[I’ve been promising myself a new blog a couple of months ago. A video blog as well. But, work and personal issues got on the way. Well, at least I finished my primary data collection. I still have a couple of experiments in the pipeline, but those will be made if time and energy allows me to. In between I leave you guys with some thoughts I’ve been thinking of in the last months. Hope you enjoy it]
In a blind room, can you see?
Currently we find forensic sciences experiencing big changes. But if we think deeply about it, is this something new? Or is the word “change” something that academics like to engage with?
We – I put myself in this academic room of course – tend to overreact when we find that something can change.
Or course everything can change. Of course, change is part of life. And therefore, change is within forensics no matter which field we’re talking about.
But, the question that raises is: Is it the need of change something new?
I’ve been, luckily(!), attending numerous conferences at an international level within the field of forensics. And so far there was not one single conference that I didn’t hear at least one talk about changing in forensics. Most of the talks were not given by young researchers like myself. Actually the majority of the talks were given by high profile figures in this field. Which makes me asking again, is the need to change something new? Or is it something that people started to struggle a good time ago, and still didn’t overcome it?
I believe it’s time to change. But maybe not change anything within forensics. Maybe it’s time to the people who want forensics to change, to change themselves. And maybe ask the practitioners what do they think about the changes that have been made since the last 10 years.
I believe it’s time for – us – academics to stop thinking only within our own bubble and get outside the office, and perhaps visit laboratories. And talk with examiners from different fields.
I know I’m extremely lucky because I had the possibility to visit different labs in different countries. But, it intrigues me that some of the labs – not to say the big majority – mentioned that I was the first person that did go there and spoke with examiners about what they thought about these “changes”.
We don’t need to travel around. We can act locally as Clifford Stoll shares in his talk. Perhaps if I didn’t have the opportunity to visit so many labs in so many different countries, one option would be to visit only one lab, and chat with the people who do the work that us, academics, want them to change.
Maybe the changes that committees composed mainly by academics could have a different perspective.
But for that, we need flexibility. We need to allow ourselves to permit practitioners to enter the field of discussions instead of being only the recipients of rocket science. I say rocket science, using somehow irony as an adjective within it, as we can see research published and trying to state things targeted for forensic sciences fields, but without using forensic practitioners as a sample.
Not to mention that forensic practitioners may have some difficulties to share their own ideas/opinions about current issues within their field. Although I must say that I don’t know the circumstances on this, I truly believe that this is something that academics should care about. Maybe in the same way we care about error rates and statistics within miscarriages of justice.
Can I have your toys?
I remember when I was young, as maybe all of the kids, I liked to play with others’ children toys. Being only child, I was encouraged to share my toys, and now trying to return maybe 22 years ago, I believe I learnt the lesson very well.
Fortunately, I had around me kids with the same values, and it was great to have their toys and seeing them having mine.
In the end of the day I’d return with my toys, and some of them. The same would occur with these friends of mine. Till the point that our parents would get a bit confused about “who’s that car anyway?”
But, who cared about it? We were kids…
This year, I had the fortunate chance to visit labs in different countries. Countries with different types of technology, and different budgets.
I thought that after the first two or three countries I visited, the technology I would find within bureaus would be the same. From this company or from the other one in the other corner, outcomes would be similar, sort to say.
How wrong I was.
During my travels I’ve seen that forensic laboratories have totally different technology. Not only the companies that sell the technology operate in a different way, which makes the communication between labs harder, the technology itself is expressively different.
And more. Returning to the metaphor about my funny childhood, and making an analogy between a playground to a conference. I don’t see all of the kids in the playground. I only see the same kids. Always the same ones. Always with new toys.
I’m not trying to point the finger and shame the kids who have cool toys. Actually after playing with them during this year, I reckon that these kids acknowledge the fact that they are very lucky to have cool toys. Because they know some others don’t have anything at all.
The reader of this narrative which more seems a fairy tale, may think: Are you not exaggerating a little bit?
Well, actually… take your own conclusions:
Who should be the responsibility of this? I really would like to know the answer of this. But instead, I believe I should take it as my responsibility as well. Maybe if all of the involved parties take some responsibility, as small as it is, we may be able to invite more kids to our playground.
Of course we need to acknowledge the obstacles and issues within it. Besides budget, I can think on political, social and cultural issues. But, can we overcome those?
I believe that together we may.
At least, and this I know for sure, practitioners are extremely keen to be brought to this discussion.
Let the kids play!
See ya later*