Critical Analysis: DNA Evidence


Introduction

DNA evidence is the use of body products like saliva, blood, skin cells, semen, and any biological material to develop investigative leads. Forensic DNA analysis is accurate and reliable, and as a result, its evidence is essential in exonerating people who are convicted wrongly. The popularity of DNA evidence has captured the headlines as well as the imagination of the citizens making them involve it in many cases despite the fact that other methods can be used to prove evidence. The technique allows people to be identified with their unique blueprint and it is widely used for criminal investigation especially in the criminal and justice system. The police use DNA to check whether the sample of a suspect matches the one in the file and to understand the characteristics of the criminal. Genetic fingerprinting allows police to store information about DNA regions rather than actual genes for data protection purposes. In statistical modeling, two cultures is a problem that involves science and the real life. People are split into two because of science whereby science is seen as something that will keep people prosperous and secure. The two cultures create a dilemma because the sciences believe that the future of a person is found in their bones while the traditional culture does not believe in the existence of the future. People think that science address the human condition, which is a problem with the traditional culture since God, is the Supreme Being who treats all conditions faced by humankind. The truths about these two cultures are contradicting making it difficult to know the real truth. This paper is going to discuss DNA evidence focusing on the problems that surround it including the two cultures problem.

DNA Evidence Problem

Despite the fact that DNA evidence has been used to solve a lot of issues, it has some limitations. In crime cases, having a match of a DNA in a crime scene makes someone a suspect, but it does not guarantee that the person is guilty. However, in forensic DNA evidence, experts talk about the probability (Reardon, p.40, 2004). The movies and the television portray DNA evidence in such a way that it is capable of solving any criminal case. CSI effect has an influence on the criminal justice whereby jurors rely too much on DNA evidence and exclude other physical evidence that may be of use in solving a case (Palsson, and Rabinow, p.14, 1999). DNA fraud is another issue that is facing DNA evidence whereby criminals plant DNA samples in the crime scene. According to research, it is also possible to manufacture the DNA of a person without even having body tissues of the person.

With the help of DNA evidence, crime shows in the television and the movies make it seem easy to catch a criminal and solve crimes. However, this is not the case in real life situations. Lab mistakes occur at times, and sometimes there are cases of mixed evidence like siblings sharing the same DNA, which could make an innocent person be convicted of a crime. The reported matches need to be interpreted correctly in order to ensure that the right person is convicted. According to research, interpreting results requires a lot of consideration rather than technological knowledge (M’charek, p.122, 2000). People perceive that DNA results offer evidence without a reasonable doubt but in most cases, a DNA match does not guarantee the guilt of a suspect. Errors can occur especially when several DNAs are mixed and when the evidence is degraded through improper storage and time. Hence, it is important to separate different sources to avoid mixing the DNAs.

The analysts are human beings, and sometimes they can be affected emotionally leading to bias. In most cases, the people conducting the analysis are aware of the results that are supposed to match, and it influences the process. The jurors also get a lot of information on DNA evidence but little information on how to analyze the results, which are capable of causing errors (Connors, p.31, 1996). DNA errors occur because of collection and handling errors. DNA evidence faces the risk of being contaminated whereby officers should reduce related activities in order to ensure that contamination does not occur. While collecting evidence, such activities like smoking, drinking, and eating should not take place because they increase the chances of the evidence being contaminated. This is because DNA is a sensitive type of proof and any compromise can lead to contamination, which can in return give the wrong results.

According to research, ninety-five percent of the DNA is not understood whereby experts technically refer it to noncoding DNA or junk DNA. The lack of this understanding, in this case, is associated with lack of purpose resulting in the question whether nature is supposed to make mistakes (Fausto-Sterling, p.5, 2004). The people that are in control of DNA database are capable of planting fake evidence in a crime scene since they are aware of the lineage of an individual including the physical characteristics, the diseases, the mental characteristics, and predispositions. As a result, the use of DNA as a criminal evidence is negated unless there is corroborating evidence.

The Predictive Powers of DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid is a molecule used to encode the instructions of genes that are used in the development and the functioning of organisms. DNA is a macromolecule that is necessary for all forms of life, and it consists of two polymers made of deoxyribose and phosphate groups that alternate each other (Reardon, p.44, 2004). DNA contains biological storage whereby the molecule has an inbuilt duplicate of encoded information because of the DNA backbone that is resistant to cleavage. The process used by forensic scientists is known as DNA profiling or genetic fingerprinting. The method is reliable in identifying a match in a crime.

The sequence of DNA makes up a gene whereby the gene is used to determine the characteristics of the organism, and in this case, the attribute of the suspect. These features include the colors of their eyes, the hair, and the physical strength. A series of genes create a chromosome whereby the unique biological code of a person appears (Connors, p.35, 1996). As a result, a sample of a DNA is capable of showing the genetic blueprints of an individual and therefore, recreates the person. The code is unique in all organisms, and hence it is used to trace the particular suspect in a crime.

DNA evidence has predictive powers whereby it is possible to connect a person with a tangible object. Biological evidence is a type of proof that is not visible but shows physical evidence. All the biological evidence that is obtained in a crime scene is subjected to tests whereby all kinds of biological organs can be used including saliva, vomit and even feces (M’charek, p.123, 2000). The testing uses a few cells to obtain evidence whereby the sources of the sample are identified and the suspect is determined whether he/she was at a crime scene. A weapon can be put in the hands of a suspect through DNA testing helping to solve crimes. It is important for officers to be aware of how to use DNA evidence since it is a powerful tool and in case it is used in the wrong way can lead to innocent people being implicated for crimes they did not commit.

The integrity of the crime scene is necessary in DNA evidence whereby the scene should be protected in order for the evidence to be safe. The success of a DNA evidence requires preservation and safeguarding of proof whereby details of the state of the evidence should be documented such as wet blood spatters or dry blood (Fausto-Sterling, p.11, 2004). DNA evidence uses a chain of custody where the people collecting evidence keep a record of all the people with physical possession of proof. In addition, to maintain the integrity of the crime scene, recording makes sure that evidence is collected in the right manner. DNA is a powerful tool and experts can use DNA samples and knowledge to create medical advances and answer important questions (Palsson, and Rabinow, p.17, 1999). DNA can be applied in various compelling situations especially in detection and treatment of diseases. This is because it has the ability to spot and prevent an ailment in the case that the blueprint of a person is presented. For instance, re-growth of an organ can occur through cloning whereby a missing part of the body can be developed. In the case of crime evidence, DNA is capable of placing a person in a crime scene or excluding a suspect in a scene of the offense. Hence, DNA evidence is an important tool in solving crimes because it has powerful predictive abilities.

The Two Cultures Problem

The issue of whether people from two different cultures can understand one another can be answered by science. Science creates knowledge by using personal knowledge whereby a distinctive culture is formed. Science is an independent culture that helps to transcend the ethnic cultures (Fausto-Sterling, p.22, 2004). However, literary people cannot understand science as a distinctive culture resulting in another culture being formed of the literary people. Hence, the two cultures are the literary culture and the science culture, and they have differing opinions about different people from different cultures understanding one another. The basic understanding of different cultures is based on science rather than language.

Culture is a factor that forms the physical and biological evolution of a person and cannot be treated as an organ in the body. Human culture is distinctive whereby science and art form two different cultures. The two cultures problem assumes that people from different cultures are not capable of understanding one another. Science and art form two distinctive cultures because humanists and scientists cannot communicate with one another and the problem needs to be resolved. The problem assumes that people from different cultures always misunderstand one another and that membership in the two cultures is mutually limited (Fausto-Sterling, p.15, 2004). Humanists believe that the people who value technology and science and believe that it is meant to enhance technology do not belong in the contemporary world. This is because the mind and cognition model is the information-processing factor.

Science and technology define human beings as computer machines, and human characteristics are seen as the thinking and judgment computation models. Humanists are marginalized by technoscience whereby devices are deemed more important than people are. Scholars expect technology to serve them while scientists expect philosophers to follow the algorithmic and universal laws of the physical system (Connors, p.39, 1996). As a result, the two cultures cannot understand one another since computer systems function according to finite procedures that are fixed, and they cannot deviate. On the other hand, the human systems are open and infinite hence cannot be compared to computer systems.

The creation of the artists and scientists allow the breaking of the barrier between the two cultures through the creation of knowledge. This is because knowledge has an actual dimension and it is subjective to personal experience. The content of the education should be open to the discovery of all people irrespective of the culture they originate. However, it is important to change the focal awareness of the people and to extend the subliminal understanding (Fausto-Sterling, p.35, 2004). The creation of scientific knowledge is dependent on the knowledge that is embodied in culture because scientists are bound by culture. As a result, the production of knowledge is ironic since there is a commitment of artistic processes and imagination confirming the traditional scientific procedures. Therefore, the two cultures are based on two stereotypes that are misleading since the creation of knowledge is applicable in the two cultures.

The problem of how technocrats and humanists communicate comes from the two cultures problem. It is possible for the two cultures to communicate through the understanding of what drives the problem. There is a possibility of solving the issue in case people discuss and elaborate the problem more. The people who support technology systems and the ones who use the systems can listen to the individuals who use the systems in order to come with solutions. The problems can be interpreted as design flaws like the bug’s problem in technology that is said to make people stupid (M’charek, p.149, 2000). In the case of bug problems, the only way to come up with a solution is to involve the developers. The developers can create a system that improves the abilities of the users instead of one that curbs them.

The problem of the two cultures can be solved through evolution and knowledge. This is because the two cultures are not different but instead they contain the same elements. The two cultures depend on the same factors in order for humanists and scientists to create knowledge (Reardon, p.52, 2004). These features include irony, metaphor, switching of perspective, and focus. Humanists can be defined as scientists in terms of the way they elaborate issues as well as the way they discuss interpretations critically. In addition, philosophy and history involve debugging, criticism, problem-solving, and resolution of problems, which show similarity rather than differences. On the other hand, the theories and the socio-technical systems are found in the contemporary society as well as in humanists and scientists, which are over the cultural differences. Hence, it is important to discuss these issues in order to come up with a solution.

The technology has a common goal, which is creating and using knowledge. The users, the developers and the humanists both need the same thing and as a result, it is important to come up with a solution rather than looking at the difference that exists between the two cultures. Since there is a common goal in the two cultures, it is possible to have a direction that can facilitate communication between the two groups. This means that the technology developers need to listen to the technology users in order for an effective solution to be developed (Connors, p.41, 1996). For instance, the users may state the failures of a system whereby the developers are supposed to draw up a solution to the particular problem. In addition to both scientists and humanists having the knowledge of creating, they also have the knowledge of using technology. As a result, the two cultures are capable of understanding one another because they share the same characteristics and knowledge.

The two cultures problem in DNA Evidence

DNA analysis has enhanced and outweighs all the other forensic techniques used in finding evidence. However, the technique has a disadvantage because science can only be reliable depending on the way people decide to use it. With DNA evidence, the manner of using the method keeps on evolving, and as a result, the field of forensic evidence keeps on expanding. However, it is important to understand the analysis of the mixtures and the probability of the analysis going wrong. This is because according to biology, human beings share 99.9 percent of genes (Palsson, and Rabinow, p.17, 1999). However, the strands of DNA have a unique sequence in all human beings and the chances of having a share of the same gene are rare. The mixtures of DNA samples consist of many alleles making the mathematics in the analysis complicated. Therefore, it is important for the study to determine the contributors that are involved in a test as well as the type of allele that belong to a particular suspect (Reardon, p.56, 2004). It is possible for alleles to appear to exist in a place that it does not especially, if the sample is degraded or too small. This means that the analysis is an objective science and at the same times an interpretive art.

In some cases, victims are implicated in crimes that they did not commit in order for the guilty party to go free. The fundamental objective of the DNA evidence technology is to help solve problems and at the same time eliminate subjectivity in forensics. However, crime laboratories do not operate in the way that they are meant to because subjectivity still exists even with DNA evidence. This is because the level of training and standards vary, as well as the quality of results (Palsson, and Rabinow, p.18, 1999). The forensic DNA has a dark side whereby many DNA evidence testing go wrong because of the faults of both the users and the developers of the technology. The problem also exists because of lack of communication between the police officers and the DNA experts because the police do not know how to interpret the results from the laboratories. DNA profiling does not have skepticism and mistakes occur all the time (M’charek, p.154, 2000). DNA evidence is the science used to come up with answers, but the people in the laboratory and the police officers use it wrong leading to more problems like punishing innocent people. People need to accept the world as it is and as a result, the difference between science and culture will be solved.

Conclusion

DNA evidence is any biological evidence that is capable of connecting a suspect to a crime. It has predictive powers whereby it is capable of placing a person in a crime scene even without any physical evidence. The primary objective of DNA evidence is to eliminate subjectivity and to solve crimes effectively. However, DNA evidence has some problems that include testing errors that mostly occur because of contamination. Mixing of several samples or other materials as well as keeping a sample for an extended time can contaminate a sample and as a result, give the wrong results. The two cultures problem involves communication issues between scientists and humanists because of differing beliefs. However, the problem can be reconciled with the development of knowledge and discussion of the issue more often in order to come up with the practical solution. The two cultures are not contradicting because they share the same characteristics hence are capable of developing a solution. With the correct use of DNA evidence technology, crime can be solved effectively.