Forensic Science as a basis for a bigger truth
5th November, 2017
The title to this article will reveal its relevance as you go through it. It leads you from current forensic investigations in current cases in our Courts, via Archimedes’ own forensic joy, and ends up connecting all this to our own search for meaning which is found by combining what we see as ‘things’ with our own inner concepts and vice versa.
There are various murder cases going on in South Africa at present. They include the Rhode case, the Panyiatou case, and the van Breda family case. I have watched these cases with interest to see how many facts are presented, where they are found, and how they corroborate or otherwise other evidence to support a factual finding. In all these cases, a person is either guilty or not. All three of the accused noted above claimed innocence. So how does one find the truth if one was not a witness? Correct decisions are vital as an innocent person might be jailed for murder, or a guilty person might be freed. The judge has to listen to all the evidence and base his decision on the principle of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. He must be sure that the facts that he uses in his or her findings are corroborated and preferably not in dispute by either party.
In these cases, a large variety of facts were collected by the accused and the defence. They included cell phone records, records of where the cell phones were relative to each other at a specific time relevant to the case, all sorts of wounds and body markings and the relevant age of these and force applied from which angles that would cause these, blood spatter marks and likely origin of all these relative to claims of the defence, and much more.
What do the facts do for the judiciary and for us as a society? These facts, when corroborated and placed in a time line, have the effect of building up a picture of what actually transpired. They are disturbing for any party involved in deception if there are enough of them. Deception has no possibility of corroboration. An incoherent, deceptive, ‘fact’, loses out to real fact as there are always logic difficulties with these. They are simply insubstantial. An American President, John Adams, once said that ‘facts are stubborn things’, and indeed they seem to be.
The beauty of all this is that the facts, presented correctly and in sequence, reveal all intention in these cases. We see the thinking of the people involved more clearly than we thought possible and sometimes more clearly than they expected. The inverse of this is that we don’t look for facts when dealing with daily life sufficiently and are lead into deception because of this approach of ours. How much more truth is there to be found by careful and factual observation in all our dealings?
Please enjoy a little history of forensic investigation by Archimedes that follows below.
“Hiero, after gaining the royal power in Syracuse, resolved, as a consequence of his successful exploits, to place in a certain temple a golden crown which he had vowed to the immortal gods. He contracted a Goldsmith for its making at a fixed price, and weighed out a precise amount of gold to the contractor. At the appointed time the latter delivered to the king’s satisfaction an exquisitely finished piece of handiwork, and it appeared that in weight the crown corresponded precisely to what the gold had weighed.
But afterwards a charge was made that gold had been abstracted and an equivalent weight of silver had been added in the manufacture of the crown. Hiero, thinking it an outrage that he had been tricked, and yet not knowing how to detect the theft, requested Archimedes to consider the matter. The latter, while the case was still on his mind, happened to go to the bath, and on getting into a tub observed that the more his body sank into it the more water ran out over the tub. As this pointed out the way to explain the case in question, without a moment’s delay, and transported with joy, he jumped out of the tub and rushed home naked, crying with a loud voice that he had found what he was seeking; for as he ran he shouted repeatedly in Greek, “Eureka!”
Taking this as the beginning of his discovery, it is said that he made two masses of the same weight as the crown, one of gold and the other of silver. After making them, he filled a large vessel with water to the very brim, and dropped the mass of silver into it. As much water ran out as was equal in bulk to that of the silver sunk in the vessel. Then, taking out the mass, he poured back the lost quantity of water, using a pint measure, until it was level with the brim as it had been before. Thus he found the weight of silver corresponding to a definite quantity of water.
After this experiment, he likewise dropped the mass of gold into the full vessel and, on taking it out and measuring as before, found that not so much water was lost, but a smaller quantity: namely, as much less as a mass of gold lacks in bulk compared to a mass of silver of the same weight. Finally, filling the vessel again and dropping the crown itself into the same quantity of water, he found that more water ran over for the crown than for the mass of gold of the same weight. Hence, reasoning from the fact that more water was lost in the case of the crown than in that of the mass, he detected the mixing of silver with the gold, and made the theft of the contractor perfectly clear.”
Rudolf Steiner wrote the following about Plato’s World View:
‘The philosophy of Plato is one of the most sublime edifices of thought that has ever sprung from the spirit of mankind. It is one of the saddest signs of our time that the Platonic way of looking at things is regarded in philosophy as the exact opposite of healthy reason.’
Plato’s World View says the following: “As long as we are limited only to our perception of things/objects, we are like people who sit in a dark cave so firmly bound that they cannot even turn their heads and who see nothing except, on the wall facing them, by the light of a fire burning behind them, the shadow images of real things which are led across between them and the fire, and who in fact also see of each other, yes each of himself, only the shadows on that wall. Their wisdom, however, would be to predict the sequence of those shadows which they have learned to know from experience.”
In simpler language it says that we are limited in our knowledge if we do not put the shadow on the wall, and the real thing casting it, together. If the two remain separate, we are not going to learn much about the whole, or get nearer to the Truth. It says that not only is this the case for things of the world, but also for ourselves – we see ourselves, but never our purpose for example – we only see the shadow and not why it is there. We can only be wiser if we learn to know ourselves and put our real experience to work to see what appears or what we expect to appear based on our inner activity as our outer reality is just the shadow of this. This is how I see it.
Forensic science teaches us to look at the shadow of events with great clarity, objectivity, courage, openness, ownership of self, care, skill, experience, diligence, selflessness, patience and positivity. All of these carefully selected soul capacities, available to all of us upon “request”, lead the forensic scientist to the possibility of working with the facts correctly. Failure of any is a risk to establishing a truthful outcome. Surely this is the same for the discovery of ourselves and all other wisdom? Is this wisdom not contained within the light that is the very source of the possibility of the shadow? Is it not our task, as we are the only Beings with the capacity to manage our soul qualities, to form within our own souls the very objects that cause the shadows on earth to appear? Surely our formed and managed soul dispositions are what we show to the world at large in our actions? Is this not what the judge eventually discovers as the facts are put before him? Is it not in this way that we can make it ‘on Earth as it is in Heaven’? Forensic Science gives us a firm base from which to move forward from, if read and understood together with the beautiful Plato World View.