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Is The 'CSI Phenomenon' Good For Science?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the no-it's-good-for-advertisers dept.

Television 815

Tycoon Guy writes "With CSI: Crime Scene Investigation airing its 100th episode this week, I wonder, how do Slashdot readers feel about the show, and its two spinoffs? On the one hand, they've caused a boom in the popularity of forensic science college courses, and they glamorize geeks bent over microscopes, rather than smarmy lawyers. On the other hand, they may also promote an inaccurate view of science: prosecutors throughout the country now worry about juries that refuse to accept eyewitness accounts or even outright confessions, and instead exclusively demand the kind of forensic evidence they see on CSI. But of course, in the real world, you don't get a test like that in mere seconds - or without spending a substantial amount of money. So where does CSI rate on the geek scale for you?"

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Grade (4, Insightful)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846568)

I have not watched much of the show, but I don't much care for shows that wrap everything up in a neat little box and make people think that all crimes are solved in an hour, give or take commercials. There is some cool technology, however.

Stupid Observation (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846595)

The ID's of the first 2 posters are only 3 numbers off.

Um Forget It (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846624)

Jesus I'm stupid.

Re:Um Forget It (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846724)

Did you mean post number?

Re:Grade (0, Flamebait)

harrkev (623093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846738)

Not only that, but it gives the impression that police departments have the manpower to assign two people to spend 40 Hrs/week on one case, and the budget to be able to do any desired test.

I am not a cop, but I would imagine that in the real world, investigators cannot spend that much time or money on each case. But I admit that I could be wrong.

Re:Grade (3, Funny)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846750)

"I have not watched much of the show, but I don't much care for shows that wrap everything up in a neat little box and make people think that all crimes are solved in an hour, give or take commercials."

I take it you're not a big fan of star trek either eh? :)

Re:Grade (4, Insightful)

jargonCCNA (531779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846772)

Umm... there have been several episodes of CSI (and, if I recall correctly, though I hardly ever watch it, at least one of CSI Miami) where the team couldn't solve the crime; that something was missing that they just couldn't track down.

See, the CSIs aren't perfect. They miss things. In fact, a few weeks ago, one of the characters' home lives is falling apart because of her dedication to her job. I wouldn't exactly call that glamourising the profession.

tv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846571) never lies.

My rating (4, Funny)

yamcha666 (519244) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846573)

Um, I don't watch it. Futurama is my standard for geek shows.

Cue William Shatner: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846577)

It's just a TV SHOW!

Definitive answer (3, Funny)

mphase (644838) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846578)

Yes. No. Maybe. I stand behind my answer..s.

John Kerry reads Slashdot!! (-1, Offtopic)

HBI (604924) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846744)

It's an honor to text to you!

you know you're a geek when... (4, Interesting)

fireduck (197000) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846581)

watching a CSI episode you notice the box of Diamond Evolution One gloves on the bench and think "good choice, those are my favorites, as well..."

I love the CSI, although I came to in way late. Nice thing is that Spike TV shows 2 reruns back to back at 7 each night.

Re:you know you're a geek when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846658)

I mock their poor lab technique, while drooling over some of the insanely expensive scientific equipment a public sector law enforcement lab inexplicably has at its disposal.

Does that make me a bad person?

It's also fun to watch all the Eppendorf product placement.

Re:you know you're a geek when... (1)

coug_ (63333) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846688)

watching a CSI episode you notice the box of Diamond Evolution One gloves on the bench and think "good choice, those are my favorites, as well..."

I love the CSI, although I came to in way late. Nice thing is that Spike TV shows 2 reruns back to back at 7 each night.

Netflix has the first four seasons on DVD (I don't remember how many seasons there are total).

television sucks, let's move on (5, Funny)

FusionJunky (205375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846583)

Television influencing people into having twisted world-views!? Never!

It rates (1)

Trigun (685027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846585)

higher than Law and Order with its absolutely out-of-the-ass convoluted links to the criminals, but still way below spike TV's MXC.

Infinite Resolution (5, Funny)

swordboy (472941) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846586)

Does anyone else *love* infinite resolution? I want a 320x200 security camera that can zoom in on someone's drivers license from 200 yards.

Re:Infinite Resolution (2, Funny)

coug_ (63333) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846622)

That's great, isn't it? My wife and I have been watching the older seasons on DVD and just saw an episode that dealt with street racing. I'll give them this - they were more technically accurate than either of the Fast & Furious movies.

Re:Infinite Resolution (1)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846632)

Too true. I love seeing them blow up images on their computers with nary a grain of pixelation.

Re:Infinite Resolution (2, Funny)

drclaw007 (765182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846670)

Oooo yes - that is my pet hate in TV shows / movies.
I wonder what will happen when they upgrade to 640x480 - will they be viewing things on a quantum level from the other side of the planet?
I had hoped (in vain) that it would end with Enemy of the State... but no, it's just getting worse :(

Re:Infinite Resolution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846671)

Does anyone else *love* infinite resolution? I want a 320x200 security camera that can zoom in on someone's drivers license from 200 yards.

Somehow, I think license plates are the last thing they'd be used for.

On a completely unrelated topic, property values around women's dorms would probably skyrocket.

Re:Infinite Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846674)

Does anyone else *love* infinite resolution? I want a 320x200 security camera that can zoom in on someone's drivers license from 200 yards.

I always jump out of my Lazy Boy and scream at the TV when Warrick takes an irritatingly blurry picture, crops out a little box and... bada-bing, bada-boom... a perfectly resolved image of the incriminating microscopic tatoo on the perp's ear lobe appears before your wondering eyes.

My wife hates it when I do that.

Re:Infinite Resolution (2, Insightful)

Jahf (21968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846704)

This is why I tend to get pissed at CSI:Miami. CSI:NY hasn't got enough track record yet for me to decide. CSI (original) is much more in touch with reality as far as technology goes. A few occasional trek-ish moments but nothing like CSI:Miami.

Re:Infinite Resolution (2, Insightful)

frogg320 (722290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846752)

It would be a little more legitimate if the cameras were using an optical zoom instead of a digital one...but once you're reviewing tapes and just going on the little bit of information on the record, I agree, it's pretty silly. ...But how else are they going to read the license plate, right? :p On the bright side, it might make the less intelligent criminals (read: majority) overestimate the magical abilities of such things.

Re:Infinite Resolution (1)

falzer (224563) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846769)

Ah yes.

Enhance. Take the reflection off that guy's wristwatch strap. Now zoom into the reflection off this girl's cornea. I can't make anything out... try adjusting the brightness. Bingo.

I enjoy it. (3, Insightful)

ssand (702570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846587)

I enjoy the show, although they all seem to follow the same recipe, that is everyone denies everything untill they have a minute info, then they give in a little, then spill the beans at the end of the show.

As for forensic in a jury, What a juror must understand is more about it, and truths from the popular show. Jurors are human too, so they will relate, or be swayed by personal oppinions, like strong family bonds, or a strong bond to their children.

No (2, Insightful)

spidereyes (599443) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846588)

It's in between Blind Date and Joe Millionaire.

Exactly! (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846663)

There are some channels I automatically tend to skip over, because I know there'll be some crappy "reality" shit on it.

Maybe there are some good shows on, but I've learnt to limit myself to Comedy Central (Southpark, John Stewart), G4TechTV (Screensavers), Scifi (occasional Star Trek TOS), and Discovery (Mythbusters, BIG!), after being barraged by commercials about these "popular" TV shows that Joe and Jane Sixpack wait to watch all week.

Good for Science, Bad for Law (4, Insightful)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846589)

I think the show is good for science, but as you stated can be bad for the judiciary system. Is it ever a bad thing to have the populice become enamored with knowledge?

Your concerns about the judiciary system are warrented though but I wonder if that will ever be too big of an issue that we have to deal with.

Re:Good for Science, Bad for Law (3, Insightful)

underpar (792569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846717)

Common sense and prejudice still seem to rule. All things are normal in the criminal justice system.

Scott Peterson was convicted based on circumstantial evidence and just being a bad guy. Forensic evidence did nothing. Prosecutors don't have to worry.

Its good, look at what happened with OJ (5, Insightful)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846593)

Its good to have the public have some knowledge of forensics. The OJ jury didn't believe overwelming forensics and set him free. Juries should also be smart enough to know hen to believe eyewitness accounts. oops, hoping for to much, why should I expect juries to be smart

Re:Its good, look at what happened with OJ (0, Flamebait)

cybermage (112274) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846713)

I think the OJ jury decided that no justice for Ron and Nicole was better than another riot where many more innocent people would have died.

Re:Its good, look at what happened with OJ (1)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846739)

thats a wonderful philosophy. Why invade Germany, so what about the holocaust, a couple of innocent people might die.

Get Sequestered For A Year. (1)

Bob_Robertson (454888) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846753)

Get sequestered for a year, then tell me how good you feel about the prosecution.

It's easy to criticize someone else for not doing what you think you would do.


Reasonable Doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846757)

It's not about believing evidence, it's about having reasonable doubt.

Re:Its good, look at what happened with OJ (1)

underpar (792569) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846782)

The OJ jury believed a leading forensic scientist when he said the police screwed up. The prosecution did an awful job. I wouldn't say it was ignorance of forensics that set him free.

Overall, it's good (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846596)

Sure, there is a lot of junk science, but I think anything that stimulates interest in the justice system, and that helps to reduce the stigma surrounding jury duty, should help to grow the pool of willing potential jurors. Otherwise, the only people you get on juries are the ones too stupid to figure out a good excuse to get out of jury duty.

For years, jury duty has been seen as a nuisance to get out of however possible. Now, there is a real trend toward seeing jury duty as your civic responsibility, and taking it seriously, and even getting excited about it. I think overall this is good for the criminal justice system.

Re:Overall, it's good (3, Interesting)

schwep (173358) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846661)

If nothing else, it at least makes people that would have been otherwise unaware of some aspects of science aware of it.

One shortcoming (other than "infinite resolution") is that they rarely have a case where there isn't a clear offender or group of offenders - so people aren't used to the more "muddied" reality of the world we live in. That said, no clear offender reduces the enjoyment of watching a bit.

CSI (0)

thebra (707939) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846602)

I tried watching it once but didn't really get in to it. It's no X-Files.....

Re:CSI (5, Funny)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846648)

Yeah, you don't get much more scientifically accurate than the X-Files. ;)

Everything is fine. (3, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846604)

1) anything that promotes interest in science (no matter how glamourized and unrealistic) is a boon.

2) Jury instruction should be enough of a factor. Also, your reliance on the veracity of eye witness testimony [] is amusing, considering how unreliable IT is.

More proof on unreliability of eye witness (4, Informative)

mekkab (133181) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846640)

This navy study []

and here [] , and again. []

much simpler proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846786)

Ask a married couple for the story of how they met. I've yet to find one where both partners agree on even the major details.

"Ah, yes, I remember it well"

Any lawyers out there? (1)

Thimble (468492) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846610)

Its the prosecuter's job to outline exactly how much evidense is required in order to convict, isn't it? Besides... CSI rarely goes to court...

CSI is terrible (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846612)

Ever since I saw an episode where a guy looks at a dead body on the street looks up and says "This guy didn't jump, jumpers take off their glasses." I cannot take this show seriously in anyway shape or form, I see it as true to life as Mission:Impossible is to real FBI/CIA agents.

Forensics for morons. (2, Interesting)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846613)

I watched ten minutes of an episode of CSI before I had to switch the channel because I started to get a craving for pork rinds. I HATE PORK RINDS! Seriously, if you want to see forensics investigators at work, CourtTV, The Science Channel, Discovery and TLC have a number of shows that can tickle your itch and won't treat you like a complete doofus.

Network TV - you can always count on us..... TO SCREW IT UP!

For the unedcuated (2, Informative)

airnewt (830564) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846620)


1)revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness (a tone of smarmy self-satisfaction -- New Yorker)

2)of low sleazy taste or quality (smarmy eroticism)

Full of bad science (5, Informative)

crow (16139) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846626)

They get the science and technology wrong as often as right. It seems like every other episode where they enhance three pixels of an image to get a recognizable face in a reflection. Or there was the CSI:Miami where they got a saved email off of the wireless router that the person had connected through. At least when they got image data out of the NTSC overscan, they were using a real concept, even if the amount of overscan they recovered was vastly exaggerated.

Inaccurate? (1)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846629)

they may also promote an inaccurate view of science

Unlike Alias. Or Star Trek. Or (insert name of favorite show).

Isn't CSI just a darker "Quincy, M.E."? Or am I showing my age?

Reading C Declarations: A Guide for the Mystified [] (speaking of showing your age)

Re:Inaccurate? (1)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846775)

Or, better yet: CSI is to science like The Apprentice is to business.


Witnesses Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846631)

Eyewitness reports are really shoddy. People *think* they have a good memory, but in fact they often don't. It's oft studied and little understood. People put too much faith in eyewitnesses.

Like the quote goes, "In the absence of science, opinion prevails." It's about time juries got with the program.

This could destroy society as we know it (0, Troll)

Michalson (638911) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846633)

Jurys expecting the physical evidence to match up with false testimony and coerced confessions...just imagine the horror.

it's a good show (0)

galaxyboy (825541) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846638)

I would say if the show generates any interest in science that would be a good thing. However, people who go into forensics based on their experience with CSI might lose interest pretty quick.

I think of Jurassic Park where the little girl is staring at the computer with some 3D file system view and says, "This is a UNIX system, I know this" and I realize that most shows are not very accurate. I imagine CSI's view of forensics is about as accurate as Jurassic Park's snapshot of UNIX. But it is entertaining anyway.

Re:it's a good show (1)

One Louder (595430) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846725)

The 3D file system in Jurassic Park was real - it's fsn (File System Navigation) from SGI - it's available as freeware.

Re:it's a good show (2, Informative)

SageMadHatter (546701) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846774)

I think of Jurassic Park where the little girl is staring at the computer with some 3D file system view and says, "This is a UNIX system, I know this" and I realize that most shows are not very accurate. I imagine CSI's view of forensics is about as accurate as Jurassic Park's snapshot of UNIX. But it is entertaining anyway.

That however was indeed a Unix system, running SGI's 3d File viewer called FSN []

Re:it's a good show (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846779)

Dang, and I was going to use mod points on this story, but I just have to respond to this.

I thought the same thing you did about the This is a UNIX system comment from the girl in Jurassic Park.

Then about a year later I went to a trade show and lo and behold, what did I see at SGI's display, but this same screen that was on Jurassic Park!! It turns out the interface in the film is a 3D file heirarcy and datamining tool developed by SGI. True, she should have said, "This is an Irix system". But it really was at least a program running on a UNIX variant.

Win some, lose some (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846639)

On one hand, it's not good for our judicial system if juries come to expect a preponderance of forensic evidence pointing straight toward (or away from) the defendent. Obviously, that doesn't happen often in real life.

As for juries not trusting eye-witnesses, I am not so sure that that is a bad thing. Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable for the simple fact that it's painfully easy for laywers and cops to implant or modify memories in the process of normal questioning.

This is Slashdot (2, Insightful)

deft (253558) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846641)

A population that loves Sci-Fi that includes a solution for everything byr eversing polarities.

My buddy is a prop guy on CSI. For the most part the stuff they use is real, and he is trained on it... and then David Caruso is told how to use it by him.

We can't start worrying about a little creative license when trying to tell a story... the point is made that smart can be exciting, even sexy without having to worry about following the instruction manual to the T.

Kids will be inspired to learn about these things, investigate, solve puzzles either way.

Re:This is Slashdot (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846755)

OT Question for your friend:

Is David Caruso as big of a dick in real life as he comes through on television?

He's why I can't stand CSI:Miami, he always knows everybody involved in the crime. And often rises above the law to do something "nice".. like steal evidence in a murder investigation to make the victim's son feel better.

Re:This is Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846778)

That's pretty funny. Yeah, most of the equipment is real, but not used properly. Sometimes it does fantastic things on the show that are mundane: I saw a benchtop micro-centrifuge spit out mass spec data one time. I wish my little $500 POS would do that!

Sway back towards balance... (2, Insightful)

RomSteady (533144) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846651)

Forensic evidence is one of the most powerful tools available to law enforcement because it is relatively irrefutable.

While things may not work like they do in "CSI" in real life, the sway towards the forensic can only help ensure that the proper people get sent to jail.

The popularity may also help increase funding for CSI departments nationwide. Most CSI departments are woefully underfunded and undermanned.

Besides, just imagine if they had been able to get O.J.'s DNA or fingerprints off of the inside of those gloves...

Glory Glory Halla(howeveryouspellit) (1)

Locdonan (804414) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846655)

Well, CSI is a great show in and of itself. But we (sane people) know the facts are presented to the jury, and they are supposed to go off of what they are saying, not anything else. Yeah we draw on our experiences, but that would be a little much.

Shouldn't the lawyer get those kind of freaks off the jury!? These are the same people that give RPGs a bad name by going out and stabbing each other in the name of fun.

Re:Glory Glory Halla(howeveryouspellit) (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846703)

I must have Video Games on the brain after taking 2 days off to play HL2 but..

I read "RPG" and thought "Shouldn't a rocket propelled grenade have a bad name already?"

CSI isn't bad (5, Interesting)

siskbc (598067) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846656)

As a chemist who's had a little forensics training, the science is not bad.

As for the submitter's question, eyewitness accounts are usually the absolute worst forms of evidence. It's especially bad when the witness doesn't actually know the defendant.

And I would say relevations regarding the liberties taken by cops with the Bill of Rights and Miranda have shaken faith in confessions more than shows like CSI have.

I'd say that having juries full of self-styled experts based on TV knowledge ain't great. But it's better than it was in the 90's, when you could snow over a jury with science evidence debate they don't understand. Used to be an easy way to get reasonable doubt.

All in all, I don't think education is a bad thing, and as I said CSI doesn't do a bad job. As long as the juries don't think they're experts, it should be OK.

This may be nitpicky... (2, Informative)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846660)

... but they overglamourize the job. The CSI people don't do the detective work... they do the crime scene work.

For an even worse example of something similar, look at the show "Crossing Jordan" where a medical examiner is doing detective work (umm... your job is looking at and studying corpses).

Maybe if the show had a detective, an ADA, and dedicated most of its time with the CSI team and showed how they interact with the other two, it would work better... think "Law & Order" with just a focus on CSI...

Actually, Navy NCIS does a good job. Good combo of detective work and their medical examiner and CSI are both big parts of the show. Very nerdy aspects... not a lot of junk science.

The Problem with CSI.... (1)

tonywestonuk (261622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846664)

Is the amount of inaccuracies/flaws within what's shown. I end up giving my better half a running commentary of dodgy science as we watch.... (eg, computer enhancement of a car reg plate taken by a security camera to far away to catch anything of detail)
What the series needs are a couple of lab technicians working with the director to real in the impossible.

Worlds Fastest Java GUI. iMessage []

Good show, somewhat unrealistic (1)

pjwhite (18503) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846665)

I just recently discovered the original CSI (Vegas) show and have been watching it a lot. I haven't watched any of the spinoffs.

Do police departments really have the budget for the kinds of things this show depicts, though?
I mean, is it really necessary to sacrifice a pig every other show to demonstrate some arcane principle?

And why do none of the CSI techs never wear headcover while leaning over a crime scene looking for evidence; hairs, dandruff, etc?

How many of these positions are there? (5, Interesting)

Life2Short (593815) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846666)

As a faculty member at a small college, I cannot believe how many prospective and first year students approach me and tell me they are interested in forensic psychology, criminal profiling, etc.. How many of these jobs are actually out there? Aren't there only a few criminal profilers in the entire FBI? Is there any reason to expect that the number of job opportunities in this area are going to increase in the coming years? Fortunately college-level chemistry courses have a way of weeding out students quite quickly... If I had a penny for every poor pre-med student who took organic chemistry and then showed up in my office to ask me about psychology as a possible major... Heck, the only reason I went into Psychlogy was because of the old Bob Newhart show. I thought it would be great to be married to Suzanne Pleshette and live in downtown Chicago...

Movie OS (1)

sys49152 (100346) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846668)

So where does CSI rate on the geek scale for you?

If their representation of forensic science is anything like their representation of computer hardware and software, then not very high.

"As you can see from this animated, 3 dimensional representation of the crime scene recreated 20 minutes after digitizing the surveillance tapes, and shown of the movie theater sized flat panel display on the wall, it's clear that the butler did it."

That said, I do watch CSI Miami just for David Caruso's over the top acting.

TV is CRAP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846673)

Turn it off.

Message to the American TV watcher: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846675)

Dear Idiot,
I hope you found someone to read this letter to you, as you surely cannot read yourself. I was just writing this letter to let you know that that big box you stare at your entire life isn't real. Stuff that goes on in that box is fiction. The word fiction indeed means "not real" in case you didn't know. Please stop runing the world by being such an idiot.


Prosecutors have more to worry about (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846677)

If the net effect of CSI is more students taking science courses, then I say "go CSI!" I've never even watched the show, but this country desperately needs young scientists. This reminds me of the effect "Top Gun" had on Air Force (yes, Air Force) recruitment.

As for prosecutors worrying about CSI making juries expect TV-like evidence, the judge sets the jury's expectations. In general, juries in the United States are seriously flawed due to the exemptions provided to most educated professionals. The bigger picture issues are more important than whether jurors are expecting to see CSI-style evidence.

Real CSI geeks really are geeks (1)

L. VeGas (580015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846678)

I actually used to work for a lab that did a lot of work for the coroner's office, metro, Parole & Probation, etc. in Las Vegas. A few of my coworkers became CSI's. The main thing that cracks me up is how nice, shiny, and new the labs are on TV (and how good-looking the agents are).

Most of the people that I know in the field are kind of homely and not nearly so bright (sorry, Brad & Dori).

It can be good or bad (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846683)

It all depends on the "reason level" of the individual. If we're talking about a resonable person who just didn't know about forensics, it can make them a better jury. Otherwise, they wouldn't be a good jury anyway, interested in forensics or not...

I sometimes watch it, and it's not bad. Once in a while something too stupid comes up, but generally it is above average in science matters.

Some good parts, some bad... (1)

binderhead126 (809883) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846687)

I ve watched CSI from episode 1, to about episode 5. After that, every case seemed to be similar. It's a genius concept for the people who make money off the show, because the stories are based on acutal events, to an extent. It takes less creativity to come up with scientific plots, so the writers can focus on character plot. Another reason it is interesting to me is that many of the cases are similar, yet the show has regular fans. I find it boring. As for the science, I think it's great that people are interested in forensics, and are learning something, even though the shows are fairly fictional, and some of the evidence tests and processing is invented. CSI is good for the science, but boring as a weekly show.

Don't get me wrong (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846692)

I'm not trying to kill the mood here, but I rate CSI at -zero- for Irrelevant. It's neither good nor bad, it's meaningless. Is the world any different after however many years of L.A. Law? Not that I've noticed. Same deal.

Might help average O.J./Peterson (1)

MarkRebuck (590314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846700)

In the O.J. trial, it seems people overlooked hard physical evidence. In the Peterson [sp?] trial, it seems people needed absolutely no physical evidence at all. If CSI makes people trust physical evidence, and want more of it... perhaps that would be a GOOD thing?

Eyewitnesses ignored? Good! (1, Troll)

Euphonious Coward (189818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846706)

Anything that makes juries more inclined to ignore eyewitness testimony would be wonderful.

There are actual cases where somebody at the police station on ordinary business got "volunteered" to be in a line-up, the victim chose him, and he ended up convicted despite all physical evidence to the contrary. Eyewitness testimony is extremely unreliable, but juries are inclined to believe it over anything else. Many lawyers like it just for that reason, prosecutors and defenders alike.

Scary Inacuracies (2, Interesting)

bay43270 (267213) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846707)

When I do notice huge technical issues (not the little ones like instant DNA and computerized fingerprint/palmprint searches), it makes me wonder how many people believe this stuff. Even worse, it makes me wonder what I've picked up from shows in other subjects and assumed to be based on fact. I catch things on CSI, but I don't know enough about medicine or law to know what's made up. How much of my perception of law is completely fictional?

Just for fun, here are a couple of my favorite CSI science facts:
- NTSC overscans allow you to see footage that takes place 30% outside the normal video
- If you zoom in on a photo of a person, you can find a reflection in their eye. Zoom in on the reflection, and you can see facial features on the people standing behind the photographer.

Only One Good CSI (5, Informative)

BRock97 (17460) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846712)

The original CSI is my favorite, as I can't stand David Caruso from the Miami show, and CSI: NY it too new to form an opinion (which is slipping to dislike right now). My one wish is that they would do more theft type episodes and move away from all murder. Case in point was an episode last season that involved the theft of some priceless antiques. Awesome episode. Not a drop of blood, but the process of how the determined who was the thief was fascinating.

That said, the CSI craze has caused an outbreak of stupidity. Recently, a friend received a stolen check where she works. Since she is the general manager of the store, she had to go to the bank and work out the details. The bank teller (besides being an ass) made the comment that my friend shouldn't "touch the check too often as they might get her fingerprints" and she would get in trouble. Honest truth, those were the bank teller's words. My friend responded with "CSI fan, eh?"

I have another friend that can't stand the show on the grounds of how unrealistic it portraits criminal investigation. Being he was a prosecutor for numerous years, his main beef is that the CSI officers are never involved with the interrogation of the suspects and that the usually hand over their evidence to the investigating office. He then does all the foot work. He also says that the CSI folks don't carry firearms, but he concedes that might vary from office to office. He really dislikes the Miami show since the Caruso character is ordering police officers around all the time, which he says never happens.

There you go, the $0.02 from some guy off the street.

Time compression (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846718)

I have two beefs. 1. Time compression. No you can't do most of those tests that quickly or, even, that accurately. 2. Junk Science. A lot of what they show is just not there yet (or is just plain discredited. See: determining race from bone structure), especially some of the forensic anthropology techniques. All and all, anything that displays what science can do (esp good things) is never all bad! I am in the middle of National Geography Awareness Week. Interfacing with kids about world music (this year's theme) and such might not seem like science to most, but it opens their eyes to what is possible in academia and, in a way, in science.

Arrests... interviews...?? (1)

dostert (761476) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846720)

I personally can't stand CSI. Between the forensic experts interviewing witnesses, making arrests, and being uber-cops, I tend to just get mad. I saw only two or three episodes. After the guy took a plastic pool, a model boat, and a table fan and used it to predict where a boat drifted... I just couldn't stand to watch anymore. Watched my first episode of Crossing Jordan the other day. That seemed a bit more accurate. There seem to be many other geeky-type quality shows. "House" last night looked like it might end up being interesting as well. Even Law and Order seems more realistic to me than CSI.

CSI (1)

Exter-C (310390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846722)

The biggest issue with CSI is that it is so unbelivable it may as well be a comedy. If you watch the show as a comedy its rather amusinc realising that the guy can see gun powder residue on a towel at 200meters always amazes me.

Maybe its the cool computer animations that accelerate his eyesight.. maybe the xfiles can investigate the guys eyesite as another conspiracy.

Convoluted, repetitive clap-trap (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846727)

I watched the show twice. The first time, it was kind of cool, the second it was glaringly apparent that the show would always be some convoluted mystery.

As for the science, people would be better off watching The New Dectives/Cold Case Files/FBI Files/etc if they want to learn about the science of forensics.

As for Law & Order, the original - that show rocks, I have been watching it since day 1.

Forensic Files, Cold Case Files, New Detectives... (2, Insightful)

ibpooks (127372) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846729)

I prefer the "real" forensic science shows on Discovery, TLC, and A&E. They tend to focus more on the hard work and real science involved in the forensic process than in the neat-hour-long drama. These shows usually have interviews with the actual detectives and scientists who work cases which I find interesting. CSI is boring; heavy on the drama, light on the science.

Follies and dollies.... (1)

Kent Brewster (324037) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846730)

I cringe whenever the hi-tech forensics teams come onstage ... IP addresses that start with 400, magic trace-back of e-mail to physical locations, and (of course) those 320-by-200 pixel security cameras that can zoom in tightly enough to grab the reflection of the suspect's face off the victim's cornea really make my teeth itch. (And then there are those red-hot CSIs and coroners who wear low-cut tank tops while gathering evidence ... but that's all totally real, right?)

Smarmy lawyers (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846732)

Hey, I resemble that remark!

Stupid cinematics!! (2, Informative)

Ced_Ex (789138) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846733)

I love watching CSI as it is one of the more interesting crime shows, as well as the fact that it puts "science" in a more exciting role than "mad scientist", or crazy experiments.

However, the one thing that bothers me the most about the show above all others, is the fact that they like to do autopsies in the dark. They have the autopsy theatre in the basement with no lights on except for a dim bulb hanging over the body. How do they expect to see any markings on the body that way?

When I used to work as a researcher doing autopsies, we had a insanely bright room with white walls and lights that were brighter than the sun. Also, over the body we had a giant fume hood to take the smell away. And for forensic autopsies (which I have only observed), they usually have hoses washing over the bodies to keep the maggots from climbing over the area you are trying to examine.

Other than that, I love the show.

Well, its really 3 different shows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846736)

Original - Good, data driven to get to answer. Cops in control when taking down a suspect, CSI guys carry, but seldom pull out guns.

Miami - Seems more like CSI with a 70's cop show worked in. Very different from original in flavor and how it works. The CSI guys draw their guns all the time and direct the cops in the field. I don't watch this one much.

NY - Haven't had a chance to review.

We can only hope. (2, Interesting)

isaac (2852) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846747)

...prosecutors throughout the country now worry about juries that refuse to accept eyewitness accounts or even outright confessions...

We can only hope. A key lesson I took away from law school is that the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and the relatively high rate of coerced and/or false confessions present huge problems to the fair administration of criminal justice. Most of the cases of people exonerated by DNA evidence after serving years in prison were originally put away on faulty eyewitness testimony or coerced confessions.

Of course prosecutors don't like forensic technology! Their job isn't to be fair, it's to convict at all costs. (Doesn't matter if it's the wrong person, as long as *someone* was convicted of the crime.)


CSI discussed on NPR's All Things Considered (5, Informative)

The I Shing (700142) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846748)

Back in May of this year, NPR did a story on the popularity of CSI [] , and how the show compares to the way investigations are carried out in reality. The differences are pretty stark, but the excuse is that reality doesn't make for a gripping crime drama.

Scooby Doo, Where Are You? (1)

Mattantaliss (831842) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846754)

i've seen an episode or two, and the show seems to be not much more than a glitzed up version of scooby doo.

ESP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10846756)

The first time I watched the show I thought it was about psychic detectives. It wasn't until later that I realized they didn't have any special powers.
The show is so fake that it makes me sick at times. Unfortunately my wife loves it and I end up watching it more than I would otherwise (read: at all).

Heh, take that lawyers (1)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846760)

Lawyers must be about to go through what us PC techs have been going through for years:

Lawyer: And here we have security camera photos of the man entering...yes?
Juror #2: Did you find any hair samples from him on the premisis?
Lawyer: Um...No...Seeing as we have photographic proof, we didn't really feel...
Juror #2: What about mud from his shoes? Can it be traced back to mud from the suspects garden using spectral analysis of the chemical compounds?
Lawyer: What the hell are you talking about? You can see him on the video tape right here!
Juror #2: Yeah, but how do you know he was really there?

In the tech support world, this same exchange goes something like this: Tech: Looks like your hard drive has crashed. We'll have to replace it, and...yes?
Guy Who Watches Too Much TechTV: Are you sure it couldn't be the video card?
Tech: No, it's the hard drive. You hear that clanking? That's the sound of a spindle dying a slow death.
GWWTMTTV: What about if we tried to run WindowsUpdate? Maybe SP2 will have some hidden fix that Microsoft doesn't document?

four spinoffs (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846765)

I wonder, how do Slashdot readers feel about the show, and its two spinoffs?

I count at leat 4 spinoffs:

CSI: Caruso


NCIS (yea, it's pilot was an episode of JAG, but the show clearly has a CSI driven approach to it's stories and production)

CSI: NBC (aka Medical Investigation)

Consistantly Incorrect Science (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846766)

What bothers me about the CSI show is that they consistantly screw up scientific facts they are presenting. I can deal with simplification for the TV audience but things like giving acceleration as a velocity and occasionaly downright false statements about DNA or chemistry isn't right.

I really love the show but it would only take one guy with an undergrad in science to watch the show and correct the bad impressions they send.

On a more subtle level the show does give the impression that many of the types of evidence are completly relibale, e.g. fingerprints when new scientific evidence is actually showing they occasionally lead to incorrect results.

Also, I don't like the fact that they always seem to critisize sexually deviant communities they investigate. I appreciate the titalation factor in investigating wifeswapping or other subcultures. However, I dislike the fact that they often seem to critisize the culture in these areas (of course none of the CSIs do this) while they don't take a similar attitude with churchgoing or other 'normal' activities.

Perry Mason Syndrome (1)

Jerrry (43027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846781)

Many CSI episodes end when the suspect confesses under wilting questioning by the CSIs, just like in most (all?) Perry Mason episodes.

I doubt this happens that much in real life.

For those of us that don't get to see CSI on TV (1)

rzymek (554234) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846783)

because are not living in the US, here is a way to see this great show:

Perspective of Reality (1)

slashfun (831726) | more than 9 years ago | (#10846785)

The trend in TV/Movies is to show violence and how seemingly 'normal' violence is and then gloss over the consequences of committing crime. In fact, consequences of criminal actions portrayed by Hollywood are minimalized at every turn. You punch somebody in the movies, you are cool; after all, it didn't seriously hurt the guy. He got back up and five minutes later didn't even have a bruise. In reality you assault someone and the damage doesn't go away for several days/weeks/months, you get arrested and if convicted go to jail, usually as a felon. After you serve your time and get out the consequences continue. You can't vote the rest of your life, can't own a gun, will certainly be barred from certain occupations, and will have a hard time with employment and anything else where background checks are used. So taking that into context, I think it's kind of cool to see a show that flips that scene around, and makes it look like slick geeks with microscopes can track your ass down (easily) and let consequences run their course.
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