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sherlock holmes

"I've found it.  I've found it," he shouted to my companion, running toward us with a test tube in hand.  "I have found a reagent which is precipitated by hemoglobin and by nothing else.  . . . The old guaiacum test was very clumsy and uncertain.  So is the microscopic examination for blood corpuscles.  The latter is valueless if the stains are a few hours old.  Now, this appears to act as well whether the blood is old or new.  Had this test been invented, there are hundreds of men now walking the earth who would long ago have paid the penalty for their crimes.  . . . Criminal cases are continually hinging upon that one point.  A man is suspected of a crime months perhaps after it has been committed.  His linen or clothes are examined and brownish stains discovered upon them.  Are they blood stains, or rust stains, or fruit stains, or what are they?  That is a question which has puzzled many an expert, and why?  Because there was no reliable test.  Now we have the Sherlock Holmes test, and there will no longer be any difficulty."

Sherlock Holmes
renaissance era


  • Bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern Era
  • its influence affected literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry.
  • Renaissance: Belief = Truth.  This was a time of deep religious belief permeating all aspects of culture.
Renaissance Era
the history of the salem witch trials
The History of The Salem Witch Trials

One may ask, what do these trials have to do with Forensic Science?

As we all have, or should have learned in school, the Salem Witch Trials were the result of mass hysteria due to mysterious “happenings” in and around the small town of Salem.

In 1641, witchcraft, by English law, was to be considered a Capital Crime. Meaning any and all who broke this law were to be immediately sentenced to death by method of hanging.

Many were hung due to the ”miseducation” and lies of so many of the townspeople who were looking out for their own lives, yet indirectly, claiming the lives of others.



  • Confession --> put to death
  • No confession --> tortured until you confess
  • Both of these cases follow a presumption of guilt.
church state

In the early period of the Renaissance Era, the Catholic Church ruled.

  • Anything against the Church, was punished.
  • The Salem Witch Trials is an example of the power that the Church had over prosecutions.
Church & State
we hold these truths

A change was made to the constitution originally meant to be “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” but with the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin it was changed to “We hold these truths to be self-evident”.

  • “Half a truth is often a great lie.” – Benjamin Franklin
“We Hold These Truths…”
benjamin franklin s influence

This small change in the declaration set in motion an idea that has come to be the foundation of forensics; in order to find the truth you must have the evidence.

  • There have been many contributions by many people to the field of forensic science but Ben’s contribution to the field was a principle that you must approach everything with a scientific state of mind.
Benjamin Franklin’s influence
age of enlightenment

The enlightenment is the name given by historians for the intellectual movement predominant in the western world.

  • During this period people questioned the ideas which governed them from religion to math and science. They discovered for themselves the answers to the questions which had once been left to the church to answer.
  • People also challenged the ideas of the catholic church which at this time ruled the land.
Age of Enlightenment
age of enlightenment cont

Through this period of time people changed their state of mind some much that centuries later it has become a key attribute for a good forensic scientist, challenge any and everything that doesn’t have evidence to back it up.

  • “If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much what as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.” – John Locke
Age of Enlightenment (cont.)