The scenario is that a suspect has been arrested and a number of fragments of glass have been found on his outer clothing. A reference sample of glass has been supplied from the broken glass object.

Evaluate the weight of forensic evidence represented by the fragments found on the suspect’s jumper and to determine the appropriate means of communicating this evidential value to a jury.

Treat this exercise as a series of TWO individual questions both of which must be answered in order to provide any case against the suspect (who must remain “innocent until proven guilty” beyond reasonable doubt).

STEP 1: Is the difference in mean values between the forensic sample of fragments and the reference sample from the window, sufficient to be considered ‘significantly different’?

This is a simple Normal Parametric Statistical comparison between the means of two data sets. Compare the Refractive Index (RI) values first and then compare each of the elemental compositions separately, IF the RI values are shown to be NOT statistically significantly different.

You will be faced with a series of t-test results (you must use an appropriate t-test for the data available) and you must decide whether these individual t-test results tell you, either:

The respective glass samples (the forensic sample and the reference sample) come from two different sources (the difference in mean values IS statistically significant) OR
The respective glass samples could have come from the same source (the difference in mean values is NOT statistically significant)

Decide it’s the former hypothesis, then the glass samples could NOT have come from the same source and the suspect could therefore NOT have been responsible for breaking the glass object that he is alleged to have broken.

If it is the latter hypothesis that you support, then the glass on the suspect’s jumper could have come from the broken glass object. Note that because they are indistinguishable does not mean that they are from a common source (the broken glass object); only that they could have come from a common source.

You would ONLY proceed to step 2 IF the latter hypothesis was the one you supported.

STEP 2: Evaluate the appropriate evidential weight given by finding a number of matching glass fragments on the suspect’s jumper.

For this you will use the Likelihood Ratio which is given by:

Likelihood Ratio= Similarity/Typicality

Similarity

IF…the two samples of glass (the fragments from the suspect’s jumper and the reference sample taken from the broken glass object) did indeed come from the same source…

THEN… one would expect them to be indistinguishable as both samples would be identical in refractive index and in elemental composition.

SO…similarity (the probability of getting results which are not significantly different IF the two samples had a common source) would be 1.0 (it would be definite).

Typicality

IF…the two samples of glass came from two separate and unrelated sources (the reference sample was taken from the broken glass object from the scene while the fragments on the suspect’s jumper came from some other broken glass object),

THEN… the typicality (the probability of getting indistinguishable results from two different glass objects) would be determined by how common (typical) the glass was. For this value, you would need to search databases to see how many other similar (indistinguishable) glass samples were on the database that matched the broken glass object.

SO… typicality can be established by determining the frequency with which the type of glass (glass of that RI and elemental composition) occurs in the population of glass recovered in all previous ‘forensic glass’ cases.

Remember,
Probability= (No of desired outcomes)/(Total no.of possible outcomes)=(No of possible ‘matching’ glass samples)/(Total number of glass samples)

It is this probability (which should be quite a small fraction) which acts as the DENOMINATOR of the likelihood ratio calculation.

Your Likelihood Ratio value then gives you an indication of the appropriate weight (or strength) of evidence against the defence proposition and in support of the prosecution proposition.

You will find relevant Likelihood Ratio to Verbal Scale tables available on Moodle.

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.

 

References

Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies4(8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.