Blinding as a Solution to Bias

Blinding as a Solution to Bias

Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law

1st Edition - January 30, 2016

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  • Editors: Christopher G. Robertson, Aaron Kesselheim
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128024607
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128026335

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What information should jurors have during court proceedings to render a just decision? Should politicians know who is donating money to their campaigns? Will scientists draw biased conclusions about drug efficacy when they know more about the patient or study population? The potential for bias in decision-making by physicians, lawyers, politicians, and scientists has been recognized for hundreds of years and drawn attention from media and scholars seeking to understand the role that conflicts of interests and other psychological processes play. However, commonly proposed solutions to biased decision-making, such as transparency (disclosing conflicts) or exclusion (avoiding conflicts) do not directly solve the underlying problem of bias and may have unintended consequences. Robertson and Kesselheim bring together a renowned group of interdisciplinary scholars to consider another way to reduce the risk of biased decision-making: blinding. What are the advantages and limitations of blinding?  How can we quantify the biases in unblinded research? Can we develop new ways to blind decision-makers?  What are the ethical problems with withholding information from decision-makers in the course of blinding?  How can blinding be adapted to legal and scientific procedures and in institutions not previously open to this approach? Fundamentally, these sorts of questions—about who needs to know what—open new doors of inquiry for the design of scientific research studies, regulatory institutions, and courts. The volume surveys the theory, practice, and future of blinding, drawing upon leading authors with a diverse range of methodologies and areas of expertise, including forensic sciences, medicine, law, philosophy, economics, psychology, sociology, and statistics.  

Key Features

  • Introduces readers to the primary policy issue this book seeks to address: biased decision-making.
  • Provides a focus on blinding as a solution to bias, which has applicability in many domains. 
  • Traces the development of blinding as a solution to bias, and explores the different ways blinding has been employed.
  • Includes case studies to explore particular uses of blinding for statisticians, radiologists, and fingerprint examiners, and whether the jurors and judges who rely upon them will value and understand blinding. 


Scholars, policy makers and advocates in the fields of forensic science, biomedical science, law and institutional design. Secondarily for schools of law or graduate schools of psychology or sociology.

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. A Primer on the Psychology of Cognitive Bias (Carla Lindsay MacLean and Itiel Dror)
    Chapter 2. Why Blinding? How Blinding? A Theory of Blinding and Its Application to Institutional Corruption (Christopher Robertson)

    Chapter 3. From Trials to Trials: Blinding, Medicine, and Honest Adjudication (Scott H. Podolsky, David S. Jones, and Ted J. Kaptchuk)
    Chapter 4. Blinding in Biomedical Research: An Essential Method to Reduce Risk of Bias (Asbjorn Hrobjartsson)
    Chapter 5. Blind Peer Review by Academic Journals (Emily A. Largent and Richard T. Snodgrass)
    Chapter 6. Clinical Trial Blinding in the Age of Social Media (Paul Wicks)
    Chapter 7. The Ethics of Single-Blind Trials in Biomedicine (Franklin G. Miller)
    Chapter 8: “Money Blinding” as a Solution to Biased Design and Conduct of Scientific Research (Christopher Robertson and Marc A. Rodwin)

    Chapter 9. Determining the Proper Evidentiary Basis for an Expert Opinion: What Do Experts Need to Know and When Do They Know Too Much? (William C. Thompson)
    Chapter 10. Minimizing and Leveraging Bias in Forensic Science (Roger Koppl and Dan Krane)
    Chapter 11. What Do Statisticians Really Need to Know, and When Do They Need to Know It? (D. James Greiner)
    Chapter 12. Using Blind Reviews to Address Biases in Medical Malpractice (Jeffrey D. Robinson)
    Chapter 13. Mock Juror and Jury Assessment of Blinded Expert Witnesses (Megan S. Wright, Christopher Robertson, and David V. Yokum)
    Chapter 14. Disclosure Discretion and Selection Bias in Blinding of Experts (Christopher Robertson)

    Chapter 15. Why Eyes? Cautionary Tales from Law’s Blindfolded Justice (Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis)
    Chapter 16. A Theory of Anonymity (Jeffery M. Skopek)
    Chapter 17. The Cases for and Against Blindfolding the Jury (Shari Seidman Diamond)
    Chapter 18. The Compliance Equation: Creating a More Ethical and Equitable Campaign Financing System by Blinding Contributions to Federal Candidates (Bertram Levine and Michael Johnston)
    Chapter 19. Blinding Eyewitness Identifications (Brandon Garrett)
    Chapter 20. Blind Appointments in Arbitration (Sergio Puig)
    Chapter 21. Psychological Obstacles to the Judicial Disqualification Inquiry,and Blinded Review was an Aid (David V. Yokum)
    Chapter 22. Masking Information Source Within the Internal Revenue Service (Karie Davis-Nozemack)
    Chapter 23. Blinding the Law: The Potential Virtue of Legal Uncertainty (Yuval Feldman and Shahar Lifshitz)

Product details

  • No. of pages: 388
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2016
  • Published: January 30, 2016
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128024607
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128026335

About the Editors

Christopher G. Robertson

Christopher Robertson is an expert at the intersection of science, health, decision sciences, and law. He serves as associate dean for research and innovation and professor at the James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, and is affiliated faculty with the Petrie Flom Center for Health Care Policy, Bioethics and Biotechnology at Harvard. Robertson also leads the University of Arizona Regulatory Science program, which identifies and resolves legal issues that impede scientific progress. Robertson has received research support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, and the Greenwall Foundation. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, and earned a doctorate in Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. He has taught at Harvard Law, NYU Law, and Washington University in St. Louis. Robertson has other forthcoming books with Johns Hopkins University Press and Harvard University Press.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Aaron Kesselheim

Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a faculty member in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His research focuses on the effects of intellectual property laws and regulatory policies on pharmaceutical development, the drug approval process, and the costs, availability, and use of prescription drugs both domestically and in resource-poor settings. Dr. Kesselheim leads the Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL), an interdisciplinary research core focusing on intersections among prescription drugs and medical devices, patient health outcomes, and regulatory practices and the law. In 2013, Dr. Kesselheim was named a Greenwall Faculty Scholar in Bioethics by the Greenwall Foundation, which supports innovative empirical research in bioethics. Dr. Kesselheim’s work is also currently funded by the Harvard Program in Therapeutic Science, the FDA, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. Dr. Kesselheim serves as a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, has been a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School, where he teaches Food and Drug Administration Law. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, working as a primary care physician at the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care at BWH.

Affiliations and Expertise

Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Department of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

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