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The Holmes imperative


After a full day blessed with family, television filled the late, exhausted recoup for my husband and me last night – baseball, hooray; news, a regular and unfortunate necessity; and, finally, a long hiatus before watching a fascinating, if very late-night, documentary on the creation and true life impact of everyone’s favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes.

However fictional he was, his penchant for observation and deduction, investigation, theory and science didn’t change the world of forensics – it created it.

During the news, we did a rare check-in on the show of an old friend from way back.

Formerly far more diplomatic, altruistic and prudent, her new perspective is her prerogative, but the shock value and Hollywood hold on her presentations is new, and perplexing to us. The chihuahua-like, skewed-jaw delivery is filled with synchronized sarcasm and carefully choreographed quips, but the evidence falls short. Anything that can be literally validated should be. It would better justify her hour, and regardless of which side the facts lend validity to, they should be shared. They are also readily available and easily presentable; one has only to look.

So, I wonder why we don’t end so much of the bickering and volleying. Yes, many reports and reporters present the undeniable researched evidence, but many more don’t share, and neither political side is alone in this misstep.

Several years ago, some friends shared their concern about the new tax law Obama was booking for the sale of homes. They were upset about the influence it would have on them and the investment they had struggled to make in their homes, which represented so much of their retirement fund.

I spent several days reading the law to find the answer to their concerns. Finally, they could rest assured. Despite the half-truths and omitted details of some brands of news, the law had nothing to do with almost everyone. It affected only second homes and income properties sold for more than $4.5 million. Most Americans never see that in their lifetime … most didn’t see the law either, just the spin.

My friends were very relieved when they learned the tax law on income properties wouldn’t affect the sale of their homes when that time came. In the interim between the alarm and putting out the fire, they helped propagate a myth. The truths rarely get as much press, especially when they don’t work for personal politics.

Today, many news/entertainment shows utilize scare tactics and half-truths to stump for their chosen gods or goddesses, though they usually have the full truth. The method is tried and true policy to divide the people, so the rest of us must do our own research before panicking before perpetuating and promulgating; it’s essential.

Yesterday, angry words were exchanged on social media about Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh reportedly snubbing Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed in the Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Someone posted very harsh words, then hollered, “Fake news.” Meanwhile, directly over the post was a video of the incident. Checking it out couldn’t be easier and, whether or not the evidence supports our personal position, it behooves us to check.

A few years ago, a rumor surfaced that Obamacare caused insurance companies to kill the very long standing practice of paying residuals on policy sales to sales personnel. Losing a week in legal lingo led to safely stating that nothing in that Affordable Care Act even referred to insurance companies’ profits. Companies were claiming record profits, so it was obvious that they could afford to pay residuals as usual. We can only deduce that corporate seized an opportunity to send more money upstairs and to stockholders, (a lawsuit against employers should be launched), but blame is easier than doing even easy research.

Sherlock Holmes made blood spatter patterns and individual human gait fascinating to millions. Today, enrollment is skyrocketing in forensics’ studies due to shows like “CSI.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock’s creator, inspired by one of his medical school professors, initiated much. Forensics will never be the same, and he is the reason.

Still, whether or not ballistics and luminal are breakfast chat, we would do well to validate our information, whatever it may be. We may not get it all, or even get it right, straight out of the gate, and our politics and vested interest in certain commercial arenas may influence our opinions. Still, we must draw no conclusion until we’ve done our best bit of sleuthing.