Yeah, I agree, I think it’s just how the clues to the mysteries have evolved with the times but it’s the same old fascination. Even if you look down on it, shows like that are about restoring order out of chaos in every way. It’s not like looking at a car wreck, it’s the opposite. It’s comforting to see that horror can be explained. Sciency stuff is just a good contrast to gore. It’s the same reason Monk is OCD or Jessica Fletcher wears cozy sweaters. Science and OCD and cups or tea are very orderly and they are a contrast to mutilation, humiliation and death. It’s logic over randomness.
I like mysteries and crime stories sometimes because of that. The person who solves the crime is usually smart and perceptive enough that if they weren’t solving crimes you’d worry for their sanity. Of course you have a fake sense that you’re being smart just by following the logic of the show but that just enhances the comfort you get from it. I used to work in a bookstore and found it funny at first that the smartest people with the most challenging realities liked to read the most silly mysteries. I would have expected them to read difficult, challenging things. But sometimes people’s lives give them enough loose ends to ponder all day and at bedtime they just want everything to make sense. Then it’s all about the contrast between the horror of the crime and the orderly way it all gets explained. CSI is good for that because science explains things. It’s not meant to make you expand your inner horizons at all, it’s meant to put fences on your inner horizons when they are overwhelming. Crime solving shows and books are about how discipline, routine and attention to detail can get you through anything, so the more disgusting and scary the crime, the greater the contrast when it’s being reorganized into a solvable puzzle.