CSI Effect?

by Stephen McAndrew

CSIRadical skepticism and unquestioning credulity are strange bedfellows in today’s society.  We can’t rely on our own recollections – because sometimes we make mistakes.  We don’t trust the testimony of others.  It’s not that we necessarily think others are liars, it’s just that everyone has their own perspective on the world – their personal narrative.

But at the same time we are experiencing the triumph of scientific knowledge, often to the detriment of other types of knowledge.  Science is concerned with accuracy, verifiability, and certainty.  And science is indeed magnificent.  The problem is that other types of knowledge have been downgraded.  If scientific evidence is triple A rated, other forms of evidence have junk status.

The CSI Effect

Criminal lawyers have commented on the existence of what they have termed the CSI effect.  They have theorized that juries have been influenced by the rash of criminal forensic T.V. shows such as CSI, and now expect heightened scientific evidence to be presented at trial.  Jurors, prone to the CSI effect are also theorized to be more likely to dismiss other forms of evidence such as eyewitness or circumstantial evidence.

This has lead to juries acquitting in cases where scientific evidence, such as DNA, is not presented, even where other forms of evidence are presented to the jury…

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