An essay by Michael Saks and Jay Koehler, professors at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, that challenges conventional wisdom about the capabilities of the forensic identification sciences, has been published in the Vanderbilt Law Review. In "The Individualization Fallacy in Forensic Science Evidence," Saks and Koehler note that there is no basis in theory or data that every distinct object leaves its own unique set of markers that can be identified. "Forensic scientists are not able to link a fingerprint, a hair, a handwriting sample, a tire mark, a tool mark or any other evidentiary forensic item to its unique source, but they assert that ability every day in court," the professors wrote. "Their claims exaggerate the state of their science." Koehler, who has provided expert testimony on statistical evidence in many cases, and Saks, whose research on law and science is among the most cited in national publications, offered suggestions for improving the scientific basis of this science. They recommended the legal community understand the individualization fallacy, encourage reforms to build a scientific foundation under forensic identification, and limit what expert witnesses may assert. The scientists "can help themselves immediately by forswearing exaggerated, definitive conclusions in favor of humbler, scientifically justifiable and probabilistic conclusions," they wrote. To read the essay, published in the January 2008 issue, click here.