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Just plain wrong science in Law and Order: SVU

Just plain wrong science in Law and Order: SVU published on No Comments on Just plain wrong science in Law and Order: SVU

Remember "Identity," that SVU episode that I’ve been harping on for several entries now?[ Here’s my plot summary. Here’s my analysis.] Not only is it ridiculous, melodramatic and bigoted, but it’s also scientifically wrong.

The identical twins in the ep commit a supposedly "perfect crime" at the end of the ep by murdering the doctor who molested them. Actually, only one of the twins murders the doctor, but no witnesses, including the security camera, can discern which twin it was, and the twins aren’t talking. Furthermore, there was DNA from one of the twins left in the form of spit on the doctor’s corpse, but DNA tests, according to the ep, will not point to one twin or the other, because, as Stabler says, "Identical twins, identical DNA."

WRONG! Identical twins have been long thought to have identical DNA, but recent research suggests that their genes are very very similar, but not the same. See the New York Times "Really?" column for details.

In all fairness, though, the SVU ep "Identity" did come out in 2005, three years before research about identical twins’ different genes was published, so it was still within a period during which identical twins were thought to have identical DNA. Granted, but I still fault SVU for sloppy, stereotypical thinking about the similarity of identical twins, making us seem like magical duplicate halves of a single entity, instead of two very similar, but separate, people. >:

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