South Africa Flag logo

South African Skeptics

October 18, 2019, 09:13:45 AM
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
Go to mobile page.
News: Follow saskeptics on twitter.
   
   Skeptic Forum Board Index   Help Forum Rules Search GoogleTagged Login Register Chat Blogroll  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic:

gRaPHoloGY

 (Read 3357 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Rigil Kent
Clotting Factor
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +19/-3
Offline Offline

Posts: 2460


Three men make a tiger.


« on: December 18, 2008, 20:46:21 PM »

Graphology is the technical art of drawing conclusions about someone's character/ personality based on the analysis of his handwriting. Typically, the practitioner would scrutinize a few paragraphs written by the test subject, and look for standard patterns or quirks in the handwriting.

I was surprised to learn form this video ( not sure of the date ) that there are some real world applications for graphology.



Somehow, I have always considered graphology as slightly more credible than its, uhm,  sister sciences of palmistry, crystal balls and tarrot cards.

My reason for this view is that patterns in handwriting (a) actually exist, and (b) are directly generated (in contrast to tea leaves) by the individual in question.

From experience, I have also noticed that I tend to dot my i's far more aggressively at the end of a frustrating day. Angry

It seems reasonable to speculate that the author's personality or emotions may spill over in his doodling. Any thoughts?

« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 21:23:56 PM by Mintaka » Logged
Mefiante
Defollyant Iconoclast
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +61/-9
Offline Offline

Posts: 3752


In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται


WWW
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2008, 22:05:35 PM »

Graphology in Robert Todd Carroll’s The Skeptic’s Dictionary.

Graphology in James Randi’s An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural.

Those should clear up a few misconceptions.

'Luthon64
Logged
Rigil Kent
Clotting Factor
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +19/-3
Offline Offline

Posts: 2460


Three men make a tiger.


« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2008, 23:57:46 PM »

Thanks for the links, which I've read with interest. Still, for the moment I not prepared to dismiss graphology as outright bunk, and here is why.

We rely on facial expressions, tone of voice and the gestures of our fellow man as clues to his state of mind, his personality, or even his expected actions. Effectively we are comparing the observed clues to a set of standards in our minds, and instantly draw conclusions.

In fact, we are so good at reading and interpreting the clues that other humans broadcast, that one can't help but wonder if this was a skill that was honed over a long (millenia) period of time. There must surely be at least one evolutionary advantage for picking up subtle clues for, say, aggression from a competing individual.

Graphologists seem to make similar attempts at discovering personality traits, but are using the written word as clue, and textbook standards.

So if, and this is a big if, handwriting can be demostrated as a personality clue, then I see no reason why we can't, at least in principle, derive knowledge from the writers's clues.

There is no question that patterns in handwriting do exist, if only on the level of allowing us to distinguish one writer's text from another.

There is also no denying the poor track record of graphology, when scrutinized closely under controlled conditions. Why, then, does graphology fail? I can think of only 2 reasons:

Either

1. there is genuinely no link between handwriting patterns and the writer's personality.

 or

2. There is a link, but we are rubbish at interpreting it. Writing is a new kid on the block of human history. We may not have discovered how to read the clues properly. (And maybe we never will. When was the last time you've WRITTEN a letter?)

Anyway, I'm not defending graphology, just putting it out there that it may be, from a rational point of view, the least worrysome of the pseudosciences, most of which are objectionable on several accounts.

My doubt in graphology can be reduced to a single objection: lack of evidence that a  handwriting quirk correlates with a personality trait.

Mintaka.

Logged
AcinonyxScepticus
Full Member
***

Skeptical ability: +3/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 234



WWW
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2008, 09:07:32 AM »

*Pushes aside the popcorn*

I thought that I'd quickly pop-in here to raise a few points.  There are a few implicit assumptions in your argument that may need closer scrutiny.
We rely on facial expressions, tone of voice and the gestures of our fellow man as clues to his state of mind, his personality, or even his expected actions. Effectively we are comparing the observed clues to a set of standards in our minds, and instantly draw conclusions.


That is the "common knowledge" wisdom of body language which we have known (for more than a century) is actually not as accurate as we thought it was.  In short we can be downright wrong in most cases.  Freud called it projection and a recent study gathered the hard data and replaced Freud's projection with an evolutionary explanation.  So it works similar to confirmation bias; if we (his fellow sceptics) look at a picture of James Randi we might see a mischievous yet wise face while his enemies see a hard-hearted, aloof cynic.  Reading Randi's writings or listening to his lectures we pick-out the phrases, expressions and sentiments that confirm our pre-conceived notions, thus proving our original judgement right (even though both groups are probably wrong - the people we know are far more complex than the boxes we put them into).

Graphology works in a very similar way.  I must mention that when I was in high school, I took a graphology book out from the school library and I thought that it was geniunely scientific and sparked my interest in psychology.  Over time I have been disabused of that high regard for the subject - but gradually.

Anyway, I'm not defending graphology, just putting it out there that it may be, from a rational point of view, the least worrysome of the pseudosciences ...


And that's what we're all here for; rational discussion and the opinions of our peers.

James
« Last Edit: December 19, 2008, 23:55:25 PM by AcinonyxScepticus » Logged
Mefiante
Defollyant Iconoclast
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +61/-9
Offline Offline

Posts: 3752


In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται


WWW
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2008, 09:09:42 AM »

I think the essential difficulty with graphology, as with a slew of other pseudosciences, is that graphologists tend to want to read too much into a person’s handwriting.  We often observe a direct correlation between a person’s behaviour at any given moment and their mental state, for example anger or disappointment.  Therefore, it seems reasonable to suppose that certain broad-base mental states or attitudes will affect the person’s outward expression, in particular their handwriting.  Note also that while we may be able to establish such correlations statistically (say, between some objective measure of “spikiness” in the handwriting and a person’s irritability), it is an error of reasoning to suggest that this correlation holds in every case.

Moreover, graphology also assumes – inconsistently, it may be noted – that people’s temporary moods don’t affect their handwriting and thus their character profiles.  I have before me a 140-page book by Barbara Hill titled Handwriting Analysis.  It is littered with such sweeping, unqualified and ultimately platitudinous claims as, “A small loop high on the stem suggests a narrow-minded attitude,” “The initial letter of each word reveals the writer’s intended social attitude,” “In the upper zone (intellectuality) concealing strokes tell us that the writer’s thoughts are private,” and so forth.  The book also includes a few examples of “analysis” which read not much different from an astrology column: vague generalities couched in pleasingly innocuous prose.  In this context one should take heed of the Forer effect.

'Luthon64
Logged
AcinonyxScepticus
Full Member
***

Skeptical ability: +3/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 234



WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2008, 09:22:22 AM »

I have before me a 140-page book by Barbara Hill titled Handwriting Analysis.

That is possibly the book that I read in high school, although it is hard to remember all the books I read in standard 7 (grade 9).  I can't find a picture of the cover online to confirm it but I think that it was possibly that one.

Hmm, blast from the past.  Smiley

James
Logged
Rigil Kent
Clotting Factor
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +19/-3
Offline Offline

Posts: 2460


Three men make a tiger.


« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2008, 09:50:52 AM »

I too own a book on Graphology by one Michael Watts BSc. (blushing smiley not found).

(BTW, James, would you concede that our lavish use of these little text add-ons implies that we believe our reader to be fluent in the language of facial expression?)

When reading it in the early 90's I remember being fascinated by the concept, but alas, could also not find any clear reason why "persistent types" would necessarily make loopy A's.

Cheers,
Mintaka

PS. I have to agree also with 'Luthon64 that it is a question of degrees, and that the amount of detail a practitioner can extract is limited. (sorry for this late edit - had to go look up platitudinous first!)
« Last Edit: December 23, 2008, 22:31:07 PM by Mintaka » Logged
Tweefo
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +10/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 1538



WWW
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2008, 12:55:08 PM »

Slightly off topic here but what is the story about body language to the point where they can tell if you are not telling the truth? You glance to your upper left or something just before you say it?
Logged
AcinonyxScepticus
Full Member
***

Skeptical ability: +3/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 234



WWW
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2008, 17:09:01 PM »

... blushing smiley not found ...

(Twelfth one along, hover to get the names.)

BTW, James, would you concede that our lavish use of these little text add-ons implies that we believe our reader to be fluent in the language of facial expression?

Yes, humans have a very real need for interpreting tone and mood from facial expressions, that is why emoticons are so frequently used in SMS, eMail and online fora.

But my full reply will pretty-much echo 'Luthon.  You can possibly tell by looking at one sample of writing what a person's state of mind is (should there be big letters and puncture holes where the pen was driven through the paper it should be a good clue that the person is a little upset).  But what graphologists are claiming is that analysing the writing can reveal personality traits that extend over a longer period than just the moment that the person wrote the sample.

Similarly, when you said (my emphasis):
We rely on facial expressions, tone of voice and the gestures of our fellow man as clues to his state of mind, his personality, or even his expected actions...
you were implying that by analysing a trend of facial expressions in someone you can tell their personality.  This is, again, extrapolating from the instance of the facial expression (the same as the instance of the writing) to a personality trait which is not valid.  If it was the case, do you think that doctors should prescribe anti-depressants based on a scale where they count frown lines to deduce how long depression has been ongoing?

In conclusion; writing analysis may tell you someone's mood in that moment and facial analysis can determine mood in that moment (as long as it is obvious enough - refer to the study I posted earlier) but neither of these can tell you a person's personality over a long period.  If you try to make such a diagnosis, as 'Luthon pointed-out, you would then be opening the diagnosis up to the Forer effect.

James
Logged
AcinonyxScepticus
Full Member
***

Skeptical ability: +3/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 234



WWW
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2008, 17:29:58 PM »

Slightly off topic here but what is the story about body language to the point where they can tell if you are not telling the truth? You glance to your upper left or something just before you say it?


If you watch Derren Browne, he would want you to think this is true.  But even he (a mental illusionist) distanced himself from NLP when directly asked if he was making any claims about reading cues whether someone was lying from a subject's face.  So, noticing the direction in which a person's eyes are looking for lie detection is a claim made by Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioners.  NLP has become something of a pop-psychology phenomenon.  There are only a few real psychological effects which underly NLP, but these were a launching point for diversion into all sorts of extraordinary claims.  I am not aware of this being a real field in psychology - it is something used to sell self-help books and lecture tours.  I was curious about NLP a few years ago and I have a book on the subject so I'll scratch my head really hard to see if I can remember what was in there.

As I recall, there is a chart of the face used to determine what a person is thinking about.  If a person is right-handed and they are looking at you as they talk, then looking to the left (your left) is an imagined experience while looking to the right (your right) is a remembered experience.  For left handed people it is swapped (usually ... but who knows? pretty much throw your hands up and guess which side is which) but even if they don't follow this pattern they are still consistent (one side is always for imagination and the other side is always for memory).  If you wanted to discover which side is which for someone in particular, do not explain what you are doing but start asking a range of memory and imagination questions to get a baseline.  But if we're talking about this as a lie detection technique, remember, if the person doesn't have to think hard about something then the eyes will not move in this way (so if you are practising the lie; "no officer, I was at my office, not at the Pietersons' house disembowelling them" then there is no need to imagine a response on the spot - a rather fatal flaw for a lie-detection technique). 

Memories and imagined scenarios can be visual (you remember the colour of the door at the house you lived in when you were six or think hard about a view on an imaginary planet), auditory (you remember a song or you imagine a conversation with a dead celebrity) or kinaesthetic (tactile - how cold was the pool you learned to swim in or imagine having your hair removed one follicle at a time).  Strangely taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory) and emotions are combined with the kinaesthetic which does not have "imagined" and "remembered", it just is.  Each of the three types (V, A, K) are given a position by your eyes, a subject looking straight left or right is either imagining or remembering sound while looking down and left is experiencing taste, touch, mood and looking up and to the left or right is either imagining or remembering visual information.  The down-right position is used for internal dialogue.  Some mentalist magicians have said that they use these sorts of techniques in the old guessing game of "remember some event from your past that I couldn't know about".  They then make an educated guess and fill-in details using cold-reading techniques. For example; "Yes, I'm there with you, the colours in the room were bright"  ... wait for settling-down after the reaction ... "there was a comforting, familiar smell" ... wait again ... "you were in a kitchen" ... start cold reading.

Now this is where it gets even more vague and drifts further into pseudo-science: each person has a tendency to be "visual", "auditory" or "kinaesthetic".  They say (I hate that expression: "they say" - who?) that if you think about a memory and the first thing that comes to you is the sound then you are "auditory" - and I'm sure you can figure out the others.  Also, they claim that if you talk and mostly say "look here..." or "see what I mean?" then you are "visual" whereas saying "listen up ..." or "doesn't sound right" is an "auditory" dominance.  If you "feel" a lot in your conversations then you are "kinaesthetic".  These are all utterly ridiculous.  You start listening to yourself speak and you start remembering the hits and forgetting the misses - there is nothing scientific about labelling yourself "auditory", "visual" or "kinaesthetic".

With all that said; the reason you have heard that people lie when they look up and to the left is if they are imagining a visual scene to lie about - that applies to many people, they claim, because most people are right-handed and most people are "visual".

Speaking of mental illusionists, in an interview Banachek gave this explanation about "mind reading" and the predictability of thought patterns (from an SGU interview released in July 2008):
Quote from: Banachek at timestamp 00:42:46
A husband and a wife are sitting on a park bench, a pretty girl goes jogging by, the husband turns his head and looks, the wife slaps the husband in the face. Okay? You know what the husband was thinking, you know what the wife was thinking.  You haven't read their minds but you have read their thoughts.  Now I always tell people; I don't read minds, I read thoughts.


Quote from: Banachek at timestamp 00:43:07
If I say "Dolly Parton", what two things come to mind?


Yeah, right, "singer songwriter".


It may sound like I didn't give a definite answer to your question; that's because I can't.  I don't know enough to tell you if there is a reliable technique for lie-detection from visual cues, but I suspect that if it exists, it is not nearly as simple as the NLP explanation.

James
« Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 00:11:45 AM by AcinonyxScepticus, Reason: Replaced Banachek quote and some poor grammar » Logged
Mefiante
Defollyant Iconoclast
Hero Member
*****

Skeptical ability: +61/-9
Offline Offline

Posts: 3752


In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται


WWW
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2008, 17:43:14 PM »

Good post, James.  Yummy and nutritious.

'Luthon64
Logged
AcinonyxScepticus
Full Member
***

Skeptical ability: +3/-0
Offline Offline

Posts: 234



WWW
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2008, 17:55:38 PM »

Thanks  Smiley

I already want to edit it because of the terrible grammar ... but I'll wait until I get home and I get an opportunity to transcribe the Banachek quote.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  


 
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Page created in 0.853 seconds with 24 sceptic queries.
Google visited last this page March 27, 2019, 23:12:43 PM
Privacy Policy