The individualization fallacy in forensic science evidence

Michael Saks, Jonathan J. Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

90 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Forensic scientists across a broad array of sub-specialties have long maintained that they can link an unknown mark (e.g., a partial fingerprint or tireprint) to a unique source. Yet no scientific basis exists for this assertion, which is sustained largely by a faulty probabilistic intuition equating infrequency with uniqueness. This Essay traces the origins of the individualization claim and explicates the various failed lines of evidence and argument offered in its support. We conclude with suggestions for improving the scientific bases of the forensic identification sciences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-219
Number of pages21
JournalVanderbilt Law Review
Volume61
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008

Fingerprint

individualization
intuition
science
evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

Cite this

The individualization fallacy in forensic science evidence. / Saks, Michael; Koehler, Jonathan J.

In: Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 1, 01.2008, p. 199-219.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Saks, Michael ; Koehler, Jonathan J. / The individualization fallacy in forensic science evidence. In: Vanderbilt Law Review. 2008 ; Vol. 61, No. 1. pp. 199-219.
@article{8b3668ea9b254ae68afa000e6f5ab1d2,
title = "The individualization fallacy in forensic science evidence",
abstract = "Forensic scientists across a broad array of sub-specialties have long maintained that they can link an unknown mark (e.g., a partial fingerprint or tireprint) to a unique source. Yet no scientific basis exists for this assertion, which is sustained largely by a faulty probabilistic intuition equating infrequency with uniqueness. This Essay traces the origins of the individualization claim and explicates the various failed lines of evidence and argument offered in its support. We conclude with suggestions for improving the scientific bases of the forensic identification sciences.",
author = "Michael Saks and Koehler, {Jonathan J.}",
year = "2008",
month = "1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "61",
pages = "199--219",
journal = "Vanderbilt Law Review",
issn = "0042-2533",
publisher = "Vanderbilt Law Review",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The individualization fallacy in forensic science evidence

AU - Saks, Michael

AU - Koehler, Jonathan J.

PY - 2008/1

Y1 - 2008/1

N2 - Forensic scientists across a broad array of sub-specialties have long maintained that they can link an unknown mark (e.g., a partial fingerprint or tireprint) to a unique source. Yet no scientific basis exists for this assertion, which is sustained largely by a faulty probabilistic intuition equating infrequency with uniqueness. This Essay traces the origins of the individualization claim and explicates the various failed lines of evidence and argument offered in its support. We conclude with suggestions for improving the scientific bases of the forensic identification sciences.

AB - Forensic scientists across a broad array of sub-specialties have long maintained that they can link an unknown mark (e.g., a partial fingerprint or tireprint) to a unique source. Yet no scientific basis exists for this assertion, which is sustained largely by a faulty probabilistic intuition equating infrequency with uniqueness. This Essay traces the origins of the individualization claim and explicates the various failed lines of evidence and argument offered in its support. We conclude with suggestions for improving the scientific bases of the forensic identification sciences.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=41349097141&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=41349097141&partnerID=8YFLogxK

M3 - Article

VL - 61

SP - 199

EP - 219

JO - Vanderbilt Law Review

JF - Vanderbilt Law Review

SN - 0042-2533

IS - 1

ER -