Just wrapped one of my fave lectures on “Forensics in the Media” in my Forensic DNA class 🧬🧬. Who doesn't love a good crime TV show?
As many of you know, forensic science is very popular in the media and there are both pros and cons to this. One significant con is the amount of misconceptions about forensic science that can result from viewing these shows. Testifying in court is an important part of our jobs and these misconceptions can have an effect on the way jurors view forensic evidence. This phenomenon is called ‘the CSI effect’. I have personally testified in cases where it was obvious that the jury was dealing with this. It can be detrimental to the justice system so it’s crucial that forensic scientists be trained in how to combat this. One way is to learn how to be excellent science communicators. This is one of my goals of doing lectures like this.
I am currently using the ‘Making A Murderer’ series on Netflix because it was highly controversial in terms of the handling of the case itself by the justice system and the forensic evidence involved. We watch parts of the series in class and have discussions that follow. Sometimes I also have half the class argue in support of the case and the other half argue against it.
By the end of the class the students are able to:
1️⃣ Identify and deconstruct bias in the media sources presenting forensic science.
2️⃣Recognize and understand effective testimony practices vs. non-effective practices.
3️⃣Be comfortable with questioning the science and scientific methods of other SCIENTISTS.
4️⃣Better understand the public’s perception of forensic science and the role of the forensic scientist in the education of the public.
As consumers of forensic science media, what are your perceptions of it? Do you trust it? What other shows do you think I should feature in my media series?