Forensic science is neither
June 15, 2012 1 Comment
Alright, it’s forensic, but I do like that phrase. Not much real science involved, though. The only true science in forensics is DNA and that’s because it was actually invented separately by actual scientists instead of by non-scientists trying to catch bad guys. Anyway, I recently watched a great Frontline on the topic of just how fallible so much forensic “science” is– even the vaunted fingerprints. And, if that’s not enough, apparently a few hundred dollars and an open-book on-line test is enough go get you “certified” forensic examiner status to help make yourself an expert witness. Really pretty disturbing all around. Pro Publica also has a nice companion site looking at just how easy it is to make yourself a certified forensic examiner.
On a related note, one of the not-very-real forensic sciences out there is ballistics. Does not work nearly as well as people think. You know what actually would? Laser micro-stamping on shell casings.
Identifying the firearm used in a crime is one of the biggest challenges for criminal investigators. But what if a shell casing picked up at a murder scene could immediately be tracked to the gun that fired it
A technique that uses laser technology and stamps a numeric code on shell casings can do just that. But the technology, called microstamping, has been swept up in the larger national debate over gun laws and Second Amendment rights, and efforts to require gun makers to use it have stalled across the nation.
“I think it is one of these things in law enforcement that would just take us from the Stone Age to the jet age in an instant,” said Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III of theBaltimore Police Department. “I just can’t comprehend the opposition to it.”
Well, I can, sadly. Of course, it’s the NRA. Naturally this is the first step to just taking everybody’s guns away. Forget about actually trying to solve more crimes. In an interesting note, gun crimes are actually more difficult to solve:
Colin Weaver, deputy executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said microstamping was needed because the difficulty of tracing firearms made gun crimes more difficult to solve than crimes that did not involve guns. An analysis by his organization found that from 2007 to 2009 in New York State, for example, 48.5 percent of aggravated assaults involving a firearm were solved, compared with 67.6 percent of aggravated assaults that did not involve guns.
Would be great if we could change that and make it least this one aspect of CSI a lot more genuinely effective.