Statistics and Probability in Forensic Anthropology

Statistics and Probability in Forensic Anthropology

1st Edition - July 27, 2020

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  • Editors: Zuzana Obertova, Alistair Stewart, Cristina Cattaneo
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128157640
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128157657

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Statistics and Probability in Forensic Anthropology provides a practical guide for forensic scientists, primarily anthropologists and pathologists, on how to design studies, how to choose and apply statistical approaches, and how to interpret statistical outcomes in the forensic practice. As with other forensic, medical and biological disciplines, statistics have become increasingly important in forensic anthropology and legal medicine, but there is not a single book, which specifically addresses the needs of forensic anthropologists in relation to the research undertaken in the field and the interpretation of research outcomes and case findings within the setting of legal proceedings. The book includes the application of both frequentist and Bayesian statistics in relation to topics relevant for the research and the interpretation of findings in forensic anthropology, as well as general chapters on study design and statistical approaches addressing measurement errors and reliability. Scientific terminology understandable to students and advanced practitioners of forensic anthropology, pathology and related disciplines is used throughout. Additionally, Statistics and Probability in Forensic Anthropology facilitates sufficient understanding of the statistical procedures and data interpretation based on statistical outcomes and models, which helps the reader confidently present their work within the forensic context, either in the form of case reports for legal purposes or as research publications for the scientific community.

Key Features

    • Contains the application of both frequentist and Bayesian statistics in relation to topics relevant for forensic anthropology research and the interpretation of findings
    • Provides examples of study designs and their statistical solutions, partly following the layout of scientific manuscripts on common topics in the field
    • Includes scientific terminology understandable to students and advanced practitioners of forensic anthropology, legal medicine and related disciplines


    Academics, researchers, students, and practitioners in forensic anthropology and legal medicine. It is also an ideal resource for anatomists, anthropologists specializing in physical or biological anthropology, biologists, forensic practitioners from other disciplines, archaeologists who work with human remains, and legal practitioners.

    Table of Contents

    • Introduction

      1. Study Design, Data Collection and Initial Assessment of Data

      1.1 Forensic anthropology and statistical questions

      1.2 Study design and sampling

      1.3 Sources of anthropological data

      1.4 Initial assessment: Measurement errors and inter-rater reliability

      2. General Considerations About Method Selection

      2.1 General considerations about data and selection of statistical approaches

      2.2 Data distribution and parametric/non-parametric tests

      2.3 Data mining and decision trees

      3. Frequentists and Bayesian Approach to Data Analysis and Interpretation

      3.1 Frequentist approach to data analysis and interpretation

      3.2. Use of the Bayes’ theorem in data analysis and interpretation

      4. Variables of the Biological Profile: Population Studies and Application to Single Cases

      4.1. Sex estimation using regression analysis (continuous and categorical predictors)

      4.2. Sex assessment using continuous variables: problems and principles of sex classification in the zone of uncertainty

      4.3 Age estimation of living persons: a coherent approach to inference and decision

      4.4. Extreme Learning Machine Neural Networks for Adult Skeletal Age-at-Death Estimation

      4.5 Statistical approaches to ancestry estimation: new and established methods for the quantification of cranial variation for forensic casework

      4.6. Stature estimation

      5. Personal Identification

      5.1 Anthropological software: Statistical background Other software applications

      5.2 Anthropological software: Statistical background Fordisc

      5.3. Shape matching, geometric morphometrics and superimposition

      6. Evaluation of Evidence and Reporting

      6.1 Personal identification: Bayesian inference

      6.2 Visual identification of persons - a forensic identity check with the help of people images – facial image comparison and methodological explanations for morphological analysis

      6.3. Communicating evidence, with focus on the use of Bayes' theorem

      7. Statistical Programs

      7.1. SPPS

      7.2. R

      7.3. STATA

      7.4. SAS


    Product details

    • No. of pages: 418
    • Language: English
    • Copyright: © Academic Press 2020
    • Published: July 27, 2020
    • Imprint: Academic Press
    • Paperback ISBN: 9780128157640
    • eBook ISBN: 9780128157657

    About the Editors

    Zuzana Obertova

    Zuzana Obertová is a biological/forensic anthropologist with doctorates in biological anthropology and palaeoanthropology from the Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia) and the Eberhard-Karls University in Tübingen (Germany), and in Community Health from the University of Auckland (New Zealand). In the postdoc phase, she was worked on projects on age estimation and identification of living persons (the Institute of Forensic Medicine, th University Clinic, Düsseldorf, Germany), and on trauma dating (LABANOF, the University of Milan, Italy). Currently, she is employed as scientific researcher and forensic expert in the Visual Identification of Persons (ViP) at the Forensic Science Institute in Zürich (Switzerland), and she is also Adjunct Lecturer at the Centre for Forensic Anthropology, The University of Western Australia. She is Assistant Editor of the journal Forensic Science International and Board member of the Forensic Anthropology Society of Europe (FASE). Her research and teaching interests include forensic anthropology, human osteology, and trauma and disease patterns in past and present populations.

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Adjunct Lecturer, Centre for Forensic Anthropology, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; Forensic Expert, Visual Identification of Persons (ViP), Forensic Science Institute, Zürich, Switzerland

    Alistair Stewart

    Alistair Stewart was Senior Research Fellow in biostatistics at the University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand until his retirement at the end of 2016. Alistair started work as a biostatistician in 1970 in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the Otago Medical School, Dunedin, New Zealand. In 1975 he moved to the newly established Christchurch Clinical School (part of the Otago Medical School) and then in 1980 moved to the University of Auckland. His research covered a wide range of projects; NZ Cot Death Study (SIDS), MONICA (coronary heart disease), ISAAC (childhood asthma and allergies) and VIDA (randomised trial of vitamin D) were 4 of the more major projects. As a consultant biostatistician in Medical Schools he was involved in a very wide range of topics and has been co-author of about 250 published papers.

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Retired Senior Research Fellow in Biostatistics, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

    Cristina Cattaneo

    Cristina Cattaneo - forensic pathologist and anthropologist, is currently Full Professor of Legal Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine of the Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy) and Director of LABANOF, Laboratorio di Antropologia e Odontologia Forense. She has been actively involved with the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs in the creation of a national database for unidentified human remains and has since 2014 been the medico legal coordinator for the Governmental Office of the Commissioner for Missing Persons for the identification of dead migrants. She also coordinates the medico legal activities on victims of maltreatment, torture and on unaccompanied minors in Milano. She is a forensic pathology and anthropology expert for various courts in Italy and occasionally in Europe, President of FASE (Forensic Anthropology Society of Europe), member of the Swiss DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) team and Co Editor in Chief for the journal of Forensic Science International

    Affiliations and Expertise

    Full Professor of Legal Medicine and Anthropology, LABANOF (Laboratorio di Antropologia e Odontologia Forense), Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health, University of Milan, Italy.

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