As a result of science’s great achievements in giving us reliable and accurate knowledge, it has tremendous credibility. Unfortunately, that increase in credibility has not been matched by a corresponding increase in the public’s awareness of how science acquires that knowledge and the limitations on it. This makes it possible to dazzle people with ‘science’.
John Oliver looks at one area where this has had very negative consequences and that is in the use of forensic evidence in criminal cases where overzealous prosecutors and less than careful forensic technicians can combine to result in gross miscarriages of justice, where juries and judges are swayed far too much by what they think is the certainty of the evidence presented to them and innocent people suffer.
I am always a little puzzled by those who are somewhat cavalier about the fact that innocent people end up in prison and have even been executed. They shrug it off, not seeming to realize that for every innocent person in prison, an actual guilty person is roaming free, able to commit more yet more crimes. You would think that that fact alone would make people want to be as sure as possible that the right person is found guilty.