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Monday, December 4, 2006

 
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.
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Breaking NEWz you can UzE...
compiled by Jon Stimac

Mayfield Gets $2M NEW YORK SUN, NY - Nov 30, 2006 ...wrongly arrested after the Madrid terrorist bombings because of a misidentified fingerprint, he has settled part of his lawsuit...

Anthropologists Reconstruct Leonardo Fingerprint HOUSTON CHRONICLE, TX - Dec 1, 2006 ...the reconstruction of the fingerprint was the result of three years of research and could help attribute disputed paintings or manuscripts...

McKie Inquiry Report Faces Delay   BBC NEWS, UK - Nov 23, 2006 ...the Scottish Parliament committee began its inquiry into the case in April...

Lighting the Laser Lens   OFFICER.COM - Nov 27, 2006 ...lasers are capable of uncovering evidence often missed by other ALS and are able to show evidence in greater detail and clarity...

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Recent CLPEX Posting Activity
Last Week's Board topics containing new posts
Moderated by Steve Everist
John's Quote about Confidence and Probabilities
14 g. 366 03 Dec 2006 03:38 am

CSI drives parents to store kids' DNA
Steve Everist 25 02 Dec 2006 07:47 pm

Testifying on a digital-only fingerprint image.
Cindy Rennie 115 02 Dec 2006 06:53 pm

Two Latent Print Position Openings in Colorado
jbyrd 79 30 Nov 2006 10:31 pm

Brandon Mayfield Award $2 Million
Steve Everist 134 30 Nov 2006 04:46 am

Quality Assurance Measures
Michele Triplett 253 29 Nov 2006 02:46 pm

Latent Print Community
Charles Parker 1432 29 Nov 2006 01:12 pm

Processing Fired Cartridge Casings
gherrera 1051 29 Nov 2006 02:56 am

Forensic Human Identification: An Introduction
charlton97 144 27 Nov 2006 06:08 pm

FinePix S3 Pro UVIR Digital Camera
8 Dan #845 589 27 Nov 2006 02:05 pm

(http://clpex.com/phpBB/viewforum.php?f=2)
 

 
UPDATES ON CLPEX.com


No major updates on the website this week.

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Last week

we heard from Dave Charlton and Itiel Dror on psychology research involving fingerprint examination.

This week

someone suggested that one of the recent CLPEX.com forum threads should be required reading for every latent print examiner.  That thread is the subject of this week's Detail!

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Latent print Community
CLPEX.com Discussion Thread

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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 14 Nov 2006 06:22 pm Post subject: Latent Print Community


Who or What is the Latent Print Community?

Over the last few years there have been a number of articles or letters that refer to the Latent Print Community. Although these papers might mention the Latent Print Community they have not defined it.

In my pursuit to answer my own question, I need to explore a number of options. Is the Latent Print Community: 1) the federal labs with the 1-2 year training program, QM programs, numerous SOP’s /directives and the resources to train 5-15 latent print examiners at a time! 2) The state labs with a 6 month to 1 year training program, SOP’s, QA programs and the resources to train 1-2 latent print examiners with only a small impact on productivity! 3) The city and county labs servicing a 250,000 plus population that have a 3 to 6 month training program, general SOP’s, who pull their examiners from other sections of the agency and have some other occasional tasks to perform! 4) The city and county agencies servicing less than a 250,000 population that sends their examiners to 1-3 weeks of classroom training somewhere else; who have numerous other tasks to perform besides latent print analysis and who have a mentor that has been promoted or is in an agency close by! 5) An agency that is ASCLD-LAB Accredited! 6) An individual who is IAI Latent Print Certified! 7) A combination or all of the above!

I guess it would depend on where you are standing. For some perhaps only the top two or three would be enough. For others perhaps all of those listed. A difficult question made more difficult by exactly who has the authority to make the decision; the courts, government, those outside the discipline, or those inside the discipline (again who picks who).

Perhaps SWGFAST can answer my question. In looking at “Trained to Competency (ver.2.1) I see several key words such as “Understanding”, “Knowledge”, “Ability”, and “Application”. These are all fine words, but there is nothing in the document to measure when a person reaches understanding, or knowledge. There is nothing there to test ability or to check on application.

Can understanding or knowledge of a particular topic be determined by a 5 question test, a 20 question test, or a 100 question test? It is kind of vague and subjective. When does understanding or knowledge occur or how much time does it takes to achieve it.

In looking at 1.1.3 “An understanding of scientific methodology and its application to friction ridge examination” I realize that I am in trouble with this one. I understand the concept of scientific methodology but I certainly do not believe that it applies to friction ridge examination nor do I apply it. Does my lack of application mean that I have not been trained to competency? I know of a number of Latent Print Examiners who do not apply it.

Besides requiring a lot of understanding, the document also makes reference to ability. For example 3.1.6 states “The ability to render a proper conclusion of individualization”. Does that mean that if I miss an identification which is certainly not proper am I now considered not competent? If I determine a latent print is inconclusive but another examiner makes an identification which is verified am I now incompetent?

I guess I fail the SWGFAST guidelines on trained to competency and the document fails to address my original question of who is the “Latent Print Community”. Can one group, one agency, or one individual make that determination? That is the difficulty that I am struggling with.

Why do I need to know who the Latent Print Community is? Because I am currently at a “Crossroad” in my career! I have been teaching since the early 1980’s and the majority of those have been from agencies that service less than a 250,000 population. Most of those students had other duties to perform at their agencies and certainly do not perform latent print examinations on a regular basis. Most of those examiners are very smart, energetic, professional with a strong desire to serve their community in the best way they can. They are often neglected by their agencies in material, equipment, and training. They are often looked down on by the bigger agencies and labs. These individuals are in the proverbial rock and a hard place. Not having the skill set that is required by the “big boys” but still required to perform by their agencies.

I think there is a movement that is spreading to eliminate these part-time examiners because they are ill trained and dangerous in making conclusions from latent print comparisons and that the vast majority of errors are made by part-time examiners. I disagree because of the number I have trained over the years I know of only 4 that have made errors. Two were full-time examiners and two were part-time examiners. No agency is immune from errors. Not the Feds, the States, nor the big agency labs. Errors are an equal opportunity event.

This brings me to my crossroads. Do I stop teaching those that are only going to function as part time examiners? Do I stop mentoring those that I teach? Do I only concentrate on those that occupy a full time position? Do I work to cut the part-time examiners out of the discipline as they are not capable of the really difficult and time consuming comparisons?

I think not, because I began as a part-time examiner. All of the full time examiners in my office began as part-time examiners and three of them are IAI Certified. I will continue to work with, teach, and mentor the smaller agencies because most of them are good people with a good heart and a strong desire to do well. I believe the “Latent Print Community” encompasses all of those that conduct comparisons for their agencies and the courts of their community. Part of my instruction is called limitations. A good Latent Print Examiner will know their limitations and seek assistance from others when that limitation has been reached.

I have read several times that SWGFAST represents the “Latent Print Community”. That depends on your definition of that community. I believe that SWGFAST represents a segment of the “Latent Print Community”. There is a big difference between “Segment” and “All”.


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Shane Turnidge
Joined: 21 Jul 2005
Posts: 11
Location: Canada
Posted: 14 Nov 2006 08:10 pm Post subject: Latent Print Community


And then there is the International Latent Print Community, with a whole different set of guidelines and training regimens. Not to mention different laws, constitutions, jurisprudence etc.

As latent print practitioners, we are all interdependent, and I agree Charles, the term "Latent Print Community" is thrown around flippantly. The sooner congruent standards are adopted, and implemented by all civilized nations, the sooner we may come to define and understand what a "Latent Print Community" actually is.


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Michele Triplett
Joined: 06 Dec 2005
Posts: 37
Location: King County Sheriff's Office
Posted: 14 Nov 2006 08:40 pm Post subject:


Charles,

I am just curious, what is it about the methodology that you don't think applies to friction ridge examinations? Or what part of scientific methodolgy aren't you applying?


Last edited by Michele Triplett on 20 Nov 2006 01:28 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Pat A. Wertheim
Joined: 07 Jul 2005
Posts: 87
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posted: 14 Nov 2006 08:51 pm Post subject:


Interesting! Shane has a very valid point to add to Charles' query. In some countries, there are a very limited number of police agencies, maybe even only one in the entire country. The "latent print community" might be limited to people who have all passed a rigorous five year training program and work for the same agency. In the US, we have over 23,000 police agencies. Most of those do not have ID or fingerprint units, but many who do have one or two guys who fill several functions, of which latent print examination may be one. I agree with Charles that in the US, you must consider those people part of the "latent print community."

Unfortunately, I have seen a tendency on the part of SWGFAST to move in the direction of ASCLD-LAB requirements, and even moving toward ISO requirements has been discussed. I have taken a position that we should NOT embrace ASCLD-LAB criteria because labs that want to be accredited may do so without SWGFAST, but small town ID Units that have no intention of becoming accredited then could hardly comply with SWGFAST guidelines. And if SWGFAST moves completely within ASCLD-LAB criteria, are we not then just a useless appendage of ASCLD-LAB?

A few people have mentioned that it would be a good thing if requirements tightened up so much that small town police departments were forced out of the fingerprint business and, from the comments made, on a paranoid day I might even believe there is such a conspiracy afoot. Maybe there really is a conspiracy. After all, even the paranoids do occasionally have somebody after them.

There are still a couple of us old dinosaurs on SWGFAST who steadfastly defend the small agencies who do NOT want to become ASCLD accredited. But I'm afraid we are in the minority. All we can do is present our case and hope to sway some of the votes. But I don't know how long we can apply the brakes on what I perceive as a runaway train.

The fingerprint business is in a state of transition from point standards to ACE-V, from "accepted in the relevant community" to Daubert, and from the old fashioned ID Unit to the ASCLD or ISO accredited laboratory. I recently got into a friendly "discussion" with a laboratory auditor in my lab because, during an audit, several discrepancies were found between the way I take notes and the way policy and procedure dictate it should be done. My position is that there are too many new requirements that add absolutely nothing to the quality of the work product. But we dinosaurs are dying out. The new generation of young scientists takes to these new policies and procedures very easily as "the way things should be done." In the long run, that is a good thing. But I, for one, would like to see a reasonable (whatever that means, Charles, can you help me define it?) transition.

As to criticism of SWGFAST guidelines, I recently advised one of the brilliant young scientists who frequently posts on this forum, in a side discussion, that SWGFAST is, after all, a committee. You all doubtless have heard the old joke about, What is an elephant? Answer: A horse designed by a committee. We in SWGFAST try to design horses, but sometimes they come out as elephants, rhinos, or maybe just gnats. But sometimes, amazingly, we get it right and produce a thoroughbred. I think whether you see it as an elephant, a gnat, or a thoroughbred depends in large part on which "latent print community" you belong to.

Back to top

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opop
Joined: 08 Mar 2006
Posts: 5
Posted: 15 Nov 2006 09:48 pm Post subject:

Mr. Parker.

Were'nt you a member of SWGFAST at the time the document you referred to was drafted?

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mel275
Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 2
Location: Huntsville, Texas
Posted: 20 Nov 2006 02:14 am Post subject: Re: Who or What is the Latent Print Community...


Charles, to answer one of your queries: "....Do I stop teaching those that are only going to function as part time examiners? Do I stop mentoring those that I teach? Do I only concentrate on those that occupy a full time position? Do I work to cut the part-time examiners out of the discipline as they are not capable of the really difficult and time consuming comparisons? " Uh, no! I'm one of those students who fall into the group #4)... The city and county agencies servicing less than a 250,000 population that sends their examiners to 1-3 weeks of classroom training somewhere else; who have numerous other tasks to perform besides latent print analysis...

While the majority of my workday, perhaps my work week, may be spent on tasks other than latent comparison the majority of the tasks I do are geared toward the ultimate identification of an individual. And the ultimate identification of the individual may be from the latent left behind, (if I locate it), developed at the scene or in-house lab, (if I use the right process) and lifted / photographed for future comparison. So, with that said, if it weren't for continual training / testing and if it weren't for my long-distance mentors, Charles Parker and Steve Tyler, then I probably wouldn't have the confidence in my skills nor would I expect my employer to.

Whether I am the initial examiner to declare a positive or the third in line to agree with the initial examiner, my skills are important to me and my department. Although it's usually just me in the witness chair.

So, don't give up the ship - or the mentoring... there are alot of "me's" out there who need you...


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John Vanderkolk
Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posted: 20 Nov 2006 05:52 am Post subject:


The question about community could be: How many small communities make up the larger community? I know of no science in which all participants of that science participate the same in all aspects of that science. There are many smaller communities within the larger latent print community. If there had only been one large community with no small communities, there would have been no need or desire for SWGFAST to exist. If one large community had all the answers already, there would be no need for the IAI to provide a forum for discussions of ideas and research and various training presentations. If the one large community was doing everything correctly all the time, there would be no need for ASCLD/LAB.

Science, and friction ridge examination is a science, as are other forensic comparative sciences, is made up of many small communities that need to collaborate and communicate, ask and answer all the known relevant questions, seek the truth as known within the communities of collaborating scientists, and strive to reach the absolute truth of reality. Science is striving to reach absolute truth through the understanding of universal truth as that which is known and believed within the universal community of the relevant collaborating scientific communities.

If all fingerprint examiners and all collaborating scientists had the same philosophy of sufficiency, there would be no need for debate about what is needed for individualization or exclusion. If all the examiners were satisfied to our sufficiency of knowledge of fingerprint science, there would be no need for research. If all fingerprint examiners agreed on the same standards for conclusion, in each unique scenario of quality and quantity of images, there would be no debates needed.

Once the fingerprint scientist opens up to collaboration with other scientists, the influences of many communities come into the realm of the fingerprint community. There are many communities that make up the forensic comparative science community. This was wonderfully demonstrated at the ABFDE 'Paradigm Shift in Forensic Science Seminar' or 'Daubert Symposium' organized by Jan Seaman Kelly and Derek Hammond. A judge, an appeals lawyer, firearms examiner, fingerprint examiners, document examiners and cognitive psychology research professors presented November 9 and 10 in Las Vegas. The philosophies presented are all an effort of collaboration among many communities to help each little community within forensic comparative science better understand what we are doing.

As more collaboration takes place, as more relevant questions are asked and answered, more discussions of the philosophies within each discipline will lead to better understanding among the smaller communities and we should strive to make more of us members of the same larger common community of forensic comparative scientists. We should not be striving to maintain each smaller community. I have been appreciating the collaboration that has taken place and look forward to the future.

I would be struggling to explain each independent community in which I have participated without the benefit of having collaborated with many scientists within the larger community of forensic comparative science. I would rather be called a forensic comparative scientist than a fingerprint, shoe print, tire print, firearms, toolmarks, other types of impressions, and fracture comparison examiner.


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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 24 Nov 2006 04:18 pm Post subject: Response


SHANE, thank you for making me aware of the International Latent Community. Something that I had not even thought of. A monumental task to get all countries to agree to a set of standards especially in looking at the differences just within the United States in coming to a consensus. Something to wish for.

MICHELE, the following are my thoughts and beliefs about the Scientific Method (SM) which form the basis for my not using it in “Friction Ridge Examinations”.

1. In the literature some authors state that the SM is made up of 4 steps, others state 5, others state 7, and one even states 12. Which one do I use? Until the scientist or philosophers can come to an agreement on what the steps are, perhaps the SM should not be a basis for my friction ridge examinations.
2. In the literature some scientist espouse that there is no one SM. From James B. Conant who was educated at Harvard University and taught at Harvard and was the president of Harvard from 1939-1953 stated in his book “Science and Common Sense” Yale Univ. Press, 1951 that “there is no such thing as the scientific method”. Or this excerpt from Gordon Fisher “I spent many years trying to distinguish fruitfully between one or more SM, and various methods used by historians, lawyers, medical doctors, people in general, etc. I used to teach courses in history of science, and occasionally philosophy of science for a philosophy department. I was never able to find a convincing set of arguments which showed that the methods of scientist differed in some fundamental way from methods used in other fields. That is, logical reasoning was of the same nature throughout, used of precedent and past experiences were of the same nature, uses of observation, evidence and (when available) experiment were of the same nature, and so on.” Finally we have "Why should there be the method of science? There is not just one way to build a house, or even to grow tomatoes. We should not expect something as motley as the growth of knowledge to be strapped to one methodology." -Ian Hacking . If the scientist cannot decide whether the scientific method is even the single method of expanding knowledge why should I use it friction ridge examinations? For more on this subject just do a Google search on “Myth of Scientific Method” and you will get a number of very interesting articles to read on the subject.
3. The SM has been described as a construct of the accurate representation of the world, or the description of phenomenon, or the winnowing the truth from lies and delusions. There are many descriptions of the objective of the SM. Almost as many as there are scientists. I do not prefer to use a method or explain a method in court that has so many descriptive objectives. Which are correct and which are wrong. I personally cannot tell. It would be a subjective decision on my part to pick one over all the others in the literature.
4. It has been stated that the “SM distinguishes science from other forms of explanation because of the requirement of systematic experimentation.” I find it difficult to image that in comparing a latent print with a known exemplar that I am conducting systematic experimentation before I reach a conclusion. I have read that earlier on this site, which really got me investigating the SM. I do not believe the position in the paper presented was reasonably compelling for me to adopt it.
5. Part of the SM is the development of a hypothesis. Just like number 4, I have a difficult time in convincing my mind that when I pick up a latent print I consciously or subconsciously develop a hypothesis about the nature or future conclusions I reach before I conduct my comparison.
6. The SM cannot be used on all friction ridge examinations because of the lights out functions of some AFIS systems. If we cannot use it for all examinations how can I say we only use it for a small percentage of examinations. What is the criterion for when to use it and when we do not?

Those are some of my reasons and beliefs. I do not want you to think that I am knocking the SM as it does have its place. I think it would be appropriate to use when developing new techniques of developing latent prints or in expanding the current premises dealing with friction ridges (permanence or uniqueness) or as it was meant to do and be used in the expansion of knowledge. The examination and the ultimate conclusions reached from comparison of friction ridges is in my belief more of a scientific practice and is not based upon a scientific method.

So what model do I use in friction ridge examinations? I mostly use ACE-V but I have read papers on this site associating ACE-V with the Scientific Method (a cut down version). That argument I do not use for the same reasons listed above. I have a different position on describing ACE-V that is not tied into the Scientific Method.

I do hope in what I have written that some readers will not just take what I have said or what anyone else says on this site about the Scientific Method, but to investigate for yourselves whether it is a viable method for the examination, comparison and ultimate conclusions dealing with friction ridge analysis.

PAT, I would have to agree that it appears that SWGFAST is moving in behind ASCLD-LAB. I had always hoped that it would lead and that ASCLD-LAB would have to follow. One of the reasons for my post is that I would hope that SWGFAST would discuss more fully just who the latent print community is. Perhaps if they agree with our position then they would move in the direction of the lead.

I do not believe there is a conspiracy, but the movement comes from some peoples beliefs that I feel is misinformation. Generally the Feds and State Labs only see the Boo-Boos from the smaller agencies. They do not see the hundreds of good cases because why even move these up the food chain. When it comes to conspiracy theories I believe in Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance”.

OPOP, you are correct. However I was not on the sub-committee that developed that document. My last day with SWGFAST was the day the document in question had its final vote. Before someone starts guessing, the former did not have anything to do with the later. Matter of fact I probably voted for its approval. In 2002 I knew very little about the Scientific Method and only what was presented at SWGFAST. Since then after seeing it in print a number of times and talked about did I start to read up on it. If I had it to do over again knowing what I know now I probably would not vote for it. Knowing the future does not help me with the past.

SWGFAST is a great organization. I am a firm believer in its original objectives and goals. There are a lot of good people there that are very smart and a few who have strong personalities, which I do believe you need some of. Probably 95% of what SWGFAST has published I am in agreement with. To agree with everything they publish would not be in the best interest of the discipline and would counter some of SWGFAST best features: Discussion and Change. The document “Trained to Competency” will come up for review in 2007. Hopefully there will be some productive changes. But changes will only come if each and every examiner who has a different point of view lets them know about it along with suggestions for change.


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Dogma
Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 22
Posted: 24 Nov 2006 06:08 pm Post subject:


Bravo, once again to the Sage of Texas! May I offer a few thoughts? Well, of course, so here goes:

The problem with the scientific method and fingerprints is that its application is misunderstood. The scientific method is appropriate to establish principles upon which future testing will be based. No forensic examiner follows the scientific method in their day to day chores unless they are researching a new method or theory (for you nit pickers: theory - a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.) and are seeking to validate their hypothesis. It is proper that those currently conducting research into the individuality of friction ridge detail or the ability of examiners to conclude identity based upon their observations of detail in a latent fingerprint do so adhering to the (or at least one of the) scientific method.

Do DNA analysts, when first reviewing a submitted sample, start their examination by writing their hypothesis regarding the viability of determining identity by demonstrating the presence of certain markers in the sample; then design a experiment to prove their hypothesis; then test their hypothesis through experimentation; then state their conclusions and have their work verified independently? NO. They simply follow a pre-established methodology/practice that was derived and validated as a result of earlier research.

By claiming that we need to invoke the scientific method (in whatever form) for each fingerprint examination is ludicrous. We use a previously established methodology which has become known in recent times as ACE-V. The scientific method is not applied to the examiner. It is applied to the underlying research that established the principles which the examiner uses to make his/her conclusions.

To address the original question, “who or what is the latent print community?” the latent print community is comprised of all those who use developed/discovered friction ridge detail to identify a source of the specimen and those who apply various methods to develop/discover the friction ridge detail so used. The latent print community does not include the likes of Simon Cole, Ralph Haber, James Starrs et al anymore than newspaper editorial writers are part of the government they examine and opine about. In simple terms, the “latent print community” should include only those who practice the discipline and not those who are merely observers.

Should we limit the “latent print” community to those who have been “trained to competency” whatever that means? I’m afraid that we have to live with those who years ago went through a two week FBI fingerprint course and upon completion were declared “fingerprint experts” by their instructors and have not seen a classroom since nor proficiency tested. We need to remember that the professional standards that we seek are not the same as the requirements of the legal system.


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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 24 Nov 2006 08:39 pm Post subject: Response


Dogma nice to hear from you. I must tip my hat. Once again you have said in a half page what took me three pages to say. I agree with your logic and reasoning. I especially liked the editors to government part. I probably will steal and plagerize the heck out of that. I really need to work on my writing skills as you have put it clearly, concisely, and to the point.

The only comment I would make is that a lot of those I taught in the past had no intention of becoming Latent Print Examiners. They were investigators and wanted to know more about it and what it could or could not do. They were there to understand it, not do it. I applaud that as any investigator who understands more of the things they have to deal with are more apt to work and use it effectively and is that not what it is all about. The effective and proper use of physical evidence to help solve crime.

Anyway I enjoy your posts. You did one a month or so ago and I meant to respond but was unable to do so. Keep it up.


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Michele Triplett
Joined: 06 Dec 2005
Posts: 37
Location: King County Sheriff's Office
Posted: 24 Nov 2006 10:37 pm Post subject:


I wonder if I should even respond, considering that I realize that I’m not going to convince anyone of anything by a simple post on a chat board. But Charles brings up some valid concerns and I feel obligated to represent another view.

Charles, great observations, I’m glad to see someone critically analyze these things instead of blindly accepting them (all elements of science).

You’re right, there are several explanation of SM but that doesn’t mean that there’s not agreement on the correct way, it just means that people choose different ways of explaining it. Some people choose to simplify an explanation while others choose a more complete explanation. Sometimes overly simplified explanations are so simplified that they’re no longer correct. For example, I think all scientists would agree that there is no single SM. Scientists use all mean available to arrive at conclusions, this includes intuition and common sense. When explaining how scientists arrive at conclusion, a common way to describe it became known as hypothesis testing. In fact, this became so common that Hypothesis Testing became referred to as “The SM”, which isn’t exactly correct.

"I was never able to find a convincing set of arguments which showed that the methods of scientist differed in some fundamental way from methods used in other fields. That is, logical reasoning was of the same nature throughout, used of precedent and past experiences were of the same nature, uses of observation, evidence and (when available) experiment were of the same nature, and so on.”

I suppose this is right to some degree but there are a few differences regarding scientific conclusions and other logical conclusions. To understand this all we have to do is look at the difference between a BS in biology and a BA in biology. Scientific conclusions are usually concluded because of an in-depth understanding of the principles used to arrive at a conclusion while non-scientific conclusions are arrived at by using established principles but perhaps not having the same understanding behind them. This is also true with other subjects (in most colleges you can take calculus in the science department or take a calculus class from the business department – the difference is the level of understanding required before using established principles). Having said this, I suppose conclusions regarding individualization can be done scientifically and non-scientifically, but I’m guessing that a better understanding of something usually results in more accurate conclusions.

Yes, there are several descriptions of SM. That's because there are several SM's. It could also be that some of the descriptions are overly simplified or wrong. ACE-V has several descriptions also. Even though ACE-V sounds like a single method we all use, there are several descriptions of ACE-V. Maybe we’re all using different methods but using the same acronym to describe what we’re doing. I don't agree that all explanations of ACE-V qualify as a valid SM but Hubers original description seems to qualify. In light of the Daubert era, I think it's essential that all practitioners are able to articulate the validity of the particular ACE-V system they're using. I think it's interesting that you say you use ACE-V but not a SM. Huber developed "ACE plus verification" as synonomous with SM. How can you use ACE-V but not use it as it is designed. Is what you're using still considered to be ACE-V?

I agree that lights out isn't using SM, it's a technical process where the tolerance level is set extremely high where no logical deduction is necessary. SM is generally used as a method for human to arrive at the best conclusions possible (these conclusions aren't absolute or final).

Dogma,

SM can be used for principles or for individual conclusions, at least that's how it's taught in the United States 6th grade sciences classes. This is also accepted by many scientific minded people (but I agree, it's not accepted by all of them).

About your definitions of a theory......one is a layman's definition and one is a scientific definition. They are both valid definitions but only apply in their respected areas.

About DNA analysts, as you describe their work, many would say this is a technical process and not a purely scientific process.

My comments to Charles about claiming to use ACE-V but not accepting it as a scientific method (even though that is how it's designed) also should be said to you. It makes me wonder which description of ACE-V the two of you are using. It surely can't be Huber's or Ashbaugh's description.


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Dogma
Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 22
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 02:37 am Post subject:


Quote:
I wonder if I should even respond, considering that I realize that I’m not going to convince anyone of anything by a simple post on a chat board

Ditto.


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Strict Scrutiny
Joined: 01 Sep 2006
Posts: 2
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 05:31 am Post subject:


Dogma, I like the way you worded your post. I would like to add on.

I have seen so many examiners receive a comparison task and immediately throw it on the table and start comparing latent and 10-print without first doing an analysis of the latent. Another mistake I have seen is when an examiner will want you to verify something and they will tell you everything they think you should know about the analysis (tell you what evidence you should find in order to base your conclusion on) before you have a chance to conduct your own “blind” analysis and comparison.

ACE-V was developed to solve these and other problems that stem from human imperfection.

I think ACE-V is an adaptation of the scientific method for a specific task. In other words it is derived from SM, but is a technical process. This is a process that you should follow in order to help keep your own (or your co-worker’s) human failings out of the decision making process.

This thread is a lot about philosophy, and as such it gets very fluffy and subjective in spots. ACE-V is supposed to help us by taking the fuzziness out of our thought process when forming decisions that will impact a person’s life and liberty. As Dogma so eloquently posted:

“We use a previously established methodology which has become known in recent times as ACE-V. The scientific method is not applied to the examiner. It is applied to the underlying research that established the principles which the examiner uses to make his/her conclusions”.

I had a photography teacher that used to say “any damned fool could take a picture of a sunset”. I think the same applies to fuzzy debates over scientific philosophy.


Michele Triplett wrote:

About DNA analysts, as you describe their work, many would say this is a technical process and not a purely scientific process


The crux of your argument seems to equate ACE-V with pure science. It's not. It is applied science. The principles of applied science come from pure science, but they do not represent pure science. I would also like to say that it is dangerous for examiners to be thinking they are pure scientists. This could be a very egotistical force, and detrimental to professional accuracy.

Last edited by Strict Scrutiny on 03 Dec 2006 03:25 am; edited 1 time in total

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Michele Triplett
Joined: 06 Dec 2005
Posts: 37
Location: King County Sheriff's Office
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 07:47 am Post subject:


I didn't mean to imply that at all, I agree it's an applied science and sometimes it may not even be that. I think it can be scientific if done in a certain manner.


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John Vanderkolk
Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 02:58 pm Post subject:


Strict Scrutiny wrote:Quote:
ACE-V was developed to solve these and other problems that stem from human imperfection.


I agree about human imperfection. Humans are imperfect. Humans also develop the sciences, all sorts of sciences. Humans want to know the truth. And science is about learning what we know and believe as truth, within our particular community, and within the greater community that our community participates in. That is one thing that makes us human. But, can we know the ultimate, absolute truth that has no conditions attached, because all the questions that could ever be asked, have already been asked and answered? No. Therefore, science is imperfect. There are more questions out there to be asked and answered. Seems like the more we learn, the more we need to learn. However, science is extremely good at being accurate. Science is not stagnant. Science does not have all the answers. Science gets better as the appliers get more knowledge and researchers get more knowledge, and we all know more. The scientists, no matter what role we participate in within the many communities of science, do much better with collaboration.

Science, any science, is about gaining knowledge and beliefs about phenomenon in reality. Imperfect humans do the gaining of knowledge and beliefs within the community of scientists. As scientists ask and answer the relevant and appropriate questions, the science develops. Whether that science is applying what the researchers are finding or the researchers are using what the appliers know.

Vision science, within cognitive psychology, is the study of how light works to decisions by humans, or, how we see and think and know. There are many evolving theories of how we see and think and know. Which theory is the most correct? The researchers in vision science are collaborating with the appliers of vision science, the latent print examiners. I am so excited to be collaborating with Dr. Tom Busey, and, though less formally, with Dr. Itiel Dror and they are collaborating with us, the imperfect human beings trying to apply what all sorts of scientists know about what we do. I have had the pleasure of even being with Dr. Busey and Dr. Dror at the same seminars, usually trying to sit between them, when they discuss issues within fingerprint and cognitive science. I am happy to collaborate what my understanding of ACE+V and QQ (quality quantity) is with them and they help us understand what we are doing.

Science is a process of knowing and believing and collaborating and asking and answering, seeking the truth. What would the point be if we were not seeking the truth? Vision science, and fingerprint science, both, are trying to explain how we see and think and inquire and know and believe. ACE is a method, a simple method, that explains how we see and think and know and believe within tolerance of our communities of collaborating scientists, imperfect, but very good, human beings. I am happy neither Dr. Busey nor Dr. Dror have told me to seriously alter how I have been trying to explain ACE and QQ. I am happy to collaborate and evolve and understand better. The way I explain today is different than the way I first publicly explained them in 1998, as my friends and collaborators know. That is what collaboration is all about. My understanding is humanly imperfect, but I am striving to improve.

and:

Quote:
Michele, the crux of your argument seems to equate ACE-V with pure science. It's not. It is applied science. The principles of applied science come from pure science, but they do not represent pure science. I would also like to say that it is dangerous for examiners to run around thinking they are pure scientists. This can be a very egotistical force, and detrimental to professional accuracy.


Please tell me what a 'pure science' is and if there are any errors, or potential errors within the rules of that 'pure science'. To me, 'pure' sounds like 'without error'. Have all the questions been asked and answered in 'pure science'? What 'pure science' is done asking questions, done answering questions, done collaborating, done needing to know more about that science? Which sciences would you put into the category of 'pure science'? Since humans develop science so humans can know more about phenomenon in reality, do 'pure sciences' give us all the absolute answers within that science? Why should imperfect humans need to collaborate within a 'pure science'? To me, a 'pure science' would have no flaws, no capabilities of flaws, no further questions will ever need to be asked, all the answers are known, no dispute, no errors, no chance for errors, since that science would be 'pure'?

Is 'pure' 'less than perfect' or 'equal to perfect'? Since the rules and laws of any science are developed by humans, and humans are imperfect, science would have to be less than perfect. Therefore, impurities would exist in pure science, therefore, the question comes back to, what is pure science? Is pure science really pure?

and:

Quote:
This thread is a lot about philosophy, and as such it gets very fluffy and subjective in spots. ACE-V is supposed to help us by taking the fuzziness out of our thought process when forming decisions that will impact a person’s life and liberty...

I think the same applies to fuzzy debates over scientific philosophy.



For me, the principles of ACE are more closely related to the principles and explanations provided by cognitive vision scientists of how we see, think, know and believe and the philosophies of knowing truth than whatever principles we get from some of the other sciences. We need to collaborate more outside the fingerprint community to help us eliminate the fuzziness.. This fuzziness of knowing what we believe as truth has been debated since the beginning of philosophy. By choosing to ignore the psychological and philosophical aspect of knowing and believing, we will stay fluffy and fuzzy in our understandings and explanations. Let's welcome the collaborating with vision scientists, philosophers of science, fingerprint examiners, other pattern comparative scientists, the larger community of scientists, including the almost pure sciences. Let's try to eliminate the fluff and fuzziness of dogmatic explanations. Let's try to know the explanations.


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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 05:39 pm Post subject: Response


Michele, I hope you never stop posting because you think you might not convince someone. I like your posts and on some occasions you made me change my point of view. On others they may not have changed my view but it stopped me long enough to consider my own reasoning. Besides there are others who might want to read a different view point.

You stated that “….there are a few differences regarding scientific conclusions and other logical conclusions”. First what he was referring to was that there was no difference in the reasoning used by scientist or others. This is an argument that has been written about on a number of occasions. There is no difference in the reasoning used by attorneys, police officers, tradesman, and businessmen with that of Scientist. This is a cornerstone argument against “The Scientific Method”. The difference in scientific conclusions and non-scientific conclusions is one is made by a Scientist and the other is not. Second we have syntax and learning differences. I never considered a difference between scientific and logical conclusions. My training stated that scientific conclusions are based upon logic. You can have good scientific (logical) conclusions or bad scientific (non-logical) conclusions. The difference is with the reasoning behind each, whether you have cogent (good) or fallacious (false) reasoning. Several months ago someone wrote something and used the term “Leap of Logic”. I have heard of “Leap of Faith” but never the first one. Poured over all my books on Logic, Reasoning and Philosophy and could not find that concept. Logic comes from reasoning. Reasoning is either good or bad. I was going to post something but then I thought like you in the beginning it would be just a feather in the wind.

I must apologize when I first read your post I thought you had stated that Huber and Ashbaugh described ACE-V as synonymous with the SM. Later when I read your post again I see that you only listed Huber. Having never read him, I do not have a way to rebut. Anyway before that, I pulled out my book by Ashbaugh and went to the index and there was nothing listed under Scientific Method. “Shucks” I said to myself. Now I am going to have to do a page by page review of his book. After 40 minutes I could not find any reference to the SM. On page 107 he mentions “Systematic and Analytical Methodology” which is right in line with my beliefs. He does mention in several places the “Scientific Process” and then on page 173 under Methodology he states “Scientific Procedure”. It could be argued that he means “The Scientific Method” when he says scientific process or scientific procedure, but I would argue that there are several different processes or procedures out there and which one did he mean. Only Mr. Ashbaugh could answer the question if he meant scientific process and procedure to by synonymous with “The Scientific Method”. I will have to say that in any of his descriptions of Analysis, Comparison or Evaluation he never mentioned the words “Hypothesis” or “Experimentation”, two key points to “The Scientific Method”. It seems to me that if Huber wrote ACE-V to be synonymous with the “The Scientific Method”, why did not Ashbaugh mention that in his book or go into Hypothesis or Experimentation during the Analysis, Comparison, or Evaluation stages. Of course later publications by Mr. Ashbaugh might have expanded on the ACE-V being the same as the Scientific Method. I know others have.

The following are more of my views on Science so you might understand where I am coming from. I believe there are a number of methods for Scientific Inquiry. They would come under the following groups: 1). Observation Models 2). Comparison Models 3). Experimental Models 4). Combination of all three. The Observation Models are those which are singular in purpose. Jane Goodall’s inquiry into the Great Apes would be an Observation Model. Comparison Models are geared towards 2 or more data sets. Dr. Leakey’s comparison of the bones of Lucy with other hominids is an example of a Comparison Model. The Scientific Method is normally associated with the Experimental Models due to its requirements of hypothesis and experimentation for validation. There are three approaches to inquiry, model, or method. A). Technical B). Analytical C). Scientific.

I consider ACE-V or the examination of friction ridge skin a Comparison Model with an Analytical approach. In short it is Comparative Analysis. In dealing with conclusions based upon Comparative Analysis there are six questions that should (must) be answered:
1. What conclusions are you making from your analysis?
2. What specific details support your conclusion?
3. What additional evidence supports your conclusion?
4. What underlying principals support your conclusion?
5. What disagreements might be raised about your conclusion?
6. In what ways should you qualify your conclusion?

My science classes in school dealt with Botany, Geology, Logic and Philosophy. All through high school and college I do not recall any mention of the “The Scientific Method”. That does not mean they did not mention it. I could have been recovering from a hang-over, or skipped class to shoot pool. My earliest recollection of “The Scientific Method” was at SWGFAST in about 1998. The way it was explained I thought it was fabulous in describing Latent Print Examinations. The more I tried to use it the more I realized it did not work for me. I went back to my roots and that is what I have listed above.

If it works for you then by all means use it. If you can explain it and not lose anyone, then use it. I did not cut my teeth on it and I have a problem with the Hypothesis and Experimentation parts.

As usual any comments are welcome. I will print them out and make a paper basketball out of them (just kiddin).


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Michele Triplett
Joined: 06 Dec 2005
Posts: 37
Location: King County Sheriff's Office
Posted: 25 Nov 2006 08:42 pm Post subject:


Charles,

Exactly what science is and when it began is open to interpretation. Many people might say that it began somewhere around 1200ad-1600ad, but I think it started much earlier in a very simple form. I think it started back with Socrates around 400bc. Socrates thought that if you wanted to come to the best conclusion, this would be done by questioning things (instead of just listening to those with power and prestige). Aristotle added to this by suggesting testing and experimenting and Thales added that people should collect information and hypothesis about different possibilities. I think my idea that this was the beginning is supported by the fact that these are the main elements of Hypothesis Testing (which became known as the SM). Over the next 2000 years science evolved to be very complex, but I believe this is science in its simplest form. I believe this is what we’re doing in analyzing prints.

1. Question: does this latent print have value to compare to others?
2. Hypothesize: I’ll guess yes.
3. Test: collect information to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
4. Make a conclusion: lets just say we’ve concluded- it’s of value
5. Peer review-leave all your data and ideas open to others to review
6. Question: was the print left by Charles?
7. Hypothesize: I’ll guess yes.
8. Test: look for information to support or refute the hypothesis
9. Experiment or prediction: if I look 3 ridges up will I see a bifurcation (continue testing the hypothesis until you believe you’ve done enough to establish a valid conclusion)
10. May need to change the hypothesis and retest
11. May want to consult with others
12. Make a conclusion:
13. Peer review: leave all your data and ideas open to others to review

Unfortunately our profession still uses a tactic used in Socrates times…..if you don’t like the conclusion, just kill the person who arrived at this conclusion (we’ve lightened up a bit, now we just ban them from the profession).

The above example is very simple and we have premises, principles and other scientific tenets that we can also use, making it a little more complicated.

Since this is how I view a very simple form of science, I would say that the cornerstone argument against scientific deduction (that everyone uses this form of logic) isn’t an argument against science at all. To me, it looks like an argument that supports how reliable and valid this form of reasoning is. Using logical deduction (hypothesis testing or scientific method) works so well that everyone uses it to arrive at conclusions. As you can probably guess, from this view, a scientific analysis is an analytical analysis.

I think most people think of science as being complicated and if what you’re doing isn’t complicated it can’t be scientific. I disagree, science can be as simple or as complex as you choose to make it.

Personally I believe we have the same views but are just labeling it differently. The ‘just’ in the previous sentence could be a lot more important than implied. Labeling what we do as scientific or non-scientific artificially may tell a jury that the conclusion is either credible or non-credible. This entire topic could also be viewed by our critics as a lack of agreement on the basic ideas behind what we do.

Anyway, I think that if the industry (or even an individual agency) is going to say that what we do is a science then they should be able to back up this statement. While I was in training and I asked for the justification behind the claim (after a defense attorney asked me this question), I couldn’t find an answer that satisfied me (or an answer that I thought would satisfy an attorney). After years of reading, talking with other people, and asking lots of questions, this is how I now explain it. Personally, I think swgfast needs to articulate this for the practitioners of our field, but then again any complete explanation would probably end up being an entire book.

btw, I liked your basketball comment!


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Strict Scrutiny
Joined: 01 Sep 2006
Posts: 2

Posted: 26 Nov 2006 06:51 pm Post subject:


John, Thank you for the reply. You have written some great things here. I cannot say that I disagree in essence with any of your message. Yet I offer a significantly different perspective, as is to be expected in a forum dedicated to open debate.

John Vanderkolk wrote:
Please tell me what a 'pure science' is and if there are any errors, or potential errors within the rules of that 'pure science'. To me, 'pure' sounds like 'without error'.


I think pure science is the quest for knowledge simply for the sake of knowledge, and applied science is the use of knowledge to solve a specific occupational task or problem. I believe pure science will feed applied science, but to be on task and focused we must acknowledge the difference between the two meanings of science, and use them differently. The biggest difference between the two (for this discussion) is that pure science will allow greater latitude for one to hypothesize because gaining knowledge is King, where science applied to the examination of fingerprints must be carefully honed for the practitioner, and narrowed to only allow subjectivity in at the correct moment.

The beauty of ACE-V is that it demands us to put subjectivity in a cage and only let it out during evaluation. To allow subjective thought prior to that point is acceptable in other sciences, but too risky for our profession. It is up to each examiner to “walk the walk” because subjectivity and bias are very insidious things. Not so risky when we are musing about theory in a classroom, but quite dangerous if one does not understand that ACE-V is a structure (like a blueprint) to end up with more reliable results, and should be treated quite rigidly when the magnifier goes on the print.

Furthermore, I don’t believe pure science is happening on the bench in DNA analysis or Latent Print Examination. I think we should be careful about implying that is does:

Michele Triplett wrote:
SM can be used for principles or for individual conclusions, at least that's how it's taught in the United States 6th grade sciences classes. This is also accepted by many scientific minded people (but I agree, it's not accepted by all of them).

About your definitions of a theory......one is a layman's definition and one is a scientific definition. They are both valid definitions but only apply in their respected areas.

About DNA analysts, as you describe their work, many would say this is a technical process and not a purely scientific process.


Hopefully pure science will be more of a force in our profession. We will no doubt rely on more research in the future to formulate our policies. But we must know how to harness pure science for maximum benefit, because if we are not focused we can also be victims of our own musings.

I have to say that your insights into cognitive vision are fascinating. I look forward to reading more from you.


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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 27 Nov 2006 03:29 am Post subject: Response


Michele, I think if you consider mathematics a science (some do, some don’t’) you could it extend it back to the Egyptians as they used fractions and had a system of questioning symptoms to identify and treat illness. Wikipedia has a good section on the history of science. John if you are reading this they have a good explanation of pure science and applied science.

Socrates had a method of questioning that was named after him, the Socratic Method (dialectic). It was basically answering a question with a question. One source (Wikipedia) states that it is a negative method of hypothesis elimination. No doubt Aristotle was very good but I could not find much on his testing and experimentation, but my search time was limited. The only thing I found on Thales was that he lived 150 years before Socrates (Pre-Socratic Philosophy). Wikipedia is a wealth of information. I spent most of the day on that site, mainly reading on science, scientific method, etc. Each section has like a chat room and I looked at over 200 entries on the scientific method alone. It confirmed my belief that “The Scientific Method” is used for investigation of phenomena and acquiring new knowledge and not for technical or analytical applications unless the purpose is to replace the existing models (new knowledge). Of course that is my interpretation and may not coincide with others.

I find your analysis model interesting. I will put together one of mine and send it to you. Then you can make a paper basketball.

I hope you are not serious about if someone does not like your ideas that you are banned. I may not agree with you or other people on some points but I will fight to the death your right to say your ideas (without fear of being ostracized). Socrates once said, “I know you won’t believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others”.

I was not aware of an argument against deductive reasoning. I believe that deductive and inductive reasoning are very important in Science.

I agree that science is what you make it. People can make it complex or simple.

You may be right probably a syntax thing. However your following statement has me confused: “Labeling what we do as scientific or non-scientific artificially may tell a jury that the conclusion is either credible or non-credible. This entire topic could also be viewed by our critics as a lack of agreement on the basic ideas behind what we do”.

A few points on that statement:
1. It sounds to me like you are asking that one of us give up our beliefs so as not to confuse the juries and deny ammunition to our critics?
2. Are you stating that non-scientific conclusions are non-credible?
3. Are you stating that Science is the only way for credible conclusions?

A few points from me:
1. I never said what I did was not science. My whole crux was the concept of using “The Scientific Method” as the only means of explaining the comparison of friction ridge detail.
2. I do not see a great disparity in you going into court and stating that you have arrived at your conclusion using “The Scientific Method” and I going into a court and stating that I arrived at my conclusion through a method of Analysis consisting of evaluation, comparison, and conclusion with an independent review of the evidence.
3. Perhaps I misunderstood the paragraph?


In conclusion, I must have read 20 definitions of science today. A lot of our differences are our concept or definition of science. Mine is probably old-fashioned, but it makes sense to me. I do believe that if I heard something better I would adopt it. With SWGFAST they have a difficult chore. To get 35 people to agree in a majority vote what is science to the fingerprint discipline would be like Hannibal crossing the Alps, extremely difficult. It could be done but a lot of people are not going to like the final product.


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Dogma
Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 22

Posted: 27 Nov 2006 08:49 am Post subject:


Well, I told myself I was going to let this drop, but I also thought I wasn't going to over eat on Thanksgiving and that didn't work out either, so:
Quote:

SM can be used for principles or for individual conclusions, at least that's how it's taught in the United States 6th grade sciences classes. This is also accepted by many scientific minded people (but I agree, it's not accepted by all of them).


My education went far beyond the 6th grade so I guess my view is more mature than some. I don't recall any of my physics or chemistry professors referring me back to what I learned in grammar school although I recall a popular book a few years ago which claimed that all we needed to know was learned in Kindergarten. I suppose they had also matured to that place where they can confidently challenge the habitual recitation of dogma and looked at things with a new and inquistive eye, sometimes challenging ideas put forward in their own lectures.

BTW: the US Dept. of Education found that high school students in the United States are consistently outperformed by those from Asian and some European countries on international assessments of mathematics and science, according to The Condition of Education 2006 report. If only we had gotten to them in the 6th grade!

Quote:
About your definitions of a theory......one is a layman's definition and one is a scientific definition. They are both valid definitions but only apply in their respected areas.


I always remind myself that what we do professionaly isn't worth a hoot if we can't convince others of our findings. I tend to speak and write on these issues as though I was addressing a jury, better known in some circles as laymen. If you use the term "theory" to most people they think that you are speaking of an idea or premise that may or may not be valid but which falls short of having been proved. Just think of those religious fundamentalists who challenge evolution by stating, "It's only a theory!"
And certainly: “Have you any theory, Holmes?” (Watson to his friend in "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place.")

Quote:
About DNA analysts, as you describe their work, many would say this is a technical process and not a purely scientific process.



See? We do agree on something. I addressed that very thing some time ago in another post for which the moderator took me to the wood shed. Most forensic examinations involve a technical process and not scientific investigation. The examiner does not offer an opinion about their findings. They just report testing results stating that the results fall within certain predetermined parameters. But, please don't tell them I said so. They are so proud of themselves.

Dear Charles,
Of course mathematics is a science. Some consider it just a language used to express scientific principles. But where would Einstein or any theoretical physicist be without it? It could be said that chemistry is just a language that helps us express our understanding of the biological sciences (ATCG) or the elemental aspects of physics.
Mathematics is the study of quantifiable relationships. It not only enables us to describe "how much" but also concepts of when (time) and where (space).


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Charles Parker
Joined: 04 Jul 2005
Posts: 70
Location: Austin, Texas
Posted: 27 Nov 2006 03:07 pm Post subject: Dogma


Dogma, I agree that Mathamatics is a science. But I ran across the following information this weekend and I thought it was interesting.

Mathematics and the scientific method
Mathematics is essential to many sciences. The most important function of mathematics in science is the role it plays in the expression of scientific models. Observing and collecting measurements, as well as hypothesizing and predicting, often require mathematical models and extensive use of mathematics. Mathematical branches most often used in science include calculus and statistics, although virtually every branch of mathematics has applications, even "pure" areas such as number theory and topology. Mathematics is most prevalent in physics, but less so in chemistry, biology, and some social sciences.
Some thinkers see mathematicians as scientists, regarding physical experiments as inessential or mathematical proofs as equivalent to experiments. Others do not see mathematics as a science, since it does not require experimental test of its theories and hypotheses, although some theorems can be disproved by contradiction through finding exceptions. (More specifically, mathematical theorems and formulas are obtained by logical derivations which presume axiomatic systems, rather than a combination of empirical observation and method of reasoning that has come to be known as scientific method.) In either case, the fact that mathematics is such a useful tool in describing the universe is a central issue in the philosophy of mathematics.
Further information: Eugene Wigner, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences
Richard Feynman said "Mathematics is not real, but it feels real. Where is this place?"[verification needed], while Bertrand Russell quipped, in allusion to the abstraction inherent in the axiomatic method, that "Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."
Mathematics cannot be considered pure science as everything that is mathematically correct may not be physically or practically correct. It is a tool to study various fields of science and to effectively pursue the scientific method.

A different view point.


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John Vanderkolk
Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posted: 27 Nov 2006 10:05 pm Post subject:


Charles wrote:
Quote:
Mathematics is essential to many sciences. The most important function of mathematics in science is the role it plays in the expression of scientific models. Observing and collecting measurements, as well as hypothesizing and predicting, often require mathematical models and extensive use of mathematics. Mathematical branches most often used in science include calculus and statistics, although virtually every branch of mathematics has applications, even "pure" areas such as number theory and topology. Mathematics is most prevalent in physics, but less so in chemistry, biology, and some social sciences.

I have emailed Philip Ball, author of "The self-made tapestry: pattern formation in nature", ISBN 0 19 850243 5, and have tried to get him into forensic science writings, specifically fingerprints, but have not yet hooked him. I especially liked his book for all of the applications to forensic comparative sciences, most dramatically chapter 6, 'breakdowns', for fracture examinations.

For the relations of mathematics to pattern and form I will share a small sample of what he wrote on pages 10 and 11:

"The natural language of pattern and form is mathematics. This may dismay those of you who never quite made friends with this universal tool of science, and it may seem a little disappointing too - for patterns and forms can be things of tremendous beauty, whereas mathematics can often appear to be a cold, unromantic and, well, calculated practice. But mathematics has its own very profound beauty too, and this is something that you do not any longer have to take on trust. The now familiar images of fractal forms and patterns demonstrate that mathematics is perfectly able to produce and describe structures of immense complexity and subtlety.

The main point is that mathematics enables us to get to grips with the essence of pattern and form - to describe it at its most fundamental level, and thereby to see most clearly what features need to be reproduced by an explanation or a model. In short, the mathematical description of a form can be considered to pertain to that which is left after the particular irregularities or anomalies of any individual example of that form (for example, the small imperfections of bumps on a shell) are averaged out. To explain how the form of the shell arises, there is no point in trying to explain all the little bumps, since these will be different for each shell; we need instead to focus on the 'ideal' mathematical form. This concept of an ideal, perfect form behind the messy particulars of reality is one that is generally attributed to Plato."

I just wanted to share one of my favorite quotes about using math in models to express the essence of form, realizing math's limitations due to all the anomolies that make each item unique.

Nothing like the communities of math and science helping us in fingerprints and other pattern examinations.

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g.
Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 41
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posted: 28 Nov 2006 08:19 pm Post subject: Great quote!

Quote:
The main point is that mathematics enables us to get to grips with the essence of pattern and form - to describe it at its most fundamental level, and thereby to see most clearly what features need to be reproduced by an explanation or a model...To explain how the form of the shell arises, there is no point in trying to explain all the little bumps, since these will be different for each shell; we need instead to focus on the 'ideal' mathematical form...



And this is exactly how statistics and probability theory can be used to describe what we observe in nature...describing essentially the skeleton (or shell) of the fingerprint. We may not know how to (yet) characterize all the little bumps (L3D, level 3 detail), but we may be able to approximate.

At a minimum, we can certainly begin to decribe the shell with mathematics and give examiners a good objective starting point to arrive at their opinion.

i.e. The mathematical model says this arrangement of ridges and minutiae has this rarity...and in addition, I have X amount of L3D to add beyond that. The point is, the profession currently isn't using the mathematical tools that are out there as a starting point, to refine our opinions and give a more solid, objective foundation for the conclusion.

Good quote, John. I can see why you and Alice love that book so much.

g.

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John Vanderkolk
Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posted: 29 Nov 2006 03:01 am Post subject:

since my last quote from Philip Ball on pattern formation was from the discussions of math and models from sciences of physics, chemistry, biology, this one is from the philosophy side of probability. For 'g.', I am hoping Alice will incorporate this book also into the training she is preparing for her four new trainees. I discussed this book with her last May after I was inspired to start reading it. Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, Volume 3, "Insight: A Study of Human Understanding", ISBN 0-8020-3455-1.

pp324-325
“When the virtually unconditioned is grasped by reflective understanding, we affirm or deny absolutely. When there is no preponderance of evidence in favor of either affirmation or denial, we can only acknowledge our ignorance. But between these extremes there is a series of intermediate positions, and probable judgments are their outcome.
This probability of judgment differs from the probability investigated in studying statistical method." .........

(JRV: MUCH MORE DISCUSSION IN BOOK, then)....

"No one, surely, makes a probable judgment when he can make a certain judgment; yet how can the probable be known to approach the certain when the certain is unknown?"

I am collaborating on understanding Lonergan's writings with the person who recommended Lonergan to me.

I am starting to sense the difference in probability statistics and probable judgments. I need more discussions and collaborations and readings on the probable statistics, and on the probable judgments. I am from the judgment making side of the discussions and am struggling with the discussions of probable statistics of uniqueness and decisions. I appreciate the efforts of the statisticals being interested in sharing as I hope we all are.

I feel the philosophy of "Ident, exclusion, inconclusive" decisions of uniqueness is supported by the above. I also feel, within the difficulty in probable judgments, is determining the approach to certain, but I have not yet gotten there to the certain. How can I know a 'probable judgment' of uniqueness matching sufficiently when I have not gotten to either the actual agreement or disagreement 'certain' level of sufficiency? So I do not know which certainty is correct because I have not yet gotten there. So, do I know probable agreement or disagreement, probable ident or exclusion, if I have doubt about the data before me? Therefore, I am ignorant of certainty, ignorant of probability of judgment, therefore, 'ident, exclusion, inconclusive'.

Now help me with Probable Statistics. I am doing my best to learn more.

As 'g.' told me in Boston, after Alice and I had talked error rates and less than sufficient for ident or exclusion, and 'forced choice' determinations, g told me I was closer to what he has been saying than I had been realizing. Let's keep collaborating within the many communities of fingerprint examiners, within the communities of forensic comparative scientists, within the philosophy, psychology, statistical, physical sciences that all help us know and believe our conclusions within tolerance of our collaborating communities.

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John Vanderkolk
Joined: 28 Feb 2006
Posts: 19
Location: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Posted: 29 Nov 2006 01:12 pm Post subject:


Today’s discussion of what is the community is cognitive science. Back in 2002, when I first met Dr. Busey, he recommended the book, “Vision science – photons to phenomenology”, Stephen E. Palmer, ISBN0-262-16183-4, 1999 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I have third printing 2002. Chapter 13 is ‘Visual Awareness’, section 13.1 is ‘Philosophical Foundations’, 13.2 is ‘Neuropsychology of Visual Awareness’, 13.3 is ‘Visual Awareness in Normal Observers’ with discussions of Perceptual Defense, Subliminal Perception, Objective versus Subjective Thresholds of Awareness and more and then more topics. I include this because I realize the insufficiency of taking quotes and not knowing what led to the quotes. So with that, from section 13.3, pages 431-432:

“Quote:
Objective versus Subjective Thresholds of Awareness. Cheesman and Merikle (1984) argued that Marcel’s direct measure of conscious perception was inadequate because subjects may simply have been too conservative in reporting that they saw a word rather than a blank. They reasoned that the best way to find the actual threshold of conscious perception would be to have subjects make a forced-choice discrimination…., guessing if they were unsure…
Cheesman and Merikle (1984) called their forced-choice discrimination measure – ‘which of these four words did you see’ – the objective threshold of awareness. Following Eriksen (1960), they believed that consciousness should be defined relative to an objective measure showing that the subject has no visual information from the stimulus in a direct perceptual task. They contrasted their approach with Marcel’s yes/no detection measure – ‘Did you see anything or not?’ – which they called the subjective threshold of awareness….
Ideally, a direct measure of conscious perception should satisfy two criteria (Merikle & Reingold, 1992):

1. Exhaustiveness. The measure should exhaust the contents of consciousness. That is, it should wring out every last bit of information the observer has in his or her conscious experience of the stimulus event. Anything less opens the door to the objection that performance in the indirect task may reflect conscious information that has escaped measurement by the direct task. These are the grounds on which Marcel’s (1983a) original detection measure of the so-called subjective threshold of awareness can be criticized.

2. Exclusiveness. The measure should reflect exclusively the contents of consciousness. That is, it should measure only aspects of conscious experience. It is not appropriate if it also taps nonconscious processes that underlie true guessing behavior. These are the grounds on which Cheesman and Merikle’s (1984) discrimination measure of the so-called objective threshold of awareness can be criticized.

A scientist who is trying to define consciousness experimentally is thus on the horns of this dilemma. Both criteria are important, yet they seem nearly impossible to satisfy simultaneously.

We are left in a gray zone lying between two different thresholds, as depicted in Figure 13.3.2. The lower bound is Cheesman and Merikle’s objective threshold of awareness. Surely, no one is aware of anything below this level, for it is defined as the point at which visual input has no measurable effect on behavior in direct perceptual tasks. The upper bound is Marcel’s subjective threshold of awareness, the point at which people are willing to assert that they have had a visual experience. We will presume that every sighted person is aware of visual input above this level and will report it as conscious – unless they are lying. The gray area in between is bona fide subliminal perception to those who advocate identifying consciousness with subjective thresholds but bogus subliminal perception to those who advocate objective thresholds. It appears that an impasse has been reached. Is there any way around it?”
[Palmer 641-642]



I was extremely satisfied to find this depiction of perception. no matter the specific topic in which it is presented. 'Objective versus Subjective Thresholds of Awareness' sounds very much what we are trying to do with determining the minimum threshold of sufficiency when making an examination.

Once I got over Dr. Busey's explanation was that for him to learn and understand fingerprint examiners, he would have to design experiments that the examiner would make errors. Including forced choices. Yuk, I thought, we would not like that. But he explained that is how he learns about us. The experiments would not be normal examinations. OK, so trusting the desire to learn, Let's do it, as we have been doing. Maybe, he will help us better understand what is our objective and subjective levels of sufficiency for fingerprint identification.

I really do enjoy collaborating beyond a small community.

 

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