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Once again, FBI's forensic methods are lacking... - Life is strange...

Feb. 10th, 2004

10:59 pm - Once again, FBI's forensic methods are lacking...

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Hi!

The FBI has apparently been using fairly sophisticated analysis of metal fragments from crime scenes to determine whether bullets still in a suspect's weapon or in his possession are from the same box or batch of bullets as the bullets used in the commission of a crime. Unfortunately for them, this MSNBC story suggests that they may get it wrong.

This story is yet another example of one that has been approved and published by a major news organization, yet has a sophomoric grammatical error. In this case, the text of the erroneous sentence fragment reads: "the FBI Laboratory’s practices in quality assurance must be improved significantly to ensure the validity of it’s results." [emphasis is mine] MSNBC was probably not the original source of this error—they claim that the sentence was quoted from a paper produced by an unnamed "committee."

It's a new game like "Hunt the Wumpus!" See if you can determine the name of the alleged investigating committee, or find the paper produced by it. I don't think the lack of naming of sources or products in this story is a conspiracy, just sloppy reporting. There's certainly a surfeit of sloppy reporting available for our reading pleasure.

Note: It's true, if you read beyond the end of the article, there's a section titled "related resources" that has a link you can click to buy the study... but who's really going to do that? Who'll even click that link, let alone buy and read the study? My guess is that very few people would.

-(Cheers) generalist

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Comments:

[User Picture]
From:angelbob
Date:February 11th, 2004 07:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
It has several such errors ("high-false positive rate" should be "high false-positive rate" or "high false positive rate", for instance).

Further, the article fails to emphasize several of the important points -- for instance, that the study was requested by the FBI in the first place (which actually makes them look *better* in this case) and the fact that they're no longer using the technique (ditto).

So overall it's just a sloppy article, both in tone and specifics.

Though I'll note in passing that that particular sophomoric error occurs within quotation marks, so it's possible it's somebody else's.
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