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Seminars

"When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer."
-Steveland Judkins

We offer a range of seminars on human factors issues. The topics listed below can be customized for content and length.

Human Factors In Forensic Examination
Forensic examiners often must: 1) visually compare a piece of evidence from a crime scene (latent finger print, handwriting, DNA sample, etc.) with an exemplar, and 2) classify the comparison into a category, such as "match," "exclude" or "inconclusive." Visual and cognitive scientists have long studied such matching tasks and have found that viewers make their decisions using two fundamentally distinct factors, sensory ("bottom up") and nonsensory ("top down"). The sensory factors are the information inherently in the image data, the pattern of light and dark (i e., the friction ridge pattern and any background marks in a fingerprint.) When the sensory data are somewhat ambiguous, however, viewer judgment may unconsciously or consciencely incorporate nonsensory cognitive factors (expectations, goals, payoffs, heuristics), which can bias the viewer toward one classification or another. This seminar will describe these nonsensory factors are and explain how they operate to bias judgment. It will further explain that the biasing effect of nonsensory factors is built into the human nature, so that it is na´ve to expect forensic examiners to be be completely free from them. Lastly, it outline methods to reduce the biasing effects of nonsensory factors in forensic decision-making.

Realistic Human Factors Investigation of Traffic Accidents
Studies often attribute over 90% of all traffic accidents to human error. This is a gross overestimate, however, because most investigators rely on cookbook values and have little background in topics such as visibility, conspicuity, reaction time and the innate human predispositions that influence ability to perform under stress. Moreover, investigators typically have little understanding of how a real person normally performs the driving task, so they cannot properly assess whether the driver acted reasonably or unreasonably when the accident occurred. This seminar will explain the methodology required for a realistically analyzing the human factors component in a range of accident scenarios, including rear-end, right-angle and overtaking accidents between vehicles, as well pedestrian and rail-crossing accidents. Given as half or whole day seminar.

Visibility & Conspicuity Issues In Accidents
Humans use vision to guide most of their interactions with the world. As a result, legal disputes often hinge on the issue if seeing: Should the driver have seen the pedestrian? Should he construction worker have seen the signal? Should the consumer have seen the warning? Should the nurse have seen the label? Should the older person have seen the steps? Although these questions range over widely varying situations and problems, the same visual processes are at work, and the scientific analysis is similar. This seminar will explain the main factors involved seeing, visibility, the ability to detect light contrast, and conspicuity, the ability of an object to draw attention. It will cover "inattentional blindness," "look but fail to see errors," "confirmation bias," "automatic behavior" and other psychological phenomena. The seminar will explain the scientific basis for vision and conspicuity and describe how an expert determines how likely it would be for an object to be seen.

Using The Human Factors Expert
Since virtually all studies find that human error is a contributing factor in 70-90% of accidents in all walks of life, it can play an important role in litigation. However, human factors is a difficult world for attorneys to navigate. Virtually anyone can claim to be a human factors expert because, unlike physicians, nurses, engineers, etc., there is no clear-cut degree or experience associated with the field. Moreover, human factors experts perform work in a many diverse areas that can apply to a wide range of litigation. This seminar will explain what human factors experts do and who they are. It will also describe how human factors expertise is applicable to litigation involving personal injury, product liability and warnings, medical/medication error, and intellectual property.

The Role of Color In Intellectual Property
Trademark and tradedress disputes often involve color: Can you own a color? Combinations of colors? A combination of color and shape? Since it a visual sensation, the answer to these and most other color questions lies in color perception. The seminar the will provide an overview of color science and cover the pitfalls of color specification for registering trademarks. It will further discuss how the scientific analysis of color confusion and functionality can play a role both trademark registration and infringement matters.

Driver Human Factors & Accident Reconstruction
Virtually all studies suggest that human error is a causative factor in 80-90% of road accidents with pedestrians, other vehicles and trains. This assessment, however, generally fails to consider the behavioral constraints imposed innate human abilities and predisposition. This seminar will discuss how these affect perception and response in road accidents and how an expert determines whether accident was truly caused by human error. Among the topics covered will be driver vision at night, reaction time, and the role of pedestrian behavior in accidents. The material would be suitable for attorneys, insurance professionals, police and law enforcement or accident reconstruction professionals.

Eyewitness Memory
There are three important truths about witness memory; it is fallible, confidence has little correlation with accuracy and most importantly, jurors put great weight on it. The seminar will discuss the nature of human memory and the types of errors and distortions that witnesses are likely to exhibit. It will also discuss the factors which make recall more or less accurate and the best methods of eliciting the most reliable reports.

Warning & Risk
Why do warnings so often fail? Plaintiffs will say that the warning was inadequate while the defendants will say that person acted recklessly. Either way, the answer lies both in the warning's content and in the viewers head - the mental processes of seeing and interpreting the message in light of goals and situational factors. Moreover, the issue of warning can never be discussed independently of human risk evaluation. How do humans understand the risks when they decide whether or not to comply with a warning? The seminar will discuss both the creation of warnings and the factors that cause people to comply or to ignore them. Further, the seminar will examine the fundamental concept "warning" and how it often communicates unintended information.

Use & Misuse of Computer Animation, Graphics and Photographs
The power of images is summarized by Confucius' saying, "One picture is worth a thousand words." It is therefore hardly surprising that photographs and other pictorial devices have long been presented as evidence in court. More recently, computer animations and simulations are becoming increasing common in law courts. Presumably, they help the court visualize important events in an accident. Unfortunately, the people who create these images and the jurors who view them are unaware of their great limitations (physically and perceptually) and the way they produce misleading and false impressions that are difficult to refute with verbal, rational argument. The seminar will discuss these effects and explain how an attorney can rebut and cast doubt upon the validity of pictorial evidence.

Avoiding Accidents & Their Consequences
Accidents care often caused by poor human factors design. Since, in the current legal climate, an ounce of prevention is worth several tons cure, it is better to learn where the human factors weakness exists before the accident and injury occur rather than after. This seminar will discuss how misdesign leads to accidents, how to locate these faults and how to perform remedial actions.

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