In The Field

SAA: The CSI backlash

You’d think that all those criminal-forensic television shows – CSI, Bones, Law&Order – would have turned a whole new generation on to science. After all, what kid doesn’t want to drive around Miami in a Hummer, nabbing bad guys while getting tan? csimiami.jpg

That’s true to a certain extent, and the rising number of people enrolling in forensic-science studies even has garnered a name: the ‘CSI effect’. But it’s not as straightforward as you might think, cautioned archaeologist and crime-scene photographer Jules Angel in a paper read here at the SAA by one of her collaborators.

Angel has been working with an Ohio-based group, the PAST Foundation, which aims to deeper public understanding and awareness of cultural heritage. As part of it, she set up a series of overnight and day camps for high school girls on CSI-style work. The girls got to do things like process a crime scene inside a car, conduct DNA analysis, try to link remains to actual missing-persons cases, and then prepare and testify as an expert in a mock jury trial.

Sounds cool, huh? Well, not quite. The main problem with the overnight camps? Kids stayed up all night talking and were too exhausted to handle the intricacies of collection procedures the next morning. A lot of them thought bugs were icky. And the worst bit of all according to the students, the thing that might just turn off a whole generation of girls to a career in science?

All the paperwork they had to do.

Image from NBC


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