John Oliver nails this one perfectly. Yes, that John Oliver.
He does a very good job of explaining why some of the ‘scientific’ methods police and prosecuting attorneys use to get convictions are nothing more than junk and should not be introduced into a trial.
And John Oliver being John Oliver, is always good for a smile while being educated.
Junk Science Explained
This from Wikipedia on ‘Junk Science’:
The expression junk science is used to describe scientific data, research, or analysis considered by the person using the phrase to be spurious or fraudulent. The concept is often invoked in political and legal contexts where facts and scientific results have a great amount of weight in making a determination. It usually conveys a pejorative connotation that the research has been untowardly driven by political, ideological, financial, or otherwise unscientific motives.
The Washington Post says:
On the popular television show “CSI,” forensic evidence was portrayed as glitzy, high-tech — and virtually infallible. Unfortunately, this depiction is often a far cry from reality. This week, a significant report issued by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) persuasively explains that expert evidence based on a number of forensic methods — such as bite mark analysis, firearms identification, footwear analysis and microscopic hair comparisons — lacks adequate scientific validation. Quite simply, these techniques have not yet been proved to be reliable forms of legal proof.
Rolling Stone says:
Much of the “forensic science” used to convict people of crimes in the United States turns out not to be science at all. After a number of scandals showed forensic techniques developed by prosecution experts to be either flawed or completely bogus, the Obama administration took steps toward comprehensive reforms to address the crisis of junk evidence and wrongful convictions. But this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he is suspending those efforts.
The Conversation says:
Forensic science has become a mainstay of many a TV drama, and it’s just as important in real-life criminal trials. Drawing on biology, chemistry, genetics, medicine and psychology, forensic evidence helps answer questions in the legal system. Often, forensics provides the “smoking gun” that links a perpetrator to the crime and ultimately puts the bad guy in jail.
Shows like “CSI,” “Forensic Files” and “NCIS” cause viewers to be more accepting of forensic evidence. As it’s risen to ubiquitous celebrity status, forensic science has become shrouded in a cloak of infallibility and certainty in the public’s imagination. It seems to provide definitive answers. Forensics feels scientific and impartial as a courtroom weighs a defendant’s possible guilt – looking for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
But the faith the public and the criminal justice system place in forensic science far outpaces the amount of trust it deserves.
This article below is a very well known case and the best argument for not allowing Junk Science inside a courtroom. More than likely the forensic evidence, and an overzealous prosecutor. The article is definitely worth reading. It was published in The Intercept, on May 2, 2017, under the headline:
Former Texas Prosecutor Probably Sent Innocent Man to His Death. Now He’s on Trial for Misconduct.
The Intercept says:
The courthouse in Corsicana, Texas, roughly 60 miles southeast of Dallas, has been meticulously restored to its original 1905 glory, a time when the county was awash in oil money. Its main courtroom has soaring, two-story pink walls and gold-flecked architectural details that frame the judge’s bench, witness stand, and jury box. For more than three decades, John Jackson worked this room (though during those years it was a far more utilitarian space), first as a prosecutor with the Navarro County district attorney’s office and later as an elected judge, until his retirement in 2012.
Just because the police, judges, prosecuting attorneys and Hollywood like it, does not mean it is scientific fact and should be used in a court of law against someone.
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