Dental students love to see lectures about forensics. Thank you CSI. I have talked with dental students at Ostrow USC for decades in short seminar format. My principal topic is human identification. The bitemark portion talks about DNA collection from skin injuries and I debunk tooth pattern “matching.” This generation of dental students are aware of wrongful convictions and junk forensics. They shake their heads when I show them bitemark exoneration cases. Many say “how could they say this is science?” I usually say “money and status” and reinforce the failure of the bitemarker group, the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) continuing to teach dentists about bitemarks as acceptable “science.” The ABFO solidified their bitemark mythology at the recent online American Academy of Forensic Sciences convention.
The students enjoy the slides of my and colleagues casework from the last 37 years of forensic consultations and writing on dental identification. Their enthusiasm is remarkable and they ask about future involvement in odontology. This is when I get sad. And upset.
I run my story about literally walking into the Ventura County Medical Examiners office (in 1984!) and receiving a carte blanche invite to help out. I tell my students that their dental training in radiology, anatomy, dental diagnostics, and dental materials should allow them entry to the multi-disciplinary world of forensic identication. My mentors did it, and so did I. In-house OJT training has ALWAYS been a mainstay for dentists in the US. My principal forensic investigation training occurred within those walls. The AAFS/ABFO meetings provided “show and tell” assurances that bitemark matching was reliable. How times have changed.
I have to inform these eager students that those opportunities have disappeared due to the affiliation of the ABFO (abfo.org) and the National Association of Medical Examiners (@theNAME1966). NAME now requires its forensic pathology membership to hire only ABFO diplomates.
This is reprehensible in multiple levels.
1. There is NO data supporting licensed dentists being less reliable than ABFO dentists.
2. It is inconceiveable that the 100 ABFO dentists can provide coverage for all the US law enforcement agencies.
3. Clearly this is a money grab by the ABFO to funnel aspiring dentists into its occasional and expensive training events.
4. The forensic science bias and cognitive dissonance (I call it “forensic gaslighting”) of the ABFO should not be allowed to infiltrate the US death investigation system.
Final comment, why would NAME want to do this? How is this possible?