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What’s your angle?

Parallax is an illusion that occurs when viewing an object from a certain position. As your angle changes, so does your perception. Viewing something from an angle which limits your view is deceiving. In chemistry, parallax is a type of systematic error (an error that shifts results from their true value).

Cognitive bias is a psychological expression of parallax. Everyone’s world views create a measure of subjective meaning in what they observe. However, for some people, in specific instances, their line of sight is so limited they can’t see objective truth that is close by. They fail to recognize they are positioned too far to the left, or right, in order to see the big picture. Moreover, the more acute the angle from which you view, the less focus your have.

We all have our blind spots. We all have our own systematic errors for certain subjects. The importance of your task determines whether your lack of focus really matters.

In forensics, the dangers of parallax are obvious. Subjective reality presented as objective truth, results in wrongfully convictions. Any forensic opinion, conclusion or measurement must be scrutinized by identifying the point of view of the analyst. This means identifying if their subjective view caused them to take short cuts or ignore essential data. Determining truth requires determining “what’s your angle.”