The Problems with Unscientific Security
From the Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology, by a whole list of authors: "A Call for Evidence-Based Security Tools":
Abstract: Since the 2001 attacks on the twin towers, policies on security have changed drastically, bringing about an increased need for tools that allow for the detection of deception. Many of the solutions offered today, however, lack scientific underpinning.
We recommend two important changes to improve the (cost) effectiveness of security policy. To begin with, the emphasis of deception research should shift from technological to behavioural sciences. Secondly, the burden of proof should lie with the manufacturers of the security tools. Governments should not rely on security tools that have not passed scientific scrutiny, and should only employ those methods that have been proven effective. After all, the use of tools that do not work will only get us further from the truth.
In absence of systematic research, users will base their evaluation on data generated by field use. Because people tend to follow heuristics rather than the rules of probability theory, perceived effectiveness can substantially differ from true effectiveness (Tversky & Kahneman, 1973). For example, one well-known problem associated with field studies is that of selective feedback. Investigative authorities are unlikely to receive feedback from liars who are erroneously considered truthful. They will occasionally receive feedback when correctly detecting deception, for example through confessions (Patrick & Iacono, 1991; Vrij, 2008). The perceived effectiveness that follows from this can be further reinforced through confirmation bias: Evidence confirming one's preconception is weighted more heavily than evidence contradicting it (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979). As a result, even techniques that perform at chance level may be perceived as highly effective (Iacono, 1991). This unwarranted confidence can have profound effects on citizens' safety and civil liberty: Criminals may escape detection while innocents may be falsely accused. The Innocence Project (Unvalidated or improper science, no date) demonstrates that unvalidated or improper forensic science can indeed lead to wrongful convictions (see also Saks & Koehler, 2005).
Article on the paper.
Posted on November 5, 2009 at 6:11 AM • 33 Comments