Friday, February 6, 2015

False Confessions (3); Debunker Emil Karlsson explains how "a false confession can artificially enhance the convincing power of other pieces of evidence, even when that “evidence” is based on pseudoscience or lacks diagnostic value." (Must Read. HL);

POST: "The reality of false confessions," by Emil Karlsson, published by "Debunking Denialism" on January 31, 2015. (Emil Karlsson says of his Blog:
"Modern life presents us with an apparent paradox: science has a strong cultural authority, yet primitive darkness is coming back in the shape of creationism, quack medicine, opposition to vaccination, HIV/AIDS denialism, anti-psychiatry and so on. Debunking Denialism takes on the enemies of reason.")

SUB-HEADING: Commonsense myths and misconceptions;

GIST: "The last ditch-case for the current interrogation system is that the appeals courts can fix any mistakes made by law enforcement or by the legal system. However, a false confession can artificially enhance the convincing power of other pieces of evidence, even when that “evidence” is based on pseudoscience or lacks diagnostic value. A lab study of a real criminal case used four groups: a control group who got the real story, a group who got a false confession, a group that got an irrelevant testimony by law enforcement about the emotional state of the suspect and the fourth group got both the false confession and the irrelevant testimony. The base rate conviction rate was 53%, false confession increased it to 63%, irrelevant testimony reduced to to 48%, but the combination of a false confession and the irrelevant testimony boosted the conviction rate to almost 90%. Even trained fingerprint analysts can be swayed by tainted evidence. Almost 20% of them reversed decision on whether or not the fingerprint matched based on hearing that a confession was made or that the suspect was arrested when the crime was committed."

The entire post can be found at:

See also: Joseph Buckley, President of Reid and Associates, defends "The Reid Technique" in a letter sent to The Charles Smith Blog in response to another post;
It is often stated that the Reid Technique "shows no interest in learning the truth, but the goal is to seek a confession." We clearly state the exact opposite in our book Criminal Interrogation and Confessions (5th edition 2013) on page 5: "The purpose of an interrogation is to learn the truth. A common misperception exists in believing that the purpose of an interrogation  is to elicit a confession.... If the suspect can be eliminated [from suspicion] based on his or her behavior or explanations offered during the interrogation, the interrogation must be considered successful because the truth was learned."

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
I look forward to hearing from readers at:
Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;