See Inside July 2006

CSI: The Reality

Attorneys, investigators and educators have felt the impact of television's popular forensics programs

Forensic science has been the backbone of mystery stories from Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin adventures to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tales to Jack Klugman's Quincy television series to today's wildly successful forensics shows. Holmes's methods presaged many actual techniques for linking physical evidence to the perpetrator of a crime, such as blood testing. Forensic science was codified as a profession in the early 1900s and exploded into the public consciousness in the 1990s with the advent of DNA analysis.

Forensics has never been more popular or popularized: eight crime dramas, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its sibling programs, made it into the top 20 shows last October. On one Thursday that month, 27 percent of all American televisions that were turned on were tuned to CSI. On cable, CourtTV's Forensic Files, a documentary-style series featuring real crimes and real scientists, airs four days a week. Such programs give the impression that forensic laboratories are fully staffed with highly trained personnel, stocked with a full complement of state-of-the-art instrumentation and rolling in the resources to close every case in a timely fashion.

This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now!

Select an option below:

Customer Sign In

*You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content

It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on
Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access.

Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.
Scientific American Holiday Sale

Scientific American Mind Digital

Get 6 bi-monthly digital issues
+ 1yr of archive access for just $9.99

Hurry this offer ends soon! >


Email this Article


Next Article