Monday, 21 November 2011

Where would you like me to find drugs today?

BFTF is fascinated by the many ways in which eyewitness identification can be mistaken.

Even so, BFTF was surprised to read in a paper "Handler beliefs affect scent detection dog outcomes" about how trained sniffer dogs would "alert" more often if their handlers thought there were drugs or explosives present.

Where would you like me to find drugs today, officer?

The findings were . . . er. . .found during a study in which a series of handlers and sniffer dogs were asked to find drugs or explosives in a training area. Some of the handlers were told that the locations of the targets were marked with red paper (the dogs were told nothing - perhaps they were put in a soundproof booth with earmuffs playing gentle music?). What the handlers did not know was that there were no targets at all in the training area, so any "alerts" would be false

The handlers reported that dogs alerted more at marked locations than other locations, presumably because the dogs were picking up cues from their handlers.

The authors conclude that:

"This confirms that handler beliefs affect outcomes of scent detection dog deployments."

So, if you want to avoid sniffer dogs marking you as a priority for a cavity search, wear a suit !

Image Source : Wikipeida

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