Forensics in Popular Media
Forensic psychology has become an increasingly popular career choice and subject of study due to television shows such as:
- The Wire
- Law and Order (UK).
It is important to be aware that real life forensic psychology and science careers are far from the glitz and glamour that is portrayed in these shows. A typical plot of a popular CSI episode is outlined below.
"Boo" - Lenkov reveals that it is going to be a horror plot involving a zombie story and a murder that takes place in Amityville. Danny and Lindsay go out of town to investigate a spooky murder while Mac and Stella stay behind to deal with a zombie. "Boo" begins with two grave diggers shoveling dirt into a grave. The older man tells his young counterpart the meaning of the phrase "saved by the bell," explaining that it was a means to ensure that someone who had been buried was actually dead. If they were alive, the bell that had been attached to their hand by a string would ring, letting the people working the graveyard shift know to dig them back up. The younger man freaks out when he hears the distinct sound of a bell ringing, but he isn't amused when the older man starts to laugh and pulls a bell out of his pocket. Suddenly, a hand erupts from the grave they are filling in, grabbing the older man's ankle and causing him to yell for help. The younger man flees as a zombie pushes his way out of the grave. The same zombie becomes part of a group moving through Times Square. People run away, screaming, as the zombies advance up Broadway.
Meanwhile, Danny drives through Long Island with Lindsay in the passenger seat. They pass a sign proclaiming that they are entering the Village of Amityville. Children in their Halloween costumes are trick-or-treating, but Danny and Lindsay head for the sight of crime scene tape and flashing lights. As they get out of the car and approach the house, Chief Benson walks up to them, clearly upset by what has occurred. Danny and Lindsay have been called in because the local team is busy with another case. The Duncan family has been murdered--the bodies of the mother, father and two sons are in the house, but the family's daughter is missing. Chief Benson shows them a picture of the Duncan family and points out the missing girl, Reena. He tells them that there is no sign of breaking and entering, and that this is looking like a murder-suicide with the father wielding the gun. He tells them that the media will be all over this case because the house is considered cursed: more than thirty years ago, a man shot himself there, and a few days later his daughter disappeared. Chief Benson dismisses the idea of a curse, saying that there has to be another explanation for Gil Duncan to murder his own family.
As they look through the house, Lindsay hears something. When she follows the sound, she finds a wall leaking blood. Spooked, she calls to Danny and aims his flashlight at the wall when he arrives. She tells him to be quiet, and they hear the sound of a person moaning. Danny retrieves a crowbar and rips at the wall. When they tear the materials away, they find the source of the sound: Reena Duncan, still in her Halloween costume, bleeding from a shotgun wound to her chest. Danny picks her up and rushes to get her some help.
When Reena is taken to the hospital, Danny and Lindsay must go back to processing while they wait for news. As Lindsay works, she hears a noise. Suddenly, an old woman appears, grabbing Lindsay's arm and telling her to leave before the house kills her. Lindsay tries to follow the woman but loses her in a hidden passageway within the home's walls.
Meanwhile, Mac and Stella investigate the death of a 'zombie' with a head wound that might literally spell out a clue as to how he died.
To compare a real life Forensic Psychologist with the glamourised TV outline above, read an Interview here.
Image taken from CSI: The Experience
Mug-shots of criminals were first taken by police in 1843
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