T H E
T A I L
Monday, December 10, 2001
Good morning via the "Detail," a weekly e-mail newsletter that greets latent print examiners around the globe every Monday morning. The purpose of the Detail is to help keep you informed of the current state of affairs in the latent print community, to provide an avenue to circulate original fingerprint-related articles, and to announce important events as they happen in our field.
week we introduced a topic that has turned out to be a more difficult topic to
articulate than prevously thought; non-friction ridge skin identification.
As you read last week, Dr. Moenssens was slated to bring us his thoughts
on the status of lip print identification today.
As he sat down to articulate his thoughts, it turned into a much larger
than anticipated 7-section article on non-friction ridge skin identification in
general, and won't be completed until late January or February.
In the mean time, we will turn our attention to several other related
topics to begin to lay the ground work to fully address this concept when we get
there. This week, John Vanderkolk takes us a step toward the bigger
picture, and relates to us some foundational concepts regarding uniqueness in
nature, only a part of which is biological uniqueness.
believe biology is a part of nature. Nature
is the sum total of anything that naturally occurs in the universe.
There is much more to nature than biology.
I have been taught structures and formations in nature are unique. Nobody has ever disproved that teaching or belief.
Nature is unique; therefore, biology is unique; therefore, people are
unique; therefore, friction ridge, elbow, lip, knuckle, wrist, ear, etc., skin
is unique. The natural parts that make up unique nature will all be unique in
their own structural forms and features.
have also often heard that no two snowflakes, or ice crystals, are alike.
I have enjoyed viewing enlarged photographs of ice crystals.
Not only are they different, but each of the sections within the same
crystal are unique. I have also
heard no two grains of sand are alike. I
have no reason to doubt that. There
is only one Grand Canyon, one Colorado River, and many unique rocks that sit on
the bottom of that river. The tree
line that I view on the horizon as I drive home is unique.
Each tree that makes up a part of that tree line is unique.
Each branch of that tree is unique.
Each part of that tree’s bark is unique.
Each leaf on that tree is unique. Each
structure on that leaf is unique.
nature is unique or it is not. I
have no expectation that nature will ever selectively reproduce itself
identically. There is no
expectation that any structure or form in nature can ever be identically
reproduced by nature. I challenge
anyone to disprove the ‘uniqueness of nature’ philosophy of science. NOBODY has ever falsified the ‘uniqueness of nature’
theory. NOBODY has ever found any
two structures in nature to be identical. I
am confident nobody ever will. How
can science prove nature is unique? I
do not know. Science can support
nature being unique, but will never be able to study all of nature throughout
all of time. Science needs to try
to disprove nature being unique, which we are doing.
Science is also the attempt to disprove, or falsify, a theory.
conjunction with uniqueness, the other aspect of source determination of images
is often called ‘permanence’ of friction ridge skin. Instead of the word permanence, I like the word
‘durability’ or ‘persistency’ of the skin.
As long as the source item is sufficiently durable or persistent in its
form, images from the item can be determined as having originated from it.
Sufficient durability of the source item and its features between the
time that the two images were deposited is needed.
Permanence throughout the life of the person is not needed.
Sufficient durability or persistency of structural form is needed.
That is why blisters, scars, cuts, warts, and other accidental
characteristics can be used during the examination process.
The durability or persistency of these features in the source item must
nature is unique and often sufficiently durable or persistent, a competent
examiner can determine the durable source of an image of nature if the examiner
can discern sufficient quality and quantity of detail in the image.
The unique detail in an image of nature is a recording of the unique
features of that part of nature. The
detail in any recording will have less quality and quantity of information than
found in the features of the source item itself.
A competent examiner using the recurring application of analysis,
comparison and evaluation with verification of the examination, should be able
to discern whether sufficient quality and quantity of information from the
various levels of detail present in the images exists in agreement in order to
determine that the impressions share the same source of origin.
can recognize unique features in source items from nature.
We can recognize unique detail in images.
From the unique detail, we can discern unique information.
If sufficient agreement of the unique information is determined, the
source of the unknown image is determined to be the same as the source of the
ridge skin is uniquely structured. The
numerous terms attached to friction ridge skin and classification have a
tendency to diminish the perception of the actual uniqueness of the detail in
the image. Classification of
fingerprints is a wonderful tool to organize, file and recover fingerprint
records. The rules applied to
classification do not need to be carried over to individualization of images.
Each ending ridge, bifurcation, delta, dot, loop, whorl, etc., is
uniquely structured, no matter the generic label attached.
Each feature of skin on the lips, ears, elbows, knuckles, etc., is
uniquely formed. Generic labels of
shapes need not be attached to unique features or detail.
is no need to ‘classify’ non-friction ridge images as to types of lip
images, elbow images, knuckle crease images, ear images, etc. Classification is good for grouping images together, but is
not needed to determine the source of the image. Classification may limit a
search if the donor is a part of the file.
The ability to recognize images and discern the levels of information
from the visible detail in images is a key.
Knowing what features are unique in the source is a key.
If the source is from nature, the source is unique.
Levels of clarity, or quality, of the image must be understood when
gathering information from the detail in the image.
examination methodology of analysis, comparison, evaluation and verification is
very logical for the effort of determining agreement or disagreement of unique
detail in images from durable unique sources.
It works for friction ridge, firearm/tool mark, shoe print, fracture and
many other examinations. It will
also work for elbow, muzzle, lip, forehead, forearm, etc., images. What is the
answer to the question, ‘Should we be examining images from non-friction ridge
skin?’ My answer has to be yes,
after training, understanding and ability produce a competent examiner.
I believe a competently trained and capable examiner can discern quality
and quantity of information from detail in images from durable unique sources in
comment on uniqueness in nature, visit the discussion forum at http://www.clpex.com
week, Christophe Champod has agreed to provide some information regarding what
statistics really mean, and what they can and cannot do.
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com THIS WEEK:
No major updates.
NOTE: I am currently "on the road" teaching, and vacationing with family for the holidays, so the Details will not be posted on the "Detail" or "Archive" pages of the site until my return January 2. Of course, the discussion board will still be active and the Detail will still be distributed through e-mail during this time, but updates of the website itself will be delayed for a few weeks.
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Until next Monday morning, don't work too hard or too little.