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September 16, 2017 41 mins

In this week's SYSK Select episode, one of the fields of forensic investigation, handwriting analysis is based on the principle of uniqueness - that each person writes in their own peculiar way. Learn about this interesting area of crime fighting and how it's worked to advance itself as a real science.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
M. Hey everybody, it's me Josh and for this week's
Saturday Select Stuff you should know, I'm doing handwriting analysis.
It's pretty awesome. It's from October two thirteen, and uh
I just selected this one because I thought it dovetailed
nicely with our Secret Service episode this week. So enjoy.

(00:22):
M Welcome to Stuff you should Know from how Stuff
Works dot com. Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm
Josh Clark, and there's Charles c V, Chuck Bryant and
this stuff you should know. Cherry's over there. That's right,

(00:45):
we're all here. Yeah, we're at the ready for another
yet another forensics podcast. Yes we are. I thought we
were done. No, I don't know that wherever we're gonna
be done? He and Chuck not only are we never
going to be finished. This one, like every other forensics
episode we've ever done, traces back to Alphonse Bertillon. Oh

(01:09):
is he the first dude? He's the guy he did fingerprinting,
he did um like facial characteristics. Yeah, the the mug shots, Yeah,
mug shots and um, what's it called the facial sketch
artist dree, police sketches and crime scene photography even um

(01:29):
maybe so it's entirely possible. Well, we owe a great
debt to that man. Yeah, he was basically like he
had his finger on the pulse of like forensics. Yeah,
like every subdiscipline of the field of forensics. Like this
guy virtually started it at a Paris police station. Yeah,
it would be you know, unless you were doing the
research and found out he was kind of a jerk. Yeah,

(01:51):
but who cares. Well, no, then you have to like
kind of beef his character up and maybe he was
what is he like? Um, like he was alted or
something like that. Does he need like an orphan to
come into his life? Elected with Gandhi? Remember that movie?
Oh yeah, made him look like a saint. Uh. So
I think at the very least people if not uh

(02:15):
you may not be able to become forensics experts, but
at the very least you can watch all those TV
shows now with a better understanding, right, you know? Is
that what we're trying to do to help people better
watch TV? Chuck? Yes, have you ever written anything by hand?
You laugh? But think about this, Pale. There's a time

(02:35):
that's coming when there's not gonna be much need whatsoever
for that. I know there is currently a legitimate debate
on whether or not to keep teaching cursive handwriting. Yeah,
I think that the debate has been answered, and the
people who want to keep teaching cursive just haven't quite
accepted their fate yet. Those the answer, No, sure, Yeah,
I mean I was looking at a copybooks, which we'll

(02:59):
talk about in a second, um, And apparently the whole
point to teaching penmanship lie in the in the in
an era where if you had good penmanship, you were
like that was a part of business, Like you needed
to look respectable, put together. Yeah, like your your business
transactions were carried out through handwriting too typically, and you

(03:22):
needed to have good, clean handwriting said a lot about
your character. This is also at a time when people
were burned to the steak for witchcraft shortly after, so
you know, maybe you don't put that much stock into it,
but there was a point in time when like handwriting counted.
It doesn't count any longer. And I'm I'm not saying like,
I'm definitely not waving like the flag of glory over

(03:45):
the corpse of cursive writing, right, I'm not. You're doing
it right now? No, I don't mean to, And that's
why I said I'm not doing that because, yeah, I
guess what I'm saying is the writings on the wall,
as it were. I'm not necessarily about it now. It's
the last thing anyone ever wrote in cursive was that

(04:05):
cursive is dead. Yeah, you know, I can say that.
I don't write by hand that much anymore, and um
when I do now, I get weird with it. I
leave out letters and have to go back and put
them in here. I'll write out of order, and even
this word I put c additional. I left out like
three letters and had to go back and put them in.
But I do it really quickly. It's not like I'm stumped.

(04:28):
But um, like if I was writing in cursive, i'd
be stumped. Yeah, I tried to know how. I've tried
to write cursive here there, just to see if I
still have it, and I do not lost it. I
don't think I ever really had the Z. It's a
tough one, remember the Z. Yeah, I could write a
Z right now, um spreak in uh okay, but yeah, anyway,

(04:50):
it's weird. It's almost like a dyslexic thing happens now
when I write. You would use this spa. You could
spray pain and cursive. Z I could do that right now?
I think I be better at spray painting and cursives
even writing it, yeah, because it'd be large and yeah yeah. Um,
the point is its cursive is probably dead. Writing things

(05:13):
down by hand is becoming less and less. Um, what
is that? I'm sorry everyone, I don't mean to interrupt myself,
but Chuck has held up one of his pages of
notes and there's some weird writing on the back. What
is that? You know? What? That is? My parents signatures?
Because I was seeing if I could still duplicate them
as I could back in high school. You used to

(05:33):
do that? Sure? What for You're a good kid in
high school? What did you need to know your parents signatures?
Here's what I would do. I was a good kid,
but I would skip school and class sometimes. What did
like go fishing with rad and Uh that's the thing.
I wasn't good. I wasn't like doing drugs or drinking.
I would skip school and like go fishing. Uh. And
then I would write notes then forge my parents signature,

(05:54):
which is not right kids. But um, it wasn't like
I was off being a vandal or anything. I was
is catching some trout, catching some trout and beating foxes
in the head of the hammer, huffing Scotch guard. But
I used to could really do with my parents signature
spot on, and I was very proud of that. Yeah,
so how is it? How is it hold up comparing
before because I don't I don't have what's called an exemplar.

(06:18):
My mom's little initial signature is still pretty right on
m T d MB, but my father's is UM. I
used to could do that one a lot better. That's
a that's a fine signature. Can I see it all
more time? James Allen Bryant, that's a nice one. Yeah, huh,
all right. You've never forged your parents signature? Don't know, uh,

(06:38):
neither one of them. I may have tried, I think
I remember even practicing. I think because my dad seems
like just looking at it, it's highly duplicable. Um, but
it's not really like you. You can you can tell that.
I I want to say the person because I refer
to myself a third person A lot um was trying

(07:00):
to recreate it. Just make a potato stamp and your set.
I've never tried that one. You got your signature for
life with a potato snamp like you just carve out Yeah,
you never did that in craft class. You carve out
something in a and press it on inc and a
potato and then press it on ink and you basically
can make your own stamp. No it makes sense. Yeah,

(07:22):
potato stamps. No, we didn't make those. You missed out, buddy,
um chuck. I feel like we've kind of covered a
lot of like points of handwriting analysis, little teasers before
we start too. I think we should point out that
what we're talking about, and I was just made to
find on the internets that when you search handwriting analysis,
what comes up is actually graphology. Yeah, that's that comes

(07:45):
up a lot. Which if handwriting analysis, friends of handwriting
analysis is really struggling forging ahead to become a science,
graphology is quite happy to not be whatsoever. It's all, um,
very un scientific. That's like, can let me write down
a sentence and you tell me what kind of person
I am? Exactly Like if you write using small letters,

(08:08):
you're actually afraid of the world and very self conscious
and you want to hide or disappear. Or another example
is if um, like the first letters in your first
and last name are big, your signature. Yeah, you you
crave attention or you think overly of yourself. None of
this is founded at allever. It's HOKEM. Handwriting analysis while still,

(08:32):
like I said, struggling to be a science is um
much less. HOKEM has one fatal flaw that's possibly not fatal,
but it's the same flaw that UM fingerprint analysis has.
Subject subjectivity, that's right, which we'll talk about. But maybe
now is a good time for a message. But hey,

(09:08):
now we're back. Um, let's talk about handwriting analysis in
handwriting in general. Chuckers Okay, Um, well it's it's questioned
documents is the legal term for what they're analyzing. Yeah,
it's not just handwriting. It could be like forgeries. Yeah, dude,
it could be a lot of stuff. These people UM
questioned document examiners q d s. Uh. They examined typewriting,

(09:31):
computer printed documents, photo copies, uh, decipherment of altered, obliterated,
or charred documents. Yeah, but that's a tough one. Um.
Examination of inks and papers, erased entries, indented writings like
you know, you wrote something on a pad and ripped
it up. Yeah. There's a whole division of people who
just rubbed pencils on a piece of paper to see

(09:52):
what comes up, counterfeit currency, and examination of commercially printed matter.
So they're kind of all over the place, but the
sexy stuff is and a lot of times, just in
the private sector, it's not even for forensics. It's hey,
examine the signature on this document, right, like, real it,
did Mickey Mantill sign this baseball? Yeah? Exactly. Yeah. But
what they're looking for, and what the entire field of

(10:14):
forensic handwriting analysis is based on, is called the principle
of uniqueness, which has been around since at least the
nineteen twenties, and it is the idea that everybody has
their own brand of handwriting and that um, while maybe
you make a cursive Z in a certain way, that

(10:37):
I might make the same Z in the same way.
If you take all of the characteristics that you have
and put them together, you form a unique package. Your
handwriting is unique in that sense. So the individual weird
characteristics might be similar to other people's weird individual characteristics,
but you can't put twenty or thirty weird characteristics of

(10:59):
hand writing together and compared to anybody else's. And so
based on that, you should logically be able to look
at one person's handwriting and compared it to a sample
of another person's handwriting or the same person's handwriting, and
see whether they match or whether they were written by
two different people based on the the number of differences
or similarities between the two samples. Boom, Yeah, so let's

(11:23):
talk about handwriting. Yeah, and those are individual characteristics. Um.
Before that, you have what's called or everyone has an
underlying style characteristic, and that is based on the fact
that when you were a little snot nose kid in school,
they gave you what's called a copybook which had I know,
we all remember this words on one line and then

(11:43):
an empty line where you had to copy it and
make it look like that. And depending on where you
live and when you live and went to school, Uh,
you're gonna have a different copybook. So you're underlying style
characteristics are going to be based on this original copybook
that you might have some similarities with people like for

(12:03):
me that grew up in the mid seventies and elementary
school in decapp County, Georgia. Right exactly because you use
the same copybook. What's awesome is a handwriting analyst could
tell you what copybook you used or where you were
from and when based on that that structural analysis. Yeah,
and I imagine teachers even informed that somewhat you know,

(12:24):
individual instruction for sure, Yeah, because the teacher is going
to be like, that's not in our and like smack
your knuckles and say try again. Um. So the copybook
how we learn to actually write handwriting UM is based
on or creates this um the style characteristic. Right. But

(12:44):
then once we actually learn how to produce a letter
using our hands, just through repetition, we start to add
our own style to it. Um. And that those are
the individual characteristics. We stopped thinking about how to make
the structure of a letter and we're thinking about, um,
how you know what we're actually writing about. Yeah. And

(13:06):
when it comes to forensic examination, style characteristics aren't really
what's important. Maybe that could help rule out certain geographic
areas or something, but mainly what they're looking at are
those individual characteristics. That's that's kind of where the key
is when you want to track down a purpose. Yeah,
because like we said, I mean the chances of the

(13:28):
same person having the same set of individual characteristic pretty much. Yeah. Uh.
And here's the thing, they're not just looking for similarities.
They say in this article. It's probably easy for even
a layman to look at two sentences and compare them
and say, well, look, these letters are the same. What
they're looking for are the differences, and there in lies
the key the differences and two different pieces of text.

(13:52):
One is the exemplar, which is basically a comparison sample.
The exemplar is a preview, this document that you've written
in the past, written by a known author. Yeah, like, hey, Chuck,
you wrote We found this diary entry for you from
five years ago. This will be your exemplar. Now we
want you to write some stuff now exactly. Um. So

(14:14):
that would be a requested exemplar if they asked you
to write something now, um. But either way, they know
that this came from you. So it's an exemplar, an
example document, and they use those to compare to the
question document. So whenever you're talking handwriting analysis, you have
to have two kinds of documents. An exemplar in a
question document, that's right, you want to talk about Lindbergh

(14:36):
for a minute, Yeah, a question document very frequently, um,
is a ransom note. That's right. And in the case
of the Lindbergh baby, which Grandpa Simpson everybody knows kidnapped,
um or is that's what it was. Yeah, Um, there
were fourteen ransom notes, yeah from uh. Well depends on
who you asked. A lot of people think Bruno Houtman

(14:58):
was innocent, maybe an executed uh as an innocent man.
But there was still fourteen ransom notes. Still fourteen notes. Yeah,
And they when Bruno Holtman came in, they couldn't find,
um many exemplars from his past, so they said, well,
let's just get him in custody and have him write
some things down, right, And that's just put putting it lightly,

(15:19):
which that's fine, good idea procedurally speaking, that's a requested exemplar.
All right. The thing is the police had this guy
right until he was exhausted over and over again. Apparently
he wasn't producing what they wanted him to produce. So
they said, here see this ransom note, copy this, yea,
and the guy did it. Um. And apparently every bit

(15:42):
of handwriting analysis that they are a sample that they
got from this guy was coerced um and questionable as
questionable as the question document. That's right, Um, But he
was still convicted and executed, right, yeah, and who knows
if he was innocent or not. There's all kinds of
varying opinions on the Internet, of course, but at the

(16:04):
very least, the handwriting documents in his his samples that
he gave were definitely coerced and probably not the best
thing to put your case on. And that was an
early obstacle that handwriting analysis has had to overcome, was
creating procedures for the police to say if you're going
to request an examplar, like, here's how you do it,

(16:26):
here's what to ask for. Do not show them the
question document, don't ask them to copy, just have them right.
That's why you should always cut your ransom note out
from the funny papers and individual letters. Plus it looks
cool and creepy. Yeah. Um, so, what what you're looking
for if you're going to compare things is not hey,

(16:47):
look at the sentence and compared to the sentence, because
that doesn't tell you much. You want numerous exemplars. You
want like ten documents that you can compare to ten
other documents. The reason behind that um is because when
you write something, so you're writing a letter. When you
start you're all fresh faced and bushy tailed, and then

(17:07):
as you go further down the page, you get a
little more tired, a little more fatigued, and your writing
starts to fall apart. So you're never gonna write the
same way twice. Um, which even within a document, right,
which is a characteristic in and of itself. What's more, Um,
starting a word with the letter A, you're probably going

(17:27):
to produce that A differently than an A that comes
in the middle of a word or at the end. Yeah,
I do that for sure. And like certain letters will connect, um,
but only certain letters, Like I might connect to my
T to my H in the middle of a word,
you know, but not at the beginning that kind of thing. Uh.
So what are they looking for, Well, they're looking for

(17:48):
several things are looking for They're looking for a letter form,
which is like, um, you know the curves, um, the
saw eyes of the letters. But you know, the relationship
between a letter that's supposed to be small like an
S and a letter that's supposed to be big like
maybe an H. Yeah, even the width within a single letter,

(18:10):
maybe the slant the slope, um, whether or not, like
I talked about, you connect certain letters together links between them. Um.
And then like we mentioned where that letter falls. So
if you want to analyze an A a lower case A,
and we should point out to that, apparently you can't
analyze upper case letters only. Is that right? You can

(18:33):
you can analyze those just against each other though, Okay,
upper case and lower case or like they yield nothing.
That's right apparently. Um. But let's say you have a letter,
a lower case A. You want to find within the
document an example of an A at the beginning, one
in the middle, one at the end um and see
how those compared to each other before you even compare

(18:54):
it to the other exemplar. Yeah, like, if you really
thorough in detailed stuff, it really is. It's it's like
very tedious words to super tedious, which we'll get into
in a second exactly how tedious it is. But yeah,
the point is, if you are a handwriting analyst, you're
not gonna put an A at the beginning of a
word next to an A or compare it to an
A in the middle of the word. They write two
different things as far as you're concerned. Yeah, you get

(19:17):
laughed at if you do that. In in class line forms,
another thing they look at um, how smooth it is,
how dark it is, indicates what kind of pressure you're
you're using on the paper? How U Yeah, the speed
formatting of course, spacing between letters, spacing between words, um,
whether where your margins are. Like they'll give you a

(19:37):
blank sheet of paper that's not lined and see you know,
if you, like most people, typically the sentence will go
down if you don't have a line paper, or what
kind of margins you just instinctively use, or if you're
like a serial killer and you don't use margins. Yeah,
that's just pretty scribble all over the page. Yeah, they
just should just let you up right there, right exactly,

(20:00):
Like that's you're basically confessing to something horrible. Where do
if it is line paper? Where if you make like
a lower case why, how does the bottom of the
Y or the G or the curse of Z intersect
with the line? How far down does it go? How
big your loops? Where do you cross your tea? It's
like it's mind numbingly details. Do you skip lines? Yeah?

(20:22):
Do you dot your eyes with little hearts? That kind
of thing, the bubble letters? I know some females it's
still sort of right that way, not with the with
the hearts, but definitely that very distinctive you can. Yeah,
I got a lot of love notes like that, you know,
in my day with the little heart eye. Yeah, and

(20:44):
I would right back like the serial killer. Those were
my just like words on a single piece that they
do like you. It isn't a matter of fact, I'm
sitting outside of your house right now, I know what
you're doing. Just a big, one long run on sentence. Um. Okay.
So one thing that they will do, here's one method
that they will use is they will actually create tables. Yeah,

(21:05):
three tables and all of us what you want. So
you make your first table. You start with the letter A,
and you go through the the um question documents. Yeah,
and this is all on the article by the way,
it's even has the little tables and the sample sentence
they used is I have your daughter. Yeah. It's kind
of creepy, it was, but it was like appropriately creepy.

(21:27):
Why couldn't they just put let's play some basketball. I
hadn't even thought of that. It seemed like, yeah, of course,
I have your daughter. Okay, alright, what that says about?
So the three tables? Uh so the first table, what
they're gonna do is go through all the question documents
and they're going to write start with the letter A.
If the letter A is present in the documentary, they're

(21:48):
gonna put all the letters that are present in the documents.
So for example, I have your daughter, UM has uh right, Well, no,
yes it does. But they they they sentence itself doesn't
have all the letters of the alphabet. So you're gonna
go through and figure out what letters are present in
your question document put those down one side, and then
you're gonna go through, starting with the letter A, and

(22:11):
um find every different letter A. So if there's a
letter A that slants to the left, you're gonna put
that down next to A in row one. And then
if you've come across another A that science the left,
you're gonna skip that one because you've already found it.
What the point is you're going to create a table
of every characteristically different example of a particular letter yea.

(22:33):
And they're doing this with digital cameras, right, So in
the article they did it by hand. They try to
recreate what the weird letter looked like. But yeah, they're
going to take a digital photo of just that letter
and then compile it into a table. That's right. Uh.
And at the end what they are doing is comparing
the tables making sure they have a match for each

(22:54):
letter in the exemplar, right, because they went through the
question document, then they the exact same thing for the exemplar,
and they put the two tables together and created a
third table. And from that third table they should be
able to see pretty clearly whether um, the person, whether
the two things were written by the same person. And

(23:14):
so if you're an FBI analyst, you're gonna come up
with one of um five uh possible outcomes. There's identification,
where you're pretty much putting your career on the line
or your professional reputation on the line, say this is
written by the same person. There's may have, which means
that the similarities outweigh the differences, but you're still not

(23:37):
a percent sure identification level. Sure, yeah, that's a real
woo way to go, right. There's no conclusion, which is
like the similarities and the differences are pretty much the same,
or um, there's just not enough evidence there or enough
material to go with. Then there's may not have, which
is the differences outweigh the similarities, but you're still not sure,

(23:59):
and then there's a eimination where you're sure that they
weren't written by the same person, which is probably as
equally a bolder statement as they were. Yeah, you know,
I imagine those are few and far between, the identification
and eliminations in a major case, you know. Yeah. Um,
all right, So coming up, we have something on forgeries

(24:19):
and simulation, like if you're trying to sniff someone off
the gates. But first we have a message break. Okay,

(24:41):
So um, we're talking about simulation before we broke. And
that's like a big part of this is if you
give and I can't imagine, Like let's say someone like
an officer picked you up and of course you didn't
do anything, but they bring you into a room and
they're like, we we need some handwritting examples. You can
be freaked out for sure, like how you're writing, and
you're probably gonna write weird, um, or if you did

(25:04):
do it, you might try and fool them by writing
weird And by weird I mean different than you normally, right, yes, um,
not like he's in strange letters or something. Right, Yeah,
you're gonna maybe um write a little more slowly or
just right, like bigger than you do, or smaller than
you do, or just different. Um. I saw a picture
of a ransom note, not a ransom note, a stick

(25:25):
up note, and like it was obviously done with like
squiggly lines and like words were purposely misspelled. Um, so
that if they, if anybody ever did analyze the handwriting,
what they had wouldn't match up to any anyone's normal
hand that's a good idea. Yeah. So on the front
end of the crime, you do the different handwriting, that's

(25:47):
that's not bad. I didn't mean this any would be
bank robbers, but yes, but after the fact, if they
have the two things and you try to simulate different writing,
they're pretty good at trying to determine whether or not
you've done that. They are. I mean you you can
completely throw off handwriting analysis sure to where just where
you get a no conclusion at least right, Um, But

(26:07):
like you said, handwriting analysts you have ways for they
have ways of knowing whether you're simulating your handwriting. Yeah,
and like you said, there'll be more pin lifts. Um,
definitely be slower and basically they'll they'll root you out.
Is not just writing naturally right, like at a normal
speed even right, because you're you're really putting a lot
of thought into the words you're writing rather than just

(26:30):
writing like you have nothing to hide exactly. UM. So
this is all good and well and fine, and it's
a legitimate field. It's not always allowed in court though, because,
like you said, it's subjective. Yeah, I want to say,
and I don't know why I developed an affinity for
handwriting analysis because I think fingerprinting is b s frankly,

(26:51):
and I remember saying pretty much that effect in the
fingerprinting episode. For some reason, handwriting analysis struck me as
more legit. Yeah, And I don't know why, but it did. UM.
And so I kind of looked around and found as
recently as June, they had a major national conference for
handwriting analysts that was UM. Its aim was to further

(27:13):
the science and the measurements in the field in uh Gaithersburg, Maryland. Yeah,
the Measurement Science and Standards and Forensic Handwriting Analysis Conference. UM.
And I mean it's not a new the it's not
a new field, and they've subjected it to scientific testing
like over the years. Like UM, the principle of uniqueness,

(27:35):
the founding principle of handwriting analysis It's been tested many,
many times. One of the favorite tests they like to
do is to get identical twins to provide handwriting samples.
Same DNA, same environmental factor, same physiology, all of these
things that affect your handwriting, because I mean, like your
your handwriting is changed by the fine um motor neurons

(28:00):
that you have in your in your body. If you're
an identical twin, you're gonna be similar. You think your
handwriting would be similar. No handwriting analysts routinely can tell
the difference between twins penmanship. Wow. Um, So they have
tested this stuff and they are I guess aware that
they it's not a fully scientific field, and they're taking

(28:21):
steps to make it more scientific. Yeah, because they want
to protect their jobs and be they want it to
be like at the end of the day, they want
it to be allowed in court. You know. They don't
want to be offered for podcast fodder. Oh I imagine.
Also they don't want to put away any innocent people.
Sure you know. Um, So let's talk about another brilliant plan.

(28:41):
If you want to be a forger of things, provide
the both exemplars yourself. Right, this is pretty amazing. And
this guy had a killer name Conrad. Code you could?
You could? Joe could Conrad? Could you? I think it's

(29:01):
Conrade k u j A you all right? Conrade Coja,
let's call him that. The nineteen eighties, the Couge was
a supposed collector of Nazi memorabilia. First of all, those
people freaked me out. You know remember American beauty. Yeah,
uh so he was a collector of this stuff. And um,

(29:23):
a German publishing company he approached them and said, you
know what, I've got sixty handwritten journals written by tar
Fur himself. Yea, they were found in a plane wreck,
just found him and they seemed to be genuine. And
they paid him two point three million dollars. And uh
this the same company, the German newspaper also owned that

(29:44):
publishing company. They printed stuff. They said, hey, let's syndicate
this out. The London Times said sure, we'll write about this.
But they said, but you know what, we're the London Times.
Let's get a handwriting analysts chow this stuff out. Three
of them they had three like high end handwriting analysts
analyzed this stuff and all three of them said, yep, um,

(30:05):
the same person wrote these samples, who wrote the diary,
So yeah, these are these are Hitler's diaries. Yeah, because
they got they got the exemplars that were supposedly written
by Hitler himself said it's the same thing. It was this.
These are legit, right, So cou Joe walks away with
cool two point three million in nineteen eighties dollars, no less,
and the world has sixty previously unknown journals from Adolf Hitler.

(30:30):
We think within a year it was uncovered as a fraud.
That's right, thanks to the London Times. Um. They used
ultra violet light examination and found out that the paper
wasn't around until a little bit of a problem. Anyone
that knows Hitler knows that he died in Open your eyes, chuck. Uh.

(30:54):
And then they did some more for in Success and
said the ink actually was applied on the paper about
twelve months ago, within the past year, and he's a fraud.
And he wrote both sets and I don't know why
they didn't check. And they said, well, we need some
real examples of Hitler's writing, and he's like, uh here, no,
I think that's what they did. He had gotten I

(31:15):
think he was just that lucky wow that he had
flooded the market with fake Hitler handwriting, and so that
the authenticated samples that they used as exemplars just happened
to be ones that he'd also forged. So it passed
the handwriting analysis. Handwriting Actually, handwriting analysis came out on
top in that instance, but it was still a fraud.

(31:39):
It was still a forgery. So amazing it came out
on top as a technique, but overall it took kind
of a hit because it's still failed. Unbelievable yet believable.
What about John Mark Carr? You remember him? Oh, dude, man,
And I gotta I gotta admit if there was ever
a case of judging a book by its cover. When
I saw that guy, I was like, yep, he did it.

(32:02):
He's the creepiest guy I've ever seen. He is creepy.
You got that right, Yeah, But he was creepy for
another reason, because of course we're talking about the John b. A.
Ramsey case. He falsely confessed to killing John bin A Ramsey,
which I think he did it to get a free
ride from Thailand back to the US, I think so.

(32:22):
I think he'd like the attention and everything too, but
I think he just didn't have any money. And wanted
to get back to the States, so he confessed to
John Benet's killing. Well, he's living as a trans woman now,
he is, and apparently trying to UM recruit six year
old and younger, preferably preferably brunette girls for a sex cult.
Apparently he's just trying to found a sex cult. And

(32:45):
I only saw this one article that was on several
different networks in June of like what was and I
didn't see anything else after that. I think that is
very very grown up of you to say, because it
is hearsay. One one accuser, Yeah, and it was somebody
who he was formerly close to, a girl he had
been engaged to UM who was saying she was coming

(33:06):
forward to try to protect people. But there was no
follow up, no nothing, So who knows, Chuck. It was
very good of you. But back to the handwriting part
of this, he um. They compared the ransom note to
a couple of exemplars from his past. The Secret Service
does a lot of this, by the way, and Um.
One was a high school yearbook that he signed, and

(33:28):
one was a job application from Thailand and they couldn't
match it because it was inconclusive because the high school
year back yearbook was old and apparently in a quote
artistic writing style quote, So I don't know what that means.
I guess he did, like you know, in high school,
you do those like bubble letters. And then the job

(33:52):
in Thailand he used all upper case letters and they
couldn't compare that to the ransom note because that was
both upper and lower. And then the the and A
obviously sniffed him off the case. And he was not
the guy. He was just weird. It was an odd duck. Yeah.
I don't think they still never caught anyone, did they? No,

(34:12):
they never arrested anybody. Yeah. I think last thing I
heard was that the case was reopened and they thought
they had enough evidence for the parents, but they didn't
or something to indict them. Oh yeah, that was a
few years back. Yeah, very sad um. And I don't
see why it was so hard to get these exemplars.
Is it that tough to find handwriting examples from someone,

(34:33):
especially if they're not cooperating too well? I guess that's true. Like,
I mean, like, what do you have lying around that's
got your handwriting on it? I got a bunch of
notebooks and stuff with tons of stuff in there. Well
then you'd be an easy case. Alright, Well I better
not kild never kill anyone right anytime, so and keep
your nose clean. Um. What else you got? Um? I

(34:54):
think that's about it for me. Well, there's the fish
system they're they're trying to h bring this into the
non subjective modern age. The forensic Information system for handwriting.
That basically they take a large body of handwritten material,
digitize it, and then plot it is arithmetic and geometric values.

(35:17):
So basically it'll be a numeric database, sort of like
a fingerprint database. So instead of just having like this
big diary and a locker, you have an actual numeric
value that you can compare it to. Now, and that
just using computers is like flak jacket from criticism. I mean, really,
the computers just carrying out program subjectivity, isn't it. Uh yeah,

(35:43):
probably so, But I mean it's really just a database.
It's not saying that like any better way of doing things. Um.
And I just saw this from two thousand nine. Um,
sort of the same thing. There's in the Journal of
Applied Cognitive Psychology. They did a test to see if
people differently when they're lying or not and they do.

(36:04):
Oh yeah, they had them right, truthful sentences and lies
and apparently right differently when you lie, the content of
the sentence, whether it is a liar truthful, Yeah, changed
the handwriting. Yeah, wow, that's really interesting. Yeah, so I
don't I guess I could help with forensics for sure.
It could act as a sort of secondary lie detector
at least, right, you could be like I am the kidnapper, right,

(36:26):
you have them right there, But I mean you couldn't.
Then it's not for comparisons. If it doesn't work for yeah, well,
if it doesn't work out for comparison, you have a
handwritten confession. Pretty cool. And there's no schooling for this,
by the way, you just really yeah like most of
their most of this forensic stuff, it's all just like
training job. Yeah, but there's certification. Well there's no college program, no,

(36:49):
but I think you still have to become certified. I
don't think you have to. I think like you can
advertise in the Internet and just be Joe Schmo then
writing analyze that kind of thing. But I think, um,
there is a certification or creditation out there. Okay, it
says that, um, the training period is a minimum of
two years of full time training under the tutelage of
a qualified expert, a wizard. So yeah, forensics, the game continues. Nice. Uh,

(37:17):
let's see you got anything else. No, we still have
to cover shadow analysis and smell yeah, smelly people. Yeah. Uh.
If you want to know more about forensics, you should
type that word into the search bar. It will bring
up this handwriting analysis um article and a ton of
other stuff. Uh just typed in, like I said, to

(37:38):
the search bar how stuff works dot com? And since
I said search bar, it's time for listener mail. Yeah. Man,
I'm gonna call this email from a feminist lesbian. Okay,
self described guys, your timing is amazing. I'm listening to
old episodes and I listened to micro Loans yesterday. It's
amazing how lined up my universe is with you guys

(37:59):
right now. Um, so I guess she was into micro
Loans or something. Um, it's a I love you, guys,
to the point where my mental tape, the dialogue that
plays in one's head is sometimes even in your voice.
As a northern feminist and lesbian, I was leary of
two Southern dudes educating me. But I poo poo, all
your critics. So she listened to us. She's like, what

(38:21):
are these bumpkin hate? See, it's gonna teach me. I'm
a feminist lesbian from the north. She Poopoo's is that
once you get the hand of your dry wit and humor,
you are the most awesome and epic truth tellers who
have grace, dignity, and a humility about your own mistakes
and limitations that I find unparalleled. You embrace all people's

(38:43):
choices and lives, and you are silly to boot. I
must say that I just learned so much and I
have fun. Whatever you're talking about relates to my life
and your excellent teachers. I sit outside by the river
in the back of my house draw or place you
do go Dodoku, So it's the most difficult word and

(39:06):
to pronounce it is when if you don't learn it right.
The first puzzle that game right right with people plank
you predict what number is gonna go in where it's
pretty neat. You should try it all right, It's it's challenging.
Do you like crosswords? I love crosswords. You will like
this not the exact same thing by any stretch, and
it definitely includes some some math, but um, you'll like it.

(39:27):
If you like crosswords, give it a shot. So she
plays this out by the river and listens to us
for hours after long days. Uh. In short, everyone needs
to be nice because I am all knowing and I
say you are wonderful. Words can hurt your kind decent
human beings first and foremost, and being in the public
eye makes people forget that. So they're And that is

(39:48):
from Karen Shaw and Western Maths. Nice. Thanks a lot,
Karin Shaw. That was a very very nice letter. Thank you. Yeah,
like I picture her out there by the river playing
that sudoku weird game sudoku okay suduko sidokuk. It ends
with you now it ends with an Oh, no it
doesn't unless you mispelled it. She spelled it s u

(40:10):
d u k o suduko. I think it's so doku. Yeah,
we'll agree to disagree. Uh again, thank you very much
for that very nice letter. UM, if you want to
send us a very nice letter or criticism, we we
have a thick skin after all these years. Um, you
can tweet to us at s Y s K podcast.

(40:30):
We will tweet back at you angrily probably and rally
everybody else against you um. You can join us on
Facebook dot com, where Chuck will comment on your post.
Make you feel bad if you make us feel bad, Right, Chuck,
he's a master at that. It's good for more on

(40:52):
this and thousands of other topics. Does it How stuff
works dot com

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