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Posted March 15, 2007
Investigative speculation, not educational analysis
I spent an entire Saturday afternoon in Barnes and Noble reading this book of apparent non-fiction. Michelle Dresbold is a handwriting analyst/expert who has been employed by a variety of criminal departments for analyzing and profiling criminal suspects based on their handwriting. It is clear that she has some sort of gift in handwriting analysis, however¿ Sex, Lies, and Handwriting is an attempt by the author to educate the reader about and teach the reader how to analyze handwriting by using writing and signature samples throughout the book. But while she clearly possesses this gift, she fails in teaching the reader, for she uses the easiest examples possible. That is not her major flaw, however. Dresbold also profiles a number of serial killers and other people of infamy based on their handwriting. The problem here is that she is not able to convince the reader that she has accurately profiled them without previous knowledge ¿ it seemed to me that she knew her subject¿s personality and criminal details, then made the handwriting fit the subject. Ted Bundy was a serial killer? Well, if we had only looked at his handwriting, we could have figured that out long before he killed dozens of innocent co-eds. I don¿t think so. And therein lies two problems. First, as said before, she is profiling subjects of whom she already has distinct knowledge. Second, however, is the idea that a certain characteristic in one¿s handwriting can give way to an individual¿s actions, intentions, personality, perceptions of self, and relationships with his or her mother and father. I don¿t think so. Uh oh¿I noticed my girlfriend doesn¿t close her lowercase cursive `o.¿ This means she is untrustworthy and is likely to lie or not keep a secret. I guess I should break up with her before she cheats and lies to me. Well I don¿t buy it, but perhaps I will become a believer in the future if something occurs. Her book would be more convincing if she also spoke of times where she has been completely wrong or if she gave examples of people who did not match the handwriting profile ¿ every marketer knows the value of gaining trust by giving negative examples as well. Despite her failure to convince the reader of profiling people based on handwriting, she fascinates when discussing her beliefs about who really killed JonBenet Ramsey and the true identity of Jack the Ripper. Her handwriting analysis combined with other circumstantial evidence in both cases is quite convincing, but I will leave you to investigate on your own. Ultimately, Michelle Dresbold¿s Sex, Lies, and Handwriting is an unconvincing look at profiling a person based on handwriting but does give a scintillating new look into at least two fascinating unsolved mysteries in the history of modern times.
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