Interesting article in last week's New Yorker about the heated legal debate about the validity of fingerprinting as a science, one admissible as expert testimony in a court of law.
Some say yes, fingerprinting is a science. It has long been regarded as thus, both in courts of law and by the public at large, no doubt from seeing a few too many suits dusting for prints in movie crime scenes.
In the case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals from 1993, the Supreme Court established the legal precedent that Federal Rules of Evidence, should provide the standard for admitting expert scientific testimony. Specifically, some of the questions which had to be answered to determine if an the evidence of some field of study should be admitted:
Can the theory or technique be (and has it been) tested?
Has it been subjected to peer review and publication?
Is there a high known or potential rate of error?
Are there standards controlling the technique