Bias Among Forensic Document Examiners: Still a Need for Procedural Changes

Document Type


Publication Date



In 1984, Miller published the paper: Bias among forensic document examiners: A need for procedural changes, with the intent to elicit some concern about the amount of cognitive bias among forensic document examiners. There is a need for the development of procedures regarding how a document examiner can minimize the amount of cognitive bias that may lead to erroneous conclusions by the examiner. Such procedures would serve to demonstrate that a conscientious effort was made by the examiner and the submitting agency to control extraneous variables that could bias the results of the examination. Some 28 years after Miller1 the forensic sciences are confronted with serious criticism with respect to cognitive bias (e.g. Risinger et al.2, and the NAS report3). It appears that not much of Millers suggestions have been applied in practice. No good general procedures have been implemented for minimizing the risk of cognitive bias in most institutes. In this paper we address the main issues raised in the 1984 paper, and describe the current state of affairs with respect to minimizing cognitive bias in the forensic sciences. There is still a need for procedural changes in the forensic sciences.