National Paranormal Society NPS FOCUS June 2016 - Page 68


Forensics...? Fantastic!

What is the study of forensics? Why is it important in paranormal research? The Oxford Dictionaries define forensics as the scientific tests and techniques used to detect crime and evidence. It can also be used to refer to the actual scientific laboratory or specific department that conducts the tests for law enforcement. Some describe the term forensics as simply a synonym for legal.

Today, people often think of forensics referring to criminal investigations. One cannot turn on the television without seeing a plethora of shows whose plots are based on forensic work. Those with cable can even enjoy two networks devoted to the field. Forensics is more than just this, however. It is used in civil cases, and is combined with a number of studies. These specialties include forensic analysis, anthropology, biology, blood patterns, botany, chemistry, dentistry, DNA profiling and phenotyping, entomology, pathology, psychiatry, and psychology. Before one decides that it always

fictional accounts of detective Sherlock Holmes, right before the 20th century. Holmes scientifically would examine the crime scene, worry about contamination, and find the trace evidence to solve the crime. Other crime writers followed suit. Older American were amazed by the feats of the fictional Perry Mason, a series in the early days of television, where he was also able to recreate the crime through intense investigation and then offer astounding revelations in the court room.

What do forensic scientists use today? There are specialists in forensic criminalistics such as accounting, arts, ballistics, body identification, fingerprints, footwear and gloves (such as in the infamous OJ Simpson case), palms and veins. There are even questioned document examiners whose job involves checking for forgeries, alterations, and false signatures. These men and women are also the handwriting and ink experts.

Technology is key when it comes to digital forensics where the specialties include computers, forensic data analysis, database forensics,

can be about a crime and a criminal, understand this work can also help solve ancient and modern mysteries. The methods can be used to scientifically connect families or identify the disease or accident that killed an Egyptian pharaoh or the neighbor next door. It is through forensics, that the possibility of criminal behavior is determined, but the focus is not always on the commission of a crime. Forensics is not a particularly new field, though as technology and science evolve, this field remains on the cutting edge.

Its Latin roots come from the forum where decisions were made for Rome. The classical Greek roots come from the honing of oratory skills to further the cause of democracy. Today, The American Forensics Association states that its goals are education, argument and advocacy. This group was started in 1949, decades before forensics became a household word.

Many readers first experienced this concept of forensics when Arthur Conan Doyle, author and psychic investigator, wrote his