NAS Report, National Academy of Sciences report, forensic science


The ground-breaking report on forensic science by the National Academy of Sciences—Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward—raised numerous issues. One dominant theme that runs throughout the Report is the failure of some forensic science disciplines to comport with fundamental scientific principles—in particular, to support claims with empirical research. This essay attempts to answer the “why” question: Why was there a lack of research across so many forensic disciplines? For purposes of discussion, the time frame is divided into an early period and a recent period. The line of demarcation between the two eras is the advent of DNA profiling in the late 1980s, along with the Supreme Court’s 1993 decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. If not a perfect line of demarcation, this division is a useful one for present purposes.



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