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
posted by JHarris (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Relevant FPP on forensic science.
posted by brainwane at 6:02 AM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If spoof comedy wasn't on a low, maybe we could have a real CSIdiots, where on every 4 episodes half the team is replaced because they either recklessly incriminate themselves or are suspended.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:56 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would watch Monkey Law & Monkey Order.
posted by peeedro at 4:57 PM on October 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is the second episode in a short while where the main story was something Adam Ruins Everything already covered.
posted by bleep at 6:07 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Not a "bad forensics" specific spoof, but CSIdiots really reminded me of NTSF:SD:SUV:: which I liked a lot.

Reno911! vibe, a cast that punches above their weight class (I was never sold on Paul Scheer until I saw this, and Kate Mulgrew is always fantastic), and rock solid rotating guest stars.
posted by porpoise at 7:15 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've watched NTSF:SD:SUV:: and it's fantastic, although more of a spoof of cop shows with very questionable jurisdictions like NCIS:LA than CSI.

I'm talking about something a bit more like Bones, but with terribly incompetent people. Not going to say "more absurd plots" because I've quit on it after the nth Pelant showdown, and I'm not one to quit on shows.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:10 AM on October 4, 2017

That was the most footage of Guy Fieri I have ever seen, and while I still have no desire to watch his show(s?), his commitment to expanding the Flavortown metaphor is impressive.
posted by asperity at 8:00 AM on October 5, 2017

something a bit more like Bones, but with terribly incompetent people

So...Bones then?


I was kind of impressed with that. I can't stand the man and I don't watch his show, but that was far more creativity than I ever would have thought him capable.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:41 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

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