Simon A. Cole


NAS Report, National Academy of Sciences report, scientific culture, forensic science


Part I, describes how the NAS Report characterizes “scientific culture.” I suggest that the described attributes of scientific culture are vague and unspecific, and that more thought is necessary to elucidate how they might map onto forensic science. In Part II, I suggest that the NAS Report’s characterization of “scientific culture” is based on popular accounts of science and “the scientific method.” I suggest that these accounts are incomplete, generally considered obsolete, and not particularly helpful in pointing a way toward reform of forensic science. In Part III, I posit a conception of science as work rather than method. In Part IV, I offer a tentative mapping of how forensic science might be understood as work by dividing forensic labor in a set of general tasks. In Part V, I offer a tentative mapping of the goals and desired attributes of scientific workers who would perform each type of forensic task. In Part VI, I briefly describe how the status quo seems to fall short of the desired situation described in Part V. In Part VII, I suggest that medicine offers a reasonable analogy for the sort of structuring of labor into tasks that might be desirable for forensic science. I conclude with some observations and clarifications about the medical model I proposed.



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