Based on handwriting
October 26, 2001 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Based on handwriting the geniuses at the United States government have figured out the letters might be from the same source. I'm sure everyone has seen these letters... Isn't that a bit "duh." If everything is figured out at this lightning fast speed we will never find these people.

This reminds me a bit of those psychologists who report very obvious things... many times I have heard on MSNBC: "According to psychologists, the nation is in a state of shock. For some it may take weeks to escape this feeling, for others months." Is that really something we couldn't figure out by ourselves?
posted by yevge (15 comments total)
since you're so above these petty fools, yevge, surely you've heard of that old saying:
"hindsight is 20/20."
posted by moz at 7:41 PM on October 26, 2001

I don't know about "above these petty fools"...
I'm sure you could have deduced that these letters came from the same source also, without the government first coming to that conclusion.

By the way, I am very happy with how the WTC situation was handled, and feel very proud of the government. I just thought this was a bit comedic.
posted by yevge at 7:45 PM on October 26, 2001

well, if the psychologists give silly answers-

posted by bunnyfire at 7:59 PM on October 26, 2001

We should be thanking these selfless newspersons for validating our feelings.
posted by groundhog at 8:26 PM on October 26, 2001

I'd think with some serious handwriting analysis they would be able to determine if the letters were written with an 'Arabic accent'. I wouldn't be surprised if handwriting carried 'accents' just as speech does.
posted by sdinan at 8:38 PM on October 26, 2001

Last I read on handwriting analysis was that the author was probably not used to writing roman letters and was blocking them, letter by letter, as if he had learned them only recently.
posted by pandaharma at 8:53 PM on October 26, 2001

At least they weren't printed in MS Comic Sans.
posted by shagoth at 9:08 PM on October 26, 2001

maybe it's just the AP? just a thought.
posted by greyscale at 9:36 PM on October 26, 2001

It's important to have forensic analysis show that the letters really were from the same source, rather than a) later one(s) perhaps being copycats of earlier, and b) one handwriting source indicating a single perpetrator rather than a network.

We can take a guess looking at them, but forensic handwriting experts (who are, by the way, entirely different from parlor-game personality-mapping graphologists) have just about the only skills that will help us prove a link to a suspect in the future.
posted by dhartung at 10:04 PM on October 26, 2001

Hey, they're not paid to state the obvious, they're paid to know which obvious fact to state.
posted by MonkeyMeat at 11:23 PM on October 26, 2001

I saw a segment about this very thing on last Flursday's episode of Dateline.
posted by spilon at 11:31 PM on October 26, 2001

USA Today:

Disguised handwriting and sloping baselines are all indicative of a suicidal personality or very depressive person. The writing is completely free of emotion. All that is present is pure depression.

Oh, great, that last sentence sounds like the profile of 75% of internet users

--Add megalomania & you get 100% of Metafilter...
Nice to see things narrowed down.
posted by y2karl at 1:39 AM on October 27, 2001


I agree they should do an anyalsis, but copying any more than a few sentences would be easy for an expert to detect. The copier would mess up somewhere, or show a "stopping" mark that would indicate hestitation.

Disguised handwriting and sloping baselines are all indicative of a suicidal personality or very
depressive person.

Actually sloping baselines usually indicate a person who is pessimistic, but not suicidal. Most suicide notes have
a slope only at the end the sentence.
posted by brucec at 6:01 AM on October 27, 2001

I was trying to distinguish between forensic analysis (which generally involves determining whether samples A and B are from the same writer) and personality-analysis through handwriting aka graphology. Thanks for confusing the issues again.

The former is an accepted courtroom technique. The latter is mainly popular on college campuses and (for some reason) in European HR departments.
posted by dhartung at 12:15 PM on October 27, 2001

Call me crazy (go ahead. do it now) but considering that all three letters have the same postmark and the same words, and were sent before the first one was opened, much less made public, how is there a chance that one of a copycat crime of another?

If more than one person wrote the letters, why would they try so hard to make them look like they were written by the same person, including consistent defects like the slanting writing? Note that I'm only talking about the first three letters, as that's all they've actually released photos of (as far as I've seen).
posted by kfury at 12:39 PM on October 27, 2001

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