The Moriarty MOOC

Nowadays, inspired by programs like CSI and NCIS, many students want to become some sort of forensic scientist. The problem is that are very few such jobs. I have heard that there are something like 20 times more forensics graduates than openings. This is not really caused by an overall shortage of crimes, more by a shortage of interesting crimes. When some dirtbag stabs his old lady, after beating the shit out of her for years,  caught while still gripping the bloodstained murder weapon, who needs CSI?

Or (adding a little local Albuquerque color) when some upstanding local citizen stabs and beats his mother and her boyfriend, puts them in the trunk of her car, then drives to the Central Avenue Bridge and throws them both into the river in broad daylight – because voices from the TV told him that they were clones – maybe you don’t need someone wearing a dog collar to solve the case.

Clearly forensics graduates would benefit from an increased number of sophisticated crimes.

The solution is obvious. Just as one lawyer in a small town starves, while two wax fat, we need to teach our budding malefactors how to take things to a higher level, and  commit interesting crimes.  The courses – naturally, massively online courses, with a worldwide audience – would teach crooked accounting,  undetectable poisons, and safecracking. There would be courses on simple and advanced cons, everything from the badger game and the Spanish prisoner to impersonating the Time Police.  The curriculum would include language courses (thieves’ cant), and practical cryptography – why don’t the bad guys use PGP? There would be tutorials on how to create substances that greatly resemble the ash residue of certain tobaccos, and seminars on hiding bodies.  Many existing courses on forensics and law enforcement would be cross-listed.

Forensics majors could finally make use of their training, and many would go back for graduate school. We’d have new (for-profit) journals covering research in dark-side forensics and law enforcement.  Many tenure-track positions would be created! The Mob would finally have a good reason to send their scions to Harvard – you can be sure that the Ivy League would not lag behind.  I wonder what buildings would be named after them…

With the greatly increased demand for minions and consulting detectives, unemployment would disappear.

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13 Responses to The Moriarty MOOC

  1. Good to hear from Holmes’ brighter brother. A further benefit of this modest proposal is that, given the surge in sophisticated criminality and its massive job-creating potential, we would no longer need quantitative easing. Our money would be safe, if not ourselves.

  2. observer says:

    Krugman wrote a version of this involving space aliens.

  3. Jim says:

    I think Krugman really believes that World War II was a great economic boon for the world. If only we could bring about a nuclear exchange with the Russians or Chinese. Think of the stimulative effect on the construction business.

  4. Andrew says:

    The crazy train we are riding toward a low-trust society is picking up steam. Stay tuned!

  5. 420blazeitfgt says:

    Sellers on the online drug marketplace Silk Road use PGP keys for the buyers to encrypt their addresses for when they order their products. Internet crimes are still interesting.

  6. Richard Sharpe says:

    Are those people depicted on TV really scientists? They seem more like technicians to me.

  7. Lisa says:

    I had an accounting professor who would often tell us how white-collar crimes were committed as asides in his lectures. I always wondered if he hated his job and had aspirations of doing so, or if he was trying to gently encourage students.

  8. William Newman says:

    Programs like this have been tried on a pilot scale, with some 300-level courses like “Building and operating submarines for illicit pharmaceutical import” and “Integrated media manipulation in support of large-kickback distributed corrupt operations”. I agree that scaling up and offering more advanced coursework could be interesting.

  9. teageegeepea says:

    Popular Mechanics had a cover story a while back on the amount of pseudoscience in police forensics.

  10. the monk says:

    Reblogged this on martomoni and commented:

    funny, in a dark and horrifying way

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