What better forensic science can reveal about the JFK assassination

Clifford Spiegelman, Texas AM University

(THE CONVERSATION) Popular television shows such as the “Law Order,” “CSI” and “NCIS” franchises glorify forensic science as a magical, near-flawless tool for identifying criminals. 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. The Innocence Project has exonerated many hundreds of wrongfully convicted people, and bad forensic science was found to be a contributing factor in about half of the original cases.

These problems are not new. Six years before the National Research Council’s 2009 report, I was on a panel of the

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