Is Forensic Science Capable of Correcting Its Woes?

The seminal theme of the US forensic community professes that it can solve its own problems.

I doubt it.  The public sees in the media these negative forensic themes: undo police/DA/politico attitude influences, the imbalance of drug testing predominating over rape kit testing, weak to non effective critical problem planning, underfunding by the NIJ, and thin accomplishments of QA oversight by forensics’ major organizations participating in various national commissions.

I’m not talking about the Texas Forensic Science Commission or the National Academy of Sciences.

I am talking about aspects of forensic science reform, where it comes from and the shadow world of resistance to it by first highlighting a forensic reform denier who poo poos (for a profit) the necessity of facing serious problems within this law enforcement managed industry. He will be a guest speaker (correction: presenting in a Workshop) at the upcoming American Academy of Forensic Sciences Plenary panel titled “Transformation: Embracing Change” meeting this February. He is the self-employed administrator of the Forensic Foundations Group. This tidbit is impressive as it confirms American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a good old boy club to its core. Influencing “change” by this group is at glacial (and shrinking) pace or maybe never has existed in advancing much support for decreasing wrongful convictions. Being in front is not in the AAFS mantra. Ironically, the forensically independent American Chemical Society, is an example of being in front of forensic policies.

I should balance the above by saying the White House has just taken the initiative to showcase the absolutely vapid  bitemark dentists sponsored by the AAFS. This supports my thesis that the NAS, WH and the Texas Forensic Science Commission have accomplished more in outing forensic failures than those “stakeholders” within the forensics industry. The NAS came out with it’s cutting edge “strengthening forensic science” recommendations and exposed glaring forensic weaknesses. Texas skewered the arson “science” myths. It has recently tread upon aspects of DNA matching as well. All accomplished from OUTSIDE the forensic science communities.

For reference: Take a look at how science generally sputters at “auto-correcting itself” provided by this The Economist 2013 article, “Trouble at the Lab.” 

 

 

 

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
This entry was posted in AAFS, junk forensic science and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Is Forensic Science Capable of Correcting Its Woes?

  1. John Lentini says:

    “He will be a guest speaker at the upcoming American Academy of Forensic Sciences Plenary panel titled “Transformation: Embracing Change” this February and is the self-employed administrator of the Forensic Foundations Group. This tidbit is impressive as it confirms American Academy of Forensic Sciences is a good old boy club to its core.” You are referring of course, to John Collins. In my AAFS advance Program, the PLENARY Session speakers are identified as Victor Weedn, Willie E. May, Gillian Tully, Alastair Ross, Reinout Woittiez, and Sally Yates. Mr. Collins is one of eight faculty members in a WORKSHOP (S1), and his topic will be management innovations. While I agree that Mr. Collin’s views are generally in the forensic science apologist school, it is important that AAFS panels exhibit at least an attempt at balancing viewpoints. I have served on a panel with Mr. Collins, and found him to be cordial and professional. Should he express opinions advocating slowing down forensic science reform, I am certain that he will be challenged by his fellow faculty members, who include Judge Jed Rakoff.
    As the current Chairman of the AAFS Criminalistics Section, I am offended by your mischaracterization of the Academy as a “good old boy club.” Despite my lack of GOB creds, I feel that I have been able to effect some changes. AAFS is the largest organization of forensic scientists on the planet. It is difficult to turn around any large organization, and it is true that the skin readers still exist and are supported by Academy infrastructure. That infrastructure also provides a top-rated peer-reviewed Journal, and the only place where forensic scientists (almost 4,00 every year) can gather to exchange views and make the decisions necessary to move our profession forward. Good science will eventually win.

    • csidds says:

      Thanks John for the correction. I certainly do not include you in the GOB. As I mentioned fire science in my post I know how you spearheaded its advances through decades of determined efforts wthin and without the AAFS. You are a standout.

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