Science is human

One of the things that scientists, but even more so, science fetishists, tend to resolutely forget is that science is not magic. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.

Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country’s largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

No matter how flawless the scientody may be, it always has to pass through several layers of scientistry, each of which is entirely capable of transforming both the data as well as the reported conclusions. This is the primary reason that appeals to science are every bit as flawed as appeals to eyewitnesses, because it is assuming that no scientist will ever fail to be less than entirely truthful and unbiased.

Which, being human, is the one thing that we know for certain that they are not.