Not surprisingly – Hollywood’s depiction of forensic science needs a reality makeover.
The “CSI effect” is well-documented.
As long ago as 2009 scientists with the National Research Council noted that no forensic method (except for nuclear DNA analysis) can reliably and consistently connect evidence to a specific individual or source.
More recently President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology reported that pattern-matching forensic procedures are unreliable.
These problems are not new.
Six years before the National Research Council’s 2009 report I was on a panel of the council that looked at a particular forensic technique used to match bullets found at crime scenes (typically murders) to bullets found in a suspect’s possession.
That procedure – called comparative bullet lead analysis – was first used in the investigation into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.