CSI: Internet

By Shamus Posted Monday Feb 14, 2011

Filed under: Movies 168 comments

I’m aware of the whole CSI TV show craze, and the meme that sprouted up around it. I actually watched an episode of the show back when I was writing about the CSI-joke quest in World of Warcraft, just so I was familiar with the material being satirized.

However, even the WoW quest wasn’t as stupid as this:


Link (YouTube)

I realize that certain compromises are made for dramatic effect, but the very idea of examining the reflection in a person’s eye, in a photograph taken from an overhead angle, on a security camera… sigh. It would have been less immersion-breaking if they just resorted to elven magic to find the killer.


Link (YouTube)

So, a couple of detectives are surfing the internet on their mouse-less large-screen TV, when one of them realizes the website they’re looking at is being updated live. They decide they need the IP for this website. Or for someone who is updating the website. I’m not sure they know themselves. And then one of them says, “I’ll make a GUI interface using Visual Basic, see if i can track an IP Address out of this.”

Here is a cool project:

Try to list everything wrong with that conversation. It’s hard. Josh and I worked on it for a minute or two, and we were still coming up with new, ridiculous things to point out. There is so much wrongness packed in here it’s actually sort of daunting.

Of course, if she was really doing what she said she was doing, it would look like this:


Link (YouTube)

Hello? CSI? Yes, I’d like to report a crime. You see, apparently someone is stealing money from CBS. I don’t know what they look like, but I know they’re posing as a writer on a procedural crime drama. They’re writing hilarious gibberish and then making off with a paycheck at the end of the week. Catch them? No! I don’t want you to catch them. I want you to put me in contact with them. I’ve been writing stuff that’s coherent for a few years now, and I have to say it’s a lot more work and way less profitable. If you could hook me up with a job writing asspull fiction, I would really appreciate it.

 


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168 thoughts on “CSI: Internet

  1. X2-Eliah says:

    Sometimes, I think it would be so much simpler to just be able to believe the magical technology they have.. Because the real one is too mundane and picky.

    Anyway. The show must have some kind of CGI team (CGI:CSI:Location) doing all the faked computer overlays – I wonder why they haven’t gone to the producer, saying “see here, this bit – it’s utter bollocks, it is!”..

    1. MrValdez says:

      If this reddit post is real, the writers intentionally made these scenes ridiculous.

      http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/f2i7t/ive_written_for_tv_shows_like_csi_and_numbers/

    2. Will says:

      To the average layperson, computers are indistinguishable from magic.

      Of course, as Generation Y is steadily becoming the average layperson, this is no longer the case, Hollywood will eventually catch up, maybe.

      Probably not.

      1. Raygereio says:

        No. Sure, more and more people will be comfortable using computers and all kind of gadgets. But using something is not the same as actually knowing how the technology works and knowing what it can and can’t do.

        1. Blanko2 says:

          agreed, i believe the average person of my generation and the generation above still doesnt know what is visual basic or how it does computers.
          replace visual basic with any programming language you want, really.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          Which is why cars in Hollywood leap tall buildings in a single bound (well, ramp), and explode when you shoot the petrol tank – we’re all pretty familiar with cars, but not so many of us are familiar with how they actually work, or what their limitations actually are.

          1. Blanko2 says:

            funny bit to add is that in the dukes of hazzard movie you can see the car’s axle snap after a a ramp up to the highway, course it wasnt canon.
            but it does show what happens to a car when you do crazy movie things to it.

  2. PurePareidolia says:

    I just have to be in awe at this. I can’t think of anything else to say…

    Oh wait.

    ENHANCE!

    1. Senji says:

      Well stuff like Star Trek and BSG can get away with ENCHANCE! They have superior cameras and software there. Their cameras actually being able to shoot everything in a scene including behind objects and being able to record the materials of the surfaces in the shot.

      1. Will says:

        I can buy rediculous levels of enhancement in images set in shows hundreds or thousands of years into the future. Consider how big the average camera image has gotten in the last decade, extrapolate out for a century and picking up the reflection off a window with decent detail is actually reasonable.

        1. Josh says:

          For a bit of irony, didn’t Star Trek TNG have an episode where Geordi was investigating some disappearances or something and he reconstructed a photograph of the event in the holodeck? And, amazingly, only the features visible in the photograph could be displayed? If I recall, most of the rising action of that entire episode was Geordi trying to reconstruct the rest of the scene based on what they could extrapolate from the photo.

          1. Blanko2 says:

            ooh thats actually a pretty interesting premise
            i’ll have to track that one down

            1. Peter H. Coffin says:

              To save other commentors the fun of looking it up, it’s “Identity Crisis”, TNG season 4, ep 18.

          2. Soylent Dave says:

            May favourite Star Trek TNG ‘plot’ involved them using an “anti-Mass Spectrometer” to find a hull breach.

            I don’t know what an anti- one is, but I know that a mass spectrometer basically just weighs molecules and tells you what they’re made of.

            … maybe they just weighed the entire ship and realised that it was a bit lighter than it should have been. And that some of the molecules were made of ‘hole’ instead of ‘hull’.

            1. Blanko2 says:

              its because the mass spectrometer detects molecules, the ANTI-mass spectrometer therefore detects a LACK of molecules, such as one caused by a hole, or a vaccum.
              :D

              1. A Different Dan says:

                Except that a mass spectrometer doesn’t *detect* molecules. It merely identifies them.

                1. Klay F. says:

                  Being mad at this sort of thing is pretty pointless. There should really be some sort of theorem for this: For every thing that exists, there is also an anti-thing that can alternate between existence and non-existence as the plot demands.

                  Remember this is the series that brought us anti-time (for the series finale no less: pretty much the biggest fuck you to fans in its history IMO).

  3. General Karthos says:

    I have a confession to make. I watch CSI: NY. I even enjoy it. Most of the time. It is (thankfully) on on Fridays when I don’t have to get up the next morning, so I pretty much just turn off my brain and let the procedures be their ridiculous selves.

    I mean, the computer stuff itself is ridiculous, but fortunately, I am mostly computer illiterate, so I don’t really notice. But the processes they go through in the crime labs are even more insane. I don’t know much about criminal investigation, but I know that in no way are the crime labs in the CSI shows even CLOSE to realistic. Re-assembling a fractured bullet after it has been inside somebody’s body to examine it for fingerprints is a pretty routine operation on CSI: NY. I’m not even sure if it’s actually possible.

    1. SatansBestBuddy says:

      It’s not.

      It’s several hundred ways of possible NOT.

      1. monojono says:

        Unless you’re Batman!

        1. Falcon says:

          A thousand times yes. I loved The Dark Knight, but that scene hurt my brain so bad that I wanted to scream.

          1. krellen says:

            Batman’s real super-power is his mastery of SCIENCE! (not to be mistaken for normal, mundane science.)

            1. HeroOfHyla says:

              I read some theory that Batman’s power was that whatever he needed was always on hand. It’s like his belt is Schrodinger’s Box: until he opens the pouch to grab what’s inside, it can be anything.

              1. Sem says:

                Also, money.

                1. Sumanai says:

                  I think that’s the larger scale version, called the Schrà¶dinger’s Bank Account. It could be several billion negative for all the Batspending, or it could have seen a few billion increase for “why not?”-reasons.

                  In order for it to work Wayne Enterprises hires only the laziest and worst of the accountants money can find. First so they won’t bother to check up on things, and the latter so they won’t realise something’s a miss and force the waveform to collapse on the sane side.

    2. Tizzy says:

      I hear that real prosecutors in real-life courtrooms are cursing the people who came up with the CSI concept. The real-life science and the associated levels of uncertainty have become underwhelming to today’s juries.

      1. Blanko2 says:

        not just underwhelming but unacceptable. there have been cases where they wont declare someone guilty because there isnt a 100% certainty, which is just ridiculous

        1. Some Jackass says:

          100% certainty is required for getting a guilty verdict on all capital offences.

          1. thebigJ_A says:

            No. It is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. That is not the same as 100% certainty.

            You can never be absolutely, one hundred percent certain about anything. You can thing of all kinds of crazy, improbable, far out things that may have happened instead of what the prosecutors claim happened, yet still fit the evidence. The key word is “reasonable”.

            Sure, someone may have grown a perfect clone of the accused, and it was the clone that did the killing, leaving his DNA and fingerprints. It IS technically possible. But, it isn’t very reasonable.

          2. Simon Buchan says:

            “Beyond reasonable doubt” includes the word “reasonable” – meaning explicitly *not* 100%.

          3. Shamus says:

            I believe the phrase is “Beyond a reasonable doubt”.

            But if the evidence looks much weaker than what you’re used to on television (even if it’s still solid) and it’s a lot harder to follow than what you’ve seen on crime dramas, then your scale of “reasonable” doubt is likely skewed. (Assuming you’re the sort of person who goes around believing what the teevee shows you.)

            EDIT: Ninja’d! Curses!

            1. Blanko2 says:

              it doesnt even make sense that people would trust tv that much, since they should quickly realize that in real crime scenes, there isnt semen all over the place.

              wait, wasnt rutskarn in a jury?
              lets ask him

            2. TA says:

              The alternative, though, is that juries – and people generally – are a lot more trusting of forensic evidence than they really ought to be. The only form of forensic evidence with any actual science behind it is nuclear DNA analysis. Everything else is guesswork.

              Yes, that includes fingerprints. You’d think that there would exist a foundational study to show, for instance, that fingerprints are actually unique, but there isn’t. It’s just “common knowledge” that everybody has unique fingerprints, so if the fingerprint they found looks like it matches the defendant’s fingerprints in a few places according to the police technician paid to testify, people are convinced. Things like hair analysis, dentition analysis, all sorts of things that don’t hold up when people try to actually test it but still get accepted.

              I remember a video we watched in my wrongful convictions seminar, where people had sent a photograph of a breast with a bruise from a bite mark on it, and a mold of what they said was the defendant’s teeth, to one of the most prominent forensic odontologists out there, asking him whether they matched. It was actually a mold of one of their teeth, which they knew for a fact were not the teeth used to make the bruise, but that didn’t stop the guy going on for twenty minutes about how on the basis of this mold and this polaroid, here’s why there’s absolutely no question that these teeth made this bruise.

              1. Tizzy says:

                I got the chance to hear about a US specialist in DNA fingerprinting (an actual Biologist). What crime labs do includes a lot of guesswork, which is fine, provided that you don’t present your result as 100% accurate.

                For instance: given a sample, there is no way to reliably tell if two or three people’s DNA is contained in it (if you’re lucky, it’s clearly three, but sometimes it’s really ambiguous).

    3. Peter H. Coffin says:

      “Hey, CSI team! You wouldn’t have to do all this crap if you’d JUST TURN ON THE LIGHTS IN YOUR LAB!”

  4. Jenx says:

    Man, my PC must be complete shit, since every time I try to do that eye trick in Photoshop it just turns out a complete mess. And it’s obvious what they showed there was true, I mean why would TV ever lie to me? :D

    1. PurePareidolia says:

      Did you try using a spoon to model the human eye? it might be that.

  5. MrValdez says:

    Red Dwarf spoofed this to be even more absurd (if you can believe it).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUFkb0d1kbU

      1. Will says:

        That was the best part of an otherwise mediocre movie. I wait patiently for the day when Adobe adds the Uncrop tool to photoshop.

      2. Eroen says:

        uncrop plugin for GIMP:
        http://registry.gimp.org/node/16113
        “This is the initial version, lightly tested.”

    1. Blanko2 says:

      wait whats that! enhance

      yeah that scene has just about all of those bullcrap effects.
      ah red dwarf, you were so good.

  6. Brendan says:

    Red Dwarf did a parody of this in their movie length special
    here.

    It’s a fairly well known trope. I’m pretty sure they’ve been doing asspulls like this since CSI: Las Vegas, so there’s no excuse for it.

    EDIT: damn, beaten to it.

  7. The stupidest thing about the Magic Enhance Button is when you consider that the film and TV industry have some of the best image processing technology in the world. The people involved in making that scene know exactly why it doesn’t work that way.

    At least Futurama got it right here.

    1. Simon says:

      Actually I was a little annoyed by that scene. If I lived in the year 3000 I’d assume camera technology wouldn’t have gone backwards and that we’d still be able to get at least 50 MP from our spy satellites.

      1. Avilan says:

        Rule of funny…

      2. Eroen says:

        Actually, distances are often large in space. This would probably zoomed to the theoretical limit of resolution due to the finite size of the optics in the “camera.”

        1. wtrmute says:

          “Actually, distances are often large in space.”

          Understatement of the Century.

          1. Blanko2 says:

            this site needs a thumbs up button or something.

          2. Rolaran says:

            “Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

            –Douglas Adams, “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

          3. Karl says:

            “Actually, distances are often large in space.”Understatement of the Century.

            In fact, you could say they’re

            *dons sunglasses*

            ASTRONOMICAL

            1. krellen says:

              YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

              1. Blanko2 says:

                wow, your type fled the window, there

                1. krellen says:

                  If your CSI “YEAH” doesn’t break the comment window, you did it wrong. :)

                2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  And what if the site has anti yeah(neah?)code?

      3. Syal says:

        That scene annoyed me more for mentioning CSI: Miami in the year 3000.

  8. StranaMente says:

    I remember this other time, the victim was working on a pot, Ghost-style, when he was killed. They managed to get the audio of the moments he died using the grooves (don’t know if it’s the correct english term) left on the pot, like a vynil.

    Or another time, they used a hologram of a body to explain an autopsy. You know, they were in a morgue. With the real body. On a table. Right next to them. And yet they used… a hologram. In a morgue.

    1. Christopher M says:

      The “sound from pots” idea is conceptually valid, depending on the tools used in the making of the pot. Getting a realistic playback from it, though, not so much.

      1. Jeff #3 says:

        I think Mythbusters did a episode on the sound from a pot idea.

      2. Blanko2 says:

        if it can be recorded into it, it should be possible to get a playback, just not vinyl style.
        i mean, you can effectively playback audio from minute vibrations on a pane of glass from a window, measuring the depth difference between grooves on a pot shouldnt be that much of a stretch.

        course thats assuming the recording can actually happen

  9. Robyrt says:

    The best part about the first clip is that she says, “The resolution isn’t very good,” while looking at 100x magnification, and then immediately proceeds to enhance again. That makes the overall resolution of the security camera about 100,000 pixels across.

    A plausible explanation for the second clip is that the lady is lying through her teeth. She’s actually going to change a couple values in a config file so her old “Awesome Crime-Solving GUI in VB” app will properly display the results from the tech team’s “IP Sniffer” program. Then she’ll take all the credit for it, because THIS one has a button you can push!

    1. Numfar says:

      That does make sense. Actually, this is exactly what I would do if I had her job. Thank you so much. I can now watch that scene without repeatedly banging my head against the wall afterwards.

    2. Dee_Dubs says:

      To be honest, even the fact that they need to use a special program makes me want to hit the writers. In the time it takes for her to explain what she’s going to do, I can (using only the web browser I’m currently on) lookup a domain name and get not only the IP address, but the company hosting it and the physical address of the person who registered it. Give me another 30 seconds, I’ll go onto Google maps and show you what their front door looks like.

      So lets compare…

      CSI Tech: “I’ve written this program that will give us the IP address of this website we can see.”

      Me: “Well that’s all well and good, but I’ve already got the suspects name and address, and the SWAT team is breaking down his door as we speak.”

  10. Zukhramm says:

    Of course, I can accept that not everything will be realistic, but when a big point (a clue to find the killer) relies on a complete disconnect from the real world I just can’t stand it.

    “Oh, but if it was realistic, the story be boring!” some seem to defend it with. Yeah, sorry, but if you need magic in your set in real-life crime story, maybe you shouldn’t tell stories.

    1. Someone says:

      If it was realistic, it would have been The Wire.

    2. Tomulus says:

      Even worse, the portrayal of forensic investigations in CSI is affecting real-world court decisions. Apparently, jurors expect more and better forensic evidence, thereby raising the burdon of proof. It’s called the CSI effect.

      edit: I’ve read a bit more about it: it could well be bullshit.

      1. Raygereio says:

        And there was one episode of CSI where a guy died after an injection witha radioactive isotope iodine. According the CSI exposure to radioactivity will cause the flesh to burn from your bones.
        Which was off course followed by some scared people refusing to take their iodine for medical uses in real life.

        *applies forehead to desk*

        1. Lanthanide says:

          “followed by some scared people refusing to take their iodine”

          What, like “take your iodine or you get the hose again?”

          1. Raygereio says:

            No, more like refusing to take iodine to treat their own tumors or for imaging purposes.
            In other words: take your iodine or you die”.

        2. Soylent Dave says:

          To be fair, my mum had almost her entire thyroid gland knackered by radioactive iodine, because the doctor cocked up the dosage…

          That was quite a few years ago, mind. And the end result was ‘take some different tablets’ not ‘grow some new skin’.

          1. OEP says:

            Sounds like a common side effect to the treatment of hyperthyroidism. Even with perfect dosing quite a number of individuals with hyperthyroidism end up with hypothyroidism.

    3. krellen says:

      Now I want MSI: Magical Scene Investigations.

      1. Rosseloh says:

        What, like this?
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrf4Mj2Ibu4

        (Starting at 1:55 and going to about 6:00.)

        1. krellen says:

          On second thought, let us not go to MSI. ‘Tis a silly place.

  11. Octorok says:

    I actually enjoy (or rather, enjoyed, back when I still had TV) the CSI shows. A lot of the technology, procedures, dialogue etc. is marvelous gibberish, but I put up with it for the sake of the show.

    However I agree that at times like this, “I remember this other time, the victim was working on a pot, Ghost-style, when he was killed. They managed to get the audio of the moments he died using the grooves (don't know if it's the correct english term) left on the pot, like a vynil.” even my ability to put off all logic really fails to meet the challenge.

    Although adding in the extra word-nonsense to the sentence, “I’ll see if I can track his IP address.” was just insulting and unnecessary.

  12. Zak McKracken says:

    Well pointed out, Shamus!
    Ansyone remember “Enemy of the state” with Will Smith?
    Zoom in — sharpen — rotate to another perspective — reconstruct 3D model of a bag from both perspectives — cut away front of bag (which actually was rear side, looking from the camera) to show what’s in it — enahance, done!
    I saw that in the cinema, and none of my friends I saw it with wanted to acknowledge that this scene was hilarious …
    The problem I have with this is people seeing that and thinking that computer stuff actually is like magic.
    Closely related to this topic: http://xkcd.com/683/

  13. Dragomok says:

    There’s a typo in the paragraph between the first and the second video: you typed refection instead of reflection.

    1. Bobby Archer says:

      In Shamus’s defense, the word refection makes more sense than CSI SCIENCE!

  14. Hal says:

    Oh, if you tried to catalog every crime CSI perpetrates against science, you’d spend a long time doing it. I still giggle every time I see them working in their night clubs, er, *ahem*, laboratories, sorry.

    Anyhow, this felt relevant:

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/7/16/

    1. WickedArtist says:

      I always keep a backup copy of the Internet in a floppy disk, in case someone as theirs broken.

      You wouldn’t believe the frequency with which Internets break these days!

    2. Neil Polenske says:

      Yep. First thing I thought of when reading this.

  15. Mari says:

    If you had fun nitpicking CSI, you really need to go rent “Hackers.” It’s brain-meltingly bad. Also, we are samurai – the keyboard cowboys.

    1. Raygereio says:

      I love that movie. The idea of hacking into a building’s electrics and turning the lights off or the sprinklers on is just so wonderfully stupid.

      1. Jeremiah says:

        Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Hackers, so maybe some context would help here, but I don’t see why that’s immediately so stupid.

        I’ve installed automation systems for businesses & homes than are operated over the local network, giving the user control of HVAC, audio/video distribution, video/tele-conferencing, lights, indoor sprinkler systems, outdoor sprinkler systems, and so on.

        Then there’s something like X10 which has been around forever. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_(industry_standard)

        1. Raygereio says:

          Well cars have electronics, lot’s of them. Have had them for years. But the concept of someone hacking your car is still stupid.
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLYo5tMylQM&t=2m12s

          But yes systems that automate the lights, sprinklers, whatever do exist. And when you use something like X10 which has no encryption whatsoever, then “hacking” into it becomes a possibility. True. Which in turns makes me still giggle because why on earth would you create such a stupid system?

          1. Zukhramm says:

            What in a car would use electronics? CD-player maybe.

            1. guy says:

              Actually, modern cars have an amazingly large number of electronics for things like gas pedals and the engine. However, modern technology can’t effect computers from across the room that don’t have a network connection, only tell what they’re doing.

            2. David W says:

              Usually anymore the engine is controlled by a chip; using feedback from your oxygen sensor lets it control fuel injection to improve efficiency and decrease pollution.

              If you’re ok with failing your next emissions test and a risk of breaking the engine, you can dramatically increase power of your engine just by swapping the control chip.

              Any AC that controls temperature rather than blower speed is electronic.

              Most diagnostic systems (check engine light) are electronic.

              There’s got to be quite a few more examples.

              Of course, there’s no reason you could hack these without physical access to the car; and with physical access, why bother going for the chip when you could just cut the hoses and slash the tires?

              Edit: Except for the new OnStar ‘theft prevention’ – I have no idea how they managed to get people to pay money for ‘we can break your car from here’. Cause no one could possibly abuse that!

              1. Tizzy says:

                One funny thing about onstar is that it comes with a microphone so that you can ask for assistance (as demonstrated in the TV commercials). I’ve read of at least one case where the FBI put that microphone to good use…

          2. Hitch says:

            That clip is just the logical extension of commercials for On*Star and “I can control my car from my iPhone.” What logical purpose does that serve other than the scenario in that trailer?

          3. Joe Cool says:

            “But the concept of someone hacking your car is still stupid.”

            *cough cough*

      2. theLameBrain says:

        Do you think any other industries have this? Do you think Weightlifters watch a weightlifter-movie (if such things exist) and marvel at how wrongly the actors grunt?

        Or surgeons watch someting like ER or Greys Anatomy and marvel at how anybody could be so stupid as to use the 57 scaplpel instead of the 58 scalpel?

        1. BeardedDork says:

          Actually yes, Grey’s Anatomy is the worst offender of this type I’ve ever seen. Now I am NOT a doctor, but I was an EMT in the Army, and Grey’s Anatomy is pretty much entirely written like that second clip. Meaning that I would think that most lay-people would catch how ridiculous the nonsensical dialogue is.

        2. Falcon says:

          Yes, absolutely. My father is a fireman/ paramedic, and my mother is a nurse. For years my moms favorite show was ER, despite the near constant bitching about this procedure, or that injury being completely brain meltingly wrong. Same goes for anything depicting firemen or police. We do it more because medical is much better understood to the average person than computers, so the WTF moments are a bit more restrained. Dumb enough to make no sense, not so dumb as to offend the senses of someone in the know. Computer TV bs though, that makes me want to punch a kitten.

        3. NeilD says:

          Yeah, that’s generally why I don’t get too bent out of shape over stuff like this (although this is a particularly extreme example that even the average person should at least raise an eyebrow at). Computer stuff jumps out at me because it’s what I know; but I know they’re also screwing up many other subjects which I have no idea about, but which are certainly provoking tirades from other people elsewhere.

          Another example that Mumbles may appreciate: a number of years ago there was a Nightwing comic where Dick Grayson took the crippled Barbara Gordon for a trapeze ride, to let her experience the feeling of soaring through the air again… a nice, touching little story. But a friend of mine who has a PhD in neuroscience hated it because she couldn’t get past the horrible inaccuracy of how it was handled. To myself and 99.x% of the audience, it was no more remarkable than any of the other physical impossibilities you’d see in every issue; but because she couldn’t see past her own area of expertise, to her it was an unforgivable insult.

          Writers can’t possibly be experts in every field, and neither can everybody (or anybody) in the audience. The best they can do is present some broad concepts that hopefully everyone will get the gist of, and move the story onwards. Mind you, I still think CSI and these other shows are all poorly written crap… but it’s not because of the technical inaccuracies.

          The real problem comes when people watch these shows and think that this is how stuff works in the real world. Though Cracked has gotten a few good articles out of it.

          1. Mari says:

            No, writers can’t be experts in every field. Which is why most shows like police procedurals that utilize a specialized field of study use a consultant from that field to check accuracy and try to reign in the insanity. Or at least they used to do that. As ridiculously far-fetched as “Quincy, M.E.” was, there was a real M.E.-type person (the term and qualifications vary by locale) who was supposed to read every script before filming and say, “No, you can’t do that because there’s no test that can find this type of poison.” or whatever.

            The real problem is that with computers, writers decided that they typed the script in Microsoft Word, which gave them credentials as “computer experts” so they could bypass the consultant process. Once it was established that people would buy that level of insanity in computer-related programming, you started getting shows that would bypass the expert consultants for medical/police/other programs.

            1. theLameBrain says:

              I know writers cannot be experts in every field, but there are ways to get around that!

              For instance, instead of having one character specifically user Visual Basic to write a GUI to get the IP address, someone could have had a bit of a handwaving moment. “I talked to IT, and they say it is coming from this IP”

              Fields have experts for reasons, lets see a little deference!

            2. silver says:

              “a real M.E.-type person (the term and qualifications vary by locale) who was supposed to read every script before filming and say, “No, you can't do that because there's no test that can find this type of poison.” or whatever.”

              “you started getting shows that would bypass the expert consultants for medical/police/other programs.”

              Eh, it’s not like these consultants have actual authority. Many shows employ consultants and take their feedback if and only if it’s something super minor, but won’t (indeed often CAN’T) shift their shooting schedule or throw extra budget around on the consultant’s say-so.

              For example, you have some Navy show going on – consultant corrects their salutes and rearranges their little medal boards? No problem. Consultant tells them they’re on the wrong kind of ship for their mission? “well, that’s nice, Lieutenant, but we already paid for the sets and the booked time on the ship for the exteriors.”

              Now imagine that you have 8 days to make each episode (because that’s what you have) – try to take in the feeling of all the last minute script changes, shifts in sets, costume changes, two (or more) teams shooting simultaneously, while someone is doing post on the previous episode, someone else is editing the the one before that, someone else is scouting locations for the next one, and another someone is scripting the one after that; meanwhile some scenes require retakes, some scenes need voice overs because there was no way to control the noise, anything outdoors requires dealing with changing lights and weather, and actors are putting their personal touches on the characters – and you see that the consultant never has to be “bypassed” as if someone could get arrested for ignoring them – the consultant is just there for show.

              And that’s leaving out the times they simply ignore the consultant for Rule of Cool or Rule of Funny, or because they need to involve certain characters a certain amount for contractual reasons (and aren’t going to push “doing stuff” off the main characters and onto extras, anyway)

        4. I offer:

          Medical Reviews of House

          Which is actually quite interesting, IMO.

        5. Mari says:

          Other industries has been addressed pretty thoroughly. But I’d like to point out the corollary: people in specific locations critiquing the accuracy of television and film. I’m a Texan. Matter of fact, I grew up about 15 miles from Odessa, Texas. Odessa had a period of being very popular in television and film. Friday Night Lights. Heroes. Stuff like that. And yes, I get outraged by how inaccurately Odessa and Texas in general are depicted. Walker, Texas Ranger pisses me off so much I can’t stand to watch it.

          1. HeroOfHyla says:

            I watched “Hamlet 2,” and the general point of the movie seemed to be “Tucson, AZ is the worst place on Earth.” Funny thing was? They filmed it in New Mexico.

        6. CC says:

          “Do you think any other industries have this? Do you think Weightlifters watch a weightlifter-movie (if such things exist) and marvel at how wrongly the actors grunt?”

          Yes.

          Well, I don’t care about the sound the actors make of course, but the weights used, technique used, what the routines look like etc… And esp. what the character eats and how much/often (in the rare case that there is actually a character involved who looks like he’s spent more than 3 months training)… Is stuff you notice if you lift yourself (and have made serious progress).

          Or take the 300 craze (or Pitt in fight club or whatever). I think every single review I’ve read had people talk about how the actors must have been on bucket-loads of steroids to sport the physiques of a Mr. Universe. The average untrained person watches the movie and does not understand what they are seeing the way someone with actual experience does.

          Really the same thing as the CSI stuff… And it does seem to cause some big misconceptions and cliches about the topics in question among outsiders.

          It’s true that you can’t expect the guys making the movies to know about all these other topics… But some basic research doesn’t take that long… Or ask someone who knows about it…

          I’m curious how well a more realistic CSI would do.

          1. CC says:

            Just to add to the 300/Fightclub thing… Of course magazines etc try to make money of this sort of thing with articles and interviews… Or all the stars’ diet crap in women’s mags…

        7. OEP says:

          I am a doctor (Internal Medicine) and watching some shows are incredibly painful. House in particular seems to get its medicine from wikipedia as opposed to a physician consultant.

          In one episode they did a pelvic exam on a young girl because they suspected chlamydia pneumonia. Never mind that chlamydia pneumonia is caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae which does not cause the std which is actually caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.

          And the way House just starts random treatments cracks me up. He commits malpractice about every 5 minutes on that show. I do admit that I enjoy watching him yell at the patients.

          It is kind of funny that out of all the recent medical TV shows, the one that comes closest to real life is Scrubs.

    2. Smirker says:

      Good lord. Been ages since I thought of Hackers. But even though it was ridiculous (even more so since my best friend is HUGE ubergeek programmer), it was still a fun popcorn movie of the time.

      And nowhere near as horrendous as Die Hard 4 (as Hal reminded me of his link — ow! that still hurts my brain).

  16. Deadfast says:


    #include <iostream>
    #include <string>
    #include <Windows.h>
    int main()
    {
    std::string killerIp;
    std::cout << "Request the IP address from the server host ahead of time.nDon't worry, your colegues won't see this text!nn";
    std::cin >> killerIp;
    system("CLS");
    std::cout << "Killer Trap v1.0 STANDARDn-------------------------nnKiller Trap will now locate the murderous scum.nPlease note this may take several seconds.n" << std::endl;
    system("PAUSE");
    std::cout << "nTracking the killer...";
    Sleep(5000); //Pretend to do something...
    std::cout << " Success!nn";
    std::cout << "The killer has been located!nn";
    std::cout << "IP Adress: " << killerIp;
    std::cout << "nnPurchase the GOLD edition of Killer Trap to track the killer's name and address too!n";
    std::cout << "Purchase the PLATINUM edition for a proper Visual Basic GUI!n";
    system("PAUSE");
    return 0;
    }

    EDIT: Well, something really hates the backslash character there

    1. Josh says:

      I was wondering how your newline characters were supposed to work without those.

    2. HeroOfHyla says:

      You might try a double backslash or something. The single backslash followed by another character is generally the escape character in programming languages, so it’s probably being stripped by the php or something.

  17. Jeremiah says:

    All these comments and no Horatio Caine jokes? I’m surprised.

    1. eric says:

      I guess…

      *takes off sunglasses*

      The joke’s…

      On YOU.

      1. Irridium says:

        YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

        1. Kasper says:

          I love how on my screen this sound effect goes straight THROUGH the side of the text box.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Its like that scream…

            *puts sunglasses over regular glasses*

            …broke the fourth wall.

            YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

            1. krellen says:

              I shouldn’t love this meme…

              but I do.

              1. Jeff #3 says:

                I do to….. But I find more enjoyment by trying to make them as bad/corney as possible when a more obvious option exists.

                Krellen play CoX, so I can reference an LGTF I was on a couple weeks ago where one player ran off on his own in the first mission and got Penny killed (A npc that you need to escort to the start of the map). There was the standard kvetching at him, but I responded with:

                Don’t worry; she’ll be back, like a….
                *puts on glasses*
                Recurring NPC escort objective.

                ‘Bad penny’ would have made a much better joke in this case… But going for bad references is more fulfilling in my mind.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Your joke instantly reminded me of the great biotic wind that blows over everything like a…a great wind.

  18. Dev Null says:

    Quick! Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow with your sonic screwdriver and catch the killer!

    With all the CSI clones out there, I wonder how much more difficult it makes the job of real police, when John Q Public expects them to have a team of 12 people working every case who can all wave their hands and travel through time.

    1. eric says:

      Apparently, this is actually a real phenomenon; recruit police officers and court juries assume that “the lab” can process evidence near-instantly without any queue, that obscure information can be looked up quickly and easily, that certain types of evidence can be more precise and meaningful than they actually are, etc. See here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-08-05-csi-effect_x.htm and http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/09/0923_040923_csi.html

    2. pffh says:

      Very difficult. A friend of mine is a lawyer in the states and according to him they must bring an expert into almost every single case just to explain how DNA samples work and why you won’t find any usable samples in most crime scenes.

  19. eric says:

    Oh god, I remember seeing this months ago… it literally made my brain explode; I have not recovered from it since. Come on, that bit in Blade Runner with looking “behind” that part of the photo was enough stupidity for a lifetime, now this?

  20. GJ says:

    #1 thing wrong that I’m surprised no one pointed out yet: “GUI Interface.”

    Really? You’re going to make a Graphical User Interface Interface? Can it tell me what the last Automatic Teller Machine Machine the killer used too?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well,ras syndrome became quite common,so pointing it out is a bit…

      *puts sunglasses over sunglasses over his regular glasses*

      …redundant.

      YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

      1. You yelled so loud you broke the formatting!

    2. Ian says:

      I’ll look that up on my Windows 2000 box, which is powered by Windows New Technology technology!

    3. Only if you have the right Personal Identification Number number.

  21. Irridium says:

    This…

    *puts on sunglasses*

    Does not compute.

    YYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    1. Blanko2 says:

      awe you failed!!!

      you gotta try a little harder to break the comment box.

      in fact one might you have to…
      *dons shades*
      think outside the box
      YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

  22. Matt K says:

    When I used to watch CSI which I guess was like 2004 the “science” they used wasn’t that bad. I guess with shows like these they have to get sillier plots in order to make them “fresh”.

  23. Some Jackass says:

    How does zooming in on the eye off security camera footage change the actual angle of her eye?

    Lets just…
    *sunglasses*
    Reflect on that a moment.

    1. Jekyll says:

      A one liner and a terrible pun?! HOW COULD YOU?!?!??!

      1. krellen says:

        I know! He totally left out the YEEEEEEEAAAAAHHH! That’s the best part!

  24. Bobby Archer says:

    Dear lord. The thing that gets me is that isn’t the only time they use the “reflection off an eyeball” to identify a killer. I’ve only seen a few episodes, but I clearly remember one where they used a shot from a point and shoot camera to zoom in on someone’s eyeball to positively identify a person standing behind the photographer. And the eyeball in question is maybe a few of dozen pixels across. The fact that this “technology” comes up more than once is terrifying.

    1. Jeff says:

      I wonder if it would make any difference if it was film. It’s something I’ve pondered ever since the advent of digital cameras – actual film is limited only by the size of the actual bits that react to light…?

      1. Bobby Archer says:

        Even with a film camera, there’s still a limit to how much detail you can resolve. Basically, that’s reliant on the type of film and (more importantly) the quality of the lenses. People underestimate how important having a camera with high-quality lenses is. Probably because comparing lenses is something that has to be done by eyeballing it or by looking up consumer reviews.

        This is true for digital cameras as much as it was for film cameras. It’s a misconception that more megapixels automatically mean a sharper, more detailed picture. The camera’s lenses still need to focus light onto the sensors and for some cameras – mostly cheaper point and shoot models – they don’t really have the lenses to take advantage of the available megapixels.

  25. Zagzag says:

    The thing about using reflected images on eyes IS APPARENTLY TRUE, in that several hackers have managed to use photographs of people’s eyes to read computer passwords. However this was done using incredibly advanced equipment, and couldn’t be replicated with a security camera. It was also, as far as I’m aware done from very short range, ie maybe a few metres maximum, so I’m not sure how much use it would be in some circumstances.

    1. Hitch says:

      Don’t tell me. An amazing number of people use “********” as their password.

      1. Tizzy says:

        That’s funny. Mine is ***************

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Mine is 12345,but dont tell anyone.

          1. Shamus says:

            That’s the same combination I have on my luggage!

          2. Aldowyn says:

            mine is a bunch of random letters and numbers I would be glad to tell you since you could NEVER remember it – except that if I told you, it would still be here, so you wouldn’t have to remember it.

          3. Irridium says:

            Pfft, that sounds like the combination some idiot would have on his luggage.

      2. HeroOfHyla says:

        Gotta love linux not showing how many characters are in the password you’re typing in when you’re doing it in a terminal window. Extra layer of security is always nice I guess.

      3. Septyn says:

        I recently broke 250,000 passwords for work (don’t ask). Of those, 169 were “********”.

    2. Bret says:

      Care to provide a link to the story?

      Because this is all kinds of the interesting, but I’ve heard a few too many friend of a friend stories to bite without evidence.

      1. guy says:

        I’ve seen it in either scientific american or this IT magazine I used to read, can’t remember which. People can also get passwords by recording the sound of typing.

        1. Tizzy says:

          I do remember a story in the early 2000’s (naughties?) about three hacker brothers who lived in either Israel or Lebanon. They were blind (from birth I think) and would eavesdrop on various transactions and figure out pin numbers from tones. I believe this has been changed: in many instances, it sounds like all the keys give out the same tone.

          Now, of course it means that accessibility has gone DOWN for many vision-impaired people…

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I have an up close picture of my eye,and I can spot the blurry monitor in it.It was shot with a 1,3 mpx camera,so Im not surprised that with a better one you can read whats in the reflection.

  26. Susie says:

    There was a scene in Castle last season, I think, where they made fun of this … They had a photo taken by the murder victim of a kidnapping in progress, and Castle wanted to get a picture of the killer/kidnapper off of a reflection. Becket looks at him and retorts: “this isn’t television, Castle.” Now, Castle has its own stupid stuff, but at least it isn’t CSI bad (usually).

    1. Velkrin says:

      I was wondering if anyone would post about that. In retrospect I could have saved myself a fair bit of time by hitting Ctrl + F.

      Enhance!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PaMdXjTn9rc

      and before Ruts makes the pun…

      Looks like that CSI tech is
      *sunglasses*
      getting back to BASICs.

      YYYYYEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

  27. Pat says:

    The clips you show here are from CSI: NY. While CSI’s New York and Miami-set spinoffs are undeniably complete shit, the original Vegas CSI is still somewhat more realistic and is actually a good show. So I don’t think it’s fair to bash CSI in general because of the shortcomings of the retarded step-children of the family.

    1. chiefnewo says:

      Given that the original Vegas CSI was the one that did the “reflection off the eyeball” rubbish first, I wouldn’t be trumpeting their realism too loudly.

  28. ngthagg says:

    I like how they drop in Visual Basic into the clip, in the same way the main character might grab a can of Pepsi before driving to the crime scene in their BMW. But the people who would be in the market for software like VB are unlikely to be enticed by that line.

  29. Sagretti says:

    One of the professors at my old college has supposedly helped some shows with their research, including CSI. He’s one of the few forensic etymologist experts (not a very packed field). He apparently gets quite disgruntled that they throw out all the real science he provides and only use a few bits of “cool” random facts.

    1. Tizzy says:

      I’m going to assume you meant “entomologist”. And by the way, forensic entomologists and forensic anthropologists are more numerous than one would think. I know of at least a couple of entomologist, and two anthropologists operate separate body farms in my immediate area of the Appalachians (within an hour’s drive or so). Yum!

      BTW, a little piece of useful trivia: forensic means of, relating to, or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime. So in particular, it does not have to involve blood and guts, e.g. forensic computer science and forensic accounting. (The last one still sounds pretty yucky, though.)

      1. Sagretti says:

        Yeah, long day and I’m very tired, heh. Also doesn’t help I didn’t take any of his classes, though the ballistics class was tempting since there were rumors his tank got involved somehow. My college had some rather interesting professors for being so small.

  30. Jekyll says:

    I also love when they pull urban myths out of their arses at every point possible to solve and/or make a suitable crime for the show.

  31. Wolfwood says:

    best part was when the angle of the eye they were looking at changes view points from the top corner to a full frontal view XD

    It could happen if the video camera recorded in 7816238789156234r195371 megapixels. no? XD

  32. Specktre says:

    Bwuahahahahaha! My gosh, this is laughable! XD

    Glad I never got into CSI.

    And pointing out everything wrong here? 0_0

    Um, well the reflection in the eye thing is stupid and… and…

    … I give up.

  33. The reflection thing falls into the VB on a TV category. You can use VB to trace an IP address. You can see a website on a TV. But you can’t use VB to trace an IP address on a TV.

    With a decent camera (nearly any vaguely recent DSLR, for instance), it’s pretty common to look at the catch lights in a model’s eye to deconstruct photographic lighting. And it’s sometimes possible to see the photographer in the reflection as well, though usually only as a silhouette. But from a 640 x 480 B+W source in (charitably) poor lighting? Not so much.

  34. Steven says:

    As others have noted, the “magic image enhancement” think is hardly unique to CSI. I’m a little surprised that nobody has posted this YouTube video yet:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk

    or this TV Tropes link:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EnhanceButton

    1. PurePareidolia says:

      I posted that – it was like the second post.

  35. Mina says:

    The writer who wrote that is gonna giggle himself to sleep for the rest of his life.

  36. Amarsir says:

    I rather like the idea that the writers are just messing with the audience. :)

    But honestly this doesn’t bother me that much because good writing is more dependent on capturing the feel of characters than the technical details of the action. The point of CSI is that the team is brilliant, so they do impossible things in seconds and the stuff that is possible is made to sound much more momentous. Sure a little realism would be nice, but if it was real they’d never catch anyone until 5 years later when the criminal genius brags about the crime to his cousin.

    And even when accurate, dialogue gets warped to fit that need. There’s a scene in The Social Network where Zuckerberg tells Saverin he needs “a dedicated Linux box serving PHP via Apache with a MySQL back end.” He could have just said “LAMP box,” and if the conversation happened at all he probably did. But Sorkin knew the script called for a big technical phrase so that’s what it became.

  37. Tim says:

    The problem with shows like CSI is that someones grandmother has jury duty tomorrow and she is going to believe that the investigators actually have access to technology they use on the show.

    1. Bobby Archer says:

      CSI: helping criminals get off scott free since 2000.

    2. Evil Otto says:

      When I had jury duty last year, the prosecutor actually had to bring that up during the jury interviews. She spent several minutes talking to us about how shows like CSI were fiction and that there was no such technology available.

  38. Dropdigger says:

    Fantastic! I didn’t know it had gone quite as far downhill as that. Mind you – CSI:NY was always the most ridiculous one. I always thought the original CSI was slightly more believable. And then CSI:Miami is just cheesy.

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