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Science AMA Series: I’m Cliff Spiegelman, let’s talk about about flawed forensic science in the case of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. AMA!
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Hi Reddit! I am Clifford Spiegelman. I grew up on Long Island and was a rather undistinguished High School student (rank about 80 out of 400). I graduated from the same small High School (Berner in Massapequa) that Alec Baldwin attended. I graduated with 3 majors math, stat, and economics in 1970 from SUNYAB. After a stint in the army reserves, I graduated with a PhD in Applied Mathematics/Statistics in 1976 from Northwestern U. I spent 9 years working as a staff statistician at NBS (now NIST) and now 30 years at Texas A&M where I am Distinguished Professor of Statistics. I have a number of appointments including Official Statistician of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, and stat advisor to the Texas Forensic Science Commission. I cofounded Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems in 1985 and am editor emeritus. I will use the JFK comparative bullet lead analysis (CBLA) and firearm/toolmark evidence as examples of flawed forensic science. While the flaws in the JFK case are not extraordinary, people seem to care more about these flaws than 100s of other cases with less known victims and defendants. (See http://www.newsweek.com/jfk-assassination-modern-forensic-science-could-finally-solve-shooting-741292 and https://www.innocenceproject.org/flawed-forensic-science-misleads-more-than-juries/. ) I’ll be back at 10 am ET to answer your question, ask me anything!