Any true crime fanatics out there? If so, this article is for you. Today’s topic? Forensics! Yeah, that’s right. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Dateline or CSI, you know what I’m talking about. All of the fingerprints and evidence collection and analysis, these are all parts of forensics.
First off, the basics. What are forensics?
Quite literally, forensic science is any science or scientific process used to conduct a criminal investigation. For example, a psychologist might be called in to determine whether a convicted criminal is malingering (faking mental illness/insanity on purpose, and yes it happens). On the flip side, they might be asked to evaluate if the patient is doing something called dissimulation, which means they are purposely faking being “sane”, or not having a mental illness (this happens too!).
Now, the tools.
You may have seen on TV (more about that later) the many thrilling scenes of collecting fingerprints, tracing bloodstains, and eventually hunting down the criminal. But there’s more to forensics than the part where everything clicks into place and “we’ve found our criminal”.
Forensic Anthropology is the application of skeletal biology, mainly bone structure and other bone related things in relation to the possible criminal’s age, race, gender, and other characteristics. Scientists can examine skeletal remains and cross reference records to find the criminal.
Criminalistics is simply any scientific method used to evaluate physical evidence, such as fingerprints, fluids and other related things. It’s almost like a narrower definition of what ‘forensic science’ is, in the fact that it only applies to material evidence.
Forensic engineering is pretty simple. Engineering applied in court. Forensic engineers use their knowledge of engineering to determine why a car accident happened, why a building collapsed, and so on.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Forensics is a wide variety of so many different sciences, methods, and people. It is an integral part of the criminal justice system, and so many people have been rightfully convicted because of it. Wrong convictions have also been lifted, thanks to the power of forensics. Science for the win!