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How accurate are CSI shows?

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Megan Morris

on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of How accurate are CSI shows?

How accurate are forensic
analysis shows? The CSI Effect More Mistakes! Penn State: •“With this new style of ‘infotainment’, comes an increasingly blurred line between the hard facts of reality and the soft, quick solutions of entertainment” –Evan Durnal, author of Crime Scene Investigation (As Seen on TV) Promega Connections 1 The CSI is the first responder
2 The CSI enters a scene without foot coverings
4 The crime scene is dark, but no one turns on the lights
13 The crime scene is process in less than 10 minutes
20 DNA processing only takes five minutes
21 Only one case for the entire forensic facility at a time
23 Tox report shows all drugs, regardless of decomp
28 Autopsies only take five minutes
32 Facial ID possibilities all flash on the computer screen
33 No warrants needed for database searches of suspects
39 CSIs conduct interviews of suspects
40 CSIs inform suspects of their rights
41 CSIs make arrests
42 CSIs look like models
55 CSIs can grant immunity in exchange for a confession
59 Every lab has whatever supplies they need
60 No one has to share equipment
71 Crime scene sketches unnecessary
72 All bystanders and crowds are orderly
77 All video footage can be enlarged and sharpened
83 CSIs notify next of kin on the death of a loved one
85 CSIs use a Hummer as their response vehicle
86 Female CSIs wear high heels to a scene investigation "Inaccuracies in these shows have to do with stretching the science beyond what normally occurs, or taking computer graphics and making science do something it can't." —Robert Shaler, director of the forensic science program and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State Some examples of mistakes? Fashion
"Making a fashion statement is not what crime scene investigators want or need to do”—Robert Shaler
Speed up the process of tests CSI shows have been among the nation's most-watched programs for almost a decade. Episode Example Bones: Season 4, Episode 13 TV: Murder at the skating rink: turn on black lights and find blood trails in the ice of the rink.

Reality: blood would have to be treated with chemicals What is the CSI Effect? The CSI effect is any of several ways in which the exaggerated portrayal of forensic science on crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation influences public perception. Major False Claims 1) The only way to prove anything in a criminal case is to use the most state-of-the-art, comprehensive analysis.

2) Criminals who are aware of crime scene analysis tend to take steps to throw off the analysis.

3) Civilians who are aware of crime scene analysis leave crime scenes alone or take steps to preserve the evidence.

4) Forensic reports from the prosecution are always considered true. There are 4 main categories of myths: Capability Roles and
Responsibility Evidence Schedule -TV: ‘The omniscient database’—they can get any information they want.
-Reality: Large databases for DNA and fingerprints, but other databases are rare. -TV: The data collected is just shoved into a machine and an answer is spit out quickly.
-Reality: Pre-analysis preparation is long and boring. Scientists “clean up data”. They pipette, dilute, vortex, centrifuge and pore over data for hours. -A lot of science does not exist or is exaggerated Episode Example Criminal Minds Penelope Garcia's infamous database. She can pull up any information the team needs in a matter of minutes -TV: Characters are jacks-of-all-trades.
-Reality: each step requires specialized skills, so forensic analysts focus their skills on one discipline. Analysts do not interrogate suspects or question witnesses, and they hardly ever visit the crime scene.

-TV: CSI's carry guns.
-Reality: Most forensic analysts do not carry guns, because they spend most, if not all, their time in the labs.

-TV: Lack of objectivity in the shows.
-Reality: They have to report the unbiased results and cannot allow their personal beliefs to play a part in the analysis. Capability Roles and Responsibility -TV: There is always enough evidence to solve a crime. Reality: there are situations where there is not enough evidence to solve the case, aka cold cases. Evidence Schedule -Most preparatory work gets glossed over or missed entirely.

-TV: Tests and analysis done only one time.
-Reality: mistakes are made or there are inconclusive results. Many tests are done multiple times. The correct conclusion must be reached, because if the information is incorrect, the case could go the wrong way. Positives and negatives of Crime Shows: -Negative effect of CSI shows: real life criminals learn from the mistakes of the criminals on the shows and leave less evidence. They learn to bleach the crime scene and wear gloves. -Good effect of CSI shows: Increased number of students interested in forensic. a list by forensics teacher
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