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Hair Bibliography for the Forensic Scientist by Houck (Forensic Science Communications, January 2002)

Hair Bibliography for the Forensic Scientist by Houck (Forensic Science Communications, January 2002)

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January 2002 - Volume 4 - Number 1

Research and Technology

Hair Bibliography for the Forensic Scientist

Max M. Houck
Physical Scientist
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Trace Evidence Unit
Washington, DC

Abstract | Introduction | References | Bibliography

Abstract

One of the tenets of the Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals 1993 decision is that the discipline in question must have general acceptance in the relevant scientific community. This acceptance, based in large part on published literature, goes the breadth and depth of the discipline's scientific foundation. This paper offers a limited bibliography of literature about hair, its biology, and the forensic applications of microscopic hair comparisons. It is hoped that this listing will provide some assistance to forensic hair examiners who are seeking information and support for courtroom forensic challenges.

Introduction

The science of microscopic hair examination has been regularly practiced for over 60 years. It combines fundamental aspects of microscopy, biology, anthropology, and zoology. Forensic hair examiners must be adequately trained in the those disciplines as well as in areas relevant to cosmetics, medicine, and environmental effects in order to properly identify and compare hairs by their microscopic characteristics (Deadman 1985). In criminal and civil cases, hair can be an important type of physical evidence. As P. L. Kirk noted,

"Hair is extremely important as physical evidence. It must be collected in every case in which it occurs, and subjected to thorough study. The laboratory investigator who examines it must have a broad knowledge of the general nature of hair and a reasonable amount of detailed experience in its examination. Except for certain simple preliminary examinations…it is dangerous to depend on any but expert study of hair found in evidence." (Kirk and Thornton 1994 p. 143).

Part of this training is the review and study of pertinent literature on hairs and their microscopic examination. The use of peer review and publication is paramount to science, especially the purging of so-called "junk science" (Huber 1991), and is one of the planks of the Daubert ruling (Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 1993). "Peer review by scientific journals is but one essential part of the complex enterprise of scientific research" and whereas peer review is not flawless, "it is hard to image how we could get along without it" (Relman and Angell 1989, p. 828). Making one's results public "is a component of good professional practice because it increases the likelihood that substantive flaws in methodology will be exposed" (Thornton 1994).

This bibliography is not comprehensive, but it should provide the beginner as well as the expert with a ready reference for training, review, and research. It addresses scientific articles that pertain to the biology, microscopic characteristics, or forensic examination of hairs. These references, in general, do not include those relating to the DNA analysis of hair (either nuclear or mitochondrial), transfer or persistence (unless it relates specifically to hairs and not other trace evidence), or legal articles.

Only references in English are listed; admittedly, this ignores the long history of literature in other languages concerning hair (for example, see the bibliography to Trotter's 1938 article). For a broader range of references, the reader should consult the landmark chapters such as Bisbing 1982 or the review articles (Seta, Sato, and Miyake 1988, is an excellent example with 632 references). Please note that two series of volumes of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology have been published. The first series ran for 29 volumes (often denoted in Roman numerals) from the years 1918 to 1942. The second series began in 1943 and continues into the present. Whereas every effort has been made for accuracy, any errors are those of the author.

References

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 US, 579 (1993).

Huber, P. W. Galileo's Revenge: Junk Science in the Courtroom. Basic Books, New York, 1991.

Kirk, P. L. and Thornton, J. I. Crime Investigation. Wiley, New York, 1994.

Relman, A. S. and Angell, M. How good is peer review?, New England Journal of Medicine (1989) 321(12):827-829.

Thornton, J. I. Courts of Law v. Courts of Science: A Forensic Scientist's Reaction to Daubert, Shepard's Expert and Scientific Evidence Quarterly (1994) 1:475-485.

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Peabody, A. J. and Oxborough, P. E. Discrimination of cat and dog hairs, Journal of the Forensic Science Society (1983) 23:121-129.

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