Re: Digest Number 1344
- Arnold: I don't doubt that you are sincere in your belief that
graphology works. But here's a different opinion that has wide support:
Robert Todd Carroll
Graphology is the study of handwriting, especially when employed as a
means of analyzing character. Real handwriting experts are known as
forensic document examiners, not as graphologists. Forensic (or
questioned) document examiners consider loops, dotted "i's" and
crossed "t's," letter spacing, slants, heights, ending strokes, etc.
They examine handwriting to detect authenticity or forgery.
Graphologists examine loops, dotted "i's" and crossed "t's," letter
spacing, slants, heights, ending strokes, etc., but they believe that
such handwriting minutiae are physical manifestations of unconscious
mental functions. Graphologists believe such details can reveal as
much about a person as astrology , palm reading, psychometry, or the
Myers-Briggs personality type indicator. However, there is no
evidence that the unconscious mind is a reservoir of truth about a
person, much less that graphology provides a gateway to that reservoir.
Graphology is claimed to be useful for everything from understanding
health issues, morality and past experiences to hidden talents and
mental problems.* However, "in properly controlled, blind studies,
where the handwriting samples contain no content that could provide
non-graphological information upon which to base a prediction (e.g., a
piece copied from a magazine), graphologists do no better than chance
at predicting... personality traits...." ["The Use of Graphology as a
Tool for Employee Hiring and Evaluation," from the British Columbia
Civil Liberties Association] And even non-experts are able to
correctly identify the gender of a writer about 70% of the time
There are a variety of techniques used by graphologists.* Even so,
the techniques of these "experts" seem to be reducible to impressions
from such things as the pressure exerted on the page, spacing of
words and letters, crossed t's, dotted i's, size, slant, speed and
consistency of writing. Though graphologists deny it, the content of
the writing is one of the more important factors in graphological
character assessment. The content of a message, of course, is
independent of the handwriting and should be irrelevant to the
Barry Beyerstein (1996) considers many of the notions of graphologists
to be little more than sympathetic magic, e.g., the notion that
leaving wide spaces between letters indicates a proneness to isolation
and loneliness because the wide spaces indicate someone who does not
mix easily and is uncomfortable with closeness. One graphologist
claims that a person betrays his sadistic nature if he crosses his
t's with lines that look like whips.
Since there is no useful theory as to how graphology might work, it is
not surprising that there is no empirical evidence that any
graphological characteristics significantly correlate with any
interesting personality trait.
Adrian Furnham writes
Readers familiar with the techniques of cold reading will be able to
understand why graphology appears to work and why so many (otherwise
intelligent) people believe in it. [p. 204]
Add to cold reading, the Forer or Barnum effect, confirmation bias,
and communal reinforcement, and you have a fairly complete
explanation for graphology's popularity.
Graphology is another pipe dream of those who want a quick and dirty
decision making process to tell them who to marry, who did the crime,
who they should hire, what career they should seek, where the good
hunting is, where the water, oil, or buried treasure is, etc.
Graphology is another in a long list of quack substitutes for hard
work. It is appealing to those who are impatient with such troublesome
matters as research, evidence analysis, reasoning, logic, and
hypothesis testing. If you want results and you want them now and you
want them stated in strong, certain terms, graphology is for you. If,
however, you can live with reasonable probabilities and uncertainty,
you might try another method to pick a spouse or hire an employee.
If on the other hand, you don't mind discriminating against people on
the basis of pseudoscientific non-sense, then at least have the
consistency to use a ouija board to help you pick the right graphologist.
See related entries on crystals, palmistry, the polygraph and
Graphology from the Encyclopedia of the Paranormal by Barry Beyerstein
Ask the Scientists - Barry Beyerstein on the abuse of graphology
Mass Media Funk - Barry Beyerstein and Alan Alda on graphology
Mass Media Bunk - graphology
Mass Media Bunk - more graphology
Graphological Gender Testing A humorous application of this "science".
The American Society of Questioned Document Examiners
"The Use of Graphology as a Tool for Employee Hiring and Evaluation,"
from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
Basil, Robert. "Graphology and Personality: `Let the Buyer Beware',"
in The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal, ed.
Kendrick Frazier (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1991), pp. 206-208.
Beyerstein, Barry. "Graphology," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal
edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996), pp.
Beyerstein, Barry and Dayle F. Beyerstein, editors, The Write Stuff -
Evaluations of Graphology, the Study of Handwriting Analysis (Buffalo,
N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1991).
Furnham, Adrian. "Write and Wrong: The Validity of Graphological
Analysis," in The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the
Paranormal,ed. Kendrick Frazier (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books,
1991), pp. 200-205.
Gardner, Martin. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science (New York:
Dover Publications, Inc., 1957), ch. 24.
Robert Todd Carroll
--- In email@example.com, NightWerx@a... wrote:
> In a message dated 2/28/2005 7:03:55 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
> firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2005 18:39:38 -0000
> From: "twnsnd_mrk" <twnsnd_mrk@y...>
> Subject: Re: Digest Number 1343
> Are you then what Bill referred to as a graphologist?
> Mark Townsend,
> Investment Advisor
> Las Vegas, Nevada
> I would be IF I was in England where the term originated, however,
> I'm a handwriting analyst, I interpret personality, criminal
> dishonesty and much, much more from a person's handwriting. BTW,
> feature called "The Felon's Claw"...it gained that infamous name
from a study done
> with over 150
0 convicted felons. Over 85% of them had this feature in their
> I first got involved in handwriting analysis in 1968 as a
> wound up using it to help both an attorneys office and a doctor's
> their staff turnover by hiring people that better fit the jobs they
> offer. A majority of European firms utilize "graphoanalysis" (the
> there) in their pre-employment hiring process.
> Now, if anyone SERIOUSLY has their interest piqued...I'll be happy
> you up with a training program so you can learn handwriting analysis
> yourself...and PROVE it to yourself. I recently did an analysis on a
PI in England
> whom I've never met and at the time I had never sent more than a few
> in emails back and forth regarding the 419 scams he was contributing
> listing on my website. I analyzed his personality from a handwritten
> scanned and sent to me as a graphic. His response was quite
common...I hit him
> spot on(I believe he said about 90% accurate) and even his Mum
(with whom he
> shared the analysis) couldn't believe that we didn't know each other!
> So...does "handwriting analysis or graphology work?" You be the
judge! Works for me!
> Arnold De Armond
> Chief Investigator
> NightWerx Investigations, Inc.
> P. O. Box 1534
> Southaven, MS 38671
> Fax: 1-601-510-9141
> NAIS, IABPA, CHAI, IACSP, NAPSOA
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]