The fallacy of accuracy in criminal profiling

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Document Type

Book Chapter

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Citation only.

Petherick, W. (2009). The fallacy of accuracy in criminal profiling. In W. Petherick (Ed.), Serial crime: Theoretical and practical issues in behavioral profiling (pp. 109-122). Burlington, MA: Elsevier Academic Press.

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1st edition: 2006 HERDC submission. FoR code: 1602

© Copyright 2009, Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




The defining criterion by which the utility of a particular tool is often judged is its accuracy or sensitivity of detection. We place little faith in that which is inaccurate or in those things that do not detect what they are meant to detect. Things are no different in the profiling community, and the most common measure by which a profiler claims utility is how close his or her approximations are to an offender, if one is caught. As will be shown in this chapter, with the craft being the way it is, this is probably the worst possible way to declare one's success.

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