How CSI Sensationalizes Evidence and A General Overview of the Scientific Method

The behavior of jurors in a criminal trial, and whether they acquit or convict is often a source of confusion and entertainment to all parties involved including the general public. Today the behavior of jurors is sometimes attributed to ‘the CSI Effect,’ which is the result of popular television programs that are based on fictionalized situations involving the criminal justice system.
Jurors interviewed after trials, where there was an acquittal, sometimes expressed doubt in the validity of the case if there was no hard forensic evidence presented or observed during the trial. These jurors also deemed eyewitnesses potentially untrustworthy and doubted their ability to recall the events in question while under scrutiny. Unfortunately, the CSI television programs are not an accurate or scientifically valid representation of potential real life scenarios, and their influence should be highly discounted. The effects of CSI television programs have even been deplored by the American Academy of Forensic Science, which addressed the negative influence in a newsletter.
The behavior of jurors in a criminal trial, and whether they acquit or convict is often a source of confusion and entertainment to all parties involved including the general public. Today the behavior of jurors is sometimes attributed to ‘the CSI Effect,’ which is the result of popular television programs that are based on fictionalized situations involving the criminal justice system.
Jurors interviewed after trials, where there was an acquittal, sometimes expressed doubt in the validity of the case if there was no hard forensic evidence presented or observed during the trial. These jurors also deemed eyewitnesses potentially untrustworthy and doubted their ability to recall the events in question while under scrutiny. Unfortunately, the CSI television programs are not an accurate or scientifically valid representation of potential real life scenarios, and their influence should be highly discounted. The effects of CSI television programs have even been deplored by the American Academy of Forensic Science, which addressed the negative influence in a newsletter.

One of the fields, particularly subjected to poor procedural representation is forensic photography. In CSI television programs, forensic photographers aimlessly snap pictures. In reality, at the scene of an investigation, a forensic photographer is responsible for photographing the whole spectrum of the event and scene, from the minute details to the grandiose backdrop. A large burden of responsibility rests upon the forensic photographer as failure to capture sufficient or accurate photographs is often times enough to acquit an individual regardless of their guilt. Once the scene is properly photographed, forensic photographers must then embark on the difficult task of organizing the images so they accurately relate what occurred. This is known as visual storytelling and can be quite a difficult task, especially if the volume of photographs relating to the scene is varied and complex. Forensic photographers must apply the scientific method to properly organize, analyze and convey the information collected.

Like any other project, photographic projects must have a logical beginning, middle and conclusion. Forensic photographers must begin by recognizing the need for their expertise at an investigation scene. Once the need for a forensic photographer has been established, they can then define the problem at hand. Upon defining the apparent problem at hand, the forensic photographer can then begin to collect the data from the investigation scene. The collection of data can be an exhausting and time sensitive task. Forensic photographers must observe and capture all important details as well as general observations that could potentially help convey all of the relevant information accurately. This task is also time sensitive in nature as the investigation scene can be altered by time and natural exposure to the elements. Once the data has been properly collected it must then been analyzed or exposed to inductive reasoning. During this process, information is analyzed and relevant evidence is determined. Once the relevant evidence is determined, hypothesis can then be generated and eventually tested for their validity through the application of deductive reasoning. After all of the hypothesis have been tested for their validity, the most seemingly valid hypotheses is then put forward.

While CSI typically portrays forensic photographers at the scene of a crime haphazardly capturing photographs, it does not pay heed to the necessary application of the scientific method. Only through application of the scientific method will all information be accurately collected and analyzed. The popularity of the CSI shows has unfortunately simplified and  sensationalized jurors evidence related expectations. During the trials these expectations are rarely realized and as a result, perhaps influenced the outcomes.
blog comments powered by Disqus