Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DNA analysis: New York Times exposes "flaws in an inexact science" through a series of video documentaries that re-examine major stories from the past and zero in on microscopic hair analysis. (Must read and watch. HL);

STORY: "Retro report: DNA analysis exposes flaws in an inexact science," by reporter Clyde Haberman,  published by the New York Times on May 18, 2014.

SUB-HEADING:  "Before DNA testing, prosecutors relied on less sophisticated forensic techniques, including microscopic hair analysis, to put criminals behind bars. But how reliable was hair analysis?"
GIST:  "By now — despite the apparent infallibility of detectives from Sherlock Holmes to Lieutenant Columbo, despite the clinical genius of wizards from Dr. Quincy to Gil Grissom — it should surprise no one that forensic science is not the model of exactitude that popular culture might have us believe. The scientific rigor of entrenched forensic disciplines has been challenged for years. Still, we live in a “C.S.I.” world, and television viewers could be forgiven for assuming that laboratory techniques used to catch bad guys are unassailable. In real life, though, the soundness of criminal analysis is being regularly tested, both in America’s labs and in its courtrooms. This week’s offering from Retro Report, a series of video documentaries that re-examine major stories from the past, zeros in on microscopic hair analysis, a staple of forensics for generations.......... The Innocence Project, a nonprofit group based in New York that uses DNA testing to help clear people wrongly convicted of crimes, has played a notable role in casting doubt on how forensic science is applied. Nationwide over the past 25 years, the project says, 316 people sent to prison have been exonerated through DNA analysis; 18 of them served time on death row. Hair comparisons performed by crime labs were factors in nearly one-fourth of those cases. Even the F.B.I., while asserting the validity of hair analysis, has effectively acknowledged past problems."

The entire story can be found at: 


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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