The Grisly “Science”

Sherlock Holmes would be tumbling beneath his waterfall! Malcolm Gladwell has an article in the most recent New Yorker detailing how the supposed science of criminal profilers is pretty much a collection of the carny tricks favored by fortunetellers and “douche of the universe” John Edward.

Ambiguous statements (“I would say that on the whole you can be rather a quiet, self effacing type, but when the circumstances are right, you can be quite the life and soul of the party if the mood strikes you”) and “Fuzzy Facts” (“I can see a connection with Europe, possibly Britain, or it could be the warmer, Mediterranean part?”) paint a uselessly broad picture of rapists and serial killers. It’s only after the criminal is caught that profilers highlight their hits, or, as is often the case, ignore their misses.

Perhaps this article can stem the eruption of network TV shows that get off on bloodstain patterns and hazy flashbacks. If not, though, let me pitch a new twist—an FBI profiler profiles rogue profilers whose past profiling has made them go crazy and, well, you know.