Sunday, 27 September 2009

Forensic pathologists old and new revisited

A recent BBC4 programme - Watching the dead - considered how the portrayal of forensic scientists and pathologists in 'crime dramas' had changed over the past 30 or so years, and in doing so presented a clip of Professor Keith Simpson teaching some students at Guy's Hospital, and being interviewed for the Horizon programme in the 1970s. The programme also featured Professor Bernard Knight explaining how he had tried to inject some realism into those forensic dramas on which he acted as advisor, with little success!

With one nostalgic eye on the past, a read of Andrew Rose's book on Sir Bernard Spilsbury - Lethal Witness - starts one thinking about how one's own work will be judged in the future. As forensic pathological evidence and theory changes over time, it is inevitable that opinion given decades ago will now seem untenable, but that is the nature of 'scientific evidence'. Perhaps we shouldn't view the 'old guard' of forensic pathology so harshly?