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Statistics Under Attack: F.B.I. Director Speaks out in Support of DNA Profiling

By Dale Gardner

The method used by the FBI to calculate the frequency of a DNA match has been questioned in a recent paper. It is reported that the FBI calculates match probability based upon a database of large pools of "Caucasians" or "Blacks". In an article in Science, Volume 254,1745 (1994), two geneticists contend that more fine tuning of the database is needed to adequately reflect efforts of genetically differentiated subgroups. For example, it is claimed that there is a higher probability for a chance match of a Polish American with another Polish American than would be indicated by the larger "Caucasian" Database. The FBI Director has vigorously defended the FBI approach as reliable and acceptable for use in court.

A study of DNA profiling by the National Academy of Sciences, due for release within the next month is expected to address the issue of population genetics (just as it did with voice identification, this report should have a major impact on the presentation of DNA evidence in court.)

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