The DNA Test and Forensics on TV
As a result of the popularity of TV shows like CSI and Waking the Dead, the DNA test and forensic science have become sexy and glamorous.
CSI and DNA
With more and more students claiming their career choice was inspired by a TV show, CSI and similar shows have a lot to answer for, but the public are becoming more aware of the option of taking a DNA test than before. Although the TV detective shows focus on forensics and crime the DNA test often features on reality chat show programmes such as The Jeremy Kyle Show, as a tool to prove or disprove paternity, or to uncover lost sisters or brothers.
DNA Tests and Crime
More of us are aware of the potential benefits of using a DNA test in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to emotional issues such as paternity tests. But it’s crime on TV that has captured the public’s imagination and has brought with it an increase in students studying forensic science. Sexy blonde Catherine Willows or the handsome Nick Stokes talking about DNA tests and forensics on Channel Five’sCrime Scene Investigation certainly does the subject's popularity or appeal no harm.
Sixty-two percent of students surveyed by a recruitment firm said television dramas such as CSI and Law and Order made forensics, such as doing a DNA test on crime scene evidence, look so exciting and interesting that they would consider it as a career. It's not just forensics – fifty-seven percent wanted to become spies thanks to BBC MI5 drama Spooks and half of them aspired to become journalists like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.
Could Engineering Be Next?
Students were so inspired to look into forensics and train for a job involving DNA tests or pathology that the number on related degree courses has increased dramatically. Such is the impact that engineering organisations are now offering scriptwriters large incentives to encourage a TV show featuring engineering in the hope that this will boost the shortage of engineers.
Go to the Headmaster!
But not all fictional shows are considered to be a positive influence – Teachers andWaterloo Road have been criticised for their portrayal of unprofessional behaviour in the teaching profession, although in reality many jobs that involve genetic testing or taking a DNA test aren’t as glamorous as TV. For a government forensic scientist results can be painstakingly slow and not at all glamorous. In the case of Dr Jonathan Whitaker, who undertook DNA tests to build up evidence against James Hanratty, who was hanged for attempted murder 1962, DNA tests enabled Dr Whitaker to go back 40 years and collaborate the evidence. However, in reality forensic scientists are much more likely to be back at the lab doing DNA profiling work than out on exciting crime scenes looking glamorous.
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