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Innovation, change, and forensics.

Max Houck

travels from USA

International forensic scientist expert

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About Max

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Speaker Max Houck is a forensic anthropologist that excels and motivates organizations through his keynotes. Max has a wide range of experience in his field as he worked for the government, private sectors, and academia. He is a passionate and experienced scientist changing the face and knowledge of organizations through his leadership message combined with forensic inputs.

Why you should book speaker Max Houck:

  • He demonstrates overall roundness. Max excels at managing, public speaking, innovating change, and motivating audience members.
  • His expertise serves a broad range. He has worked in the local and federal government, in the private sector, and in academia. His projects have ranged from small working groups to enterprises with over 300 people. Having such variety, Max’s reach expands into complex organizations, ready for change.
  • He has worked on several mass casualty scenes. Max has worked the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. Speaker Max will bring his expertise to your organization for growth regarding a variety of topics.

Speaker Max Houck has worked as a forensic anthropologist, a trace evidence analyst, a researcher, and he has managed millions of dollars in grants and awards. Houck was the inaugural Director of the Department of Forensic Sciences in Washington, D.C., overseeing 150 employees, managing the forensic science laboratory, the public health laboratory, and crime scene sciences for the nation’s capital. He has worked on many mass casualty scenes, including the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

Max has also worked extensively with the Innocence Project on investigations into wrongful convictions, including the West Memphis Three. Widely published, Houck is the author and editor of numerous books. He is a popular public speaker and has given presentations at NASA, the Max Planck Institute, an Oxford Roundtable, the Dali Museum, and keynote talks at numerous international conferences. His research topics include management, leadership, and policy implications for forensic organizations. Houck has a Bachelors’ and Master’s degree in anthropology from Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry Summa Cum Laude from Curtin University in Perth.

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Keynote by speaker Max Houck

Forensic Science is History

Forensic science is more than a collection of methods applied to criminal investigations. Forensic science is the study of the relationship between people, places, and things involved in past criminal activity and it aims to reconstruct those events. With a philosophy and mindset unique to the discipline, forensic science nevertheless shares many of its fundamental principles with other historical sciences, like geology and archaeology.

Audience takeaways:

  • This talk discusses the underlying principles of how forensic science works and how its methods are linked to some of the earliest forms of human thinking.
  • Forensic science is more than “science applied to justice”
  • The “forensic mindset” is a very old, very human set of activities
  • Forensic science “makes the absent present” by reconstructing past criminal events
Keynote by speaker Max Houck

Hieronymus Bosch: Fraud and Art

All frauds, cons, and scams have basically the same internal structure: The hook, the line, and the sinker. The variety of frauds and the creativity of fraudsters obscures this framework but, once understood, frauds are easier to spot and to appreciate. The painting The Conjurer by Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1502) contains in it all the elements of fraud and in this presentation provides a literal canvas for a discussion of what is a fraud, how it works, and how to avoid it.

Audience takeaways:

  • All frauds, cons, and scams have the same basic structure
  • Understanding this structure helps to avoid being scammed
  • The structural elements of fraud are embodied in The Conjurer by H. Bosch.
Keynote by speaker Max Houck

The Death of Marat: Art as Crime Scene

Crime scenes are an exercise in recognition, recording, and recovery. While we think of crime scenes as being photographed, the painting The Death of Marat (Jacques-Louis David, 1793) offers a different medium to explore how a crime scene is processed and documented. While the painting is a work of historical fiction, it nevertheless contains detailed aspects of evidence recognizable to the modern forensic eye. The painting is deconstructed in a historical context and as documentation of a crime scene.

Audience takeaways:

  • Processing crime scenes involves the recognition, recording, and recovery of evidence
  • The Death of Marat offers a unique and detailed description of a historic crime scene
Keynote by speaker Max Houck

Ethics in Criminal Justice

A brief interactive introduction to the fundamentals of ethics and ethical thinking with hypothetical and real-world examples. Ethical thinking is a significant part of our day but we rarely consider how and why we make the decisions we do, let alone if they are “right” or “wrong.” Should we tell a killer who’s looking for our friend that he’s upstairs? Isn’t doing the most good for the most people the best way to live? And, most important, why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker? A lively, insightful discussion of ethical thinking tuned to the practicalities of daily life and its implications for our justice system.

Audience takeaways:

  • Ethics and moral are different; both can be learned
  • Ethical thinking requires some critical thought (but not too much)
  • Ethics are more important than laws
Keynote by speaker Max Houck

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are like visual illusions of thinking: It takes effort to see past them and have clarity. Biases exist for a good reason–they have saved our lives many times without us knowing–but they can be a hindrance in the modern world. Recognizing them is not enough, however, and it takes effort to work past them to gain a better, more accurate viewpoint.

Audience takeaways:

  • This talk discusses how cognitive biases work, goes through examples of common biases, and offers ways to use our mental capabilities to gain clearer views on life and decisions.
  • Cognitive biases are inescapable; we need to learn to work through them
  • Bias is different than cognitive biases (we all encounter them)
  • How to think better, avoid irrational choices, and why advertising works (hint: plays to your cognitive biases)
Speaker Max Houck

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Keynote topics with Max Houck