Moved to Posterous

I have moved my blog to Posterous.Please visit me at http://shudh.posterous.com/

A Layman’s take on Criminal Psychology: from facts to fiction: from Reid to Conan Doyle

The incident dates back to those days when I used to devour detective novels hidden under the History of Ancient India textbook. Out of the thousand such books read I remember a particular psychological experiment which finally leads to the conviction of the criminal.

Out of a list of possible suspects each subject was called for interview by the amateur
detective. The experiment went thus, a list of random seemingly irrelevant words (I think the list contained nouns and adjectives) was made by the detective. And the suspect was asked to respond (without thinking) to the words from the list with related words that came into his mind immediately after pronunciation of a word from the list by the detective.

The word from the list: Cupboard/Closet
Randomly Uttered words by Murderer: dark, breathe, wood, time

Another 150 pages unearthed that the murderer was hiding in the cupboard before he stroke and thus those words of or pertaining to darkness and suffocation were imprinted in his subconscious during the time which he spent in the closet waiting for the kill.

Coming back to the real world, the Reid technique of detecting criminals which is widely
popular in North America depends on the nine steps of interrogation:

(From Wikipedia)
* Step 1 – Tell the suspect that there is overwhelming evidence, even witnesses, of their guilt. This may be a lie to force the suspect towards confession.

* Step 2 – Try to shift the blame away from the suspect to some other person or set of
circumstances that prompted the suspect to commit the crime. That is, develop themes containing reasons that will justify or excuse the crime. Themes may be developed or changed to find one to which the accused is most responsive.

* Step 3 – Never allow the suspect to deny guilt. Reid training video: “If you’ve let him talk and say the words ‘I didn’t do it’, and the more often a person says ‘I didn’t do it’, the more difficult it is to get a confession.” Stopping them talking also stops them asking for a lawyer.

* Step 4 – At this point, the accused will often give a reason why he or she did not or
could not commit the crime. Try to use this to move towards the confession.

* Step 5 – Reinforce sincerity to ensure that the suspect is receptive.

* Step 6 – The suspect will become quieter and listen. Move the theme discussion towards offering alternatives. If the suspect cries at this point, infer guilt.

* Step 7 – Pose the “alternative question”, giving two choices for what happened; one
more socially acceptable than the other. The suspect is expected to choose the easier option but whichever alternative the suspect chooses, guilt is admitted.

* Step 8 – Lead the suspect to repeat the admission of guilt in front of witnesses.

* Step 9 – Document the suspect’s admission and have them sign as a confession.

But then this process is widely debated and banned in certain countries as it has been found that in certain cases young suspects under tremendous psychological pressure succumbed and confessed of the crime which they never committed.

Recent studies DePaulo et al..suggests otherwise and proves that the results obtained by such psychological techniques might not be accurate and may lead to false conviction.

I am not aware whether studies have been conducted on the psychology of the detectives as well to see how the conclusion of the criminal analysis varies from detective to detective. Might be I can draw an analogy from Object oriented programming world wherein say the detective and the suspect are two objects and the attributes which may lead to the successful analysis and discovery of the crime neither belongs to (properties of) the suspect nor the detective but lies in the relationship between the objects (object to object link).

Conclusion: Might be there exists a hitherto unknown superior way to detect lies (ahem……Did I hear someone say we have lie detectors in place?!)May be it is better not to subject innocent suspects to such psychological sledgehammer and to rely on physics and chemistry in crime detection. Are you listening Mr. Holmes?

References:
DePaulo, B.M., Lindsay, J.J., Malone, B.E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K. & Cooper, H. (2003).Cues to Deception. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 74–118.
Just how good are police officers at detecting liars? By Emma Barrett, of Psychology and Crime News and the Deception Blog.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reid_technique on Reid Technique
For more exciting reads refer to
Research Digest Blog (British Psychological Society)

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Nice Video on RTI Act

Think this video was made by NDTV and Parivartan.Good work guys!!

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution: Subject To Realization

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.” Brevity really is the soul of wit!

Indian judiciary is actively broadening the scope and purpose of Article 21 [Refer:
Citation
].
In brief, judiciary has included the right to health (Clemenceau Case).In a landmark verdict, the honorable Supreme Court had also decided that the constitutional protection to life and liberty that all citizens of the state have are also enjoyed by those who are not citizens, although these rights might be curtailed for foreigners subject to the interests of the state.

I shall come to the exploitation of the clause “subject to the interests of the state” by the state in a later post.

But let me try to give you a glimpse of the Article 21 from the other side of the dichotomy a.k.a the Government. I may not be legally incorrect to map the provisions given in the section 7(1) of the Right to Information Act to the Article 21 of the constitution.
And the following was a response to an RTI appeal “The provisions relating to life and liberty under Section 7(1) of the RTI Act, 2005 relate to serious and imminent circumstances endangering the fundamental right of citizens to their life and liberty. They should not be confused with, or misinterpreted as, right of leisure and vacation as has been claimed by the appellant. The appellant is leading normal life and carrying out his routine daily functions without any hindrance. There is no apparent or perceivable threat to life or liberty of the appellant.”

Might be somewhere there exists a common man like me who would like to have the Article 21 more objective rather than leaving it to many subjective interpretations by many stakeholders having vested interests.


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Prelude to War

As I write this post occasionally glancing Pakistan blasting New Zealand in T20…Feeling my new-found wisdom with my tongue and smile at myself as I recollect those profound words by my dentist..”Over a period of time our jaws became smaller..we dont really need the extra molars…We have evolved”..Have We?

Have to finish THUD Thud! …and do some bread n butter technology reading…Feels like I’ve taken a lil time out from my errrr war…!

The posts to follow will reveal the rot in our bureau-political system which I was exposed to… I would be rather subjective in my discourse (Did u see the plight o former RAW head today .India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of RAW...ahem…ahem…Prevention of secrets act..)

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