DNA Testing Error Sending Many Innocent To Prison

haidut

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A few months ago, I posted about the fiasco of DNA testing for disease. Basically, the false positive rate is at least 40% when it comes to testing for specific disease.
Genetic Tests From Companies Do Not Match, 40% Of Results Are False Positives

As a confirmation of the above disaster, now we get another report saying that the majority of the DNA testing labs to whom a sample was sent for analysis matched an innocent person to a crime scene. Based on this study's findings, on average the chance for wrongfully convicting a person (e.g. false positive test) would be about 68%! I am actually more inclined to believe the false positive rate of this newer study because it included 108 labs while the previous one only look at a few major ones. In addition, the verification and validation for criminal cases is much more "robust" (at least on paper) compared to medical testing. But even "just" 68% false positive rate for disease testing would be disastrous and a reason to stay away from such services altogether. Keep in mind the study was done by NIST - an agency I have worked with and I know their results are (usually) legit. What's even more troubling is that the authors allege attempts by the study authors to conceal or significantly delay the publishing of the study. It was only published when lawsuits were threatened and an official complained was filed with NIST's Office of the Inspector General (OIG). So, it is quite obvious that the powers that be are aware of the fiasco and actively trying to do damage control. I wonder what they will come up with when the public wisens up on medical DNA testing...
Hey @lisaferraro - I think you'll like this. I guess that's the future of medicine in the Western world - "smart" pills and false testing.

Opinion | The Dangers of DNA Testing
"...Before you give the police a DNA sample, read an alarming new study of crime laboratories published this summer, the largest study of its kind. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology gave the same DNA mixture to about 105 American crime laboratories and three Canadian labs and asked them to compare it with DNA from three suspects from a mock bank robbery. The first two suspects’ DNA was part of the mixture, and most labs correctly matched their DNA to the evidence. However, 74 labs wrongly said the sample included DNA evidence from the third suspect, an “innocent person” who should have been cleared of the hypothetical felony. The test results are troubling, especially since errors also occur in actual casework. Just ask Dwayne Jackson of Las Vegas."

"...One shocking result from the new N.I.S.T. study is that labs analyzing the same evidence calculated vastly different statistics. Among the 108 crime labs in the study, the match statistics varied over 100 trillion-fold. That’s like the difference between soda change and the United States’ gross domestic product. These statistics are important because they are used by juries to consider whether a DNA match is just coincidence. I first learned about the results of this study in 2014, at a talk by one of its authors. It was clear that crime labs were making mistakes, and I expected the results to be published quickly. Peer-reviewed publication is important, because most judges won’t let you cite someone’s PowerPointslide in your testimony. But years went by before the study was published, preventing lawyers from using the findings in court, and academics from citing the results in journal articles. If some of us had not complained publicly, it may not ever have been published."
 

Collden

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Oct 6, 2012
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Very disturbing, also that the authors tried to write the article in a way to make it more difficult to use their findings in legal arguments against DNA evidence, just... why?
 

haidut

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Very disturbing, also that the authors tried to write the article in a way to make it more difficult to use their findings in legal arguments against DNA evidence, just... why?

Because, if more studies come out showing DNA and the entire industry around it really does not amount to much the federal funding may dry up. The Human Genome project is hosted at NIH and a good chunk of the NIST budget depends on NIH budget. There is also the political nightmare that would result from realizing how many innocent are in prison. They cite one case in the article where the guy took the guilty plea bargain and went to prison to avoid getting a life sentence. Four years later he was exonerated and is now free. Imagine all the civil lawsuits from the people who were sent to prison innocent. Not to mention the collapse in faith in the justice system.
The brutal reality is that large societies everywhere depend on certain amount of injustice and lying in order to stay intact. Government employees at NIST (or any other agency) are well-trained to keep those lies alive and not rock the boat much.
 
L

lollipop

Guest
A few months ago, I posted about the fiasco of DNA testing for disease. Basically, the false positive rate is at least 40% when it comes to testing for specific disease.
Genetic Tests From Companies Do Not Match, 40% Of Results Are False Positives

As a confirmation of the above disaster, now we get another report saying that the majority of the DNA testing labs to whom a sample was sent for analysis matched an innocent person to a crime scene. Based on this study's findings, on average the chance for wrongfully convicting a person (e.g. false positive test) would be about 68%! I am actually more inclined to believe the false positive rate of this newer study because it included 108 labs while the previous one only look at a few major ones. In addition, the verification and validation for criminal cases is much more "robust" (at least on paper) compared to medical testing. But even "just" 68% false positive rate for disease testing would be disastrous and a reason to stay away from such services altogether. Keep in mind the study was done by NIST - an agency I have worked with and I know their results are (usually) legit. What's even more troubling is that the authors allege attempts by the study authors to conceal or significantly delay the publishing of the study. It was only published when lawsuits were threatened and an official complained was filed with NIST's Office of the Inspector General (OIG). So, it is quite obvious that the powers that be are aware of the fiasco and actively trying to do damage control. I wonder what they will come up with when the public wisens up on medical DNA testing...
Hey @lisaferraro - I think you'll like this. I guess that's the future of medicine in the Western world - "smart" pills and false testing.

Opinion | The Dangers of DNA Testing
"...Before you give the police a DNA sample, read an alarming new study of crime laboratories published this summer, the largest study of its kind. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology gave the same DNA mixture to about 105 American crime laboratories and three Canadian labs and asked them to compare it with DNA from three suspects from a mock bank robbery. The first two suspects’ DNA was part of the mixture, and most labs correctly matched their DNA to the evidence. However, 74 labs wrongly said the sample included DNA evidence from the third suspect, an “innocent person” who should have been cleared of the hypothetical felony. The test results are troubling, especially since errors also occur in actual casework. Just ask Dwayne Jackson of Las Vegas."

"...One shocking result from the new N.I.S.T. study is that labs analyzing the same evidence calculated vastly different statistics. Among the 108 crime labs in the study, the match statistics varied over 100 trillion-fold. That’s like the difference between soda change and the United States’ gross domestic product. These statistics are important because they are used by juries to consider whether a DNA match is just coincidence. I first learned about the results of this study in 2014, at a talk by one of its authors. It was clear that crime labs were making mistakes, and I expected the results to be published quickly. Peer-reviewed publication is important, because most judges won’t let you cite someone’s PowerPointslide in your testimony. But years went by before the study was published, preventing lawyers from using the findings in court, and academics from citing the results in journal articles. If some of us had not complained publicly, it may not ever have been published."
Fascinating @haidut - the real tragedy is as you mentioned the innocent people caught in the wash.

Actually this also points to a serious future problem where they start DNA testing pregnancies. The newborn is already caught in the system that will be following/profiling him/her for life. What if they decide the baby is “at risk” for something or the other and start medicating the baby, pigeon holeing the child into a certain “life path” and on and on and on.

Hopefully social issues around the very dangers of this unproven, untrustworthy testing will demand reform or at least abondoning the wrong science associated with it.
 

Ulysses

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Feb 13, 2018
Messages
290
I am simply amazed by the number of people in this culture, normal, workaday people, who blindly assume that any "scientific" technique, once it's been implemented on a large scale, has therefore been proven valid and effective. What causes people to think this way? Learned helplessness is certainly part of it, as is cultural sadomasochism, but there's some other element in this mentality, on which I cannot quite put my finger, that seems even more disturbing than the rest...
 

lvysaur

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Joined
Mar 15, 2014
Messages
1,934
I am simply amazed by the number of people in this culture, normal, workaday people, who blindly assume that any "scientific" technique, once it's been implemented on a large scale, has therefore been proven valid and effective. What causes people to think this way?

Laziness, lack of ability to know things with certainty, and trust in a system that has produced quantifiable material results.
 

Arrade

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Joined
Apr 29, 2018
Messages
1,496
Laziness, lack of ability to know things with certainty, and trust in a system that has produced quantifiable material results.
And a strong response to authority. I find that may be the biggest issue here. I was discussing how I think my jaw could grow wide enough to fit my wisdom teeth and my grandmother thought it was complete fabrication until I showed her Dr.Lin, a dentist, also ascribed to this theory.
Vitamin K2 Deficiency Effects on Your Smile

What @Ivysaur said are the building blocks to this excessive sanctification :banghead:
 

mujuro

Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
695
What causes people to think this way?

Ignorance. People lending too much trust to people in positions of authority. A lot of people probably can’t stomach the distrust and doubt, so they tell themselves that the experts are always right and defer to their judgement. It’s unsettling, to say the least, when you realize that beneath the shiny, expensive veneer of the various institutions holding our society together, they are actually held together with tape and glue. A lot of us here have already experienced this when the mighty medical apparatus had no answers for us and our health issues. There’s nothing so sobering as being sick and knowing that you are the only one who can fix it. What I’ve come to learn is that as long as you act competent, people will believe that you are, even if you aren’t. A depressing revelation for me, because it’s against my nature to sell people bull****, but in my line of work it pays well to do so.

I believe that’s why so many people are hostile to the larger conspiracy theories. They threaten to dispell the illusion these people have of a stable and ordered society, whose leaders are transparent and only dishonest about small things like campaign promises.
 
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