After more than 300 episodes spanning 15 seasons, the CBS’s crime show CSI took its final bow this Sunday. Besides being one of the most viewed drama series in television series, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is also one of the most influential with good and bad. In fact, it’s so influential that people had to coin the “CSI effect” to describe how people’s opinion of how a forensic scientist or crime scene investigator does his job has changed. In most cases actually people actually found out what a crime scene investigator does, albeit short of a couple of tidbits that don’t necessarily reflect reality.
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A prime example of the CSI effect – and there’s no greater impact – can be found in the courtroom, of all places. “With increased awareness comes a lot more expectations,” Kristine Olsson, blood spatter analyst and trace evidence scientist said. Speaking for KCTV5’s Bonyen Lee, Olsson said that the biggest misconceptions the TV show created were the timelines of test results and cracked cases. You’d think a judge would know better but Olsson claims he’s heard of many cases where DNA tests and other forensic investigations where taken for granted. “They think the results can come out in one or two minutes and crimes are solved in less than an hour on TV, including commercials,” said Allen Hamm, interim director at the Johnson County crime lab.
At the same time, there’s a positive side to the CSI effect – publicity. Millions of young adults have become mesmerized and interested in becoming a CSI. While the show definitely romanticized the profession, schools are flooded with applications. More competition inevitably means more talent, and labs now have more qualified youth. Yes, some will definitely be disappointed past first semesters, but it’s safe to assume that a lot of people have now embarked on a career they enjoy, despite the difficulties that it entails.
Do you want to become a CSI, but not sure what this means or is required of you? Better read our guide first.