Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Forensic Science
October 3, 2017 2:55 AM - Season 4, Episode 25 - Subscribe
- Puerto Rico, where three million American citizens continue to deal with the destruction from Hurricane Maria, while President Trump and his administration both aggrandizes their efforts to help while demeaning them for needing help. The debacle comes at the end of a weak of failures by Trump and team. Trump also claims the Republicans' most recent attempt to ruin health care failed because a senator "was in the hospital." (No one was in the hospital.)
- Trump's efforts to pass tax reform, or as he himself calls it a massive tax cut, which the Tax Policy Center has determined would actually raise middle class taxes and accrue most of the benefits to the top 1% of taxpayers. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dismisses those concerns, predictably.
- And Now: Guy Fieri Gives A Surprisingly Detailed Tour of His Favorite Place on Earth ("Flavortown.")
- Main story: the use of forensic evidence in the solving of crimes. While jurors are conditioned by shows like CSI to expect conclusive proof to come from forensic evidence, the National Research Council has stated that many "forensic sciences" don't meet the basic requirements to be called "science." Last Week Tonight produced a short promo for the show "CSI: Crime Scene Idiot." YouTube (19m)
Whenever the show plays a clip of Trump, listen to the audience. They're now laughing even then John Oliver has yet to make a joke. That is what it means to be a "laughing stock."
The phrase to watch for in court is if forensic evidence establishes a thing "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty," a phrase that sounds convincing but has no definite meaning.
Here's the Innocence Project's page on Santae Tribble, of whom an FBI forensic expert said a hair sample proved so conclusively that he was at the scene of a murder, despite several eyewitnesses saying he was elsewhere, that the odds of error were "one in ten million." DNA evidence later exonorated Santae Tribble after he had served 26 years in prison. Some of the hairs that had been traced to Tribble were from multiple other persons, and one was from a dog.
F.37: The logo of Hispanic Federation, "Donatum," HURRICANE RELIEF. The URL presented at the end of the episode is hispanicfederation.org/unidos.