Secret History of the Future

Unreliable Evidence

In assuming DNA evidence is infallible, are we making a mistake identical to the one we made 100 years ago with fingerprinting?

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In the early 20th century, a new forensic technique, fingerprinting, displaced a cruder form of identification based on body measurements. Hailed as modern, scientific, and infallible, fingerprinting was adopted around the world. But in recent years, doubts have been cast on its reliability, and a new technique, DNA profiling, has emerged as the forensic gold standard. In assuming it is infallible, are we making the same mistake again?


Podcast production by Bart Warshaw and Kate Holland.

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