• Question: (Similarly to CSI, Bones will be my subject). Evaluate the similarities and differences between series like CSI/Bones and real life scientific work. (Note: When referring to the shows, I am reffering to their level of scientific accuracy, not their side lines of romance etc)

    Asked by bones to Jamie, Jodie, Kat, Mark, Niamh on 17 Mar 2011 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Jamie Pringle

      Jamie Pringle answered on 16 Mar 2011:

      For my geophysical area (I cant comment on the more laboratory analytical methods and will have to defer to my colleagues), they usually find what they are looking for immeadiately and a skeleton appears on the screen!

      This is obviously not what happens, it takes days to weeks to survey an area, depending on your equipment and the search area, more time to process and interpret where you think something might be buried. You then might do another phase of investigaiton beforfe the physical excavation team comes in.

      Also, you are never the first on the scene, do all the field work, do the lab work, arrest the offender, interview them and do everything in court!

    • Photo: Niamh Nic Daeid

      Niamh Nic Daeid answered on 16 Mar 2011:

      hi Bones

      where do I start… both are fiction (!) and not very reflective of what happens in the real world. The producers have at least attempted to be scientifically accurate to some degree but there is a lot of ‘poetic license’ used. A lot of the equipment seen in the shown is (or appears to be) real and the types of techniques used in the field but the biggest problem (in my view at least), is that the scientists make conclusions with certainly.. the fibre came from the suspects jumper etc, and real life certainly isn’t like that. Real laboratory analysis also take a lot longer and the work of the scientists involves writing down lots more notes of what they are doing than you ever see on the TV ! Also as Jamie said .. in real life the lots of people (Crime scene investigators, police, scientists ‘ologists – (like pathologists and anthropologists) all work together on a case each bringing their skills to the job… no one does everything !

    • Photo: Mark Hill

      Mark Hill answered on 17 Mar 2011:

      Hi Bones,

      I think the most significant and obvious difference is the time line of events, from gathering evidence to producing the results. If we really were able to obtain lab analysis results at the speed they do in the shows, we would be grateful. However, despite advances in processes, particularly DNA profiling, we are still some way short. In the mid ’90s, when DNA analysis first came to prominence, results would take weeks to return. Now, even with Low Copy Number DNA samples, we are able to return results within a few days in some instances. Progress is always being made, but not to CSI standard as yet.

      Another consideration of the CSI type programmes that makes me reel in horror, is their lack of protective clothing, no boots and suits, masks or, sometimes, gloves. The investigators often walk straight through a scene, up to the body, pick up items, all without photographing and marking location, or considering a dedicated access and egress path, to save further contamination. There are never any walking plates, for placing on the ground for their approach. These may be small matters, but scream loudly to those who examine crime scenes, or who work in forensics. Let us not forget, they are programmes for entertainment first and foremost.