Thursday, August 27, 2009

Can You Get DNA from Bullshit?

by Laura James
(cross-posted; art via)

It's a clever business strategy, I'll give them that.

It goes like this:

One: In your dungeon laboratory, develop a way to fabricate forensic samples of DNA from a particular person -- a way to create a "fake" sample.

Two: Write a paper that explains precisely how anyone with a chemistry background can fake a DNA sample and
publish it on the internet.

Three: Call into question the fundamental reliability of every DNA sample ever taken into evidence anywhere, because, after all, you've now proven they can theoretically be faked.

Four: Form a corporation to develop a patented method of detecting faked DNA evidence.

Five: Market your sorry-not-free "authentication assay" to every law enforcement agency on earth as "necessary for maintaining the high credibility of DNA evidence in the judiciary system."

Finally: Land a feature in the New York Times.

Alas, all this has already happened. The company is called Nucleix.

It is immoral, unethical, and offensive to me that these men have done this. But they have. One small group of misguided souls has actually managed to think up a way to undermine the best method of forensic science ever discovered. In doing so, they managed to craft whole new arguments for defense attorneys (and the occasional stupid prosecutor) to try on unsophisticated jurors. Already the ACLU is yapping about it.

I hope this fake DNA boondoggle is not taken seriously and gets no more media attention than it already has. I also hope others will call them out on this. That Andrew Pollack and the New York Times
helped to promote this obscenity with no apparent regard for the ethics of doing so was in and of itself offensive to me and only confirms my low opinion of that newspaper. In this piece, the Times again proves itself a corporate tool.

If this company (Nucleix, not the Times) had an ounce of integrity, the cure it is marketing for the disease it invented would be as readily available on the Internet as the instructions for "faking" DNA results.


cheryl said...

Very interesting article. I suppose if what the Times reports here is true, then all of those fellows freed from prison by The Innocence Project had better be looked at again. Maybe those defense driven laboratory results were messed with.

Actually, I believe this is shoddy science and journalism on Nucleix's and The Times' part. It's like an upper class version of the National Enquirer, as far as the article goes.

FleaStiff said...

We live in a world where diseases are manufactured in the minds of patients so drug companies can profit. We live in a world where many of our electrical appliances were invented solely to increase our need for electricity.
So whats so different about a couple of sharp operators creating a false need for their dna-validation test?