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Producing Absolute Truth: CSI Science as Wishful Thinking



ABSTRACT  Forensic science has come to be assigned an important role in contemporary crime fiction. In this article, I analyze the cultural repertoire of forensic science conveyed by the popular television show Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). I argue that CSI science, in delivering an absolute “truth” about how and by whom crimes have been committed, is equated with justice, effectively superseding nonfictional forensic science as well as nonfictional judicature as a whole. Thus, CSI as a cultural performance adds to the mediascape a repertoire of wishful-thinking science with which to think about perceptions of and desires for crime and justice in nonfictional society. This repertoire seems to be considered relevant enough to nonfictional society to cause concern about the judicial system, as expressed in discussions of the so-called “CSI effect.”

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