Does technology and television shows lead to unrealistic expectations of DNA sequencing?

The public has generally been very inspired and optimistic about recent advances in DNA sequencing. However, their expectations for DNA sequencing may be too inflated by these unrealistic portrayals. For example, a theory called the CSI effect postulates that television programs dramatizing unrealistic forensics methods has led to misunderstanding of DNA testing. This may cause jurors to be more inclined to acquit without high-tech scientific evidence such as DNA tests, even when not necessary. However, a study has shown that not only television shows, but technology in general can lead to these incorrect assumptions. The study, which showed that almost half of all jurors surveyed expected DNA analysis to be used by the police (45.3%), also questioned the ability of the government to revamp forensics labs to meet these expectations with underfunded and understaffed resources. (40) (43)

Some scientists have criticized the extensive use of complex metaphors and analogies to explain DNA to the public has possibly misled grandiose impressions about what our current technology can accomplish. Such complex terms are confusing and make it hard for the public to understand the work of scientists; they can even lead to the fear of scientists as God-like manipulators. Talking about DNA sequencing as "cracking the code of life" leads to the impression that scientists can distinguish the meaning of all the endless patterns of four letters, when we obviously only have a rudimentary understanding at best. Furthermore, language about a "book of life" or "language of God" can be confusing or even lead to fear and awe. (51)

While DNA sequencing still has some controversial issues to be resolved, these obstacles can all be overcome. Vast advancements in DNA sequencing has undoubtedly led to a revolution in our understanding of ourselves as human beings. As prices drop and technology improves further, DNA sequencing promises to bring more important economic benefits, better healthcare and general life improvements to people all around the world. No matter where we live or who we are, everyone should take notice of DNA sequencing, for DNA sequencing promises an abundance of positive impacts in the near future. DNA sequencing is an indispensable tool that allows us to create a blueprint for a better society.

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