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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Forensic Psychology and the Eternal Quest for Certainty

The scientific evidence marshaled against Coy, at least what we’ve seen of it, came exclusively from therapists, psychologists, and social workers. I have no doubt that it was presented as irrefutable, highly refined, and scien-tastic.

Forensic psychology seems to be a continually evolving discipline, much like the science behind arson investigations; and like the evidence used against Ed Graf, ‘facts’ can mean different things to different people:

The latter half of the 20th century saw a return to a focus on childhood sex abuse as the etiology of later distress and dysfunction. Fueled by the proliferation of scientific evidence, child advocates refused to back down when confronted by skeptics, and staunchly maintained the attitude that "children don't lie; if it hadn't happened, they couldn't report it." An attempt to make up for decades of ignorance and rejection of children's stories of abuse led to an unfettered and unexamined acceptance of every child's story of abuse as true. By the close of the 1980s, the negative repercussions of this attitude were obvious.

The negative repercussions are, indeed, painfully obvious, but have we admitted that we can’t know, with 100% certainty, if a child was truly abused? Without some kind of conclusive physical evidence (which presents its own trouble of interpretive bias), a jury still wants to know that they’re sending a guilty man to prison; the court brings in psychologists, dedicated professionals that can offer what appears to be proof.

“Yes, this child was abused. She drew a picture with hearts and pointy triangles, which is a red flag indicator of abuse.” 

“Yes, this child was abused. When presented with anatomically correct dolls, she immediately tried to stick Tab A into Slot B, which only an abused child would do.”

“Yes, this child was abused; she told us that witches flew her into the air and killed a baby and cooked it, and then everybody had sex in a big vat of blood, and then they returned her to her home and her parents were none the wiser.” (<--Accusations like this are real, and were accepted without question during the satanic-daycare-panic. I shit you not.)

And so we are comforted by the reassuring presence of Science, which assures us that what we’re doing is sanctioned by reason, and logic, and common sense. When the science advances, and the professionals discover that, as in Ed Graf’s arson conviction, the scientists subjectively interpreted objective evidence and imprisoned someone who may very well be innocent, we gasp in horror and swear never to be fooled again...until the next outrageous case comes along.

My point (yes, I have one) is that if a child's testimony is not solid, not consistent enough to convince a jury, should the State be allowed to trot out experts that are willing to swear that that they see symptoms of abuse? Especially considering that efforts to identify any one consistent, pervasive experiential marker have consistently failed?


Adamm Rocha said...

will SPM wright me back if i send him a letter?

Incandesio said...

I'm not sure; but I know he reads all the letters he gets.

Anonymous said...

What? You know his address homie? can you tell me what it is I want to write him a letter? Can somebody please Tell me what Carlos Coys adress is please thanks FREE SPM CARLOS COY DOPEHOUSE4LIFE SPM

Incandesio said...

It's also up at the top of the page, on your right:

Carlos Coy
James V. Allred Unit
2101 FM 369 N.
Iowa Park, TX

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling me The address DOPEHOUSE4LIFE SPM4LIFE FREE SPM CARLOS COY

Eric said...

Ridiculous. The victim's testimony was obviously solid and consistent. Her testimony is what convinced the jury, not the therapists. Without the victim's testimony, you would not have a conviction. And before you mention the "dream comment" again, we don't know the context of it until we see the transcripts, which Carlos still hasn't shown us. I've said it once and I'll say it again, there is a reason why Carlos doesn't want to reveal the child's testimony in its entirety.

As for physical evidence, are you aware that physical evidence is not present in most child sex abuse cases? Even murders are mostly solved through confessions, not physical evidence.

Incandesio said...

Solid and consistent? Explain to me your thoughts on the Scary Movie testimony, and how quickly that was turned back and forth, will you? I'm fascinated to see what you think of it.

Also, it's interesting you should point out that many people are convicted only on their own confessions; apparently Texas has just realized that there's a serious problem with police officers coercing the innocent into confessing to crimes they didn't commit:


Anonymous said...

do u think SPM would write back if i would write him ?? i dont think think he did it Free SPM DOPEHOUSEPORVIDA:.

Incandesio said...

Anon 4:33

I know he's been pretty busy recently with The S.O.N., but he reads all the mail he gets, and he does try to write back.

Eric said...


"Physical evidence was present in only 23% of all cases that resulted in felony convictions. Felony convictions were obtained in 67 (79%) of 85 cases without physical evidence and in only 20 (67%) of 30 cases with physical evidence. Eight of the 10 cases without physical evidence that did not result in conviction involved victims younger than 7 years of age. Cases involving the youngest victims had a significantly lower conviction rate (12 of 23), despite a very high frequency (13 of 23) of physical evidence. Physical evidence was neither predictive nor essential for conviction. Successful prosecution, particularly in cases involving the youngest victims, depended on the quality of the verbal evidence and the effectiveness of the child victim's testimony."

Incandesio said...


...and the more you realize how suggestible children are, and how easily their testimony can be manipulated, the more terrifying those numbers are.