Forensic Scientists - Questionable Techniques

Questionable Techniques

Some forensic techniques, believed to be scientifically sound at the time they were used, have turned out later to have much less scientific merit or none. Some such techniques include:

  • Comparative bullet-lead analysis was used by the FBI for over four decades, starting with the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963. The theory was that each batch of ammunition possessed a chemical makeup so distinct that a bullet could be traced back to a particular batch or even a specific box. Internal studies and an outside study by the National Academy of Sciences found that the technique was unreliable, and the FBI abandoned the test in 2005.
  • Forensic dentistry has come under fire: in at least two cases bite-mark evidence has been used to convict people of murder who were later freed by DNA evidence. A 1999 study by a member of the American Board of Forensic Odontology found a 63 percent rate of false identifications and is commonly referenced within online news stories and conspiracy websites. The study was based on an informal workshop during an ABFO meeting, which many members did not consider a valid scientific setting.
  • Scientists have also shown, in recent years, that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, thus "undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases".

Read more about this topic:  Forensic Scientists

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