Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

May 13, 2008

Annals of Idiocy: The L.A. Times' Political Coverage Today…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 2:29 pm

…features an utterly credulous and, well, I’m sorry, just plain stupid, pseudo-scientific “analysis” of the candidates’ handwriting as a guide to their character and politics.

The idea that a once respected national newspaper, once admired for its political coverage, can present graphology as offering “scientific” insights into the psychology and charaacter of political candidates is kind of shocking. What’s next, phrenology, the study of character through analysis of bumps on the head, fashionable in the 19th century?

The befuddled reporter either misunderstands or misrepresents the credentials of the graphologists in question by characterizing them as “court certified”. Graphologist are sometimes certified as expert witnesses to compare handwriting samples to see if signatures on allegedly forged checks or wills, for instance, are genuine. They are not appointed to make inadmissable “character analyses” of defendants or witnesses based on handwriting style. Has the LATimes fired so many editors there was no one there to question this?

And consider the pathetically simple-minded “analyses” suposedly derived from hand writing that seem to astonish the reporter with their prescience, such as this:

“Obama is very much his writing — fluid, graceful. McCain’s is angular and intense; he’s a pit bull. And look at the perfectionism in Hillary’s — straight up, precise. She is persistent and is not going to give up until she absolutely has to,” one of the LAT’s expert revealed.

Well, all you can say ot those brilliant insights, obviously taken ONLY, from the handwriting is: Duh. Who would have attributed these stunning and unexpected character traits to the candidates without the “expert” help of a graphologist?

And look at these profound insights the handwriting experts give us into the candidates’ stand on the issues:

“Whereas Clinton’s writing is disciplined, Obama’s is flexible. (Her universal health insurance plan is mandatory; his is optional.) His more limber style suggests a desire to deal with different people. (He favors open dialogue with America’s enemies; she doesn’t.)”

There’s more of this useless, baseless, cringe-inducing bloviation by the L.A. Times’ annointed experts:

“So if the experts are right, Clinton really is smart and tough and stays until the last dog dies, Obama is an engaging bridge-builder, and McCain takes charge, and does it his way.”

Who could have imagined these totally shocking new perspectives on the candidates if not for the graphology “experts”.

And yet all of this worthless verbiage is presented with a straight face, with only one final caveat:

“Case closed? Hardly: ‘Handwriting tells a lot of important things, but it doesn’t tell everything,” Lowe cautioned. “People are too complex’.”

Once again: duh. Is this disgrace the new direction of the new LATimes, the one they’ve taken after firing or forcing out a series of editors with integrity? If so they’ve forfeited any claim to be taken seriously again. If this is the way they’re trying to save newspapers these days they’re better off dead.



  1. James Garfield could write Greek and Latin simultaneously.

    Comment by Ace — May 15, 2008 @ 9:50 am | Reply

  2. From a scientific point of view, if the LA Times is using graphology for character analysis, it may as well take the next step and offer the opinions of astrologers.

    As Ron points out, one type of handwriting analysis that is useful and scientifically based is the sort I have used occasionally as a lawyer–comparing signatures or other writing to see if they were written by the same people.

    But assuming that because, say, someone’s handwriting is angular that it says something about the person’s character is basically a form of sympathetic magic.

    I lived in LA in the early eighties and subscribed to the paper. I found it pretty decent, although they did tend to have interminable feature articles that always ended by observing, “And so, in Xistan, one thing can be said for sure: life goes on.” And compared to my local paper, the Detroit Free Press, it still looks pretty good. Compared to what it once was, it doesn’t.

    Comment by Alex Bensky — May 16, 2008 @ 5:44 am | Reply

  3. Well, I actually think you CAN say something about someones personality based on their handwriting. Why wouldn’t your personality leave an imprint on your handwriting?
    Do you not judge someones personality based on the way they move – “nervously”, “determined” or “faltering”? Of course you do.
    Or their voices – yes, you do.
    There are limits to this, of course. And if you know the person from whom the sample comes, it’s ridiculous. Your knowledge of their history, their views et cetera trumphs the input from their handwriting.
    I agree, though, this is not something a serious newspaper should engage in. The time and money would be much better spent on all the stuff the candidates have said and written.

    Comment by Ulla Lauridsen — May 17, 2008 @ 11:18 am | Reply

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