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Evidence and Proof, Scientific

The use of scientific knowledge to resolve legal disputes has a venerable history. Chinese writing on forensic medicine dates back to at least 1250, and forensic medicine was a well-recognized discipline in Europe during the Middle Ages. The twentieth and twentyfirst centuries have witnessed applications extending well beyond medicine. Disciplines as diverse as anthropology, chemistry, economics, geology, psychiatry, statistics, and toxicology, to name just a few, have been used to resolve contested facts in litigation.

Moreover, some specialties study factual issues that are predominantly of interest to the legal system. Thus, the field of criminalistics is concerned with such matters as the analysis of hairs and fibers; bloodstains and stains from other bodily fluids; firearms evidence; soil, glass, and paint classifications; toolmarks; and arson accelerants and ...

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