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November 2016 , Page 59 

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Book Review: Unfair - The New Science of Criminal Justice

By Andrew George

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The New Science of Criminal Justice

By Adam Benforado
Crown (2015)



We rightly see the criminal justice system — based on logic and the rule of law — as a great achievement. But is it a scientific achievement?

That tricky question lies at the heart of Adam Benforado’s Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice. How far have we really come, he asks, from the days when we could dunk a person in the water to tell whether he was lying?

The dunk test was in its time perfectly logical. If one believed (as its adherents presumably did) that liars always floated, then dunking defendants was the natural way to test their honesty. The problem, of course, was with the starting premise. And sound logic, piled upon unfounded starting premises, can take people to some pretty strange places.

Benforado seeks to shine a light on those places. He asks: What about today’s criminal justice system will seem to people centuries from now like the dunk test seems to us tod

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