Popular media has played an important role in generating public interest in the field of forensics and specialty fields such as forensic anthropology. Select an episode of CSI, Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds or one of the other popular “forensic science” television series. Choose a series and episode that present a fictitious case, you should not use a documentary based on real evidence and a real case. Choose an episode that you can re-watch if necessary (rent it, record it, download it). Consider the characters, the physical evidence, and the scientific methods and procedures used in the episode. Then investigate the issues so that you can answer the questions in the outline below.
Write a 3-4 page narrative commentary that includes the following:
1. Case background a. Identify the series and episode (use a name or number). b. Summarize the plot of the episode including the crime itself, how remains were recovered, and what analyses were performed to identify the remains (~one paragraph) c. Define forensic anthropology d. Identify the role of the forensic anthropologist in the episode. If the episode doesn’t clearly identify a forensic anthropologist, describe who was responsible for assessing human remains in this episode e. Identify supporting scientists. What other specialty areas were represented by experts? For example: forensic odontologist, forensic botanist, pathologist, forensic entomologist?
2. Analysis of methods a. Evaluate the scene investigation and recovery methods. You may want to use the textbooks to help you determine what essential elements in investigation and recovery were met and unmet. b. Was evidence handled in a consistent and documented manner? Consider your reading about the Chain of Evidence. c. Were all of the forensic scientists and other professional involved in the investigation working within their area of training and expertise? If so, why is that important? If not, what are potential issues with their ‘expert’ evaluation of the evidence? 3. Conclusion a. Summarize what the screen writers did right and what they did wrong. In the credits, did you note any indication of professional consultation with someone with forensic qualifications or experience? b. Why are these programs appealing to the general American audience? What is the utility of these types of programs? 4. Works cited
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