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The CSI effect — it’s real! Anna Sandiford Nov 03

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Well, lookee here – real-life research into the real-life effects of programs like CSI, Bones, Law & Order:Researchers Rest Their Case: TV Consumption Predicts Opinions About Criminal Justice System.

I’ve experienced the “CSI effect” on many occasions: lawyers when I’ve been at court; members of the general public when I’m out and about – the question I am asked most frequently is, “is it really like CSI?”, but amazingly, people’s eyes either glaze over when I answer in the negative, or they just don’t believe me. To be honest, some parts are a bit like CSI, but not many.  I’ve never had a case that worked like anything on Bones…

Programs like CSI really do affect people’s perceptions. Maybe it’s because they want to believe that real life can be that exciting. Perhaps it’s also a security thing – that if something bad happened in their lives, science could rush to the rescue and solve the crime. As the article states, few cases involve more than one or two types of science. Many cases, even criminal cases, have no scientific content whatsoever.  Most of the cases in which I have ever been involved usually had one evidence type, sometimes two, – three or more can get very complicated.  Multi-evidence cases more often than not involve DNA plus something else – most prosecutors have wisely decided never to bring a prosecution solely on DNA findings.

It’s interesting that in some US states, when juries are being selected, potential jurors are asked about what they watch on TV. I doubt anyone would admit to being a regular viewer of Shortland Street or Bob the Builder though.

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