by Roger Koppl
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services has been distributing my op ed with Dan Krane on “Science rules the FBI should obey.” We discuss an example of epistemic monopoly in action, namely, the FBI’s failure so far to release anonymized data from its vast NDIS (National DNA Index System) data set. The NDIS data set contains the genetic profiles of more than 7 million people, most of whom have been convicted of serious crimes, such as rape. It contains information on whether the practice of forensic DNA profiling aligns with DNA facts, but that information can be extracted only if scientists are allowed to study the data. Why isn’t the FBI playing by the usual science rules requiring openness and data sharing? Our op ed is related to a letter on the same issue recently published in Science. Dan was the lead author on the letter and I was one of many signatories. The New Scientist has a story and editorial on the subject, too.
Whatever the FBI’s motives might be, its unfortunate decision not to share its data provides another illustration of the perils of epistiemic monopoly.