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Flawed Forensic Science And Its Consequences

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The criminal justice system often trusts on forensic evidence to convict or exonerate the suspect but some legal professionals say many forensic practices including bite mark, DNA and hair examination lack integrity. When forensic methods such as DNA investigation are supposed to be systematically lawful, they have error rates higher than the public are led to believe (Jasanoff). Dr. Max M. Houck is an international forensic expert with over 25 years of experience. He has identified about 220 people have been exonerated from the previous conviction due to the misplaced evidence or misinterpreted information from the DA’s office. The mishandling of forensic science contributed to 45% of wrongful convictions in the United States proven through DNA evidence. False or misleading forensic evidence was a contributing factor in 24% of all wrongful convictions nationally, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, which tracks both DNA and non-DNA based exonerations (Houck).

A fingerprint mark or handwriting are so vast that it is unlikely to find the exact match to one individual. Even trusted lines of evidence, such as fingerprint analysis, are not water-tight. It can be inferred that the print or of written text would be similar among multiple people that would be extremely hard to pin point it to one person. From this likelihood and the fact that society in general cannot be excluded this would complicate the third process of individualism which would lead to one of the theories from Karl Popper of white swans: We can’t conclude that all swans are white unless we have been able to examine all swans (Popper). This can determine that the finger print or handwriting is shared among numerous people. Popper’s theories search for the truth in science, the answer cannot conclusively be found within inductive reasoning. “What we are trying to do in science is to describe and (as much as possible) to explain the reality. We do it using conjectural theories, i.e. theories that we hope are true (or close to the truth), but it is not possible for us to establish that they are certain, or even probable” (Popper).

From a subjective point of view, based on the experience of the detective they use their own personal opinions and previous crime scene to conclude who and what they may be searching for. A subjective decision is what leads to the problem with induction. Induction is the process of being constructed from a narrow or broad interpretation based from a limited source of information. A person uses an assortment of evidence expanded through time and knowledge and uses it to form a conclusion from the given facts. There are no objective standards to guide how examiners reach their conclusions. There is not set standard of how many characteristics must be shared before the expert can declare a finger print a match. It is completely up to the decision of the individual examiner based on their training and experience. Even if the print is wrong, the examiner can associate a few shared impressions to prove it is an exact match. This is almost entirely subjective that leads to a biased decision making result. (Mnookin).

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In an attempt to overcome the induction problem in traditional forensic classification, it is trusted on the differences between numerous characteristics and an objective approach to let hard evidence do the heavy lifting. For example, firearms of a cert Deductive reasoning skills are useful in scientific investigations. Deductive reasoning applies broad principles to predict specific answers. For example, the broad principles of human genetics can be applied to DNA analysis, usually yielding very reliable results. In make will leave the same markers on a bullet. The type of weapon could then be identified (Mnookin).

Traditional forensic sciences need to change the current paradigm. The current central staple of these fields is deteriorated by evidence of errors in proficiency testing and in authentic cases. Changes in the law pertaining to the acceptability of expert evidence are driving the older forensic sciences toward a new scientific paradigm. Forensic sciences are integrating to move an up and coming doubt about the claims of the traditional forensic individualization sciences. Although forensic science is still flawed, these sciences are moving toward a new scientific paradigm (Jasanoff). From Thomas Kuhn’s concept the five characterizes to prove a theory is valid. They are accuracy, consistency, scope, simplicity and fruitfulness (95). Forensic science can fit within accuracy because at the time of court cases and evidence built up against the perp, it is through the current scientific experiments and observations that come to the conclusion. The accuracy of forensics science paradigm is always being shifted to something different when new equipment comes out and new research is found. It can also fit within consistency in that it fits with Karl popper’s theory of white swans and how a fingerprint cannot be reduced to one individual. Forensic science can as well be fruitful, the parameters are constantly changing to advance with technology and use everything at hand to merge what they already know to the new theories being added within the science. Forensic science is transforming itself to be a more grounded science to improve with technology. In the past from new articles people who were convicted of grave crimes have been exonerated by DNA analyses of crime scene evidence that had not been tested at the time of their trials.

What’s needed are additional safeguards to shield forensic examiners against irrelevant information that might skew their judgement. There needs to be a reform within the justice system to rethink its inclination to disclose pattern-matching evidence. Improving laws to ensure proper access to release based on changes in science for people who have been convicted based off of biased or mishandled evidence. Some state has already taken measure to help improve the justice system. California enacted a law that allows convicted people to seek relief based on flawed forensic evidence used in their convictions (Mnookin). Flawed convictions sometimes occur, new science and technology can help distinguish and correct future mistakes. If the people doing crime scene work are trained to believe evidence has a limited role and value, more errors will occur. There needs to be a real focus on training to ensure that trace is recognized, recorded and recovered and its assessment documented in the triage or case management phase. There is also a need for a judge to be versed in forensic science, a judge decides what evidence can be presented in court. Most of them do not have training within forensics or the skill to evaluate the systematic validity of a forensic practice, this should have precedent over the current precedent (Jasanoff).


  1. (Mnookin, 2018)
  2. (Houck).
  3. (Jasanoff, 2018)

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Flawed Forensic Science And Its Consequences. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“Flawed Forensic Science And Its Consequences.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
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Flawed Forensic Science And Its Consequences [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 16 [cited 2023 Sept 28]. Available from:
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