Anti Gravity: Crime Scene Instigation; May 2005; Scientific American Magazine; by Steve Mirsky; 1 Page(s)
Television's troika of CSI shows--CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY--arguably presents popular culture's most positive view of scientists since the Professor was engaged in his unfunded better-living-through-coconut-chemistry project on Gilligan's Island. In February, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., a group of real forensic scientists put the CSIs under the microscope.
The fictional series have inadvertently put pressure on real-life prosecutors. "'The CSI effect' is a term that came into use around 2003, when the show really started to become popular," says trace evidence analyst Max Houck, director of West Virginia University's Forensic Science Initiative. "It represents the impossibly high expectations jurors may have for physical evidence." Prosecutors worry that without having the ironclad physical evidence jurors see on TV, the reasonable-doubt line may be shifting.