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The CSI Effect

Isn't this the truth, and not only in the area of forensics that Mark Joseph Stern writes about in an article at Slate ("Serving on a Jury? The Scientific Forensic Evidence You'll Hear Isn't Scientific"):

American jurors today expect a constant parade of forensic evidence during trials. They also refuse to believe that this evidence might ever be faulty. Lawyers call this the CSI effect, after the popular procedural that portrays forensics as the ultimate truth in crime investigation.

"Once a jury hears something scientific, there's a kind of mythical infallibility to it," Peter Neufeld, a co-founder of the Innocence Project, told me. "That's the association when a person in white lab coat takes the witness stand. By that point -- once the jury's heard it -- it's too late to convince them that maybe the science isn't so infallible."

On the subject of evolution, of course, we're all on a jury, hearing evidence from experts. If it's appropriate for laymen in an actual jury box to exercise due skepticism about what they hear, why not on this ultimate issue with all it has to tell us about our place in the universe?

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