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  1. #1
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    An "Expert" Reassessment

    Hi, all.

    I just thought I'd throw this one out for all of us to gnaw over. I recently reread parts of Gideon Epstein's deposition. One part in particular, and here it is:

    2 Q.Now, Mr. Epstein, what exactly is
    3 your theory about how all these individuals,
    4 Chet Ubowski, Leonard Speckin, Edwin Alford,
    5 Lloyd Cunningham, Richard Dusick and Howard Rile,
    6 got it wrong and you, sir, beginning in the
    7 year 2000, almost four years after the murder in
    8 this case, and without access to any original
    9 handwriting of any party you analyzed, got it
    10right?
    11 A. Very well. First of all, I'd like
    12to say that the field of forensic document
    13examination in the United States is a very small
    14profession . . .
    18Everyone knows everyone else. There
    19are certain document examiners who . . . are looked upon by other
    23examiners as leaders in their field.
    . . . In this particular
    2 case I think the fact that Howard Rile and
    3 Lloyd Cunningham, who became involved in this
    4 case very early on, and who were retained by
    5 the Ramsey family, coupled with the fact that
    6 Lloyd -- that Howard Rile came out of the
    7 Colorado bureau and knew the people in the
    8 Colorado bureau, I believe that that connection
    9 was very instrumental in the Colorado bureau
    10coming to the conclusion that they did, because
    11Howard Rile had come to the conclusion that he
    12did.
    13Lloyd Cunningham works very closely
    14with Howard Rile and they were both on this
    15case, and then it was a matter of chain of
    16events, one document examiner after another
    17refusing to go up against someone who they knew,
    18someone who was large in the profession, for
    19fear that they would be criticized for saying
    20something that another examiner -- it's sort of
    21like an ethics within the medical community,
    22where one doctor protects the other doctor.
    . . . when it came down to Dusak and it
    11came down to Speckin and it came down to
    12Alford, by that time a number of well-known
    13document examiners had already rendered
    14conclusions, and I feel personally that the
    15other examiners were simply afraid to state what
    16they believed to be the truth, or that they
    17simply didn't devote the necessary time. . .

    6 And I just don't believe that some
    7 of these people devoted the necessary amount of
    8 time to the case to come up with the correct
    9 conclusions, and I think they simply went along
    10with what had been previously said because it
    11was the most expedient thing to do.


    What Epstein is saying here is that his colleagues (the experts HE considers qualified to to examination work) are more interested in personal and professional expediency than in diligent work and going with their own principles. Sadly, this "groupthink" phenomenon is common in a lot of places these days. (WMDs in Iraq, anybody?) That, among other reasons, is why Epstein quit and struck out on his own.

    Now, I won't bother anybody with Epstein's own record, or musings about how the Ramsey lawyer was misinforming the court, or how I think he may have overreached himself. The points I want to focus on are the ones made here:

    6 And I just don't believe that some
    7 of these people devoted the necessary amount of
    8 time to the case to come up with the correct
    9 conclusions, and I think they simply went along
    10with what had been previously said because it
    11was the most expedient thing to do.


    Ever since the deposition was released, Epstein has been accused of playing the "everybody's-wrong-but-glorious-me" card. BUT, and this is where things get interesting, I recently came upon two things which lend strong credence to what he says.

    Exhibit A: a piece from PMPT that I had not noticed before now, to my great embarrassment. It concerns the aforementioned Rile and Cunningham, the two experts who sold out to Ramsey money:

    after being hired by the Ramsey legal team, Rile and Cunningham "pored over the original note from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM," making their presentation just after 2 PM the same day. Their conclusion at the time: neither Patsy nor John wrote the note.

    Folks, I gotta tell you, I did a double-take on that one that damn near sent my head flying off my shoulders! They came to that conclusion after ONLY three and a half hours! You're telling me that three and a half hours is enough time to make a decision that monumental?! Even if we allow that Epstein may have had more material to work with, he put in a hundred hours before he came to any conclusion.

    God almighty, what the hell kind of profession is this, anyway?! If Epstein is right, and these people were and are not willing to challenge each other, even when their conclusions are clearly shoddy, there's not much hope. One can certainly understand why Epstein felt the need to leave! He said it himself:

    "I'm very disappointed in my profession right now ..."

    Well, he's not the only one! Which brings me to the next article, written by a document examiner who shares Epstein's disillusionment with the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. Let's see what he says:

    http://www.documentexaminer.org/blog/?p=438

    Specifically, this:

    The ABFDE will certainly take the broad view on this.

    Undoubtedly, John Paul Osborn, certified by the ABFDE has an “approved” lab even though he is a private Document Examiner who has never worked for the government as I have or has never had government training as I have. My lab is no different than his. I am a former government Document Examiner for 11 years with Secret Service Training and 35 years overall experience and am willing to train ANY interested or qualified person in a way that will leave no doubt that they have been properly trained. Again, John Paul Osborn is ABFDE Certified and presumably can document that he complies with ALL ABFDE requirements. My lab is similar to his. Is this a case where the ABFDE bends their own rules to include someone while at the same time requiring a strict interpretation of the rules for someone they want to exclude?

    I have stated before that the ABFDE was set up to EXCLUDE people not set standards for ALL Document Examiners based on statements made to me by a former Milwaukee Police Officer. What dishonor!!! What lack of integrity!!! What lack of fairness!!! What lack of objective standards!!!

    It is obvious that the ONLY way to solve this problem of training in QD is a college level course that complies w/all academic standards such as Bloom’s Taxonomy as well as all scientific and legal standards available to ANY qualified student, regardless of whether they are related to the Osborns or have worked for a governmental agency as a Document Examiner.

    There has been a long simmering debate between the government trained examiners and the privately trained examiners. No one owns the knowledge necessary to be proficient in this field. It is readily available in the existing literature. Indeed, Albert Osborn himself, never worked for the government nor had a two year training program, nor passed the rigorous and exclusatory standards set for by the ABFDE and IAI. The same is true for Ordway Hilton, another noted authority in the field of Questioned Documents who even proclaims in his book the virtues of self-learning.

    SNIP

    The ABFDE was set up in 1977 with a Law Enforcement Assistance Agency Grant(which means they are required to follow ALL anti-discrimination laws)Their task was to set training standards for the field of Forensic Document Examination in a fair and impartial way.

    However, through an inquiry I made to Congressman Rob Andrews, I learned that Document Examiners Certified by the ABFDE are comprised of 92% white men and 8% other-meaning women and minorities. The breakdown of the minorities was not specified to hide the fact that, based on information and belief, no black Document Examiners have ever been certified by the ABFDE even though a number of them are out there and I worked with one who was with the Philadelphia Police, Jaques Wambush from Jamaica. Contrary to setting objective stnadards for the field, it seems the ABFDE is trying to protect the millions of dollars in “no-bid” contracts their “white men” members(92%) are getting.


    This statement makes clear two things.

    1) Why the ABFDE would operate in a manner that Epstein suggests: it's all about money. If they lose their monopoly on being the "only" qualified org, then they lose out on the money. Having fellow members challenge each other in court, or even in public, would SERIOUSLY erode their image (no doubt by bringing certain troublesome issues to light).

    2) FAR more importantly than that, we're told by many on the IDI side (they know who they are, and so does cynic) that any document examiner who isn't a member is not qualified to testify. But, if I'm reading this right, the guys who INVENTED the standards would not be accepted, since they were never trained the same way they recommend! Moreover, and maybe most important of all, if I'm reading this right, this means that the field of forensic document examination is slave to standards that have not changed in 50 years!

    Stuff like this almost makes ME want to give up!

    For me, this may be the best answer:

    "In McVeigh, the court determined that the document examiner would not be allowed to testify to an opinion but instead could merely point out similarities and differences..."

    "In Rutherford, the document examiner was allowed to point out similarities and differences found in the evidence but could not testify to an opinion."


    But, that's another story.
    Last edited by SuperDave; 11-10-2013 at 01:01 AM.
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

  2. #2
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    Anyone? Any thoughts?

    Any reactions?

    Any questions?

    Any answers?

    Any FOOD?

    Any rags, any bones, any bottles today!
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

  3. #3
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    Another sad example of the "Good Ole Boys" club. Just like the incestuous relationships between the DA's office and R attorneys. It's not what you know, but who you know, and how much you can pay them to say what you want them to say.
    **MY POSTS ARE NOT TO BE COPIED OR LINKED TO IN ANY OTHER FORUMS OR WEBSITES!!**

  4. #4
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    From what you’ve written here, the field of document examination obviously needs to revisit their standards. Three and a half hours for a case like this!?

    I’ve witnessed “group speak” in some of the corporate board meetings I’ve attended: The stronger leaders speak persuasively and, if they are highly regarded, others chime in to duplicate the opinion. Only occasionally would someone offer something different. Once in a while someone would change the course of opinion with a rational argument. In the case of going against prevailing opinion, there is safety in numbers for handwriting experts, especially if what’s riding on their opinion is great.

    If JR paid handwriting experts, it’s no different than other expert opinion offered at trials, which always seems to slant towards who has hired them. If the prosecution spent $30,000 on handwriting experts at trial, JR would have ‘outgunned them’ and spent $100,000 and brought in twice as many. While I’m respectful about handwriting as an investigative tool, it doesn’t seem like it would have been as effective at an R trial – too much money riding on the outcome. (Can someone whisper LW?) moo

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by questfortrue View Post
    From what you’ve written here, the field of document examination obviously needs to revisit their standards. Three and a half hours for a case like this!?

    I’ve witnessed “group speak” in some of the corporate board meetings I’ve attended: The stronger leaders speak persuasively and, if they are highly regarded, others chime in to duplicate the opinion. Only occasionally would someone offer something different. Once in a while someone would change the course of opinion with a rational argument. In the case of going against prevailing opinion, there is safety in numbers for handwriting experts, especially if what’s riding on their opinion is great.

    If JR paid handwriting experts, it’s no different than other expert opinion offered at trials, which always seems to slant towards who has hired them. If the prosecution spent $30,000 on handwriting experts at trial, JR would have ‘outgunned them’ and spent $100,000 and brought in twice as many. While I’m respectful about handwriting as an investigative tool, it doesn’t seem like it would have been as effective at an R trial – too much money riding on the outcome. (Can someone whisper LW?) moo
    I think there's too much reliance on experts of every kinds in trials these days. They've become the stars instead of the supporting cast. Whatever happened to connecting the dots for the jury?

    The field of document examination needs a thorough housecleaning. No denying that.
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

  6. #6
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    I tend to agree the "Expert Witness" thing is now so ridiculous that you can be forgiven for laughing.

    Believe me, I went through my postgraduate time with people who came out the other end supposedly as experts in their field. Hell, even I was supposed to be an expert in my field, but I sure wouldn't have trusted some of the people I studied with to give me an accurate interpretation or answer to a problem.

    Experts are simply people who have studied/experienced something for longer than someone else. It isn't a reflection on how good they are at it.

    Of course if results are on the board then it is hard to argue that someone isn't a RELIABLE expert, but you can't drag the next Dr Nick Riviera out on the stand and expect them to an expert just because they are called Doctor.

    Having said all that - ask me anything about satellite imagery and remote sensing - I'm an expert

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderllama View Post
    I tend to agree the "Expert Witness" thing is now so ridiculous that you can be forgiven for laughing.

    Believe me, I went through my postgraduate time with people who came out the other end supposedly as experts in their field. Hell, even I was supposed to be an expert in my field, but I sure wouldn't have trusted some of the people I studied with to give me an accurate interpretation or answer to a problem.

    Experts are simply people who have studied/experienced something for longer than someone else. It isn't a reflection on how good they are at it.

    Of course if results are on the board then it is hard to argue that someone isn't a RELIABLE expert, but you can't drag the next Dr Nick Riviera out on the stand and expect them to an expert just because they are called Doctor.

    Having said all that - ask me anything about satellite imagery and remote sensing - I'm an expert
    In all seriousness, llama, I goofed. Earlier today, I spoke to Cina Wong by e-mail, and I was reminded of something she said a few years ago, about how Rile and Cunningham only glanced at the materials before they made their report. My recent find bears her out quite nicely. The answer was right in front of me all this time!

    As for the rest of it, you hit this one on the head:

    Experts are simply people who have studied/experienced something for longer than someone else. It isn't a reflection on how good they are at it.

    That's pretty much the point I'm making, folks: that we should pay less attention to what GROUP the analyst belongs to and focus more on just how much individual skill they have.
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

  8. #8
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    Hi SuperDave -- Let me say first how much I have enjoyed your well-thought and informed posts on this whole thing. You have kept your cool, your manners, and your sense of humor -- that is one of the big reasons I look forward to your posts. I think we all appreciate the time you take to participate and to give us your opinions and point to things we may need or use for further info. So .

    From SuperDave's post above:

    That's pretty much the point I'm making, folks: that we should pay less attention to what GROUP the analyst belongs to and focus more on just how much individual skill they have.
    I agree wholeheartedly with what you said above, but I'm not sure that all folks who should be focusing as you so rightly advised, has the ability to do it. It's always been a poser for me when I see it in jury trials -- I'm not on the jury, I'm at home watching live-streaming of a trial.

    When I read that sentence I quoted from you, I immediately thought of a panel of jurors in a trial -- and maybe I should not have assumed that your statement also applied to trial jurors; and if I should not have, please forgive and disregard. This is not a criticism of what you stated; it is a quandary, IMO, for jurors. Just how big a deal is this guy up there? "Expert" can be construed in so many different ways.

    In NC, when a witness is allowed by the judge to be called an "expert" in a field, and it is after he/she has cited the number of previous expert appellations at other trials, possibly highlights of her C.V. and/or publications, how many xxxxx's he has done -- be it autopsies, fingerprinting, bodily fluid analysis, handwriting analysis, fibers, etc., etc., etc., the judge tries his/her best to tell the jury that the expert is not the end-all, be-all (certainly not in those words!) of the trial, but the expert's testimony should still be viewed through the normal lens of common sense and believability, weight, etc., as any other witness.

    "Expert" is a heavy word, IMO. I do wonder how powerful that word is to someone on a jury, and certainly it varies. Any thoughts? Do you find that a judge's remarks (and certainly all judges are different, and so are all trials & experts) about an expert are too much, too little, etc.?

    And again, thanks for all you've done for us WSers!


    All posts, unless attributed, are "just my humble opinion," and they are to remain here in Websleuths and are not to be used elsewhere. Thank you.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by borndem View Post
    Hi SuperDave -- Let me say first how much I have enjoyed your well-thought and informed posts on this whole thing. You have kept your cool, your manners, and your sense of humor -- that is one of the big reasons I look forward to your posts. I think we all appreciate the time you take to participate and to give us your opinions and point to things we may need or use for further info. So
    Thank you.

    From SuperDave's post above:

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you said above, but I'm not sure that all folks who should be focusing as you so rightly advised, has the ability to do it. It's always been a poser for me when I see it in jury trials -- I'm not on the jury, I'm at home watching live-streaming of a trial.

    When I read that sentence I quoted from you, I immediately thought of a panel of jurors in a trial -- and maybe I should not have assumed that your statement also applied to trial jurors; and if I should not have, please forgive and disregard. This is not a criticism of what you stated; it is a quandary, IMO, for jurors. Just how big a deal is this guy up there? "Expert" can be construed in so many different ways.
    That's part of it, borndem. Jurors should definitely consider these things. But I was more referring to judges. The reason we HAVE juries is to weigh evidence and decide guilt or innocence, right? Then why not let them do it?

    In NC, when a witness is allowed by the judge to be called an "expert" in a field, and it is after he/she has cited the number of previous expert appellations at other trials, possibly highlights of her C.V. and/or publications, how many xxxxx's he has done -- be it autopsies, fingerprinting, bodily fluid analysis, handwriting analysis, fibers, etc., etc., etc., the judge tries his/her best to tell the jury that the expert is not the end-all, be-all (certainly not in those words!) of the trial, but the expert's testimony should still be viewed through the normal lens of common sense and believability, weight, etc., as any other witness.
    Now THAT is what I mean!

    "Expert" is a heavy word, IMO. I do wonder how powerful that word is to someone on a jury, and certainly it varies. Any thoughts? Do you find that a judge's remarks (and certainly all judges are different, and so are all trials & experts) about an expert are too much, too little, etc.?
    I actually prefer a judge who let the jury make the decisions, within reason of course. Naturally, it varies from judge to judge. Obviously, Judge Carnes' remarks were, at best, ill-informed. And I DO know that from the horse's mouth (which is all I can say for now).

    And again, thanks for all you've done for us WSers!
    It's not just you guys I do this for.
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

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    I'll lay it right out on the line, people: when a little child is killed, I don't really care about some damn Supreme Court rulings. This just shows that "justice" and "the law" are not always the same thing. In fact, more often than I'd like, they're at odds.

    So I ask you: do you go by the book? Or do you get some f***ing JUSTICE?!
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperDave View Post
    Anyone? Any thoughts?

    Any reactions?

    Any questions?

    Any answers?

    Any FOOD?

    Any rags, any bones, any bottles today!

    Well, for starters you aren't taking your own point seriously enough. Not only is document examination a non-scientific exercise, but Epstein and Wong and Ubowski (and all the rest) are all equally unscientific, and equally non-tested for their accuracy rate. Equally w/o scientific basis for their conclusions. In other words, equally w/o any measurable, tested, controlled, blinded study, "expertise". There is no "individual skill" for any of them, at least none that can be statistically, sceintifically assessed by a judge or by a jury.

    If the "experts" were given deliberate forgeries of the RN and were still able to pick out the real RN and determine who was the RN authror, then I might be impressed. Instead they worked with copies (except maybe the police document examiners) knowing it was a copy of the actual RN. Those hired by Hoffman knew who they were supposed to "see" in the handwriting. Those who worked for the Ramseys knew who they were supposed to eliminate (not see).

    If the "experts" had established accuracy rates in determining authorship of documents I might be impressed. What is Wong's accuracy rate? We don't know. What is the accuracy rate of any of the "experts"? We don't know. What about the "experts" who saw JMK's hand when that silly business was in the news?

    So what we have is various opinions on who did/did not write the note, by people who are not subject to blind studies, not subject to testing for accuracy. They cherry-picked similarities, or differences, depending on what they were intending to "find" and ignored anything that didn't support their conclusions. In some cases very little amplifying info was given to justify their conclusion.

    (People interested in this could do no better than to look at DocG's blog and check out the various posts on handwriting)

    So there is no "skill" that can be assessed or measured. Even if they all worked in isolation and were not allowed to confer, they simply offer us an opinion based either on cherry picked similarities, cherry picked differences, "Patsyisms", "Johnisms". No use worrying about group think as there is nothing of substantive value about their opinions whether they reached them as a group or individually.

    It should be obvious, after 17 years, for anyone who's delved into this issue in some depth, that there is no way to analyze the handwriting and determine who did or did not write the RN. Some of it looks like Patsy, some doesn't. Some of the writing looks like John's, some doesn't.
    There is simply no objective basis on which we can say Patsy wrote it, John wrote it, Patsy and John both wrote it, neither Patsy or John wrote it.

    I won't bother discrediting Statement Analysis, as anyone who puts stock in that "make it up as you go along" process has rejected reason.

    You seem to be in "shock" about the 3.5 hours business, but really what is the time it takes to properly examine the document? 6 hours? 48? 115? We don't know, and there is in fact no "standard". Just to play devil's advocate, I'd think that the one with the most "individual skill" would be the fastest.

    The real import of your "discovery" is that it's just as likely that JR wrote the note as PR. No real way to tell, no real way to pin it down. For every similarity there is a dissimilarity, for both JR and PR.

    A good starting point http://solvingjonbenet.blogspot.com/...cina-wong.html
    Last edited by Chrishope; 03-02-2014 at 02:37 PM.
    I'm just playing detective here. I have no idea who killed JonBenet. It's just an opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrishope View Post
    Well, for starters you aren't taking your own point seriously enough. Not only is document examination a non-scientific exercise, but Epstein and Wong and Ubowski (and all the rest) are all equally unscientific, and equally non-tested for their accuracy rate. Equally w/o scientific basis for their conclusions. In other words, equally w/o any measurable, tested, controlled, blinded study, "expertise". There is no "individual skill" for any of them, at least none that can be statistically, sceintifically assessed by a judge or by a jury.

    If the "experts" were given deliberate forgeries of the RN and were still able to pick out the real RN and determine who was the RN authror, then I might be impressed. Instead they worked with copies (except maybe the police document examiners) knowing it was a copy of the actual RN. Those hired by Hoffman knew who they were supposed to "see" in the handwriting. Those who worked for the Ramseys knew who they were supposed to eliminate (not see).

    If the "experts" had established accuracy rates in determining authorship of documents I might be impressed. What is Wong's accuracy rate? We don't know. What is the accuracy rate of any of the "experts"? We don't know. What about the "experts" who saw JMK's hand when that silly business was in the news?

    So what we have is various opinions on who did/did not write the note, by people who are not subject to blind studies, not subject to testing for accuracy. They cherry-picked similarities, or differences, depending on what they were intending to "find" and ignored anything that didn't support their conclusions. In some cases very little amplifying info was given to justify their conclusion.

    (People interested in this could do no better than to look at DocG's blog and check out the various posts on handwriting)

    So there is no "skill" that can be assessed or measured. Even if they all worked in isolation and were not allowed to confer, they simply offer us an opinion based either on cherry picked similarities, cherry picked differences, "Patsyisms", "Johnisms". No use worrying about group think as there is nothing of substantive value about their opinions whether they reached them as a group or individually.

    It should be obvious, after 17 years, for anyone who's delved into this issue in some depth, that there is no way to analyze the handwriting and determine who did or did not write the RN. Some of it looks like Patsy, some doesn't. Some of the writing looks like John's, some doesn't.
    There is simply no objective basis on which we can say Patsy wrote it, John wrote it, Patsy and John both wrote it, neither Patsy or John wrote it.

    I won't bother discrediting Statement Analysis, as anyone who puts stock in that "make it up as you go along" process has rejected reason.

    You seem to be in "shock" about the 3.5 hours business, but really what is the time it takes to properly examine the document? 6 hours? 48? 115? We don't know, and there is in fact no "standard". Just to play devil's advocate, I'd think that the one with the most "individual skill" would be the fastest.

    The real import of your "discovery" is that it's just as likely that JR wrote the note as PR. No real way to tell, no real way to pin it down. For every similarity there is a dissimilarity, for both JR and PR.

    A good starting point http://solvingjonbenet.blogspot.com/...cina-wong.html
    Hi Chrishope, I just wanted to chime in and offer a few thoughts in response to your post. I agree with your questioning of whether any of the so-called handwriting experts can or have been really tested in terms of merit or accuracy. As far as I know (forgive me if I'm wrong pan out this), but I don't think any of the "experts" have said that they think any one individual definately wrote the ransom note. I think that there was some general consensus that, out of all the handwriting sample submitted, Patsy was the the person who had the most indicators, and could not be eliminated.

    I agree that this is far from saying that she definately wrote the note. I also agree that it may be entirely possible that John was too hastily ruled out from writing it. In my own opinion, I can see handwriting features and choice of wording/phrases that could possibly belong to both John and Patsy. On the other hand, it could be someone else entirely- who knows?

    I agree that, frustratingly, although the ransom note appears as such an unusual, compelling and tantalising piece of evidence, there seems to be no way of ever concluding with absolute certainty who wrote it. I don't even think, personally, that we will ever know who killed Jon Benet, either- unless there is some sudden breakthrough or confession. Although we would all love that to happen, sadly I think it's pretty unlikely. All we really have so far is the ability to form our own theories and speculation, and debate how likely these are.

    In relation to speculating, I just wanted to say that I respect your view about Statement Analysis, but I don't agree. It's true that Statement Analysis can't say for sure who wrote the note, or why, and when it suggests possible meanings and interpretatiins behind some of the phrases and instructions written in it, that's all they are- possible suggestions. However, I do personally believe in Statement Analysis being accurate in other respects, such as determining the likelihood of deception, and whether certain word choices and phrasing etc can inadvertently betray someone's real thoughts or motives, even if they are trying not to give anything away. To me, a lot of this is actually common sense, which is why it appeals to me.

    For example, if a person uses lots of long sentences containing many additional words and phrases that are unnecessary for getting their point across, and this happens throughout the note, it makes sense that this indicates a person who is probably overly-wordy and dramatic. Or certain phrases such as "at this time" may crop up a lot in a particular person's everyday speech, without them possibly realising it. Refusing to refer to Jon Benet directly by name throughout the note, and using the phrase "daughter" all the way through, really is very telling, distancing language, in my opinion.

    So, I believe that Statement Analysis can be useful for telling us about things like deliberate deception, and possible characteristics or mental approach of the person who wrote it, but without being able to prove exactly who it was. It can be useful to point us in the right direction, though.

    In terms of the Ramsey ransom note, I wonder if part of the confusion could be because more than one person may possibly have written it? Obviously only one person could physically write it down, but I mean a collaboration between two (or possibly even more-who knows?) people with relation to the actual content?

    Sorry for such a long reply- just wanted to throw in a few thoughts! Not saying I'm right or anything, just my own views.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scandigirl View Post
    Hi Chrishope, I just wanted to chime in and offer a few thoughts in response to your post. I agree with your questioning of whether any of the so-called handwriting experts can or have been really tested in terms of merit or accuracy. As far as I know (forgive me if I'm wrong pan out this), but I don't think any of the "experts" have said that they think any one individual definately wrote the ransom note. I think that there was some general consensus that, out of all the handwriting sample submitted, Patsy was the the person who had the most indicators, and could not be eliminated.

    I agree that this is far from saying that she definately wrote the note. I also agree that it may be entirely possible that John was too hastily ruled out from writing it. In my own opinion, I can see handwriting features and choice of wording/phrases that could possibly belong to both John and Patsy. On the other hand, it could be someone else entirely- who knows?

    I agree that, frustratingly, although the ransom note appears as such an unusual, compelling and tantalising piece of evidence, there seems to be no way of ever concluding with absolute certainty who wrote it. I don't even think, personally, that we will ever know who killed Jon Benet, either- unless there is some sudden breakthrough or confession. Although we would all love that to happen, sadly I think it's pretty unlikely. All we really have so far is the ability to form our own theories and speculation, and debate how likely these are.

    In relation to speculating, I just wanted to say that I respect your view about Statement Analysis, but I don't agree. It's true that Statement Analysis can't say for sure who wrote the note, or why, and when it suggests possible meanings and interpretatiins behind some of the phrases and instructions written in it, that's all they are- possible suggestions. However, I do personally believe in Statement Analysis being accurate in other respects, such as determining the likelihood of deception, and whether certain word choices and phrasing etc can inadvertently betray someone's real thoughts or motives, even if they are trying not to give anything away. To me, a lot of this is actually common sense, which is why it appeals to me.

    For example, if a person uses lots of long sentences containing many additional words and phrases that are unnecessary for getting their point across, and this happens throughout the note, it makes sense that this indicates a person who is probably overly-wordy and dramatic. Or certain phrases such as "at this time" may crop up a lot in a particular person's everyday speech, without them possibly realising it. Refusing to refer to Jon Benet directly by name throughout the note, and using the phrase "daughter" all the way through, really is very telling, distancing language, in my opinion.

    So, I believe that Statement Analysis can be useful for telling us about things like deliberate deception, and possible characteristics or mental approach of the person who wrote it, but without being able to prove exactly who it was. It can be useful to point us in the right direction, though.

    In terms of the Ramsey ransom note, I wonder if part of the confusion could be because more than one person may possibly have written it? Obviously only one person could physically write it down, but I mean a collaboration between two (or possibly even more-who knows?) people with relation to the actual content?

    Sorry for such a long reply- just wanted to throw in a few thoughts! Not saying I'm right or anything, just my own views.
    ITA, this is very telling, in more than one way. Not only does it distance the parents, it's not wording any real kidnapper would use. They would want to make the note as personal, and painful for the parents as possible, using her name.
    **MY POSTS ARE NOT TO BE COPIED OR LINKED TO IN ANY OTHER FORUMS OR WEBSITES!!**

  14. #14
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrishope View Post
    Well, for starters you aren't taking your own point seriously enough. Not only is document examination a non-scientific exercise, but Epstein and Wong and Ubowski (and all the rest) are all equally unscientific, and equally non-tested for their accuracy rate. Equally w/o scientific basis for their conclusions. In other words, equally w/o any measurable, tested, controlled, blinded study, "expertise". There is no "individual skill" for any of them, at least none that can be statistically, sceintifically assessed by a judge or by a jury.
    You are quite correct.

    If the "experts" were given deliberate forgeries of the RN and were still able to pick out the real RN and determine who was the RN authror, then I might be impressed. Instead they worked with copies (except maybe the police document examiners) knowing it was a copy of the actual RN. Those hired by Hoffman knew who they were supposed to "see" in the handwriting. Those who worked for the Ramseys knew who they were supposed to eliminate (not see).
    You're two for two.

    If the "experts" had established accuracy rates in determining authorship of documents I might be impressed. What is Wong's accuracy rate? We don't know. What is the accuracy rate of any of the "experts"? We don't know. What about the "experts" who saw JMK's hand when that silly business was in the news?

    So what we have is various opinions on who did/did not write the note, by people who are not subject to blind studies, not subject to testing for accuracy. They cherry-picked similarities, or differences, depending on what they were intending to "find" and ignored anything that didn't support their conclusions. In some cases very little amplifying info was given to justify their conclusion.
    That's the hat trick.

    So there is no "skill" that can be assessed or measured. Even if they all worked in isolation and were not allowed to confer, they simply offer us an opinion based either on cherry picked similarities, cherry picked differences, "Patsyisms", "Johnisms". No use worrying about group think as there is nothing of substantive value about their opinions whether they reached them as a group or individually.

    It should be obvious, after 17 years, for anyone who's delved into this issue in some depth, that there is no way to analyze the handwriting and determine who did or did not write the RN. Some of it looks like Patsy, some doesn't. Some of the writing looks like John's, some doesn't.
    There is simply no objective basis on which we can say Patsy wrote it, John wrote it, Patsy and John both wrote it, neither Patsy or John wrote it.
    Well, that leaves us with one BIG problem, doesn't it: how should evidence like this be presented to a jury?

    I won't bother discrediting Statement Analysis, as anyone who puts stock in that "make it up as you go along" process has rejected reason.
    Honestly, I don't know much about statement analysis, but I did read recently that there is supposedly a difference between "real" statement analysis as developed by Avinoam Sapir and the kind used by imitators.

    You seem to be in "shock" about the 3.5 hours business, but really what is the time it takes to properly examine the document? 6 hours? 48? 115? We don't know, and there is in fact no "standard". Just to play devil's advocate, I'd think that the one with the most "individual skill" would be the fastest.
    The more I think about it, the less shocked I am. I just figured they'd make a better SHOW of it.

    The real import of your "discovery" is that it's just as likely that JR wrote the note as PR. No real way to tell, no real way to pin it down.For every similarity there is a dissimilarity, for both JR and PR.
    Which just leads me back to what I keep saying: you don't solve a case like this through forensic evidence; you do it through the good old third degree.
    I'm as mad as HELL and I'm NOT gonna take it anymore!.

  15. #15
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    Im not sure that there is any difference between SCAN and Statement Analysis. Copyright maybe? There have been new insights however, and most practioners also put their own spin on things.THAT'S where it can fall apart IMO. You do follow certain known rules and principles like circling all pronouns or marking all words that arent neccesary to a sentences structure, and if completed with a strict unbiased view, is why it IS more scientific than, say, astrology. The problem enters because even even though you can confidently decide that the statement shows guilt, sometimes its difficult to determine guilt of WHAT.

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