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Paul Lowe
Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - 06:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Surely what we do (as fingerprint practitioners), or the reason that we can do it, is firmly based on information gleaned from 'exact' sciences such as biology, histology etc., but the actual comparison part of our work slots itself into the 'empirical' science box, i.e. 'based or acting on observation or experiment, not on theory'. We do what we do (compare impressions) and make decisions about that comparison based on our observations and experience. We can then back this up with reference to the 'exact' sciences as and when required! So in other words, sometimes we are 'exact', and other times 'empirical'!
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Karen Hare
Posted on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 11:38 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

When did we stop being an "exact" science? I can smell the paint fumes as we near the corner...
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W. Wolz
Posted on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 07:15 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fingerprint Science, if Exactly Applied,
Can tell us absolutely if someone has lied.
Itís a black and white matter,
To count minutia datter,
How Exact can you be? (Mathematics aside)
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Mark Acree
Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 03:12 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pure science is the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge. It can be research that may be dismissed as trivial to a layman, but could be important research in the overall scheme of things. A good example is the science of animal behavior (ethology). On the surface, this type of research does not seem immediatly important to human beings. For instance, Dr. Karl von Frisch studied the behavior of the honeybee and unlocked many interesting and complex aspects to insect behavior. This doesn't seem important until one considers that the modern day honey industry makes a significant contribution to the world economy. Oh yes, I almost forgot...Dr. von Frisch won the Nobel Prize for his pure science research in 1973.
The point is his pure research laid the foundation for future applications.

Applied science seems to be the type of science that has an obvious intended end use for the good of man. Cancer research is an example that immediately comes to mind.

Pure science often crosses over into the realm of applied science and vice versa. If you study the history of major scientific "breakthroughs", they all stem from "pure" science at some point. For example, Mr. Goodyear discovered the process of "vulcanization" and in doing so led to heat treated rubber...for which there was no practical use during his life time. With the advent of the car came the need for vulcanized rubber in the form of a tire. The rest is history.

For fingerprints, a classic example of pure science is what Nehemiah Grew did in c.1684 when he published his description of friction ridge skin. However, the modern day status quo of fingerprint science is that of an "applied science".

Instead of viewing pure science and applied science as two separate and independent fields, it may help to consider them as dependent on one another in a dynamic relationship in which both pure and applied science rely on each other for future ideas, research, and innovation. Perhaps this dual categorization of science is arbitrary and bordering on the meaningless.

Future topic for discussion:

"hard" versus "soft" science
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David Fairhurst
Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 04:32 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Felita. I've never heard those definitions before.

So to sum up all our definitions:-

Pure science is the study of phenomena to increase knowledge and understanding

-Exacts sciences deal with quantifiable phenomena

-Descriptive sciences classify and give order to un-quantifiable phenomena

Applied science is the use of knowledge and understanding to solve problems

Forensic sciences solve legal problems

If you look at it this way 'exact' and 'descriptive' are sub-classes of pure science. 'Forensic' is a sub-class of applied science.

Fingerprint Identification is undoutedly a forensic science.

Therefore whether or not fingerprints is an exact science is a null arguement. It can be neither exact nor descriptive because it is not a pure science, it is applied science.

Fingerprints is a forensic applied science. It applies the knowledge and understanding gained in the pure descriptive sciences of anatomy, histology, embryology, etc. and the pure exact sciences of physics, chemistry, etc. to the solving of problems (crimes) and presents its conclusions to a court of law.

I hope this gives plenty of food for thought :)

David
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Felita D. Chapman
Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 01:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Exact science is NOT the definition of exact and the definition of science put together. Exact science is a term that has a particular meaning. Exact science is defined as "a science, as chemistry or physics, that deals with quantitatively measurable phenomena of the material universe." (Random House College Dictionary). The term "exact science" is a category just as the category of "descriptive science." Descriptive science is defined as "a method of description or classification that will permit precision of reference to the subject matter." (i.e. botany and zoology)(McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology)

Just because a science is not one of the "exact sciences" does not make the information any the less precise, accurate, correct, exact (for want of a better word). In botany, plants have "exact" descriptions or classifications (a rose is a rose after all) but it is not an "exact science" nor is the science applied to friction ridge identification. However, it does not have to be an "exact science" to be able to come to the "exact" conclusion of individualization.
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David Fairhurst
Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 12:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Has anyone actually defined the term 'Exact Science'?

I for one am having difficulty arguing the point either way when I don't actually know what makes a science exact.

'Pure' 'Applied' and 'Forensic' are clearly defined terms used by scientists. My suspicion is that 'Exact Science' is one of those not-so-rigid lay-terms.


David
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wayne m
Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 09:29 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Exact science??? I guess for my mind it depends on what you believe an exact science is..

Does the science of fingerprints become less exact because its practioners are human and subject to some degree of error. To me it does not.

Has the fundamental principles of fingerprints ever been proven wrong, does that make it exact.
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Kasey Wertheim
Posted on Sunday, January 27, 2002 - 10:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Exact science, Pure science, Applied science, Forensic science... too many sciences!! :)

Ashbaugh summs up the differences well in the clpex.com The Detail 25, but I would also like other people's input, specifically about how to articulate this to a judge and/or jury if called upon to do so. So get those wheels -a- turnin' and let's hear it!! :)

-Kasey
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Ed German
Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2000 - 03:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mathematics is considered by many to be the only exact science.

The science of friction ridge identification (or fingerprints) lends itself well to mathematical application in that fingerprint cards can be reduced to basic math data and automatically compared in huge data bases with zero error rate when working with good quality (clarity and quanitity of information) impressions.

In fingerprints, just as with math, errors can and do occur through practitioner error. National standards, professional certification, annual proficiency examinations and redundant quality control and quality assurance procedures can minimize, if not completely eliminate, errors at most agenices.

The only acceptable error rate is zero. Because this is real life, however, errors can and do occur in friction ridge identification work.

In aircraft maintenance, the only acceptable error rate is zero deaths due to faulty work. Because this is real life, however, errors can and do occur in aircraft maintenance resulting in the loss of life (sometimes hundreds of lives). It would be easy to just mandate that there will be no more air travel in the world (or in any given country) because human error among aircraft mechanics causes loss of life. Instead, quality control and quality assurance mechanisms are mandated to minimize errors... just as with the scientific profession of friction ridge identification.
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Tom Finnie
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2000 - 03:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I would appreciate views on whether or not the science of fingerprints is an exact science.

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