The CSI Effect and its Implications in Forensic Science Essay

The CSI Effect and its Implications in Forensic Science Essay

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The definition of forensic science is any scientific research, method, or theory used to analyze evidence in an attempt to solve legal cases (Cho). In recent years, there has been growing public interest in forensic science, arguably because of the numerous television programs that glamorize its practices. This phenomenon is part of what is known as the CSI effect, or the process through which devoted fans of popular crime dramas develop unrealistic notions of forensic science methods, practices, and their applications in real life cases (Mancini 544; Stevens 37; Ley, Jankowski, and Brewer 52). The CSI effect has had more negative impacts on forensic science and society than positive impacts, especially in regards to what goes on in the minds of jurors who frequently watch television programs about crime. Studying the CSI effect also leads to tough questions about the ethics of portraying real stories to entertain the audience. The use of these true stories is justified in certain contexts, such as instances when societal issues arise, and as long as there is respect toward the privacy of family members and friends involved in such tragedies. The solution to the negative consequences of the CSI effect could be to produce television programs that are somehow informative and entertaining, but this would make it difficult to hold the interest of a viewing audience that craves drama and action.
The CSI effect began because of the portrayal of forensic science in popular television programs and movies. In their article “Investigating CSI: Portrayals of DNA testing on a forensic crime show and their potential effects”, Barbara L. Ley, Natalie Jankowski, and Paul R. Brewer refer to the characteristics of crime shows that make them app...


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Mancini, Dante E. "The "CSI Effect" In An Actual Juror Sample: Why Crime Show Genre May Matter." North American Journal Of Psychology 15.3 (2013): 543-564. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.
Schweitzer, N. J., and Michael J. Saks. "The CSI Effect: Popular Fiction About Forensic Science Affects The Public's Expectations About Real Forensic Science." Jurimetrics: The Journal Of Law, Science & Technology 47.3 (2007): 357-364. Index to Legal Periodicals & Books Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 21 Feb. 2014
Stevens, Dennis J. "Forensic Science, Wrongful Convictions, And American Prosecutor Discretion." Howard Journal Of Criminal Justice 47.1 (2008): 31-51. PsycINFO. Web. 22 Feb. 2014.
"Unreliable or Improper Forensic Science." The Innocence Project. Web. 21 Feb. 2014. .

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