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A Whodunit At Junk Science Summer Camp

Normal Gossip logo with cartoon characters gossiping
Illustration by Tara Jacoby

How do murderers think? What can be safely gleaned from a plaster cast of a footprint? If you were to find a Ziploc baggie full of blood, what conclusions would you draw? Why are so many of America's youth attending summer camp devoted to crime scene investigation?

These questions have “answers” in the same way that season two of Loki has a “plot.” Sure, we can string together some theories, but there’s a higher percentage of pure nonsense involved than most people seem to want to acknowledge. 

Sometimes all we can do is stare into the abyss, oscillating between awe and doubt, wonder and despair. And other times, all you can do is pine for the days of ill-fated summer camp love. Luckily this week we are doing both! We will claw our way down the pseudoscientific esophagus of the CSI-industrial complex in search of enlightenment, or at least (one can hope) some clandestine smooching. 

Our guest is Josie Duffy Rice! Josie is a writer, graduate of Harvard Law School, and podcast host whose work is primarily focused on prosecutors, prisons, and other criminal justice issues. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Slate, among others. She is the host and co-writer of the podcast Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children

To kick things off, Josie brought Kelsey some drama about a stolen baby name within a friend group. Then Kelsey introduced Josie to a strange yet familiar dystopia: a summer camp devoted to teaching high schoolers the “science” of crime scene investigation. The counselors at this camp trade in secrets, intrigue, and power struggles—which can be dangerous when you are surrounded 24/7 by amateur investigators. 

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(The transcript for this week’s episode can be found here.)

And if you have some good goss that you want us to hear, the email for that is, or phone it in to 26-79-GOSSIP.

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