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Sunday, November 7, 2021

Psychological Profilers: Fact Versus Fiction

     Profiling of serial killers probably doesn't help catch them. Much of this work is based on interviews of serial killers and reviews of their murders to assist in pattern recognition with future cases. The lore includes such observations as the idea that killers return to the scene of the crime, enjoy participating in the investigation, and know or don't know the victims prior to the killing. These data points could conceivably narrow down the suspects in a given situation. The lore also includes many unobservables, such as whether the killer was organized or disorganized, merely angry enough to kill or even angrier, has high or low self-esteem, and took the situation personally or didn't...Any ideas about serial killers that are not observable cannot help the police narrow the suspect field.

     Instead of helping catch serial killers, profilers turn the police's attention to suspects that fit the profile. Fortunately, police typically don't put much stock in profiles, but when they do, their investigations tend to confirm their suspicions [that it doesn't work].

Dr. Michael Karson, "Why Profiling Serial Killers Can't Work: You Can't Find a Needle in a Haystack with a Pitchfork," Psychology Today, November 30, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Interesting piece, and I think there is certainly truth in what you are saying about turning attentions to suspects who fit the profile - whether this is true in the case of law enforcement I'm not entirely sure, but certainly within the online sleuth community there is a lot of confirmation bias. Particularly, in my experience, within the Zodiac community.

    There doesn't appear to be much room for debate over suspects within that community at all, and I find that disheartening because, although I have my suspicions over who may have been the Zodiac, I keep an open mind about the possibilities as I am well aware that it could be anyone.

    That is part of the reason why I have launched a new podcast series, Zodiac Killer 2020 Podcast, which is linked above and is available on podbean.

    With the series my intention is to examine the 5 murders and two attempted murders which are known to have been committed by the Zodiac in 1968 & 69, but also look at 4 other murders, committed between 1962-66, which all bear the hallmarks of later Zodiac attacks.

    I will also respect and pay tribute to the victims, discuss how the crimes were investigated and present the evidence which exists against all of the main suspects, and some who aren't as well known, and evaluate the possibility of whether they were Zodiac or not.

    One new episode will be released daily, you can click the link above to check it out, and please do! I think that this podcast is equal parts entertaining, educational, informative and relaxing.

    Make sure to follow it too, so you don't miss a single episode!