Exhibit A and other true crime shows can fuel misconceptions about forensic science

phys.org | 11/3/2017 | Staff
shankayshankay (Posted by) Level 3
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Forensic science is under attack. A string of recent collapsed trials and quashed convictions that relied on forensic evidence have led some experts to say the field is in crisis.

Several US and UK government reports over the last few years have highlighted and condemned failings in the use of forensic science. And there is an increasing rhetoric in the media against "junk" forensic science, an informal term used to condemn techniques not validated by a solid body of scientific research.

Public - Popularity - Crime - Documentaries - Role

Among the public, the popularity of true crime documentaries exploring the role of forensics in potential miscarriages of justices, such as Making a Murderer or Netflix's recent Exhibit A, may be encouraging the idea that forensic science doesn't provide trustworthy evidence. But it's not the science itself that is the issue. It is how it is misused by rogue scientists or misinterpreted by the police and the courts.

One example of a well established, highly validated forensic science technique is DNA profiling, which involves comparing the DNA of a suspect to that found at a crime scene. DNA profiling is often referred to as the "gold-standard" of forensic science. This is based not on the power of specific evidence, but the fact it is based on meticulously researched scientific principles and has been thoroughly tested.

DNA - Profiling - Case - Rapist - Murderer

When DNA profiling was first used in the case of suspected rapist and murderer Colin Pitchfork, it underwent a baptism of fire, where the science was being challenged from all sides, legally and scientifically. But the evidence—based on **** samples taken from the victims' bodies—was deemed watertight and Pitchfork was given a life sentence. DNA profiling emerged as a virtually unchallengeable forensic science discipline in routine cases.

So if all we need is to conduct a series of validation studies to prove whether a forensic technique is sound, why...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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